When you’re staring at a blank cursor, starting your website copy can feel overwhelming, let alone writing it…especially if you’re not a writer by trade. But as any professional copywriter will tell you, 90% of producing high-converting and persuasive website copy is in the preparation. Once you know HOW to approach your page, the actual writing comes more quickly and easily.
In this post, I’ll show you how to approach any page on your website like a pro, and walk you through the process from start to finish.
If you want to really improve your website copy for the long haul, you’ll need to capture and keep the attention of your site visitors. The first step is to form a relationship with them, one based on trust and understanding.
Your prospects need to see themselves represented in your messaging. They should feel as though your offer is the immediate and best solution they’re looking for.
This is perhaps the most important step toward better website copy. Before you write, take a moment to consider who the heck you’re writing to. Some marketers will refer to this as a segment or avatar. Semantics aside, your ideal reader is the single most important factor to nail if you want to write the perfect web page.
Ask yourself these questions:
If you’re struggling with this (as you may well be, because it’s not easy!), there are a couple of approaches to help you narrow in on your reader:
Picture your reader in your mind, and describe their age, demographics, job title, professional experience, household income, gender, and favorite TV show.
Next, hit the web and do some research about your ideal reader. What are people saying on Facebook, Reddit, or Quora about your type of product or service? What concerns are they voicing?
Finally, comb through your testimonials, product reviews, surveys, call logs, and customer support tickets to get a sense of what your ideal customer is looking for and needs from your service. What positive and negative feelings are they expressing? Are there any themes or patterns you can spot?
Keep this in mind as you prepare your page, and jot down notes and direct quotes as you go. Be prepared to pull the top concerns or objections into your copy down the road.
When considering tone, ask yourself: WWMRD? What would my reader do?
Your macha-loving, boho gal from California won’t respond to corporate jargon. She’ll likely roll her eyes and think “Next!”
Similarly, if you’re a dentist and want your page to convey trust and security, you may not want to lead with a joke or an overly casual, conversational introduction. These readers want to see professionalism and your credentials.
It’s important to match the expectations and hopes of your reader throughout your page, and use the language they would use to describe your product or service. This page is, afterall, for them.
Write down how you want your reader to feel and respond to your website copy.
You’ll probably want a consistent voice and tone across your website copy, perhaps with a few exceptions. This makes your job even simpler. Once you have your guiding words, you can use them to match the tone across all your pages.
It’s easy to make the mistake of jumping straight to website copywriting. But resist the urge! If you take the time to prepare and organize your thoughts, I think you’ll find that writing will be a whole lot easier.
So let’s get started!
Ask yourself this question: By the end of this page, what should my reader be ready to do? Now write down your answer.
Every page has a goal, whether you’ve articulated it or not, like:
I want my reader to leave my About page feeling confident in my experience and my personality.
I want the reader who lands on my Homepage to visit my Services page to learn about my offerings.
I want my reader to purchase something by the time they get to the bottom of the page.
Everything you write will be in service to this goal. Every word of copy will persuade, convince, and prove the action or information you’re asking your reader to invest in. Yes, time is also a precious commodity. This goal will help you “build” your way to the offer or call to action (CTA).
Drop your reader in medias res, or ‘in the midst of things’, and lead with your strongest hook or argument, rather than building to what you need to say.
Skip the introductions, the “thanks for visiting my site!” phrases, and drop your reader right into the meat of your argument. The caveat? Depending on the page you’re working on, your reader is likely to be at different places within that customer journey, so your hook will change:
When a reader lands on your homepage, they could have zero knowledge of your brand or they could be a repeat customer looking for something specific. Lead with your elevator pitch or why statement, add links to a range of pages, and provide context for who you are and how you work.
Assume that your reader is looking for an immediate solution and match that expectation in your headline by leading with a value-driven statement of how you provide a solution.
Excepting sales pages that exist as part of a wider marketing funnel (where readers at all stages of awareness are visiting), it’s safe to assume that your reader understands your solution and needs to now hear about your product. Lead with the outcomes of your specific product.
Think of your value proposition as your 5-second elevator pitch in digital form. And truly, 5 seconds is about what you’ll have before your new page visitor clicks that dreaded back button.
Your unique value proposition (or UVP) is the statement that describes what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it.
For example, here’s mine:
I write high-converting, SEO-informed copy that drives deeper connections and sales for the most powerful marketing tool you’ve got…your website.
You won’t often state your UVP right on the page. Your UVP typically becomes a tagline, or a shorter, snappier saying you’ll use in headlines and across social media. For me, it’s typically something like “Your website. In high def.”
Now the fun part…you get to think through and shoot down all the possible objections your reader may be feeling at this moment AKA the moment before acting.
Make a list of all the questions, complaints, or other ‘things’ getting in the way of action. It could be cost, time, other options, timing, or pure laziness on the part of your reader.
Now, circle the top two to three. The complaints you hear constantly from your customers.
