11 tips for writing website content [a guide for beginners]
Check out these top tips for writing website content that not only promotes your business but engages your target customers.
Published: 09 Apr 2021
9 minutes read
1,2,3,4… still here?
Good! I’ve caught your attention - which is great because research shows I have only 10 seconds to do so when someone is reading my content on the web. And I succeeded... just about.
The truth is, it’s hard out here. Especially when actually grabbing your readers’ attention is only the tip of what is a giant, scary iceberg.
Writing website content is tricky. It’s a valuable skill that most people will gladly pay for to remove the burden. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a go!
Keep reading for 11 tips on how to write website content when you’re a beginner, (and feeling a little overwhelmed).
But first, what makes good website content?
When I talk about website content throughout this blog, I’m mostly referring to what’s called web copy, or, the text that appears across your site. It serves a multitude of purposes, from trying to convince a prospect to buy with powerful, persuasive words; to guiding your users to where they need to be through instructional, direct micro-copy.
Whatever it’s there for, your website content needs to be high quality. If it doesn’t engage users or encourage them to take action, it isn’t fulfilling its purpose. Put simply, ‘good’ website content matches the intent of the person looking for it. It isn’t just appealing to search engines (though this is important), but real human beings.
Ultimately, good website content allows users to achieve their goals in the easiest, most effective way possible.
Here are our top tips for writing website content, from start to finish:
Website content writing tips
Tip #1: Understand the purpose
The most important thing is knowing what the purpose for creating the content is in the first place.
Knowing your goal from the outset makes it much easier to create something users actually want to engage with. However, by ‘goal’, I mean something specific. Of course, the ultimate goal of your website is to generate more customers - but to write website content, your goals need to be narrowed down.
Gather your team and ask yourselves:
- What product or service are you selling that our website content should support?
- Are you focused on attracting a new audience? Or converting leads you already have?
- What do you hope to achieve with your website content? (an increase in traffic, an increase in conversion, more newsletter subscribers, etc.)
Once you understand what you’re selling, how you’re trying to sell it, and the level of conversion you’re looking to achieve, it’s much easier to write your website content.
Tip #2 Identify your audience
It’s common knowledge that in order to sell to people, you need to know a little about them. But when it comes to writing website content, knowing a little isn’t enough.
On the web, people are different. Users are a lot less predictable, and basing your understanding of them on assumptions alone won’t get you very far.
You need to identify, research, and ultimately, understand your audience in order to write website content that speaks to them and meets their needs. A large part of this is understanding what language they use, and what they’re looking for.
To identify your audience, you should:
- Test existing content (if you have it), and listen to what the data tells you - for example, if you have a high bounce rate on a page, this suggests that something about the content isn’t drawing users in.
- Look at what people type into search engines like Google, and use this as the basis for your keywords.
- Talk to people in your organisation - they can offer insight into how your audience looks and acts because they deal with them on a regular basis.
Learning to write in the way your audience speaks or searches for information is essential to creating good website content. By reflecting on what users search for back to them, you begin building a relationship of trust.
Help them with a specific problem, and you may have just won yourself a new customer.
Tip #3 Know your competition
Think of it this way, if your audience has a problem and they’re searching for the answer, at this stage they likely don’t care who that answer comes from - providing they get a resolution. No matter how good you think your content is, there are going to be others offering similar solutions.
To create website content that has a chance of competing, you need to make a strategic decision on whether you should offer similar content to your competitors, or do something different. The best way to understand what will work best is through research. Competitor keyword research, as well as staying on top of industry trends, can help you get ahead in your website content offering.
Once you’ve covered these 3 areas, you’re ready to make a strong attempt. So let’s move on to the harder part: actually writing your website content.
Website content writing tips
Tip #4: Get to the point
As I mentioned, studies have shown that you have as little as 10 seconds to get your reader’s attention, so you need to get to the point.
Good website content gets users to take action by guiding them in a simple and clear way that doesn’t obstruct, interrupt or distract them - it moves them towards a goal without them even noticing. It is:
- clear and to the point
Don’t overload your website content with unnecessary information. When writing website content, you should use the ‘inverted pyramid’ model (below), which is where you put the most important message at the top of the web page, and gradually bring in supporting information.
