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Creating the Best Website Content
Search engines drive the majority of traffic on the web. If you want your company’s website to rank well organically, you must make it easy for search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to find, crawl (read) and index. Plain text (as opposed to images, pictures, podcasts, videos) is the easiest form of content for search engines to find and index, so getting the best content on your website is critical to getting more website traffic, leads and booked jobs. In fact, if you take only one thing away from this post, make it this: The shortest path to getting more qualified website visitors, leads and booked jobs is creating volumes of unique and remarkable website content.
The challenge is that creating great content is a pain in the butt. If you’ve ever been involved with the development of a website, you know this first hand. Unless you like to write for fun (or have a staff member that does), writing content for your website could be as memorable as a root canal! It’s quite possibly the most difficult (and time-consuming) part of launching a new website. This said, there are no shortcuts. Copying content from other sites or industry trade pubs and re-arranging it on your site – something many small business owners and web marketing firms do – is of zero value in terms of SEO (when it comes to SEO, they say ‘content is king’, but it’s really ‘unique and remarkable content is king’).
Tip #1: Focus on Content More Than Design
Too many business owners get wrapped up in the design of their website when they should be focusing primarily on the content. Sure, an appealing layout and a flashy banner make a good first impression; but, many business owners get so wrapped up in the design of their website that they forget about the most important part – the words on the page. Not only does well written website copy draw readers in, but optimized website copy attracts search engine spiders and improves your organic rankings.
Remember the reasons why someone would end up on your website in the first place. If someone goes to Google and searches, “emergency plumber in CITY, STATE”, their primary objective is to quickly find a company and call to see if you offer emergency service to their area. Your website’s design cannot be so bad that it deters them from choosing you, but given their situation, most “standard” web layouts should suffice. It’s a different story if you’re selling $300,000 home remodels, but you still need great content to bring qualified visitors to your website – either that or you’re going to be spending a boatload of money on other forms of advertising.
Tip #2: Treat Web Design and Content Creation As Individual Projects
In other words, don’t assume the same company that designs your website has to write the copy for it. In some cases this can be like having the mailman develop your direct mail campaign! Your website is like a sales rep. A typical web design company spends nearly all of their time trying to make sure your sales rep is wearing the best combination of clothes. Few web design firms spend a comparable amount of time worrying about your sales rep’s pitch, but it’s critical to your success that someone does!
If you’ve already engaged a web design firm to build you a website, follow these important steps:
- Find out who will be writing the copy. You want to make sure they have an experienced copywriter on staff. The stereotypical web designer sits in front of his iMac drooling over icon sets and new Photoshop brushes. This is not who you want writing your website copy! You want a copywriter that grabs the attention of your readers, that persuades your visitors to take action and that knows what it takes to balance SEO with copy written for the human visitor.
- Ask for examples of their website copywriting work. This goes without saying, but don’t assume the firm you’re working with wrote the copy for all the websites in their portfolio! Web design firm or not, you want to ask for copywriting samples from any copywriter you’re considering. Would you have hired the company to build you a website without looking at their portfolio first? Probably not. The same goes for copywriting – just because you’re impressed with their web design skills does not mean you’ll be equally impressed with their writing capabilities.
- Ask about their website copywriting process. Your business is unique. Whether you liked their web design process or not, inquire about their website copywriting process. Chances are if you found their web design process sloppy and frustrating, you’ll think the same of their website copywriting process. What you need is a copywriter who will take the time to interview you, get to know your services and your customers and understand your company goals.
Tip #3: What to Do if Your Web Design Company Doesn’t Offer Copywriting
The rest of the web design firms out there stick to what they know – writing code and designing pretty banners. Sometimes you don’t find this out until after the project is in progress. You know you’re in that situation when you get a call from your website design company and they say, “okay, send over the content” and you say, “what?! I thought you were going to help us with the content?!” You might look at this as an inconvenience because if you haven’t prepared, it drags out your website launch, but better they throw up a white flag than fill your new website with crappy content.
If you didn’t purchase website copywriting in conjunction with website design, you should work on your website copy before (or concurrently with) the web design process. Surprisingly, website copywriting often takes more time and involves more back and forth than website design. If your budget supports it, hiring a professional web copywriter is your best bet. If your budget is tight, you may be stuck writing your own copy and hiring an SEO company to optimize your site down the road.
