Website copywriting: 16 best practices for 2018

It’s no secret that I love a good website copywriting project.

In a lot of ways, website copywriting is like a puzzle with a set number of pieces and a variety of possible solutions.

My job as a copywriter and content marketing strategist is to find the best one.

Building on the puzzle metaphor, what are the pieces that go into website copywriting ‘puzzles’? What do we need to consider  when writing content for a website?

The way I see it, there are four main categories…

The 4 Parts of the website copywriting puzzle

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO): you’ve got to follow the latest conventions to make sure the website content you write is easy for search engines to find and rank.
  • User focus: that last point might have made you think that writing for search engines was the way forward. It’s not. Taking user experience into account is vital if you want links, shares, engagement and brand trust.
  • Conversion rate optimisation (CRO): making visitors to the site happy is one thing. Making them do what you want them to (click, engage, buy!) is another. Conversion rate optimisation takes research, data, and a lot of testing.
  • User experience (UX): how is your written content going to work with the rest of the site? The design, the build, the flow, the customer journey…How are you going to make sure website visitors find the ‘right’ content, in the right format, and at the right moment?

Click here to skip to…

Website copywriting best practices: SEO

Website copywriting best practices: User focus

Website copywriting best practices: CRO

Website copywriting best practices: UX

…or scroll down to read the entire article.

Website copywriting best practices: SEO

Not that kind of long tail

1. Break it up: 

Search engines make assumptions about the way we write things, and what that means about how important that content is. H1 and H2 text are considered priority, so make sure you include regular, keyword rich titles (H1) and sub-headings (H2) in your written content.

Bullet points and lists are also favoured by Google, so try and include them where possible.

2. Sort your meta descriptions

Take control of the meta data attached to your written website content, and you’re on a quick road to boosting your SEO.

Your meta data:

  • Describes the content of each page of your website
  • Advertises your content to search engine users
  • Displays relevant keywords to entice people to click

If you don’t fill out your meta data, Google will auto-generate some that’s almost certainly going to be less effective.

This article, on the SEO value of meta data, by Stone Temple is a handy reference guide.

3. Use bold font

Make it as easy as possible for visitors to your website to see what you want them to do, and keep their eye moving down.

Draw their attention to key points in your written content by using bold text.

See? Made you look.

4. Think about long-tail keywords

When you’re thinking about the keywords to include in your content, cast your net wider than the basic – often highly competitive – short-tail keywords.

Use keyword tools like the aptly named Keyword Tool to identify keyword phrases you could easily rank for, then build content around those.

Website copywriting best practices: User focus


1. Make it easy to read

There’s a number of ways to make your written content easy to read:

  • Front load: start off with the important information to grab attention and let readers know what to expect from the rest of the page.
  • Summarise: in content like blogs, white papers, articles and case studies, include a summary. Online readers tend to start at the intro, skip to the bottom, then scan the middle bit last.
  • Break it up: paragraphs of no more than three lines, and plenty of interesting images (not bullshit stock ones) will keep your audience engaged for longer.

2. Sort your brand tone of voice

A consistent brand tone of voice is so important. Prospects should know what to expect from your content, and it should be tailored to what matters to them.

Warm and approachable? Witty and relatable? Formal and authoritative?

Decide what works for your market and stick with it.

3. Cut the sales spiel

According to DemandGen’s 2017 B2B Content Marketing Preferences Report (here), 72% of B2B consumers are turned off by content that sells to them.

Things you can do instead of opting for the hard sell:

  • Include calls to action that are visually attractive and compelling
  • Incentivise conversions by offering exclusive content and offers in exchange for data
  • Align content and customer journey to move prospects down the sales funnel

4. Make it useful

Internet users are getting increasingly demanding. They’re used to content that offers value and asks nothing in return (nothing they can pick up on, that is…).

Focus on creating engaging, informative content that gives visitors to your website what they want. Particularly hot right now in the world of B2B content marketing:

Case studies
– E-Books
– White papers

Plus, you can make your best content available as downloadables – think of all the lovely contact data…

Website copywriting best practices: CRO


1. Include a CTA above the fold

Sometimes, you just can’t be bothered to scroll. We’ve all been there.

Include an attractive, prominent call to action above the fold on your website (the area that’s visible without scrolling down) to capture those visitors whose fingers are just too tired to travel.

2. Test your text

A big part of conversion rate optimisation is testing, adjusting, and testing again.

The kinds of website content you should be testing for effectiveness:

  • Titles
  • Meta data (titles, descriptions, keywords)
  • Subtitles
  • Calls to action
  • Button text

There are all kinds of little tricks to remember, so work your way through your content, do your research on each, and optimise for conversion.

3. Make your contact details prominent

Now I know my traditional B2B vendors are going to like this one, so let’s get right down to it:

GET A BIG OLD PHONE NUMBER AND PLONK IT RIGHT AT THE TOP OF YOUR WEBSITE.

Yes. 

It’s human. It works. It shows you’re available to customers and prospects when they want you.

It’s good to include your email address too, but the phone is the big thing.

Told you you’d like that.

4. Include social proof

There’s a bit of a cross-over here – two things that are working really well for B2B content marketing right now (and for the foreseeable future, too):

  • Social proof: customer reviews, client logos, press mentions, ‘wisdom of the crowds’ social proof (“89% of manufacturers recommend us”, “Britain’s number one supplier”)

(Some great examples of social proof in action by HubSpot)

  • User-generated content: reviews, testimonials, interviews, case studies, dynamic FAQs, social media campaigns

Including content from your customers in your own marketing helps you engage your target audience, build trust, and takes some of the pressure for content creation off your own shoulders.

Website copywriting best practices: UX


1. Make it clear there’s more to see

Website copywriting needs to integrate with the design and build of a website to get you the best results. One of the first ways to get visitors to your website engaged?

