Writing website copy might seem like a relatively straightforward task to the untrained eye. It’s just writing the words that go on your website, right? Except it really isn’t.

Perhaps more so than any other type of copy a business might need, website copy is a multifaceted beast that demands more than the ability to string a sentence together.

In this blog post, we’re looking at the three essential pillars that make up good website copy, and the skills that are needed to create it.

1) Messaging: what is your value proposition?

Before you can start writing website copy, you need to know what you’re saying. Ok, that might sound a little obvious but what we mean is this: what is the one thing you want your audience to take from your website?

Let’s assume they’re not especially sold on the idea of working with or buying from you just yet. They’re having a browse, checking you out to see whether or not they’re interested. They’re going to give you 10-15 seconds tops and then they’re outta there.

What is the one hook that will keep them reading? What makes you different from your competitors? How are you going to benefit them? In other words, what’s your value proposition?

How to construct your website’s core messaging

Here’s the (very) simple version. Firstly you have to understand who you are and what you have to offer, especially anything you do differently. Then you have to understand your audience and what they need, especially any problems or ambitions they have.

Then look at where those two things overlap.

The result won’t always look the same. Core messaging isn’t a cut and dried concept. Sometimes it’s about the strapline. Other times it’s about a value proposition statement. More often it’s a sort of underlying idea that isn’t necessarily articulated directly in one central place but informs everything about your website copy.

For example, we recently worked alongside London branding and design agency Mammal on a project for reusable nappy brand TotsBots

Their core message centred around the idea that you don’t need to go fully reusable because using just one reusable nappy each day makes a huge difference to the environment. We referenced this in numerous places around the site.

A secondary message was that reusables don’t have to be as complex as you might think, and we worked hard to use language that was clear and honest throughout the site.

These messaging pillars both promoted TotsBots’ sustainable agenda and also spoke to the needs of their audience: busy parents who want to be more environmentally friendly but don’t necessarily have time to go all in and might be worried it’s all too much effort.

2) Structure: deciding what information goes where

Once you know the headlines, you need to start thinking about how you’re going to construct your website. This is where design and copywriting overlap with each other, and with UX and SEO too. 

What should your overall site map look like? Will you have one services page that lists your three main services, for example, or will you have one page for each service? Or do you need to break those even further down to capture specific niche SEO keywords and phrases?

On your home page, are you going to separate your audience by product or service type or by user group? Will you have a carousel of testimonials or panels highlighting case studies that visitors can click through to read?
You also need to think about things like where your call to action (CTA) buttons go as well as what they say, how many paragraphs of text a panel can comfortably hold, whether you need to separate those paragraphs out into individual boxes and a whole host of other things.

“Brand voice is not as easy as saying “We want to sound friendly but professional.” There are many factors to take into account and they’re often fairly subjective.”

What comes first, words or layout?

This is a really interesting question and there isn’t a straightforward answer. 

Sometimes our website copywriting clients will have already worked with a strategic website developer to create a sitemap and perhaps even a series of page wireframes filled with lorem ipsum. This ‘dummy copy’ gives an idea of what a page will look like once it’s done without anything having been written.

In cases like this, our job is that bit easier as we have signposts for where each element of the core information will go and can concentrate on getting the wording right (see stage three, below).

But other times a client approaches us for help with messaging and copy before they’ve made a start on the site’s wireframe and layout. In this case, before we can start working on the wording, we need to help them decide what goes where.

That’s why at RH&Co we’ve developed a way of marking up our copy with design guidelines to help the client and their designer or developer make sense of the words as we envisage them on the page. 

The reality is that most projects are a mix of the two, with designer / developer and writer going back and forth to ensure the final website meets the client’s requirements by serving the visitor best.

Language: what is your tone of voice?

The first two pillars take a lot of work because they’re deeply strategic. But even once these have been signed off, choosing the right words to communicate your core messaging across your website’s fledgling structure takes a lot of thought.