Tip #4: A DIY Guide to Writing Your Own Website Content
If you have a limited budget and are forced to write your own website content, it’s not the end of the world. Just make go through the following process:
Step 1: Perform a Competitor Analysis
SEO is a zero sum game. In order for your website to move higher in the rankings (closer to the top of the first page of search results), you must leap-frog competitor websites. How much content you put on your new site, the keywords you use, how many links you create, etc. is partially dependent on what your competitors are doing. Do less than they have already done and it’s unlikely that your site is going to outrank theirs – especially since they are already ahead of you!
While your content should be unique and specific to you, you don’t need to entirely re-invent the wheel. There is some information you can cherry-pick from comptitor websites. Look at their website images, ‘calls-to-action’, coupons, etc. Ask yourself the question, “how can I make what they have better?” Make note of what you like on their sites and try to incorporate some of those aspects into your copy.
Step 2: Come Up with a Site Outline
Think of a site outline as the training wheels on your bike. You know where you want to go, but the training wheels keep you from falling down and losing your way. As you get going you don’t need them, but they help you get the wheels rolling. An outline is there to get you started and to make sure you don’t lose your way; an outline keeps you focused.
Your website copy outline should include all of the top-level pages you want to include (About Us, Services, Resources, etc.) and the initial sub-pages you want to include (Meet the Team, Individual Service Pages, Service Area, etc.). If you want to rank organically for your key services and products, you should include one page for every core service or core product. Another way to think about it is that each page of your website can only really be optimized around 2-3 related keyword phrases. If you have several hundred keyword phrases – from broad to specific – for which you’d like to see your website, you’re going to need a hundred pages or so in order to accomplish your goal.
Step 3: Start Writing
You know your business, so it should be easy to write website copy, right? Wrong! Knowing your business too well can actually make the website copywriting process harder. You have to think about your audience and your business in laymen’s terms. Think about why someone would end up on your website and the everyday language they would use to describe what it is they need.
Follow these simple tips:
- Make sure your content is easy to read. You might know what a “p trap” is, but does your average customer?? Avoid industry jargon and write in a conversational tone that is easy for your readers to follow. You want your readers to be able to easily skim your site and find what they’re looking for. Getting people to your website is the first challenge, but the real key is convincing them to contact you once they’ve arrived!
- Use “you” language vs. “I” language. Didn’t your mom tell you it’s not polite to brag? Nobody wants to hear about you, you, you; they want to hear what you can do for them. Put yourself in the readers shoes and answer their questions – “If you’re having (this problem), (this is how we can help)!” If you want to see examples of what NOT to do, visit just about any corporate law firm’s website. No one cares that you graduated from Harvard Law unless it means that they are more likely to get a million dollar payout from their insurance company. Translate what’s great about you into why it’s great for your prospective clients!
- Write with SEO in mind. Write for your visitors – not for Google – but remember to tastefully incorporate the keyword phrases for which you’d like to rank into your website’s pages. It’s going to be awful hard to rank for “Bethesda Remodeling Company” if this phrases isn’t mentioned anywhere on your site!
- Utilize headings. Writing website copy is not like writing a term paper. Long paragraphs and uninterrupted text are boring! In most cases, you have about 15 seconds to grab a visitor’s attention, so break up your website copy with compelling subheadings. Some exceptions exist – like lengthy “how to” blog posts (wink, wink).
Step 4: Proofread, Edit, Proofread, Edit
When you’re in the zone, you’re in the zone. Even though Microsoft Word may catch typos, it isn’t going to catch a missed word or a misused homophone (their vs. there, your vs. you’re). Re-read your copy and make sure you didn’t use “their” when you should have used “there”; make sure there are no typos; make sure your writing is clear and concise. Then, do it again! Nothing is worse than when a customer calls and points out a typo on your site.
Tip #5: Hiring a Website Content Creator
Given the importance of website content, you should always try to bring in an expert to write your website’s copy. By doing so, you’re going to get a fabulous website from top to bottom – a design from design professionals and copy from professional website copywriters, and you save yourself the headache of doing it yourself.
A professional website copywriting service effectively balances your message with SEO. A professional website copywriter knows how visitors read a webpage. A professional copywriter can seamlessly persuade your customers to inquire about your products and services. The benefits of professional website copywriting go on and on.
Learn More About Website Content Creation
Want to pick our brains about website copywriting or hiring a professional website copywriter? We’d love to hear from you! At Blue Corona, we combine effective website design with professional web content creation services. But no, this isn’t a plug to get your copywriting business (even though that would be nice!). First and foremost, we aim to help small businesses improve their online marketing efforts. Give us a call and we’d be happy to help you navigate the ins and outs of website copywriting, discuss the pros and cons of hiring a professional website copywriter and answer any questions you have about website copywriting.
About The Author:
View more blogs by Katelyn McKinley