Let them see that there’s more below the fold by including written homepage content that either:

  • Requires them to scroll to continue reading
  • Tells them to scroll for more info
  • Links to content further down the page

2. Consider ‘hidden’ content

User experience is all about how visitors to a website navigate and use it. Don’t just think of your visitors’ actions – think of their indecision and their waiting times, by creating:

  • Rollover text: grab the attention of users who aren’t ready to click
  • Hover text: introduce more info without crowding your website
  • Loading text: a neat line or two between pages shows you’re an attentive brand
  • Thank you pages: do what your mum taught you, and say thank you!
  • Error messages: be friendly, tell users how they’ve gone wrong and how to fix it

3. Use clear links

Much as your website might be populated with bee-yootiful content (especially if I wrote it), some visitors just aren’t interested in reading. They’re busy, they can’t be arsed, they’ll come back to it later – whatever.

So, don’t make them.

The key objective of your website is to get visitors to do what you want them to.

The key objective of visitors to your website is to find out what they want as quickly as possible.

Make sure your links (text and buttons) clearly indicate what will happen on the click. So instead of:

Click here to download”

…write something like this:

“Download our 2018 guide to UX copywriting

In short, descriptive link text is great for:

  • UX: tell users what you’re giving them, then give it to them. Simple!
  • SEO: how’s Google supposed to rank your content if you’ve got 15 links on your page, all reading “here”?
  • Accessibility: make it easy for visually impaired consumers using screen readers to browse

4. Value at every stage

I lose hours browsing my favourite sites.

Why? Because for every article I click on, there are tonnes more interesting links to click. Down the side, at the bottom, in pop-ups…wherever I look.

While your website might not be quite as appealing, there’s no reason the same principles can’t work for you:

  • Group and clearly label related content using tags and categories
  • Recommend related content whenever possible, both as links and downloads
  • Create content to appeal to consumers at every stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Link to more relevant content: don’t let your web pages be a dead end

The second visitors to your website get bored or frustrated?

That’s the second you lose them.

The Short Version

Website copywriting is a specific skill, and needs to take into account:

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • User focus
  • Conversion rate optimisation (CRO)
  • User experience (UX)

The good news is that, generally speaking, what’s good for one of these categories is good for the others.

Nicely broken up text? Good for Google, good for readers.

Clear links to related content? Good for consumers, good for Google, good for conversions.

Long-tail keywords? Good for SEO, good for consumers.

While website copywriting may be as much science as it is art, it’s not alchemy. The advice you need to follow is common sense, backed up by data and evidence.

Study the basics, stick with them, and your website copywriting standards will sky-rocket.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of website copywriting best practices, but it’s a good start. What else would you include? Tell me below in the comments 👇🏻

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Latest work: B2B copywriting for Edmo Aluminium Extrusions

B2B copywriting Edmo

One of the latest projects I’ve been working on has been a big B2B copywriting job for aluminium extrusion and fabrication experts, Edmo.

Edmo’s a pretty big name in the aluminium extrusions industry. But, their website had done what most B2B websites do over time: become bigger, messier, and infinitely harder to navigate.

The information was outdated, there was no consistent tone of voice, and the user experience and flow were basically terrible.

Seriously, we found visitors who’d been there since 2012, wandering alone and covered in web dust in the tertiary level pages.

It was bad.

B2B copywriting Edmo

The brief

Edmo’s a hugely successful company that’s constantly investing in its business: new people, new equipment, new processes.

All of these things allow the company to increase its capabilities and processing capacity year on year.

But, the website was letting them down, both in terms of attracting visitors and giving a good impression to anyone who did stumble across the site.

Technical digital marketing agency, Adrac, were brought on to carry out a complete overhaul of the site: everything from written content (*coughs meaningfully*) to new and exciting visual branding.

The new website needed to pull its weight, drawing in new prospects, converting visitors into leads, and framing Edmo as an authority in its industry.

The job

As usual (I have the pleasure of working with them a lot), the guys at Adrac did a bang-up job.

The new site is a brilliantly and intricately built, fully responsive WordPress website with an intuitive, custom theme.

There’s a whole raft of newly commissioned photography and videography to bring Edmo’s services to life.

The navigation, which I worked on, is streamlined and simplified. The sitemap’s far easier for users to make sense of, and services have been clearly grouped.

Each now has a clear purpose, and the content is standardised across similar pages, improving user experience (UX).

The written content now follows a set of rules based on Edmo’s new brand tone of voice. And, as all good B2B copywriting should be, it’s clear, concise and thoroughly researched.

It’s also designed to give prospective and existing customers the information they need, whatever stage of the buyer’s journey they’re at.

There’s a brand-new Education Centre (a favourite B2B copywriting tool of mine), designed to offer visitors to Edmo’s website immediate value.

This online resource hub is filled with FAQs, case studies and SEO blog posts (an ongoing project that yours truly will be working on), positioning Edmo as a thought-leader in the aluminium extrusion and fabrication sector, and helping to boost the company’s organic search results.

Some of my favourite bits

The case studies:

B2B copywriting case studies

As soon as we got to see the amazing things that happen at Edmo (hey, there’s a reason I’m a B2B copywriter! I like this stuff!), we knew case studies would have to play a role in the new website.

The only problem? Edmo’s customers usually prefer to remain anonymous.

So, for the first time in my career as a website copywriter, I had to write case studies that showed just how impressive the client’s work was without actually identifying the customer involved.

Bit of a challenge, but we pulled it off.

Have a read of Edmo’s case studies here.

Corporate Social Responsibility

B2B copywriting CSR
When you work with clients who do complicated, messy, industrial stuff (like aluminium extrusion), there’s often a question of how to bring the softer side of things in.

One thing Edmo didn’t have on their previous website was any Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) information.

CSR can be a pretty important factor in procurement decisions now, so I decided to create a number of CSR pages on behalf of Edmo, covering their commitment to the environment, the local community, and fair and sustainable employment.

The best thing was that, before this project, Edmo hadn’t got round to consolidating all their CSR info. It was all there, just not in one place.

Now, it’s sorted. 👌🏻

Edmo’s values

B2B copywriting brand values

One of the loveliest things about working closely with the project team at Edmo was finding out the personality of the company.