[image: Nielsen Norman Group]
One of the best examples of this principle in action can be seen on the GOV UK website on the page about bank holidays. If I search “when is the next bank holiday” I am presented with this page:
As you can see, the answer to my question is right at the top of the page, with further supporting information underneath. There is nothing interrupting or preventing me from meeting my goal, and I can leave this page knowing that my problem has been solved.
This is a slightly unusual example, but it’s exactly what your website content should be doing - getting users where they need to be, when they need to be there, as quickly and easily as possible.
So, that long-winded explanation of exactly how your product works using complex technical language in your introduction? Scrap it. Get to the point quickly.
tip #5: Make it about them, not you
Remember that website content is the bridge that helps you build a relationship with your potential customers, so it must be focused on them and their needs.
Writing in their language, as we touched on in tip #2, is one part of this. But you also need to create a bond between your business and its customers, by doing the following.
- Directly address the reader, as though you’re in conversation with them
Use “you”, when writing about your audience, and how your product or service can help them. Saying “you can order our product”, instead of “our product can be ordered” puts the user front and center, engaging them further as a result.
HubSpot recommends that you use “you” twice as much as “I” and “me”, so this is a good benchmark to go off. Using an active voice also sounds more friendly and approachable - trust us, no matter what your business is, being overly formal is almost always incredibly off-putting.
- Keep the focus on them
Of course, you want to write about how great your offering is - but remember when writing website content, the focus should always be on what the reader will get out of your product or service.
Whenever you’re talking about the benefits of your offering, you need to add value. Instead of simply stating what your USPs are, such as “excellent customer service”, dig deep and explain what it is that makes it so ‘excellent'.
Chances are, your target audience has read a handful of other content from your competitors, all of which are reeling off the same, tired shtick. By focusing on where you can add value to your users, you make yourself stand out - without even trying that hard.
#6 Keep it simple
Especially in the B2B space, there’s a common misconception that using simple English means ‘dumbing down’ your content. This simply isn’t true.
Using clear, straightforward language not only ensures that your content is accessible to all users, but that it is easy to understand, and therefore has more chance of converting them into customers.
I know what you’re thinking: but our product is for highly educated people! Isn’t this just ‘dumbing it down’, or patronising them?
Nope! Think about that 10-second attention span I referred to earlier - even the most intelligent, educated people in the world will still choose not to engage with something if it’s too difficult to understand, or too much effort is required.
It’s estimated that 7.1 million people in the UK can be described as having 'very poor literacy skills’, and the average reading age of the entire population is 9 years old. This means there’s a very high chance that by making your website content too complex, you’re actually alienating a lot of potential customers.
Not only this but using simple, easy-to-understand language can actually help build trust - especially in sectors traditionally ‘untrustworthy’, such as financial services, legal institutions, and healthcare. Using simple language will your business stand out from competitors because your audience trusts you, and will come to you repeatedly to answer their questions.
#7 Make them an offer they can’t refuse
Of course, writing website content is about more than just creating a pleasant experience for your users. At the end of the day, most of us writers are still trying to sell something. That means when creating website content, we need to balance building a relationship with our readers, with trying to persuade them towards our offering.
Remember the goals you outlined in tip #1? This is where they really come in handy. The purpose of your website content is to encourage your readers to take some kind of action - be it make a purchase, download a whitepaper, or even join your mailing list.
Regardless of what you want your readers to do, you need to prompt them to take action through a well-crafted, enticing call to action (CTA). The micro-copy of the CTA itself should use verbs that encourage action, such as “get a quote”, “learn more”, or “sign up now” , butwe’ve often found that offering something of value in your CTAs works well too.
Like I mentioned in tip #5, your CTAs and surrounding content should be centred around the user to take action. Ask yourself: what’s in it for them?
Some ways you could show users why they should click on your CTA include:
- Success stories, case studies, or quotes from happy customers
- Stats to show how successful your offering is
- A quote from a relevant expert, showing why your offering is valuable
By doing this, you back up claims about why your offering is valuable, meaning your users are able to trust you, and therefore more likely to be interested.
