How to write for the web
Is the writing on your website letting you down? Don’t know what to say? Or not sure how to go about it? When writing a page for your site, follow this simple advice and you’ll create website copy that works.
Who is the content for?
For each page or section on your website, work out who you’re writing for. Who is the audience for your content? The audience for your page is the group of people that will be looking for your business and this page in particular.
This could be as simple as stating that it’s for small business owners, home owners, single people or married couples. The more information you can use to define your target audience the better able you are to target your page content.
For example: A hairdressing Salon.
Our hairdressing salon is targeting women in their twenties who like to keep up with trends. Women in this group are up with latest trends, they like a certain look, they don’t mind spending $150 upwards per session and will come back regularly.
By thinking about targeted demographic information about your customers we can create a profile and enable you to write content to convince them to buy from you - not someone else.
Spend 5 minutes working out who you’re targeting and write it down. Write down all the features you can think of about them. You’ll need this information for the next step. Note that this may not be the same for every page on your website.
Follow through the next few points and you’ll have a starting point for creating content for your users and improve the value of your website.
What questions do the audience want answered by this page?
You walk into a shop and you’re looking for a new TV. You haven’t done any research but you’d like to find out more. There is not a sales assistant anywhere to be seen. What do you do? Do you stay? Or do you walk out and go somewhere else?
The web is the same. If your website isn’t answering the questions your customers have, they’ll go somewhere else. And it’s so much easier to do that online than it is in a physical store.
These days, web searchers are savvy. They’ll be in one of two groups and know what they’re looking for. The first is research - they’re looking for information about a product or service so they can make a decision. The other is buying - they’re ready to buy right now.
You’re not quite in the same position online that you are in your bricks and mortar store. The customer isn’t able to come right up to you and ask their questions. This is why you need to anticipate the questions your audience has when they visit your page. Are they looking for information or looking to buy? What other questions might they have?
For example: A hairdressing Salon.
I’m a female in my twenties. I want something cool and funky. My questions might be: What sort of hairdresser are you? This can be answered by the style of the website, does it look cool and funky, or answered in the gallery of images of your work. I want a full restyle and colour. Do you do the services I need? How much do you charge for this?
By thinking about your content from your customers perspective and answering your customers questions, you make it easy for them to choose you. The goal is to “not make them think”.
You know yourself that when you’re searching for information online and you can’t find it, you leave the site. You go back to Google and continue your search. This is not what you want your customers to do.
Pretend you’re a customer. What questions would you have if you were looking for your business? Write them down.
What are the key words and phrases you’re targeting?
Now that we’ve established who your audience is, we can think about what words or phrases they might be using to find your business. Back on our hairdressing example. We could target types of services along with our local area “cut and colour bendigo”, “trendy hairdressers bendigo” and so on.
There are a few ways you can determine the words to focus on. You can think about it yourself as if you were a customer, you can do keyword research online - there are resources online to get you started, or you can ask your customers. If you can, asking your customers is going to be a great way to find out this information. However, doing keyword research of any sort is better than not doing any.
So spend a few minutes making a list of the keywords and key phrases your customers would use to find your services or products.
Breaking up the text
The next essential step is to create an outline. Breaking up the text into logical sections is the final step before you start writing. You’ve now got an understanding of who you’re targeting, what questions you need to answer for your customers, the key words and phrases you need to target and your call to action. The final step before you start writing is to create the structure for your page.
By creating a structure we can assemble out thoughts about the content into some sort of order.
Start with an introduction. This is where you introduce the topic for the page and outline the key concepts you’ll be explaining.
Create two or three main points to discuss within the page. Give these sections different headings, using your key words or phrases if possible. Using headings makes the page easier to scan (again making it easy for your user).
Answer the users questions in here. You don’t need to use a question and answer format but make sure you write them in to the text.
Sum up your main points. Sometimes you might want to add your thoughts or pose a question to the reader.
Spend a few minutes writing your outline now.
Call to action. Or, what do you want the customer to do next?
Follow up your conclusion with your call to action. It’s all too common to forget about this crucial step when writing your content. A call to action prompts the user about the next step and increases the chances that they’ll continue their journey with you.
It could be to phone you for an appointment (so include your phone number), sign up for your newsletter, follow you on social media for new updates, or anything else that works for your business. Just make sure you include something for your customer to do.
Write down what you want your customer to do once they’re finished on this page.
Putting it all together
You should now have an outline for the content for your web page. Keep going and fill in the rest and you’ll have the page content for your website before you know it.
Writing isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and if you’re not practiced it can be time consuming. By following a structure, your web content becomes more focused and valuable to your customers.
In summary, you need to learn about your customers; anticipate the questions they want answers to; find the key words and phrases they use to find you; break up the content; add a call to action; and then get writing.
Thanks for reading and happy content writing!