8 tips to make writing your website easier (when writing's just not your thing)
Sometimes you just can't afford to pay for a copywriter to write the words on your website. Or you can't justify the expense of paying a pro...yet.
If you have to write your website content yourself, then you'll still want to ensure that those words work as hard for your website as they possibly can.
Here are the tips I have give my clients to help them get the best results possible.
1 // THINK ABOUT YOUR AUDIENCE
Write in a way they will understand, a way that relates to them and their needs.
So example, if you own a wedding catering business your language will be quite different in tone to the language used by a mechanic. (See point 3 below about avoiding jargon).
2 // THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO ACHIEVE ON THE PAGE
You should be thinking about what the purpose of every single page on your website.
Write to achieve that purpose.
Check that your words match your intent.
BONUS TIP: Each page should have a purpose. If you don't know what it is, down tools and sort that out pronto.
3 // KEEP IT NATURAL AND USE PLAIN LANGUAGE
Don't stress about being 'proper', stress about being understood.
Avoid using formal language - it only acts as a barrier between you and your readers.
Avoid industry jargon. Its meaning might be startlingly obvious to you, but not to the people reading it.
SERPS anybody? CRM? CMS? TOV? I thought not. (But if you are interested, they’re all marketing terms - Search Engine Results Page, Customer Relationship Management, Content Management System and Tone Of Voice.)
Forget about the “rules” of writing you might have learned about in school.
Write in your own voice. Sometimes that might include slang and swearing (if that's your brand)
Read what you’ve written aloud. If you struggle to get the words out of your mouth or feel like a dick reading it aloud, that’s a sure sign that you need to rewrite it.
4 // REMEMBER YOUR BRAND
The tone of your online “voice” should match your brand.
If your brand is youthful and fun then make sure your writing is youthful and fun. If your brand is more established and authoritative then, again, write that way. It will just confuse your reader if you mix this up.
And if you’re a middle-aged marketer with a mischievous streak then, well, sorry, but that voice is already taken round these parts.
5 // GIVE YOUR VISITORS' EYES A BREAK
Don’t have big blocks of text.
Break text into paragraphs, break it up with sub-headings, use bullet points - these are all good ways to ensure you don’t turn readers off.
Look at these pictures and you’ll see that one is more likely to be read than the other, even though they say the same thing.
6 // USE KEYWORDS
If you want to be found on Google then you need to be aware of keywords.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a complex topic and it’s a good idea to get specialists to help if you really want to focus on getting to the top of the Google search results.
If your budget can’t stretch that far, then you will want to write your content in a way that increases the chance of potential customers finding you on Google.
You will need to:
think about what words or phrases people might type into Google that you would want your website to show in the results.
use those words in your writing
use a keyword in your main headlines (if you can)
and then use keywords again at least once or twice in the rest of your writing - nearer the top of the page the better - and award yourself a bonus point if you can use keywords in your URLs and navigation titles too
But most of all you will need your words to have a natural flow and read like they have been written by a human for humans (not Google bots) to read.
If you want to learn more about SEO then the best place to start is Moz’s incredibly comprehensive Beginner's Guide to SEO. If that’s more than you can handle or find the time for, then may I suggest the perennially appealing The Lazy Writer’s Guide to 30-Minute Keyword Research.
7 // INTERNAL & EXTERNAL LINKS
Google doesn’t like dead ends.
Try and ensure you have at least one link to another page on your site and / or to an external website. (I have linked to those external SEO resources in the previous paragraph and then at the bottom of this post have links to more blog posts to read.)
More than one link is good, but don’t go overboard just for the sake of having links. And make sure the links are relevant to what you are writing about.
Plus you get more bonus points if the anchor text (the actual wording of your link) includes a keyword.
8 // PROOF-READ
Please proof-read your work - and if you’re not that confident a writer or speller, get someone else to proof-read it.
Because even though I said above to ignore what you learned in school, incorrect spelling will make you look unprofessional.
Check not just grammatical and spelling errors, but also for sense and being easily understood. Sometimes when you labour over writing words you can get too close to what you’ve written, and not see that it’s difficult to comprehend.
If you’ve tried to write for websites yourself I’d love to know how you got on and whether this post resonated with you.
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