When you’re building a website, it’s easy to spend so long trying to get the layout right that content becomes almost an afterthought. The idea of filling those long, empty pages can be daunting and off-putting. If you’ve never written website copy before it can be extremely difficult to know where to begin. Then there is the added pressure of knowing that as soon as you publish your content it will become instantly visible to the whole world, speaking for you and your business 24 hours a day.
It may be important, but it’s not impossible! If you’re stuck for how to write content for a website, you have come to the right place. We’ve written a guide for first-time content writers to put together the perfect copy for their website.
How to write content for a website: 5 steps
If this is your first time, make sure that you know what you want to achieve before you start typing. Planning your article point by point works for some people, breaking down the emptiness of the page first and then going back to fill in the detail after.
Alternatively, you could imagine yourself to be a freelancer, and write a brief as if you were instructing somebody else to do the work for you. Writing yourself a brief is a good idea when you are starting out – it will give you focus, direction and something to aim for.
However you choose to go about it, there are 5 key questions which you will need to be able to answer before you begin writing content for a website: who, what, where, when and why?
1. Who is your audience?
Always know who you are writing for. Have a target reader in mind and imagine that you are writing the article for them. Are they an expert or a novice? What age are they and what are their priorities when it comes to your company? What does your business mean to them and where will it fit into their life?
In the same way that you would tailor a sales pitch to each individual customer, it is important to write copy which is relevant to the type of person you are looking to engage with.
2. What would you like the content to achieve?
What is the call to action from the copy you are creating? If you want to make people call up and enquire about your services, make sure this is explicit in the text and ensure that your contact details are easily accessible on the page.
If you want to lay out detailed information about a product or a service, make sure that you convey everything you want your readers to know.
3. Where are you going to be posting it?
Is the content you are writing destined for a blog or is it going to form established landing pages of your website? Is it being published directly onto the company site, or via a third party?
If you are writing a blog article, then you will want something which is interesting, engaging and shareable. You can use images and links to external sources to keep the content alive. You’ll want short, easy-to-read sentences with less formal language.
If you are writing for the official company website, then you’ll need to make sure that your tone matches the ethos and culture of the company itself. The text will act as your spokesperson when somebody comes to enquire about your organisation, so make sure that it comes across the way you would expect your best employee or advocate to do.
How often you are going to review your content will change the way in which you write it.
With blog posts, you can afford to write about specific events, holidays and times of year as these are usually posted with a clear publication date and are therefore seen as being snapshots in time.
Articles or pieces of content which are destined to form integral parts of the website need to refer to time more carefully. Avoid using phrases such as ‘we founded our company 12 years ago’ if you know that the content will not be refreshed regularly. Using specific dates instead, e.g. ‘we founded our company in 2017’, will make for content which is much more evergreen.
5. Why should people keep reading?
This one should be answered implicitly. Don’t actively tell readers why they should continue onto the next paragraph, but make sure each point you make is different and more interesting than the last. Withhold some of your information until the end and write as if you are gearing up for something. If you don’t give your readers a reason to keep reading, you’ll have to hope that you said everything you needed to in the first two sentences or the content will be serving for very little indeed.
Once you’ve started writing
If you’ve planned your content thoroughly, that blank page will suddenly look a lot less daunting. Once you get into the flow of writing, here are a few tips to help you stay on track and produce content which really hits the spot.
Read your content aloud
The best check for making sure that your content is natural-sounding and easy-to-read is by speaking the words aloud. Is this the way that you would speak to your target reader if they were sitting in front of you?
Reading aloud is also a great way to check that you are not overdoing it on the keywords. If you find that you are repeating yourself too often, maybe reign it back or use synonyms.
Play the agony aunt
Imagine that you really have the power to solve a problem for someone through your content. Offer solutions, advice and guidance so that readers can engage with the content you are putting out there. The content will only begin to work for you if you let it work for your readers, too.
Ask for help!
Content writing isn’t as easy as it looks! The easiest way to ensure that you end up with truly engaging and informative copy is by hiring a professional to undertake the task for you. Using a reputable and professional copywriting agency will take away all of the hassle and allow you to sit back and relax whilst someone else takes care of the content for you.
Main image credit: MadFishDigital