This is one of the most frequently asked questions we get and it is not the easiest to answer, without going into a lot of detail. So this article is an attempt at giving our new and potential clients, or really anyone, some advice and guidance on how to write content for their website.
Firstly I think we need to define what exactly website content is before we can actually begin discussing it.
Website Content Definition:
Web content refers to the textual, aural, or visual content published on a website. Content means any creative element, for example, text, applications, images, archived e-mail messages, data, e-services, audio and video files, and so on. Web content is the key behind traffic generation to websites. Creating engaging content and organising it into various categories for easy navigation is most important for a successful website. Also, it is important to optimize the web content for search engines so that it responds to the keywords used for searching.
Most of the time when we refer to content we mean simply the written text that needs to appear on your website, and most of this article will be focused on this definition. So in order to lesten the confusion we will use the term “copy” from now instead of “content”.
Myth: It is the web designer’s job to write copy for your website.
We come across this idea a lot where our client’s are shocked at the idea that they have to write their own copy for their website. This usually comes from the fact that they believe that a web designer is a copywriter and a web designer all in one, but these are actually 2x different roles.
What is a copywriter?
Definition: a person who writes the text of advertisements or publicity material.
Technically your website is an advertisement or publicity material, so the copywriter is the right man/woman for the job. This does not mean that we do not offer this as a service, however it is not usually standard, as most companies have their own copy already or have a business profile or some form of copy. We often advise that our clients use our copywriting service, if they are challenged at the thought of writing their own copy, or simply do not have the time or inclination.
The fact of the matter is that no-one will know your business as well as you do, so even if you do get a copy writer, you will need to work closely with him/her to ensure that your website communicates your message appropriately.
How can I write my own website copy?
Create a menu and website structure or sitemap first It is almost impossible to write content for your website without some idea of what pages you are going to have on your website first.
What are website pages?
The internet’s definitions of this are way too complex for most of our clients to understand and believe it or not this is a common misunderstood word. Basically if you have ever been to a website you will notice there are some links at the top or on the side of the website and this is commonly referred to as the menu. Each time you click on one of these links you are essentially viewing a page. (everything that is visible on that page). Of course we can get way more technical on this, but this is sufficient as to the context here.
What are some common pages that people have on their website?
Home Page This is the first page that you see on a website and all websites have a home page, whether they call it that or not. This is your most important page, since it creates the first impression and also means a lot more to the Search Engines like Google. So what does one say on this page? Well, usually we advise a brief introduction of your company and it’s services, at the minimum, be present somewhere on this page. Other than that anything goes really, from testimonials, to client logos or your latest news articles etc. We would strongly advise that you use this page well to guide your users and lead them to the really important bits of copy on your website, like your products and services or specials or your contact page. This can be done in various ways, by using links and buttons and images that link etc. One really popular way of guiding people through your site is by means of a call to action. A call to action(CTA) is a short message that stands out and prompts the user to click on a link or fill in a form or go somewhere on the site, or make a phone call. It’s purpose is to drive people closer to contacting you, or visiting your key content, or to make a purchase.
About Us Page This is a very popular page and I am sure that you have seen this on nearly every website you have ever been to. It is simply a little more detail about the company, and discusses the company vision and mission or its history in more detail usually. It can also list the team members and their bio’s too sometimes.
Products/Services Pages In our opinion, these are actually the most important pages on your website, since these really explain what you offer, what you sell, how you solve your client’s problems etc. If your home page was structured well then this should be the first stop from the home page and really needs to communicate what you do and how you do it well. If you sell products then you needs to have proper descriptions of them and really good photos to go with them. Even more so if it is an online store. Another important thing to have here is a call to action leading people to a purchase or to contact you.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions Page This page is so often overlooked, and can be very powerful in educating your users so that you have more informed clients, which are more likely to buy. It is simply a list of questions your customers ask you most frequently, plus the answers.
Blog/ News Page What is a blog? A regularly updated website or portion of a website, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.
What is a news article? A news article discusses current or recent news of either general interest (i.e. daily newspapers) or of a specific topic (i.e. political or trade news magazines, club newsletters, or technology news websites). A news article can include accounts of eyewitnesses to the happening event.
Depending on whether you write news articles or blog articles(based on the above definitions), you would usually call this section of your website “Blog” or “News” or even “Media” if you have lot’s of types of content you can list here. You could have a Blog and News area too if you wanted to split the types of content.
Portfolio Page Some businesses want to showcase their work, like photographers or designers or even construction companies for example. This section usually would list either projects or photos or designs or some other form of media. It is a good practice to have a description for each of these items, so as to increase the amount of copy used on your website. Google loves more content.
Contact Page Another important page, and usually the last stop for most users, this page basically consists of: Your contact info, a contact form and a map to your premises. You can also add links to your social media accounts here if you like.
Other Pages Obviously you can have a vast number of different pages that do not fall into the above categories. Every business is different and everyone has something different to say. The above pages are really the backbone though, on which other pages would be added to to form the complete website structure.
How much should I write on each page?
It might not always be possible, but one should at least aim for 500 words minimum per page, or you will get very poor rankings on Google and other search engines.
The importance of headlines and titles
Since people do not likely to read every single paragraph and apostrophe on your website, you should always try to break the copy down into pieces that have a title or heading that describes that piece at a high level. Similar to how I have created this article in fact. I used many headlines or titles to help you scan through the content and find what you need or want to read faster.
Do not worry too much about your imagery when you create your copy, but rather focus on breaking it into easily digestible chunks, and this will really make the job of the designer so much easier. It’s the designer’s job to figure out how he will display your copy, what is important for you, is that you actually produce some copy to use on the website. Also do not send your content to us or your designer in pieces, one at a time. If you want your website to be created much faster, you should always send all your copy at once. This usually reduces the amount of back and forth requests markedly. I’m sure you would like your website yesterday, right? 😉
I hope this article helps you with your content creation efforts a little, or perhaps it has made you decide to rather use a copywriter, either way you should be more informed now and your website copy will be of much better quality, no matter which option you went with.