Your website is one of your most important marketing tools – it’s the first place potential clients go to learn about your business, and you only have a few seconds to make a good impression. That’s why website copy is so important – it needs to be well-written, genuine, and representative of you and your brand in order to persuade visitors to stay on your site and learn more about your products and services.
To help you in writing effective website copy, I’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts that have been compiled through our own learning — and honestly, by trial and error. As someone who has taken copy courses (specifically from the amazing Becca Martin of Black Diamond Copy Co) and someone who has seen the best and the worst of DIY web copy — and helped edit it all — I can assure you this list will be full of useful tips that you can actually use to write your own copy.
This is the kind of list you likely need to read a few times to fully digest, and it’s a good one to bookmark so that when you sit down to write your copy you can refresh your mind on what to do, and what not to do, to create compelling website copy that attracts and converts your ideal clients.
Take a minute to bookmark this now — then read on to find out the dos and don’ts of effective website copy.
Do: Write in a clear, concise, and easy-to-read style
When it comes to web copy, clarity is key. You want your visitors to be able to understand what you’re saying without having to put in too much effort. Write in short, simple sentences and use bullet points where possible. And don’t forget to proofread your work – typos and grammatical errors will make you look unprofessional and could cost you potential customers.
Your copy should be scannable on the page. This means that you should break it up into short, easily-digestible paragraphs, and use headers and bullets to organize your information. This makes it easier for visitors to find the information they’re looking for, and more likely to stick around on your site.
Your copy should be easy to read. Use short sentences and avoid complex vocabulary. The goal is to make your information accessible to as many people as possible.
Do: Be genuine, authentic and transparent
As a small business owner, you know that your customers are your most important asset. They’re the reason you’re in business, and you want to do everything you can to make sure they have an amazing experience with your business. One way to show your customers how much you appreciate them is to be genuine in your web copy.
When you write about your products or services, be honest about what you offer and how it can benefit your customers. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep, and be sure to back up your claims with evidence (e.g., customer testimonials, case studies, etc.).
Most importantly, be yourself. Your website should reflect who you are as a business owner and the values that are important to you. This will help build trust with your customers and encourage them to do business with you.
Plus, your website should sound like you. Make sure you’re using the same language you do when you’re on discovery calls or in your social media posts and email blasts, so that there’s a seamless and cohesive experience for anyone working with you and your brand.
Do: Use your client’s language
When writing web copy, it’s important to use your clients’ language. This means using the same words and phrases they would use when describing their needs and wants. Not only will this help you better understand your clients, but it will also make your website copy more relevant and persuasive.
For example, if you offer bespoke brand design, you might use phrases like “unique” and “custom-made” in your website copy. By using your clients’ language, you’ll make it easier for them to connect with your site and learn more about what you have to offer.
Do: Address your client’s concerns
Your website visitors likely have a lot of questions and concerns — they’re about to invest good money in your services and they want to be assured that you are in fact the best fit for them, and that they’ll be happy with the end result.
We all know the typical pain point-solution marketing tactic — and it’s fine to use sparingly — but be sure to focus on being empathetic and understanding of what really keeps your clients up at night, then, offer your service up as the solution (only when it’s actually the right fit, of course).
A great way to address concerns of your clients is with a clear and concise FAQ section that addresses the questions you get asked most often about your services. Sure, some people are going to skip these and ask you anyway, but the information is out there for those who want it (and for the Google Gods who love this kind of sh*t for SEO purposes).
Do: Sell the benefits of your product or service
When writing web copy, it’s important to sell the benefits of your service. Don’t just describe what you do – explain how your service can help potential customers achieve their goals. For example, if you’re a personal trainer, talk about how your training can help people lose weight, get in shape, and feel better about themselves. If you’re a web designer, talk about how your design skills can help businesses grow online.