#8 DON’T always use your words
When it comes to writing website content, you need to be aware that sometimes, words are not the answer. Part of creating effective website content is recognising where your points could be made better in another format other than copy, such as through videos or visuals.
If you have a complex technical product and you want to showcase how it works, a long page of copy devoted to relaying every single detail probably isn’t the best way to do it. But a video would help users digest information much more easily. Plus research has shown that people are much more likely to purchase a product after watching a video about it.
Creating different forms of website content also helps you diversify what you’re offering. If you create videos, then you’re able to repurpose the content into transcripts, guides, and other content, allowing users to engage with the format best suited to them.
#9 Optimise your content
While you should be focusing on your human audience, unfortunately, you can’t ignore the power of search engines.
This means going back to the keywords you identified in tip #2 and making sure your content has included these throughout. You should aim for around 2% density, which is enough to get your content seen while avoiding keyword stuffing (which Google doesn’t look too kindly on).
Remember these basics:
- Include keywords in headings and subheadings: add your primary keyword to your title, and be sure to have supplementary keywords dotted throughout your subheadings and body text.
- Place keywords in metadata, such as your page title and meta description: this helps both Google and your audience know what your content is about, and if it’s what they’re looking for.
- Add links to other relevant, helpful content: there’s no harm in linking other content you’ve created where appropriate, as it keeps users on your page for longer, and gives them even more value.
- Write an understandable URL: this helps users know if they’re on the right page, and, to be honest, it just looks a lot nicer, right?
- Any visuals also need to be optimised!: If you have images or video within your content, you need to ensure that these are the right size so as to not slow down the speed of your page.
Ultimately, if you want your website content to be seen by the right people at the right time, it needs to be optimised.
A very obvious tip, but an extremely important one - please proof your content before AND after putting it live. There’s nothing worse than spending time crafting a great piece of content, only for it to be riddled with errors. Here’s what you can do to avoid this:
- Get someone to read over your content
Ask someone in your team to read over everything you’ve written or created, to double-check that nothing has been missed and that there aren’t any errors.
It’s a good idea to have at least 2 peer reviews - one from someone with little or no knowledge of what the content is doing (to spot glaring grammatical errors, or where things don’t make sense) and a subject matter expert (to ensure all technical content is accurate).
- Test your content after it goes live
Particularly if your content is more than just plain copy, it’s essential to test it to make sure that it’s working for your users. This means checking on different devices and browsers to ensure that the content is working as intended, and not broken or formatted incorrectly.
#11 Keep your content fresh
Your website content isn’t finished once you hit publish. It has a lifecycle, which means it requires regular monitoring and maintenance to keep it relevant and up to date.
Before you actually publish your content, you should figure out (and agree with other team members where necessary) a plan for keeping your website content fresh, including:
- How and when the content should be updated, as well as how often it should be done
- Who is responsible for updating the content
- Determining how you know your content has been successful - for example, if there is an increase in leads generated
- How it should be reviewed, and what you’ll use to measure success - for example, Google Analytics or Hotjar
- What to do when the content is no longer relevant, and can’t be improved
The last point is especially important. While website content can and should be improved continually, there comes a time where it is no longer needed.
Keeping website content that is outdated or useless simply because it was hard work isn’t a good enough reason for it to remain published. Creating good website content is about adhering to its lifecycle and knowing when it’s time to retire. Having a plan in place for this while you’re writing ensures you’ll be able to get the most out of it before this time comes.
There you have it! My top 11 tips for writing and creating website content that not only works for your users, but for your business. Content is a vital part of your website, so it’s essential to get it right for the best results.
You might want to attempt it yourself, or request the help of an agency - but no matter what you choose, your website content is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating a great experience for your customers.
In our free resource, the ultimate guide to b2b website design, we walk you through each element needed to create a cutting-edge website - specific to those in the B2B industry, where you’re dealing with much more complex users. We discuss design, development, and everything in between. Download your free copy below.