So, you want to be a copywriter. But just what is website copywriting? It’s crucial you find out because writing for websites and other online products is going to be a huge part of what you do.
Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without, half of 18 to 49-year-olds get their news and information from the web and people now see double the number of ads a day that they saw in 1984. It’s a solid industry.
Broadly speaking, you can split copywriters into two groups of people. There are copywriters who specialise in writing to get people to take an action. These people often focus on retail content. Then there are content writers, who write to inform. These people are often great at background and blog materials. Lots of copywriters have skills in both and switch and change between the two.
In this article, we answer questions like what is web copywriting, what does a website copywriter do and share tips for how to write great web copy.
What is website copywriting?
Website copywriting is the act of writing high-quality text and materials for online use that sell an idea or product. Website copywriting is highly persuasive and optimised for the digital landscape with the goal of driving sales and conversions, as well as engaging visitors and keeping them on the page for longer.
Website copywriting is essential for any business that has an online presence, as it can be used to improve search engine rankings and increase visibility. It also helps to create an effective user experience, as well as making sure that all important information is accessible and easy to understand.
What does a website copywriter do?
A website copywriter is a professional who produces written content for websites. They create website copy that is optimised for search engines and designed to engage website visitors. They also create content for other online channels, such as social media and email, that helps to promote the website and its products or services. Website copywriters are responsible for researching topics, creating content, and proofreading and editing their work to ensure it meets the highest standards of quality.
A web copywriter's work ranges from writing simple landing pages for websites (such as about us, services and other information pages) through to creating an interconnected body of many web pages that helps position a brand in search results when someone searches for specific keywords. This is especially so with ecommerce businesses.
Typically website copywriters have a strong knowledge of how to optimise their content to be found online by using keywords in strategic places, creating compelling copy and understanding how to structure their content to improve the user experience.
Why website copywriting is important
Website copywriting is crucial for any online business because it helps to get found online and expose the brand to a much larger audience more quickly and more affordably than offline marketing can. A website is essentially a digital storefront or a platform for communication, where businesses or individuals can showcase their offerings, engage with their audience, and build their brand image.
As such, a website serves as the online voice of a company and one of the primary means of communicating with its target audience. As such, the quality of website copy can determine whether a visitor will stay and engage with the content or leave the site entirely.
A well-crafted piece of copy can convey the unique selling proposition, differentiating it from its competitors and creating an emotional connection with the reader, ultimately persuading them to take a desired action.
What's more, effective copywriting can improve SEO by incorporating relevant keywords and phrases that increase the visibility of the website in search engine results pages. Therefore, investing in high-quality website copywriting is vital for creating a compelling online presence, building brand credibility and increasing conversions.
How to write website copy
Here are just a few steps that can help you up your game as a web copywriter:
1. Write for customers and algorithms
The first thing you need to know about great online writing is that you have more than one customer. The humans that visit your site need to be wooed and convinced of the quality of your product. Make it useful to them and better than what they could find elsewhere via Google and they'll keep coming back.
But so do the search engine ranking spiders that regularly scan web content to judge if it’s relevant and useful. Writing your content in a way that these spiders appreciate is called search engine optimisation (or SEO) and is a specialised art and professional writing skill.
2. Do your keyword research
Content that’s optimised for SEO will contain key phrases. These are the type of words the people you want to target are likely to put into a search engine to find information. For example, this article is targeting the terms 'what is website copywriting' and 'what is web copywriting'.
See how that phrase appears high at the beginning of the article? This helps push your content further up search engine rankings and get more visitors.
3. Work out your goal
When you’re writing your web copy it’s important to remember the goal of your pages. Perhaps it's to increase sales of a particular product, get database signups or simply grow your brand visibility. At the very least, the goal of website copywriting is to create a seamless and enjoyable user experience that leads to conversions and, ultimately, business growth.
Each page should end with some kind of call to action pointing the customer towards what to do next (e.g. buy, call, contact you, browse or sign up) so the aim of the copy is to build the argument for why they need to do that. What do they gain by shopping with you?
4. Write with purpose
Persuasive content is compelling and written with confidence. It fully embodies the brand voice and takes the reader along for the journey. For this reason, great web copy mostly uses the active voice. That’s where the subject of the sentence does the action – it’s not acted on. And it targets the reader ('you') to engage them from the get-go.
Sentences that follow this structure are powerful and easy to understand. Active voice sentences can also begin with a verb, as in a command, which can be useful when you’re trying to get people to do something. For example, ‘Download our latest catalogue today’.
5. Get the details right
People use the internet to get good information quickly. This is doubly so when it comes to finding out about a new or existing company. When they land on your site, they need an answer to something. On your About page they want to know what you stand for, how long you've been in business and why they should trust you. On your product pages, they likely want to know the specifics of a certain item and how it will benefit them.
You’ll need to ensure your content hits the who, what, when, where, why and how of your personal or company story. Get all the details in and your material is automatically more trustworthy. Read these great tips for writing better web copy.
6. Create captivating headers
Writing for online means a struggle between your words and those of the millions of others producing web content. You need to make yours stand out. Intriguing headers entice visitors to keep reading and take action.
Using action-led headlines can work well as can emotive words to engage the attention and curiosity of passing readers. Another trick is to use the element of surprise, by leading with a fascinating statistic or unique fact or angle from your piece.
7. Make it easy for readers
Once you have a visitor on your page you need to give them the information they need quickly. Online readers don’t read everything – they look for guides and markers that take them to the parts of the content they need. This means you need to make your content easy to skim. Some of the best ways to do this are:
- Use headings and subheadings, particularly if you can fit your key phrases into these
- Create lists for the key points (just like this one)
- Follow long sentences with lots of information with shorter ones. This makes your material easy and interesting to read. Just like this.
So what are the takeaways from this little foray into the world of writing for the web?
- Keywords are king, but make them work for you – not run the show
- Remember who you’re writing for and exactly what they need
- Write in a way that’s easy to digest and simple to scan
The breadth and scope of writing for the web make it actually a lot of fun. You’re never quite sure what will come along next, or how to fit that next phrase or link into an engaging and useful discussion. It’s a challenge, but if you’re up for it it can be highly rewarding. Have fun!
Main image credit: Studio Republic
Other images: Christin Hume, UX Indonesia