On the old website, the ‘about’ section was the typical, mind-numbingly tedious (sorry, Edmo!) history spiel that you get on so many corporate websites.

It was completely flat, and showed no awareness of the target audience. After all, who ever decided on a supplier after finding out they were founded in 1976?

Not me.

Now, the ‘Company’ section of the site is full of information that really communicates the values that Edmo’s staff – and the company’s approach to customer projects – embodies.

Better yet, the values that we came up with from talking to the staff at Edmo are all things that will help persuade a prospective customer to get in touch.

There’s still this persistent school of thought that says B2B copywriting will always be dull, impersonal and corporate. It’s really not the case.

Authentic, customer-focused content always wins.

The results

The team at Edmo did an amazing job of getting me the information I needed to be able to understand exactly what they do and how they do it.

From the initial meeting and site tour, through to the seemingly endless (!) questionnaire stage and the final checks, they were always on hand to feed back on the work so far, and to clarify any points I needed to check.

Special shout-out goes to Darren, Edmo’s head of sales and marketing, who handled my numerous “quick queries” with unfailing optimism.

Darren Henry EdmoDarren had this to say:

“From our initial meeting with Lorrie it was very clear that we had found a first-class website copywriter. 

“Our website was very much out of date and not in keeping with the latest trends.  We had to move away from the old corporate structure and get new fresh optimised content for which Lorrie was the perfect choice.

“Lorrie had a firm grasp of our services and our processes, much to my delight.  Our business was thoroughly researched as was our plant and machinery. I was spared the effort of trying to explain in Lehman’s terms what it is that we actually do and how we go about doing it, as Lorrie was very much up to speed on our company.  I was even asked questions that had me checking technical manuals or investigate further.

“Lorrie took my very boring bullet-point explanations and developed them into search engine optimised text.  Not an easy task as we don’t like to give anything away about our customers or the machinery we actually use.  What makes it even more difficult is that we don’t actually make a product of our own – just everyone else’s. 

“Fully prepared questionnaires for each page with gaps to be filled in – doesn’t get much better than that.  Communications with Lorrie were very easy, good fun, informative and I am pleased to say they will not be coming to an end.

“On-going we will be working with Lorrie every month for our newsletters and mailshots to our subscribers.

“I would most definitely recommend Lorrie for your website copywriting – you don’t have to take my word for it – visit https://edmolimited.co.uk and check out the copywriting for yourself.”

B2B website copywriting is one of the jobs I love best. If you’ve got a project like this, why not contact me and see if we could be a good fit?

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

From start to finish: website copywriting projects

I’m hoping this blog – a complete guide to website copywriting – will be the first in a series of detailed posts on the work professional freelance writers do.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be talking to other copywriters about their specialisms, how they do their jobs, and how they got where they are today.

Integrated Website copywriting

integrated website copywriting

I believe in the value of integrated website copywriting projects. Website copywriting is a major part of what I do – I’d go as far as to say it’s the bread and butter of my business – and I’ve done enough projects to be able to generalise.

Sometimes, I work on small website copywriting projects where the design and build is done before the content. But for larger projects, I like to be involved from the concept stage. I also like to have direct contact with:

  • The clients
  • The design team
  • The dev team

Why?

The easiest way to explain why website copywriting should be an integral part of the project from the start is to go through a typical project step by step.

That way, it’s a simple job to highlight all the ways content can, and should, be a key part of any website build.

To jump to any of the sections, click the links below. Otherwise, read on!

  1. First contact
  2. Website navigation consulting
  3. Initial project meeting
  4. Data gathering
  5. The research stage
  6. The questionnaire stage
  7. Tone of voice guidelines
  8. Liaising with design and development
  9. Drafting content
  10. Finding snags
  11. Proof-reading
  12. Client content review
  13. Final checks
  14. Site launch

1. first contact

The way it tends to work is this:

My agency client comes to me and tells me they’ve got a new client for a website-build project. They do the build (and often the design) in-house, and they outsource the website copywriting to someone like me.

We talk about what the project will entail, what their client does, and whether the new website will be content- or design-led.

There’s usually a little dance around budget – no one wants to be the first one to name figures – so at this point I’m hedging my bets as to whether this is going to be a project I want to get fully involved with.

I’m interested, but I’m not committed yet.

2. website navigation consulting

One service I frequently offer clients before a website build begins is user experience and website navigation consulting.

I charge for this work separately to any further work on the project.

To begin with, I examine the current sitemap and discuss with my agency client how they think the new website should function, including:

  • Which pages need to be stripped away
  • Which pages function well in terms of SEO/UX
  • What the main product/service areas are, and how they break down into sub-categories
  • What the problems are with the current site navigation

After this initial discussion, I look through the entire website to see:

  • How it can be streamlined
  • Which content can be removed or consolidated
  • What new content is needed, and in which formats (just a couple of new paragraphs? A new page? An entire new area of the website?)
  • How we can improve user experience and flow throughout the site

One of the interesting things about websites is this: as companies grow and expand, they feel that their website should too.

It’s not true: in almost all cases, the bigger a company becomes, the more pared-back their website should be.

So, what you tend to find is that websites that haven’t been changed for a while will have a top level navigation that’s pretty clear, descending into secondary and tertiary navigations that become increasingly erratically organised and poorly populated.

These additional pages tend to be after-thoughts and add-ons, so there’s less attention to detail paid to:

  • What’s written on them
  • How it’s written and formatted
  • How it integrates with the rest of the site (i.e. how it’s accessed, where it links to and from etc.).

I tend to recommend that most these pages are removed and/or consolidated when the website is updated.

As part of my user experience and website navigation consulting service, I create a visual representation of a proposed new site map, with suggestions for additions, amendments, consolidations and removals from the existing site map.

My client looks over it, discusses any areas of uncertainty with me, then finalises it before including it in their final proposal to their client (who we’ll call ‘end-client’ for clarity from here on in).

