Copywriting can be one of the most intimidating challenges when creating your small business website. Suddenly you are sitting in front of your laptop screen, dropping your logo onto the home page when you realize you have to write something about your business. Oh, and no pressure because the words you choose to describe your company may well determine how many people visit your website and interact with your brand.
No wonder writer’s block is a real thing – but it will all be OK. Take a deep breath, relax and back away from the keyboard for a bit. While this all may seem overwhelming, creating copy for your website is easier than you think. With a few tips and a little guidance, you will be well on your way to writing content that excites, educates and encourages your website visitors to take that next step and go from prospect to customer.
You may have minimal or no marketing writing experience, but you’re in luck. We found someone who does and is excited to share her expertise. “Growing up, I would always come up with stories and I also appreciated all the commercials,” says Web.com Social Media Manager Sabina Escalada, an experienced writer and manager who has led marketing copywriting teams. “When I went to the grocery store with my mom, I would sing all the jingles and point out all the sale items.”
Based on her years of experience and love of the written word, Sabina has some advice for starting and successfully completing your website copy.
Get comfortable with the keyboard.
Start by finding a time and place where you will be uninterrupted and can concentrate on your writing task. Get comfortable in your surroundings and it will show in your work. Sabina, who is a vintage toy enthusiast, keeps much of her collection in her home office for inspiration. “It brings out the creative and fun side in me and helps to shape my mindset,” she says. “When you are in a happy place, it’s hard to write bad copy.”
Know your audience.
Understanding your target market is the first step in effective website writing. Who is your customer and who do you sell to? Develop a “persona” – a brief description of a typical buyer. If you are just starting out and need ideas for this, review your competitors’ sites and see how they are approaching their messaging. “Just like defining your characters in a novel, you should develop a good understanding of your customers and their motivations,” says Sabina.
“If you are starting a lawn care business, will you focus on commercial or residential?” she continues. “What kind of commercial properties will you market to and what are the pain points of the property managers? If you are aiming at residential, determine what are the most important lawn care needs for homeowners.” The idea is to effectively position your company as the solution your audience is seeking.
Less is more.
When writing copy for your home page, think small and begin with the basics. Make sure you include clear benefits of your business in a couple of sentences right upfront. Your customers are on your site to learn more about you – succinctly give them the important details. Prominently include your contact information, including your location, phone number and email address.
“Keep it short and simple and try to convey everything in just a few sentences,” says Sabina. “People will typically be looking at your website on their smartphones and will spend three seconds or less on your homepage. You only have a short timeframe to get across who you are and why your brand is the solution to their challenge. In that split second, you want to make a big impression.”
Hook them with your headline.
A good headline is key to attracting reader attention and leading them into the rest of your website copy. It should only be a few words but say a lot about your business. “I love puns and something that really grabs your attention,” says Sabina. “If a headline can also include a call to action to encourage the reader to respond, all the better.”
If you own a florist, your headline could be something like, “Planting the Seeds of Caring Relationships” or if you are a photography studio, it could be, “Focused on Helping You Create Lasting Memories.” Paint a positive image for the reader and make an impression right upfront. A strong headline will also make it easier for you to write the sentences that follow.
Create strong support copy.
Once your headline is in place, write a few brief sentences to communicate what your business is all about. For your photo studio, it could be, “Our photographers take the time to get to know you and your family. This results in beautiful photos that reflect your personalities and capture a special moment in time.” See how the first sentence calls out your personal approach? Play to your strengths and set yourself apart from the competition.
On your homepage copy, end with a call to action. What do you want the reader to do? Clearly tell them and create a sense of urgency. It could be something as simple as, “Call or email us today for an appointment. Sessions are booking fast!” Remember that most website visitors will never move beyond your home page. Make sure they have all the information they need to become a new customer.
Writing good copy for your website will do more than just impress your customers, it can improve the ranking performance of your website in search engines. Here’s how you can make that happen.
Make it polished.
This may sound obvious but make sure that your content is polished and that there are no misspellings or grammatical errors. When people are searching for your business on sites like Google and Yelp, online search engines may rank your site lower in online directories (meaning your business won’t be found as easily) if your copy has grammar issues. Thankfully, there are good resources available to keep you on track.
“Not everyone is a master of the written word and that’s OK,” says Sabina. “Make sure you always run spellcheck in Microsoft Word or Google when you are writing. You can also use free online resources like Grammarly. This gives you every opportunity to create well-organized copy that will appeal to your website visitors and will be found by search engines.”
Get to know SEO.
Speaking of online search directories, there is another important way you can help customers find your website – search engine optimization (SEO) keywords. With over 90 percent of customers searching for local businesses online, using the right SEO keywords in your website copy will attract the attention of search engines and help your business rank higher in online directories. The result? More people will find your business.
To determine what keywords you should include in your website copy, think about words and phrases people will use to search for your business. Sabina encourages you to think about the details. “While including ‘Jacksonville plumber’ in your copy is a starting point, saying something more like ‘24-hour emergency service plumber in Jacksonville’ is far more descriptive and will perform well with search engines.”
To attract more website visitors with SEO keywords, you can also add a blog to your website. This gives you the opportunity to tell your customers more about your business and establishes you as a thought leader in your industry. Here is a step-by-step guide for starting a blog and ideas for great blog writing.
There are also great online SEO resources available to help you determine the keywords that are right for your business. Sabina recommends checking out Web.com’s Pro SEO Services that gives you access to professional guidance and direction.
Include an eCommerce store.
Online shopping has been a popular trend for years but with more people staying home due to coronavirus concerns, online sales have nearly tripled in 2020 as compared to the same timeframe last year. Needless to say, having an online store is becoming a necessity for your business and means that your brand is always open and available to your customers.
Where can you get ideas for creating your online store? “Don’t be afraid to look at other websites,” says Sabina. “See what your competitors are doing but also look at sites in general to understand what works well,” she says. Creating a purchase transaction process that is fast and easy for customers is important for success and website copy plays a key role in making this happen.
Write product descriptions that are short yet provide all the necessary details and be sure to include a photo with each item. Simply state the name of the product in the heading (this is important for SEO reasons) and follow it with a benefit-oriented sentence or two about how the product will make your customers’ lives easier. Web.com can help you create an eCommerce store to generate more sales and revenue. Here some are additional tips for creating an online store.
Track your results.
One of the best things about a website is you can track the results of your efforts. Free online tracking sites like Google Analytics can show you how many website visitors you are attracting and how long they are staying on each page so you can see what copy strategies work best for your website and business. “You can use this information to determine how to better engage with your audience,” says Sabina.
Sabina Escalada, Social Media Manager, Web.com
When you are ready to write copy for a new website, Web.com can help with website packages that feature SEO, eCommerce, blog and professional email options to help you make the most of your online experience. After working with over three million small businesses to get them up and running online, Web.com is always ready to help you with expert service and knowledgeable professionals – Sabina is just one great example.
“Good copy is a good sales pitch that offers a solution to your customers’ problems,” she says. “Not everyone is a professional writer, but anyone can write great web copy by following these tips.”