Respond to those objections directly on the page and before your CTA.
You can use a FAQ, which is especially good for a sales or service page. Or you can pull another review/testimonial that speaks to the complaint. Or you can use a data point to disprove the objection (“Proven to save 30 hours of your work time each week.”).
Just be sure you can back up your claim in your website copy.
You’ve done the heavy lifting. Now it’s time to write! Sharpen your pencil and grab a fresh notebook…and away we go.
Here’s a basic flow you can apply to your page:
Here’s what that looks like in more detail:
A big part of convincing your reader is the proof you provide that explains why your service or product is worth the time and money. There are several types of social proof to choose from; look for examples that best showcase you for this specific page and this specific goal.
Here are some to consider:
Whatever you choose, your job here remains the same: convince your reader with proof why you are the best person (or brand) for the job.
You’ve shown your reader proof of your authority. Now it’s time to give them a full rundown on all the ways your product or service will help them. I prefer to think about the long-term outcomes rather than the short-term gain. What do I mean by that?
It’s the difference between
“Healthier, blemish-free skin after 30 days of use”
“No longer hide your face. Finally, show up confidently and blemish-free.”
What are the hopes, dreams, and fears that your reader has that your product will address? What underlying pain can you heal that goes beyond the immediate?
Once you’ve built your argument and convinced a prospect to act, it’s time to present your offer with a call to action (CTA) button. Most web pages will only need ONE call to action. Yes, just one. This keeps your page—and your reader—focused on the next strategic step you want them to take.
Keep your button copy clear and concise, and use action words like “shop”, “buy”, “download”, or “enroll” so readers know exactly what you want them to do next.
It’s good to remember that there are several offers besides your final, paid offer that are worth asking for. For example, when you’re writing pages for new or ‘barely warm’ readers, consider an opt-in or freebie to build a deeper connection with your prospect (ahem, like the one you’re reading right now).
What other offers can you try?
Now that you have your draft, it’s time to improve your website copy with some editing sweeps. Here are some that I recommend:
When you’re adding a new page to your website, customize your URL so that it’s logical and aligns with the content on the page. And extra SEO bonus points if you can integrate your primary keyword phrase into your URL.
Using proper header structure throughout your page makes it easier for readers to scan your page, but it’s also what search engine bots and site crawlers use to index your site. The best way to make sure your page is crystal clear to your inhuman audience is to give it intentional structure on your page, like so:
Strategic keyword placement continues to be one of the most effective ways to increase your page ranking in a search engine. But even if you’re not a keyword expert—and even if you’re a complete newbie to the world of SEO—you can still be strategic in using keywords to write your web page.
Here’s a quick and dirty approach to keyword research that will improve your website copy without making you want to pull your hair out and ban the letters ‘S’, ‘E’, and ‘O’ from your vocabulary forever:
Outbound and internal linking is a powerful strategy that pleases both humans and search engines.
Outbound links are any hyperlinked text that directs traffic to another site. Before you write this off as ‘sending away traffic’, bear with me! These links, especially when chosen strategically, send a powerful trust signal to search engines and better place your site within your niche. Try linking to relevant sites that are high-authority, like URLs that end in .edu, .gov, or .org.
Internal or interlinks are useful navigation tools that keep your reader invested in your website. By strategically showing your reader other related content, you keep them on your site longer. This not only improves dwell time and other on-site metrics but also keeps the reader’s eyes in front of your brand for longer, looking at the content you choose for them. Most marketers will dish out five-figures for that kind of power.
Be extra strategic about your links and decide which ones are worth opening in a new window and which automatically redirect. This prevents you from unintentionally leading your reader to a new page or experience when you still want them to stay on this original page you’ve worked so hard to write.
A good rule of thumb?
Your page’s meta information serves two purposes:
Your title tag is a 50-60 character title for your page. Include your page and brand name. Pick a format that works for you and use it consistently across your site.
Here’s an example: Title of Page | BRAND NAME
Your meta description provides a brief description of the page, describing what a user could hope to find if clicked. Keep this description under 160 characters (or around 50 words) and include your main keyword.
Wait to complete your metadata until you’re done writing the bulk of your page (I always write it last). That will help you stay crystal clear on the content and keyword strategy of the page.
Now go have a cocktail and give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve earned it.
9 Homepage hacks to improve conversions: Get my 9 top tips for making your homepage a conversion-driving machine.
On-page SEO: Get a full checklist for improving your website copy with on-page SEO…for every page of your website.
Researching Prospects: Learn more about researching your customers and go deeper with the voice of the customer research process.
SEO copywriting tactics: Learn how to use SEO at every stage of the customer journey to drive organic traffic and conversions to your website.
Finding & hiring a website copywriter: Learn how to vet, hire, and collaborate with a website copywriter when you’re ready to get some help from a professional website copywriter.
Get bi-weekly copywriting tips & SEO how-to's that power your website.