Once my client’s confirmed the proposed sitemap, and whether the project will be design- or content-led, I’m able to finalise a quote for them. This takes into account:

  • How much research will be needed
  • How quickly the project will need to be completed
  • Whether I’ll need to visit the end-client (I usually do)
  • How many pages there will be
  • What the page templates will need in terms of written content.

My client factors my quote into the total project quote they send to the end-client. If I’ve done any consulting, I invoice for that.

Then, I wait to see what the client will come back with, and whether I’ll be doing any more work on the project.

3. INITIAL PROJECT MEETING 

It may take a number of weeks – or even months – for my client to confirm whether the end-client has opted to use my services as part of the project.

I don’t sit around and wait – I carry on as usual, and keep my client updated about my availability.

If I’m signed on to the project, I’ll agree payment terms with my client – often, we split the total sum in half or into thirds, payable over the duration of the project.

Then, the data gathering / initial project meeting stage begins. I make a start on basic research and content marketing strategy planning. usually accompany my agency client to the end-client’s premises to discuss:

  • The website design and build
  • The content marketing strategy I’ll be applying to it

The topics I’ll cover as part of the content marketing strategy include:

  • Brand tone of voice
  • UX (user experience) and navigation
  • SEO (search engine optimisation)
  • CRO (conversion rate optimisation)

How much emphasis is placed on each depends entirely on the project.

4. data gathering

website copywriting

The initial project meeting is our first opportunity to explain to the end-client what we’ll be doing with their website.

I also use the meeting to ask the end-client questions about their business and industry:

  • What they do and how they do it
  • What sets them apart from the competition (hint: often nothing)
  • What they like and dislike about their current website
  • Which competitor sites they like and why

I also take the opportunity to ask a few questions about brand identity, tone of voice, and how the client sees their  business, industry and customers.

Often, I prepare a questionnaire for the client before this meeting, which they keep and send me once they’ve had a chance to think and discuss their answers with their colleagues.

In my business, I work primarily with trade, industrial and B2B end-clients, which can mean that I deal with a lot of concepts that are new to me and quite complicated.

When I visit end-clients, I always try and get a site tour, so I can see what they do and how it all fits together. I need to fully understand what the end-client offers their customers, so I’m basically like the most attentive school trip visitor ever during these tours.

Once I’m home, I write up the notes I took during the meeting and tour, and share them with my client. I use these notes to:

  • Decide on the basic content I want to include on the new site
  • Decide how the content should be spread across the site
  • Identify information I still need to gather

5. The Research Stage

At this point, Google is my friend.

I spend at least a couple of days online, finding out more about:

  • The end-client’s business and industry
  • Their competitors, and industry leaders
  • The services/products the end-client and their competitors offer

I use the information I gather for two main purposes:

  • To gather factual information
  • To decide how to position my client as an industry leader

I create an individual dump file (a document into which I make notes and paste useful content) for every page of the new website.

Once I’ve completed a dump file for every page, I:

  • Collate the information I’ve gathered
  • Decide what needs to be covered on the new website

I also take notes on the good and bad points I see on competitor websites (clear, informative content; overly corporate tone etc.). These get dropped into my developing tone of voice document.

6. The questionnaire stage

website copywriting questionnaire

When I’ve finished the research needed for every page of the new website, it’s time to fill in the gaps: things I wasn’t able to find out, things I don’t fully understand, and things that are specific to the end-client’s business.

The best way I’ve found to fill the gaps, and get information right from the horse’s mouth (so to speak) is to create questionnaires for the end-client to fill out – one for each page. If the type of content needed on a number of pages will be very similar, the same questionnaire can be tweaked and re-used.

Depending on the amount of information needed, it can take end-clients a number of weeks to fill out the questionnaires and return them. Once I’ve received the answers, I review the information and contact the end-client to clear up any gaps and uncertainties. I then take the information from each questionnaire and drop it into the relevant dump file.

FUN ANTI-PLAGIARISM WARNING:

Quick note on dump files: anything I write is left in standard ‘body’ format. Material I paste from competitor and other sites is marked up in red. Material from the client is italicised.

That way, when I get to actually drafting the final content, I can see clearly what’s mine and what isn’t. Plagiarising isn’t just bad for your business and the people you rip-off – duplicate content will screw over your end-client too.

7. Tone of voice guidelines

tone of voice guidelines

Before drafting content, I need to set the guidelines for a new, consistent brand tone of voice to be used during the website copywriting stage of the project, and by the end-client in future.

While some clients already have tone of voice guidelines, most don’t. The ones who do often say that the existing guidelines are out of date or no longer relevant.

I use two things to inform the tone of voice guidelines I write:

  • The answers to the tone of voice questionnaire from the initial meeting
  • The notes I made on competitor brands

I also review the negative  trends in the end-client’s industry: for example, if the industry has an overwhelming tendency to be very dry and corporate, I’ll make a clear note to take another direction.

By combining the client’s thoughts with my own personal “wish list” of positive points, I’m able to create a full, authentic and unique brand tone of voice for both me and the end-client to use when creating content for their website.

I often send the tone of voice guidelines over to my agency client so we can make sure that there’s an affinity between the written content, any multimedia content, the design and the build.

You wouldn’t want cheery, jokey content set against a highly professional, structured web design, nor would you want very straight-laced content on a fun, interactive site.

8. Liaising with design and development

Once I’ve completed the tone of voice guidelines and they’re approved by my client, it’s time to see how the design and development side of things is coming on.

My client sends over PDF previews of the page template designs so far, both so I can get a feel for the visual side of the website, and so I can decide how much content will be needed on each page.

In web copywriting projects, I decide on the size of content modules before I actually draft any words. For example:

A page might require three ~20-word text overlays for its header image carousel, followed by a subtitle, an intro paragraph of 75 words, another subtitle, a more detailed paragraph of 150 words, four small paragraphs (four lines each) to accompany four icons, and so on.

