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April 5, 2016 WATB Team
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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

image of person writing

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

image of person sketching user interfaces

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

image of chalkboard

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

image of scrabble pieces that spell out SEO

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/

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