When you focus on the benefits of your service, you’ll not only be even closer to a sale, but you’re website is more likely to captivate your user’s attention for longer, and the longer someone spends on your site, the more likely it is that they’ll end up following your main Call to Action on the site.
Don’t: Talk about yourself too much
When writing web copy, it’s important to avoid talking about yourself too much. Many of use have a tendency to focus on ourselves and our qualifications, thinking our knowledge and authority are what will help our potential clients/website visitors choose use as an expert. In reality, the word “you” should be used far more often than the word “I” (yes, even on your About page!).
Instead, of focusing on yourself, you should focus on how your client will be able to reach their goals and bring their vision to life while working with you, not on how you can help them do it. Be the guide, not the hero.
By emphasizing what your client can achieve, you’ll make them feel excited and motivated to work with you. Plus, it makes your business look more trustworthy – after all, you’re not just out to make a quick buck; you’re interested in helping your clients achieve their goals.
Don’t: Copy someone else’s words
When writing your website copy, it’s important to avoid copying anyone else’s work – especially someone else in your own industry. Skipping over the part where it’s unethical and you could get in legal trouble — it’s just not cool to copy someone else’s work, and doing what someone else does isn’t going to help you find your own success.
There’s only one of you and in order to connect with and engage your website visitors, you’ve got to fully embody who you are, and make sure that shows up on the page.
Instead of using or recreating the words of someone else, focus on writing original content that accurately represents your business and its products or services — and that oozes your own personality.. This will help you stand out from the competition and persuade potential customers to do business with you — which is what we’re all after here anyway.
Don’t: Use any sleazy marketing tactics
Honestly, this one is my personal favorite reminder — don’t be sleazy in your marketing tactics (yes, I’m looking at you MLMs and pyramid coaching schemes). In this weird, creative, online space you and I occupy, there is little to no oversight on what someone says and whether it accurately lines up with the product or service they deliver.
Avoid being someone who way overpromises and doesn’t deliver a product or service that lives up to the hype. There’s way too many of them out there, and you can stand apart from the crowd by actually honing in on and producing a client experience and service or product that is top notch — and clients will return again and again (and bring their friends!).
Don’t: Overwhelm website visitors with too much information
When writing website copy, it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t want to overwhelm your clients with too much information. Text should be scannable – no one wants to read a huge wall of text. Most people will only read a small percentage of what’s on your page, so make sure the most important parts stand out. Use short paragraphs and catchy headings to break up the text, and use keywords and phrases that potential customers are likely to search for. Make sure your website copy is informative and persuasive, and you’ll see an increase in traffic and conversions.
Don’t: Stuff your content with keywords
At this point (if you know anything about SEO) you might be wondering where keywords and keyword research fit into this whole mix.
I’m not going to talk a lot about keywords, but what I am going to say is that you can do all the keyword research you want, but you’re still writing for a human, not for Google. Stuffing key words into your content for the sole purpose of having the keyword more prevalent is a bad idea.
First of all, Google knows when you do it and frowns upon it. Your content and site might actually take a hit because of it. And second of all humans don’t like it either. When content is stuffed with keywords it’s difficult to read and usually doesn’t get to the point nearly quick enough for a real life human.
So do you research and otherwise optimize your pages and posts, but don’t be in a hurry to please Google — because real people are the ones you’re hoping to convert into clients.
Website copy is one of the most important elements of your digital marketing strategy. Your website copy will end up informing all of the other content and copy you write — from social media to emails to sales pages and more — so it’s imperative to have a strong base to work from.
Please note that this list is just a small part of what it takes to write compelling and effective website copy — and for many business owners it can take years to hone in on their specific voice.
As you work through this list with your own copy, feel free to focus on one or two elements at a time, and give yourself space to breathe and reflect, so that you don’t become frustrated with the process.
If all else fails you can hire a pro to work on your copy for you — and be reviewing this list you’ll know exactly what to look for in the copy they write to make sure their words embody your brand, are authentic to who you are, and will work for you on your website.