Working the content this way allows me to plan out the copy before it’s written, let the design and development teams know what I’ll need them to enable for me, and standardise the look and feel of the pages on the website.

When I’ve decided on the content modules for each page, I send these plans over to the design and development teams for review.

If any adjustments are needed, we discuss those and decide how best to balance the visual and written content requirements.

When all the little issues are ironed out, the content plan is set, and I can make a start with the writing.

9. Drafting CONTENT

website copywriting time

Stage nine of the project, and it’s Actual Website Copywriting time.

The first job in the content drafting stage is to go through each of the dump files and insert the relevant headers and word/line counts decided on in the content plan.

I do this all in one go so I can be sure there won’t be any mistakes, and to save me wasting time checking the content plan over and over as I write.

I also make a note in each file of the keyword phrases the page should be targeting, so I remember to include these as required.

When it comes to writing, I’ll open up one dump file at a time, and begin to drag the copied and pasted content, my own research notes, and the client’s questionnaire responses into the section I think they fit best.

I remove any extraneous information: anything that’s not relevant, incorrect, or replicated elsewhere.

Once I’m happy with the basic spread of content, I begin the website copywriting itself.

As I create content for each module, I cut and paste the notes from that module to the bottom of the file. That way, when I’m happy with the copy I’ve written, I can review all the rough material, check I’ve covered every point I need to, and delete it bit by bit, until there’s only neat copy left.

One thing to point out: once all the content is drafted, but before the rough notes are deleted, I duplicate the file so I’ll be able to access the rough notes if needed in future.

This process takes a considerable amount of time, as you’d expect.

I upload the content as I write it, so the design and development team can make a start with situating it in the dev site.

I usually work with clients over Basecamp or Slack, and the files (Pages, as I use a Mac) frequently need to be exported to either Word, PDF, or both, before being uploaded.

10. finding Snags

snag finding

While I’m writing the rest of the content, my agency client will situate what I’ve already sent them in the dev site.

When I’ve finished the first draft of all the content (often a few weeks’ work), and they’ve uploaded it all, it’s time to discuss how it fits.

I arrange a chat with my client – usually over Skype or the phone – to find out whether there are any obvious snags.

Perhaps 50 words is too long for the intro paragraph, or four lines is too many for the content under the icons. Maybe the intro text on a service page seemed fine, but when you access that page from its landing page, it’s a bit too repetitive.

A large part of website copywriting is looking at how the words work in context. There are always a few areas that need work, so I note them down, then log into the dev site so I can correct them in situ.

It’s far easier to amend snags this way, as Live Edit mode allows you to see how text sits within the design template.

11. proof-reading

website proofreading

Once the website copywriting’s done and the snags have been fixed, and I’ve let my client know, it’s time to go over the dev site and proof-read the content for issues like spelling, grammar, punctuation, as well as clumsy phrasing, repetition and inaccuracies.

I also need to make sure the content adheres to the tone of voice guidelines, and that each page targets the correct keyword phrases.

Again, I correct these issues in situ on the dev site, making a note of the changes made to each page, and pasting those notes into the files on my own computer, so I’ve got a record of exactly what’s been amended, and where.

12. Client content review

client website copywriting review

Once the content is in place, de-snagged and proof-read, it’s time for my client to finalise everything on the design and build front before presenting the site to the end-client.

This presentation is sometimes done in person, back at the client’s premises, or remotely. I’m not usually present – I rely on my client to feed back to me.

My client will often give the end-client a printed copy of each page, so they can mark up areas they think may need amending.

There may be issues with phrasing, or the accuracy of certain information,  and a good old-fashioned red pen session is often the best way to address these.

In an ideal world, digital amendments would be possible – via something like Tracked Changes – however, in my experience, the vast majority of clients in the sectors I work with most frequently have no idea how to use it.

13. final check

When the amended documents are sent back to me, I review each one. I log into the dev site at the same time, so I can see how the content currently sits.

Then it’s a question of going through the word processing files, reviewing the changes, and deciding whether to implement them or not.

I implement the ones I agree with, often making small changes to the text around them so the content still sits neatly in the dev site.

Any I don’t agree with, I list in an email with a reason for my rejection. I send that mail back to the client via my agency client, and usually my decisions are accepted.

If they’re not, there may be a little tussle (at the end of the day, you can’t force a client to accept content they don’t like).

Sometimes I offer up a complete alternative rather than including something I think will damage the tone of voice, give a bad impression or sit awkwardly within the rest of the content.

14. Site launch

website copywriting launch

Once all the content’s in place and approved, the website copywriting part of the project is pretty much done. You’d think this would be a bit of a high point in the whole process but, quite honestly, it’s usually a quiet affair.

My client lets me know when the site is going to be put live, and I usually keep an eye on things from afar in case of any last minute amends.

Otherwise, all that’s left is to invoice, and thank the clients for their collaboration. Then, it’s into the portfolio with this project, and on to the next website copywriting gig!

I hope you enjoyed this long read on website copywriting – do you think I missed anything out? Are you a website copywriter who does things differently? I’d love to hear from you – comment below.

Related articles across the web

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

7 Steps To Better Website Copywriting

Website copywriting is a very particular skill, so if you’re hiring a writer to draft content for your company or client’s site, it’s crucial that you find someone who knows what they’re doing.

In this post, I outline seven things website copywriters should prioritise in every website copywriting project they undertake.

Click to jump to any section:

  1. Understand SEO
  2. Get to grips with CRO
  3. Think about user experience
  4. Work with designers and developers
  5. Keep brand ID in mind
  6. Be purposeful
  7. Don’t leave visitors hanging

1. Understand SEO

CRO copywriting

OK, so this is a pretty well covered topic but there are still so many copywriters not getting this right.

Search engine optimisation – SEO – is such a crucial part of your website; after all, it doesn’t matter how fabulous the site is if no one’s going to find it.

SEO conventions and best practices are changing constantly as our online behaviours change.

We’re searching in different ways, we’re using different devices, and Google (and other search engines) have to keep pace to make sure they keep their customers happy.