Brand voice is not as easy as saying “We want to sound friendly but professional.” There are many factors to take into account and they’re often fairly subjective.

For example, you might want your brand to sound friendly, but what does that actually look like? Are you going to be chatty? Warm? Funny? Irreverent? Let’s say you mean chatty – chatty like who? Like a businessman being chatty with colleagues or a teenager being chatty on Snapchat?

Choosing the right language can be an incredibly granular exercise. There is a subtle difference between the words ‘simple’, ‘straightforward’ and ‘easy’, for example, and you change the personality of each by adding a qualifier like ‘super’, ‘ultra’ or ‘extremely’. So ‘super simple’ has that chatty, warm, probably B2C feel whereas extremely straightforward is that little bit more formal, possibly businesslike and suited to a B2B brand.

Going back to the Tots Bots example, we spend a fair amount of time deciding which synonyms of ‘baby’ would be appropriate for the brand. You’ll see that we decided ‘little one’ was fine but you won’t see ‘cherub’ or ‘angel’ anywhere on the site as they’re too cutesy, while ‘infant’ feels too medical.

Creating brand voice guidelines

If you have brand tone of voice guidelines, the copy creation stage of website copywriting is greatly simplified.

Brand voice guidelines usually touch on elements such as a brand’s personality and values. They might talk about the target audience and their relationship to the brand. And they might include well known examples of people who the brand voice draws on.

Most importantly, they’ll have real life examples of the way the brand voice should sound – and often how it shouldn’t. These ‘do this, not that’ copy examples are invaluable because they provide a clear, black and white marker on which to anchor what ‘chatty’ or ‘formal’ or ‘funky’ actually looks like.

Without brand voice guidelines, your website copywriter will need to use their first draft – based on everything they’ve learned from the briefing – to create their best interpretation of your brand voice in your first draft website copy.

From there, you’ll need to provide very clear and specific feedback about what aspects of the language aren’t working. General statements like ‘it feels too old fashioned’ are helpful only to a point. Your writer will need to know which words and phrases you think create that impression, as well as any that you think are closer to the mark.

Should you write your own website copy or outsource?

Unless you have an experienced website copywriter on your team, we would always recommend getting an expert involved. This could be a freelance copywriter, a copywriting agency like us, or your web developer might have the right skills in house to support you.

As you’ll have seen from the rest of this blog post, writing website copy is much more complex than simply writing in an articulate way. And we haven’t even mentioned the art of persuasive writing and the science of reading online.

If you are considering getting support to write your website copy, make sure you spend plenty of time thinking through the different elements above – messaging, structure and language – so you’ll be prepared to give accurate answers during your briefing session.

It might feel like a lot of effort but if you get this right, everything else – all of your written comms, content and marketing materials – will be that much easier to produce and, ultimately, be more effective.


If you would like to talk about your brand voice, messaging or website copy, drop us a line on talktous@rin-hamburgh.co.uk and we’d be very happy to chat about how we can support you.

Like buying a car or changing offices, commissioning new website copy isn’t something you do every day. It’s more of an every few years sort of thing. Which is why most people – whether business owners or marketing managers – don’t feel completely confident with the process.

We, on the other hand, write website copy on a pretty much weekly basis. We’ve worked with clients from sole traders to multinational organisations on both brand new sites and sites that are evolving. So we have a really clear idea of what needs to happen and when, in order to make the process as pain free as possible.

Whether you’re a first timer or you’ve been down this road two or three times before, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about what we do and how we do it.

Before it all starts – taking a bespoke approach

Clients come to us in all sorts of positions so it doesn’t make sense to treat them all the same. 

We take all of this into consideration when creating a proposal for a website copywriting project and build in the support that the individual client needs.

For example, if you need support with clarifying your message we can offer this as an initial piece of consultancy work. We’ll deliver the messaging copy first – get feedback and do amends – before building that into full website copy.

