The WATB guide to website content

5 min read
Watb Team
Partially opened laptop with multi color screen glow

What to write, how to write it, and what you should provide to a web agency before they start your project.


We know that when it comes to creating your content for your website, it can be a daunting task. Who am I saying it to? What should I say? How much should I write? How do I write for a web page layout?

This guide should hopefully answer those common questions and help you create the best content for your website.

The content of your website is as important, if not more so, than the design and build itself. Your content is how you speak to your customers and inform them of your service (or product), yet most critically your content needs to convince your site visitors to engage with you – whether that’s purchasing an item or simply filling out a contact form.

Crafting copy for the web is an expertise in itself and many businesses spend as much money on copywriters as they do on the development and design. We understand though that this is not always feasible for smaller businesses or where your budgets simply don’t allow you to concentrate efforts in this area.

Content first, design later

A person Writing Content ona pad

One important thing to understand is that your content needs to come first before an agency design anything or develop. Your content is what effectively dictates the design and code of your website. Without it, they are effectively the three blind mice. They can still design you a beautiful and functional website, but when the content is added as an afterthought, the end result can look messy and confusing.

Put it this way, trying to design and develop a website without content is like trying to make a shirt for someone without knowing their size.

“But I need to know the design and layout before I can write the words!”

Hold up. No – you don’t. That’s right, you do not need to know the design of your site to write the content.

Why?

Because you shouldn’t be writing your content to fit in with the design. Doing so means you may not convey the message you need to. Doing so means you may misfire and fail to capture your audience. Remember, your content is how you speak to your customer, the design and layout should enhance your message – never dictate it.

Ok – so we know we need to write our content before an agency turns it into a beautiful website. We now need to decide what exactly we should say.

Consider your site structure

A person planning a UX Design Structure

Knowing what pages you need for your site before you write is important – it will save you wasting time writing for pages you end up not using, or not having content for pages you added later on.

At WATB, we work with our clients on page structure. We often like to work on the page structure by drawing tree diagrams on a white board or a large piece of paper. This helps us visualise how the pages connect together.

Try not to treat your home page as the only page people will see first – many other pages on your site can act as landing pages so you need to think about how they all connect together and what kind of menu you’d like.

Talk to and about your customers

Learning drawn on a chalk board with a cartoon person working at a desk

Whatever you write, concentrate on addressing your customers and their needs. How does your service benefit them and their company? Spend less time writing “we” and more time writing “you”. Try to figure out what kind of questions your customers are asking when they find you, and how you should answer them.

Here are some tips on what you should say:

  • Informative, engaging headlines – let the customer know they are on the right page.
  • Bullet point features and benefits – how does your product/service benefit them, what problems does it solve, how is it better than the competition?
  • Social reinforcement – testimonials are a great way of showing that you are reputable and that your product works.
  • Educational, informative copy – write long, but easy to read and broken up paragraphs that educate and inform.

Optimise for Search Engines

Scrabble letters, S,E & O

You probably already know that your content will affect how your site ranks on search engines. First and foremost – whatever you do, write normally. By that I mean, don’t obsess over stuffing keywords into your copy. Some people try to use too many keywords in unnatural places and the text ends up being nonsensical. Your copy should always make sense and sound natural when read aloud.

A few basic tips for writing good content for SEO:

  • Good use of headings – use where relevant. Include your primary page keyword in the first heading on the page.
  • Ensure your content is easy and natural to read.
  • Never, ever, keyword stuff.
  • Write basic, short descriptions for images.

SEO is much more than just on-page content, which is why at some point you may need to look at investing in online marketing to help your site rank and bring in business.

There’s always more to learn

Hopefully now you have a good idea of how to write content for your website.

There’s lots more reading and research you can do, this guide really only serves as an introduction. That depends, however, on how much time and effort you’re willing to invest. Some businesses will hire a professional copywriter, but that would be down to your discretion.

We’ve included some extra links to some fantastic resources that should hopefully help you further.

How to write great web copy:

https://gathercontent.com/blog/how-to-write-great-web-copy

Information Highwayman:

http://informationhighwayman.com/articles/

The Web Design Forum Copy Clinic:

http://thewebdesignforum.co.uk/topic/2729-notbanksys-copy-clinics-archive/

The content of your website is as important, if not more so, than the design and build itself. Your content is how you speak to your customers and inform them of your service (or product), yet most critically your content needs to convince your site visitors to engage with you.

Social Media Management Software

In order to promote your business and reach consumers that spend an entire 24 hours a week online, you need to make sure that you have a viable social media strategy in place.

By posting unique and interesting content on your social media platforms, and by actively engaging with followers, you can start to turn this into a funnel for generating leads.

In order to stay on top of your social media strategy, it’s important to have some form of social media management software to do some of the heavy lifting. Software such as this is imperative for scheduling, tracking and monitoring social media content.

At its best, social media management software can help you not only plan your content months in advance, but also remain reactive by letting you tune into ongoing news stories or trending topics.

Screenshot of Hootsuite's homepage

We recommend: Hootsuite

There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).

They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.

The free version of this software lets you:

  • Manage up to three social media profiles from a choice of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Schedule up to 30 posts in advance at any point in time
  • Track follower growth, likes and comments
  • Integrate two RSS feeds in order to find and share compelling content
  • Access Hootsuite’s online help center and community forum

Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to a great number of services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.

But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.

Website Tracking Software

We’ve said before that the secret to a successful lead generation strategy is to keep analysing and refining your methods. Well, website tracking software is the best way to conduct this analysis.

By digging into the analytics of your visitors’ actions, you can start to gain a better picture of why people come to your site, what they want from it, what they dislike about it and how you can improve upon their experience next time.

There are a wide variety of services that can fall into the category of website tracking software, including heatmaps, funnels, user polls, surveys, visitor recordings and more.

Basically, any kind of software that collects data about the ways in which your visitors interact with your site can be considered website tracking software.

Screenshot of Hotjar's homepage

We recommend: Hotjar

Whereas there are a multitude of smaller software companies that focus in on just one website tracking service, Hotjar offers an array of useful tools.

Hotjar tools include:

  • Click, move, scroll, download and share heatmaps that can also be split by device type
  • Visitor recordings that allow you to replay sessions of real site visitors
  • Conversion funnels that identify on which page and at which step the most visitors are leaving your site
  • Form analysis that can help you to discover which fields take too long to fill, which are left blank and why your visitors abandon your form and page
  • A customizable widget that allows you to create pop-up feedback polls
  • Responsive surveys that can be distributed through web links and emails, or featured your site just before your visitors abandon the page in order to discover what their concerns are
  • The ability to recruit test users in order to get instant feedback on your site

Hotjar’s free service is able to collect data from 2000 page views a day and will give you access to up to 300 visitor recordings and 3 heatmaps, forms, funnels, polls and surveys. Unlimited users can be added to your account and Hotjar will also store your data for a full year.

While we’d normally recommend free services when possible, it’s probably worth paying for Hotjar’s Plus plan to begin with.

For just under £25 a month you can collect data from 10,000 page views a day and have unlimited services and reports. Plus there’s even a 15-day free trial for you to test out whether you like their software or not.

Remember

Lead generation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour.

What’s important is that you put real effort into all of your interactions with potential leads - whether that’s through educational and informative blog posts, social media interactions or even just a chat on the phone.

If you believe in your business’ ability to help its customers then all you have to do is let that shine through.

Ultimately, these tools are just there to help you meet potential leads on their level. The rest is up to you.

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