As a business owner, you are a writer. You’re a content creator. In the emails that you send, the notes that you scribble, and the conversations that you have, you’re writing the story for your business and telling people why they should care about you.
When it comes to your website, content (words, images, videos, etc.) is what communicates your message. Your job is to make sure that your content tells your business’s story in a way that’s compelling to your customers.
Even if you don’t write a single word of your website copy yourself, these best practices can help you guide your copywriter or website developer, and identify ways to improve your web content.
Don’t have time to read? Watch this short video summary for the highlights:
15 Best Practices for Writing Good Website Content
1. Understand Your Customer
Regardless of whether it’s trying to educate, entertain, or convince people to buy from you, your website’s job is to communicate with your ideal customer. Before you or anyone else can write effective web content, you must understand who your customer is.
Remember that you’re trying to reach real people. Who are they, and what do they care about? What are their pain points, and how can you help solve them? A deep understanding of your customer and what motivates them will help you craft a compelling message. Consider investing the time to develop buyer personas to truly understand what your ideal customers need and want.
2. Write to Solve Problems
Ever land on a web page and feel like all that business wants to talk about is how great they are? Not only is this a dead giveaway your website design needs copywriting help, it’s also a surefire way to frustrate potential customers.
The truth is: no one cares about how great you think your products and services are. They care about how you can solve their problems.
When it comes to any kind of marketing writing, remember that it’s not about you, it’s about them (which is why it’s so important to understand your customer). Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and ask, “Why should I care?” Answering that question will make them feel like you understand their needs.
Here’s an example of an investment firm that clearly understands its customers and writes to solve problems. They have a whole section dedicated to “Is This You?” to directly address their different target customers. Notice they don’t talk about themselves first.
Instead, they talk about what it’s like to be a business owner and their major pain points (like not having enough time to learn about investing options). Only then do they introduce how their investment firm can help.
3. Do Keyword Research
The vast majority of people use search engines to find solutions to their problems online. So a big part of writing for the web is finding out what your customers are searching for and optimizing your content accordingly. That’s where keyword research comes in.
Keyword research shows you which topics are relevant to your customers and to search engines. And while it is an important part of SEO marketing, keyword research is about more than just getting better rankings.
It helps you understand the intent behind a person’s search, so you can provide exactly what they’re looking for when they reach your site. Choosing the right keywords can help you stand out from your competitors, appeal to your ideal audience, and draw more quality traffic to your website.
Keyword research should be the foundation of your website content. Your website copywriter should do this before they start writing, so the content answers your customers’ questions and includes keywords naturally.
4. Benefits > Features
If you want to convince potential customers to buy your product or service, focus on benefits, not features. Features tell them what a product is. Benefits tell them what it means to them. Too often, businesses get wrapped up in the technical details of their product and forget to tell customers why it matters.
For example, let’s say that your company makes canned spinach for sailors like Popeye. Let’s look at features vs. benefits:
- Features: Green; high in iron, calcium and Vitamin A
- Benefits: Makes you super-strong so you can fight bad guys and save the day
Which is more compelling? That your spinach is full of vitamins and minerals, or that it can help you lift 500 lbs over your head and save Olive Oyl? Keep your web copy focused on the benefits, because that’s what sells.
5. Make Them Feel Something
One of the reasons why benefits sell better than features is that they appeal to our emotions. Numerous studies have shown that customers are more trusting and more likely to buy if they have an emotional connection with your company. Whether it’s happiness, sadness, fear, or even anger, encourage your website visitors to feel something.
One of the best ways to do this is to tell a story. You may be tempted to roll your eyes at the idea of businesses being “storytellers,” but the human brain loves stories. Stories naturally have tension and conflict that appeals to our emotions, and they keep us wondering what will happen next.
Here’s a natural health clinic that tells a story about living your best life. They open with “what would it be like if…” encouraging their visitors to feel curious and hopeful about the future but frustrated with their current condition. They’re evoking emotion to help sell their solution.
6. Drive Them To Action
As a business owner, you don’t want to create content for the sake of content. You want your web content to generate results for your business. That’s why every piece of content should include a compelling call to action (CTA) that tells your visitor what to do next.
Strong calls to action might include links to download a free guide, schedule a demo, or claim a special offer. Whatever moves your prospects one step closer to becoming customers.
Check that your CTAs use active language, and make the benefits of clicking very clear, like this example from a Lancaster, PA business consulting company. The benefit is clear: you can find out if your business is healthy. It encourages immediate action in return for an instant score.
7. Focus on One Big Idea at a Time
People have short attention spans. Whether or not they’re shorter than a goldfish’s is hotly debated, but the point is: your website content needs to capture and focus your customers’ fleeting attention.
Website copywriters sometimes get so excited about their products and services that they try to talk about too many things at once. The result becomes a jumbled mess that makes it hard for your prospect to focus.
Take this example from a small construction company. The copy on their About page is convoluted because it tries to talk about all their services at once.
Instead, focus on one big idea at a time. Each page on your website should cover a single topic. Within that page, make sure there are separate headings and paragraphs to separate your thoughts.