Regular research and training on SEO is a must.

Your website copywriter should be a regular reader of a few quality newsletters (or just one – I really recommend The Moz Top 10 if you fancy taking a look) and should be prepared to discuss with you what’s new in SEO before undertaking your website copywriting project.

2. Get to grips with CRO

Conversion rate copywriting

Just when you’d had enough with the acronyms, CRO comes along to spoil it all.

CRO stands for ‘conversion rate optimisation’ – put simply, maximising the chances of turning visitors to your website into customers and champions of your brand.

Conversion rate optimisation is similar to search engine optimisation in that both of these processes are half art, half science.

Like SEO, there are a number of tried and tested CRO factors your copywriter should know how to work with, adapt and implement for your site, including:

  • Header and sub-header formulas
  • Paragraph and list formatting
  • Button and subscription text
  • Buyer personas / non-buyer personas
  • Buyer journey stages / the sales funnel
  • Tone of voice and brand identity
  • Sales and lead conversion techniques
  • CRM integration
  • Website navigation and calls to action
  • Landing page best practices
  • A/B testing and lead monitoring

Learn more about conversion copywriting here.

3. Think about user experience

UX copywriting

The moment you lose site of your audience is the moment your website copywriting project goes horribly wrong.

User experience – often abbreviated to UX – is a vital component of any successful website.

And while it’s certainly not limited to the content on the site, content definitely needs to be kept in mind.

A common mistake I see website copywriters making is treating words as space-fillers.

When I take on a website copywriting job, I insist on being involved right from the start – before the website’s been designed or built.

That way, I can talk with the other project team members and discuss how visitors to the site are going to navigate it, which pages we want them to visit, what actions we want them to undertake.

Content can be used to inform a website build – deciding which pages are needed, how they should be grouped, what content should be featured on each page (and in what format), what your visitors are likely to want at every step of their journey around the site.

If you don’t care about user experience, you don’t attract and retain visitors – it’s as simple as that.

4. Work with designers and developers

Graphic web designers

Following on from that last point, a good website copywriter should know how to work with designers and developers.

Understanding the processes the other creatives on a website project undertake can:

  • Speed up the project
  • Boost ideas and creativity
  • Make life easier for everyone involved
  • Protect the client’s brand identity by aligning content and design
  • Improve the finished results

Undertaking a website copywriting project shouldn’t be a case of sticking a bunch of words in a file and sending them off into the ether.

Words don’t exist in a vacuum, so the more creatives understand each others’ roles, the better.

5. Keep brand ID in mind

brand tone of voice

Brand identity is a vital part of any website copywriting project – too often, SEO and CRO are prioritised over brand, when there’s no reason these factors can’t co-exist perfectly well.

An experienced website copywriter will understand brand identity, and how to write compelling website content while adhering to the client’s brand tone of voice and guidelines.

S/he will also be aware of how to work with the other creatives on the project to achieve a sensible, harmonious connection between the design, functionality and content of a website.

This will ensure that the written content complements the other components of the site, resulting in a cohesive and consistent brand identity.

6. Be purposeful

Visitors to your website are there for a reason.

They want something from you and they want to find it quickly and easily, with as few clicks as possible. If they can’t find it, they’ll go elsewhere – probably to a competitor with a better website.

Website copywriting should be clear, concise and purposeful.

Your homepage should be a visually appealing and briefly informative hub from which your visitors can be redirected to content (i.e. web pages) that match their interests.

And no, it shouldn’t start with “WELCOME TO X COMPANY’S WEBSITE – THANKS FOR VISITING”. Why? Because 1) it’s a waste of prime website real estate and 2) it makes people want to die of boredom.

When your visitors get to the page that best suits their needs, your content should inform, engage and persuade them to engage with you, whether that’s placing an order, signing up to a mailing list, or sending you an enquiry.

If your content has no purpose, it shouldn’t be there.

7. Don’t leave your visitors hanging

OK, so your website copywriting is a beautiful thing to behold – you’ve got your homepage sorted, your user experience down to a tee, and your brand identity couldn’t get more branded.

Your visitors are clicking where you want them to, taking the actions you need them to, and turning into happy customers.

What’s left to think about?

Well, in terms of website copywriting, not enough of us are talking about the delight stage of the content marketing process.

It’s not enough to keep your customers happy until the point of sale and then cut them loose – your content needs to let them know you value them.

Website copywriting projects should include loading copy on slower pages, sincerely written thank you pages for when a customer has fulfilled a particular action (downloading a guide, sending you their details – whatever it might be), and clearly marked calls to action and links to further useful content.

You should be thinking about the content outside the website too – email courses, newsletters, customer service email templates, e-books – you name it.

The last thing you want is for your customer to trust your brand with their details, fill out a form, and find themselves stranded on an ugly, empty page, with nothing left to do but close the tab.

Use your website copywriting as an opportunity to take a little more care of your customers – that way, they’re far more likely to come back to you.

Better website copywriting gets you better results

How much more simple can it get?

If visitors to your site find useful, valuable content on there that builds trust in your brand and tells them what they want to know, when they want to know it, they’re far more likely to stick with you and do what you want them to.

They win, you win.

(And your copywriter wins, ‘cos quality doesn’t come cheap 😘  How much does website copywriting cost? Find out!)

Have I missed anything off? Tell me below in the comments 👇🏻

SaveSave

SaveSave

Is Writing Your Own Website Content A Good Way To Save Money?

This is a pretty common question among business owners and I think it’s important to give it an honest, in-depth answer. 

There are pros and cons to writing your own website content – much like there are pros and cons to most things – so I’m going to outline some of them here.

The more information you have, the better decision you can make for your business.

So let’s get down to it.

The simple answer: yes

Can you reduce costs by writing your own website content?

Yes.

Website copywriting costs can vary hugely but, if you want to hire an expert, it’s not going to be cheap.

What professional copywriting will be is an investment and, if you work with someone who knows what they’re doing, it’ll be a highly worthwhile one.

But, with the best will in the world, we can’t always afford to invest right now.

So if you’re faced with a choice between writing your own website content or not having any at all, it may well be worth giving it a go.

And, there’s no reason that writing your own web copy now means you can’t invest in professional website content writing services in future.

Going down the DIY route doesn’t mean you can’t improve things when there’s a bit more wiggle room in the budget.

The less simple answer: yes, but is it worth it?

When you’re considering writing your own website content writing to cut costs, it’s important to consider the following:

  • How long it’s going to take you
  • How good the results are going to be
  • What you could be doing instead

If it’s going to take you ages to cobble something together that’s barely passable, you may want to cut your losses, hire a professional website copywriter, and spend your own time doing something more profitable.

After all, you’re hardly saving money if the project takes you away from your own work for days on end, or the results are so bad that your website drives away visitors.

But, if you’ve got a decent understanding of SEO, you only need a website of a few pages, and there’s nothing much on your plate right now, it could be worth giving it a go.

DIY with a bit of polish

One option for business owners writing their own website content is to draft the content and have it checked over by a professional copy-editor.

Copy-editors are trained to proofread content and suggest or make amendments as appropriate, focusing on things like:

  • Spelling and grammar errors
  • Repetition and clumsy wording
  • Tone of voice

The last thing you want is to put your website live only to have customers and prospects navigating pages full of mistakes and awkward sentences. A copy-editor can help you make sure your content is clean, clear, creative and concise.

Copy-editor Denise Cowle has this to say:

“Knowing that your copy will be professionally reviewed saves you time. You can get your thoughts down on the page, then leave it for your editor to shape and polish. This frees you to spend your time on what you’re really good at.”

So, here’s your 3 basic options

1. Write your own content.
2. Write your own content and hire a copy-editor to look over it.
3. Hire a professional website copywriter.

Those are your three basic options, really, and they’ve all got their plus points:

  • Writing your own website content can save you money but won’t get you the best results
  • Writing your own website content and getting it checked will get you better results but cost less than hiring a professional website copywriter
  • Hiring a professional copywriter will cost you but get you the best results

It’s up to you, as a business owner, to assess your priorities and find out what your budget will stretch to.

Website content writing services are a worthwhile investment, for sure, but are they an investment for now?

Pick one and stick with it

Whichever option you decide is right for your business right now, the thing to do is to commit to the job 100%. 

  • If you’re writing your own website content, do your research and spend time making it as good as possible.
  • If you’re hiring a copy-editor to look over your DIY website content, take their suggestions on board.
  • If you’re hiring a professional website copywriter, invest in an expert and let them do their job – you’ll get the best results for your business that way.

Finally, whatever you do, don’t do this…

If you take my advice on nothing else, take it on this:

Do not pay for website content writing services until you can afford a decent writer. 

The last thing you want to do is trawl through one of the many freelancing sites out there, find the cheapest and most desperate copywriter out there, and throw your money at them.

It’s not worth it.

I would 100% recommend that business owners write their own website content rather than wasting money on a rubbish copywriter. 

So there you are.

Can you cut website copywriting costs by doing it yourself?

Yes.

Is it worth it?

Sometimes!

Find out more about what makes a good website copywriter here.

 

Image credit

How Much Does Website Copywriting Cost?

How much does website copywriting cost prices

No matter what kind of website you’re planning, it’s fair to say that written content will play a big part in the finished result.

Content is what informs your customers about your brand, and persuades them to buy from you rather than your competitors.

It’s what encourages them to stay on your website and engage with you there, whether by signing up to your mailing list, submitting an enquiry or reading and commenting on your blog.

Website copywriting is somewhere between a science and an art, so it’s important to find a writer who’ll do a good job.

But how much should you be spending?

It’s hard to give an exact figure, but here are some factors that can affect the price of content writing services:

The amount of content you need

More content takes more time to research and more time to write – not exactly a complicated concept, right?

If you’re enlisting the help of a copywriter on a website of 20+ unique pages, you can reasonably expect to pay more than you would for a website of 10 pages.

So, there’s a good way to assess your website copywriting costs straight away.

But, at the same time, there’s a reason no experienced copywriter charges per word: stripped back content can be just as hard and time-consuming to write as lengthy pages – after all, there’s quite an art to summing up an entire business in less than 150 words.

Very long content and very short content are the hardest to write.

The complexity of the topic

Even the simplest concepts can turn out to be quite complicated if you dig deep enough, but it’s fair to say that aluminium extrusions are likely to present your website copywriter with more of a challenge than, say, teacups.

Complex topics require added research time and careful consideration of your audience: if your copywriter needs to write for other industry experts, the content will need to be cater perfectly to their specialist knowledge; if written for non-experts, the content will need to be reframed in order to communicate the relevant information in a more accessible way.

TL;DR: complex topics take time to tackle. 

Brand and Tone of Voice Work

Don’t underestimate the importance of a consistent and effective brand identity. Consumers buy from brands they know and trust, and branding plays a huge role in helping people to get to know your business.

If you’ve already developed a strong brand identity in-house and can present your website copywriter with tone of voice guidelines, and examples of on-brand content, you’ve saved them a job.

If you need your copywriter to address brand issues before they start writing, that’s going to involve more time – and higher website copywriting costs.

Just Content, or content in situ?

Website copywriting projects can vary enormously in the way they pan out. Some are smooth-sailing, others take a bit more tweaking before you get the results you want.

If you know exactly what kind of content you want, and where you want it on your new website, you can brief your copywriter at the start of the project and get them to send you the content over in a file – job done.

If you’re not sure how much content you’re going to need for each page / module on your website, and what form that content should take, find yourself a website copywriter who’s willing to consult with you about that and/or work with the text in situ.

I often send my clients website content to upload before tweaking it in situ for them to make sure it fits just right. Make no mistake, though, all that faffing (albeit productive faffing!) costs extra.

Dynamic and responsive content

Often, it’s the little things that make a website nice to navigate – loading content, witty 404 ‘Not Found’ pages, image overlay text, personalised thank you pages…

These little bits of content might not seem like much work but they take consideration, creativity and time to think up, draft, amend and position.

Collaboration with designers and developers

Following on from that last point, the best website copywriting projects involve close collaboration between all the factors involved: design, development, user experience, and content.

To make sure your website content fits perfectly with the design and navigation of your website, it’s a good idea to get your copywriter involved from the outset and, if possible, to have them liaise directly with the other creative leads on the project.

It does increase the scope (and therefore price) of the project, but it’s well worth the money.

Number of revisions

Experienced copywriters will usually specify how many rounds of revisions they’re happy to include within the price they quote you.

For example, I offer one round of amends within the original brief but am happy to increase the time spent on revising and editing content for an additional fee.

Of course, if there are mistakes in the content, or it doesn’t fit the brief you agreed on initially, the amendments should be free.

But, if you’ve decided you don’t like what you asked for after all, or you just want to try something different instead, that’ll be extra chargeable time.

Content marketing strategy

If you’re hiring a fairly experienced or senior writer for your website copywriting project, you may want to get their input on a wider content marketing strategy, advising on things like:

  • Brand and tone of voice
  • Blogging, SEO and social media
  • Regularity and type of content
  • Buyer personas and buyer journey stages
  • Integrating your website, blog, and email marketing

Not all copywriters will offer these services, and you may not need all/any of them. But, if you do need input on your content marketing, it’s not a bad idea to get them from the person you’ve chosen to actually do your website copywriting for you.

Do you need a blog, case studies or an education centre?

A lot of businesses who are refreshing their website choose to add in extra ‘bits’ of content at the same time, such as a few blog articles to get them started, case studies to showcase their latest projects, or an education centre they can add to in future, featuring things like data sheets, FAQs, interviews, videos and articles.

Your website copywriter may well be happy to advise you on the kinds of additional content that will benefit your business, and to draft or commission it for you, but it’ll increase the scope of the project and, consequently, the price.

Is website copywriting worth the money?

The thing with good quality website copywriting is that it takes time. Not just to actually do it, but to learn how to do it in the first place.

An experienced writer will know how to:

  • Research quickly and thoroughly
  • Write informative, persuasive content
  • Tailor content to the right audience
  • Create and position effective calls to action
  • Optimise content for Google
  • Work with designers and developers
  • Situate text in popular content management systems

Effective website copywriting will help you:

  • Rank on Google for the terms your customers search for
  • Position your business as an industry thought leader
  • Funnel visitors to your site towards a desirable action
  • Encourage prospects to visit your site more than once

So let’s talk prices

The cost of website content writing services will vary hugely depending on the project and the writer, so it’s hard to say exactly how much you’re likely to pay.

A three-page microsite is likely to be cheaper than a wordy 10-page website, whereas a website with 20 pages that’s mostly design-led may cost a bit less. The best way to find out is to ask.

If you’re looking to hire an experienced writer with knowledge of SEO, user experience (UX), and design, you’re unlikely to pay less than £1000 for website copywriting. 

Larger websites with more content may cost £10,000+ – there really is no limit to the amount and types of content you can feature on your website, so the price can vary just as much.

How to keep your website copywriting costs down

The simplest way to keep your website copywriting costs down is to reduce the scope of your project.

But what if you don’t want to do that?

If you want the whole shebang from your website copywriter but you want to make sure you’re not paying over the odds, I’d suggest:

  • Choose a website copywriter who comes recommended

An experienced website copywriter is likely to be able to point you in the direction of former and current clients who are happy to recommend them to you. A reliable writer with a back catalogue of happy customers is more likely to give you the results you want.

  • Brief your copywriter as clearly and thoroughly as possible

The more you tell your copywriter at the start of the project about:

  • What your aims and objectives are
  • Who your customers and prospects are
  • What your brand values are
  • What your visual branding/design will be like
  • How the website will function

…the more thoroughly they can prepare their content. Forewarned is forearmed, and all that.

  • Stick to the timeframes you’ve agreed to, and let your writer know if you’re behind

Freelance copywriters have other projects to juggle and other clients to look after, so if they’ve blocked out time for you, try and have everything ready as agreed. A lot of experienced writers will include clauses in their contracts about unused time being paid for, so being slack may cost you.

  • Minimise the time they need to spend researching

Gather as much useful information as you can, collate it neatly and send it over in a nice little package for your copywriter to have a look at before the project starts. This might include:

  • Information on your business and brands
  • Information on your customers and competitors
  • Examples of visual branding and content you like/don’t like
  • Data sheets, product specifications, and catalogues
  • Keywords you’re targeting or would like to target

Every website copywriting project is going to involve a decent amount of Googling – if you help your copywriter minimise the time needed, they’ll thank you and your budget will thank you.

  • Be available to your copywriter if they need information from you

There’s nothing worse than contacting a client for more information only to get a grumpy response – or no response. It’s a waste of time and it does nothing to help you write effective and accurate content.

Don’t make your copywriter chase you for information. If they call you, call them back; if they email, respond. Ignore your copywriter and they’ll either keep chasing you and charge you for the time, or stop chasing you and make the content up.

  • Give your copywriter as much lead time as possible

Working to a rushed deadline isn’t much fun – it’s often stressful, and – for a freelance copywriter – it usually means juggling other projects around, rearranging meetings and postponing ongoing commitments.

If you want to keep your copywriter sweet and your website copywriting costs down, give your writer as much lead time as possible.

  • Ask your copywriter what will make their life easier

It’s perfectly acceptable to ask your copywriter what will help keep your website copywriting costs to a minimum.

The answer will vary widely depending on the writer – some writers may offer a discount for larger projects or ongoing work, others may drop the price slightly if you pay them at the start of the project.

Your copywriter is trying to make a living, and you’re trying to get decent content for a decent price – no shame there. Making your writer’s life less stressful not only makes you a great client, it saves them time and effort – which should save you some money.

Find out more about website copywriting or get in touch.