Likewise, you might need guidance around structuring the copy on the page, if you haven’t got a wireframe. In that case we might work on the outline first and ask you to approve it before we start on the copy itself.

“If social proof is important to your audience, make sure you’re leveraging the good work you do with case studies.”

The briefing session – getting to know you and your audience

Your website briefing session will be tailored to your individual circumstance and can usually be booked in within a week or two of confirming that you’d like to work with us. A standard briefing is one hour but it might be more if you need support with messaging.

If you’re creating a brand new website, we’ll need to know everything from what your product or service is about to who your audience is to what your overall goals are for the site. We’ll need to understand your brand personality and tone too, so that we can write in a way that reflects who you are as a business.

On the other hand, if you’re evolving your website copy we’ll need to discuss what’s not working with the old copy and how much the factual content of the site needs updating. We’ll still need to ask about your audience, your goals and so on, because the more we understand about your business, the more likely the copy is to deliver results.

After this session, we’ll send the written brief across for you to approve before it goes to the writing team. We’ll also ask you to send across any supporting documents, from tone of voice guidelines to audience personas to client testimonials, so we have everything we need to get started.

The copywriting bit – where the magic happens

Once any messaging copy and structuring has been approved, we can get started with the website copy itself. The first draft will be delivered within 2-3 weeks via Google Docs, giving you and your team a chance to input your thoughts on a live document.

Then, once we’ve had all your feedback through, we’ll turn your amends around within three working days. If there are any more changes needed, we’ll keep going until it’s right – though it’s rare anyone actually needs more than two amends stages at the outside.

At this point your website designer or developer will upload the copy to the site – and you might find it needs a few tweaks. We’re very happy to do that, and to give the whole lot a final proofread to make sure no errors have crept in during the design process.

Added extras – FAQs, case studies and hidden copy

As well as your standard set of website pages, you might want to add extras such as an FAQs page, case studies or even ‘hidden’ copy like meta titles and the 404 Error pages. 

FAQs: These are super useful for your audience and great for SEO too, as you can use lots of keywords in the H2 subheadings in a very natural way. Linking FAQs answers through to blog posts will keep readers on your site longer and reduce your bounce rate too.

Case studies: If social proof is important to your audience, make sure you’re leveraging the good work you do with case studies. We can create simple case studies based on a briefing with you, or go one step further to interview your customers or clients and create really compelling and valuable case study content.

Hidden copy: From cementing your brand voice and personality on a 404 Error page to driving better SEO results through clever meta titles and descriptions, hidden copy might be a useful addition to your website project.

Do you have any other questions about our website copywriting services? Get in touch with one of the team for a chat.

Search Engine Optimisation. We all know it’s important. But for many of us, it remains something we have only a vague grasp of at best. If that’s you, then read on. Because this blog post requires no technical ability whatsoever. It does, however, contain some very practical ways you can improve your dwell time.

What is dwell time?

Simply put, it is the amount of time that a user spends on your website from the moment they click through from a search page to the moment they click back to the search results. 

Dwell time is often talked about in parallel with bounce rate. If a visitor arrives on your website and clicks away from it without visiting another page, that’s considered a bounce. Ideally, you want to increase your dwell time and reduce your bounce rate.

Of course, this is a very simplistic view. After all, if you’re looking for a company’s phone number then you’re likely to land on their contact page, get the number and very quickly leave without going anywhere else. That’s not a bad result, it’s a logical one.

However, let’s assume we’re talking about a blog post. In this case, we don’t want people staying on the page for just a few seconds because this shows that the article wasn’t very helpful. This is where increasing dwell time is important. So how do you do it?

1) Break down that wall of text

There’s nothing more off-putting than a screen full of text with no variation. It feels impenetrable, like it’s going to take a lot of effort to get the information you want. This can easily cause a significant percentage of your visitors to click away without bothering.

What you want to do is to give them entry points into the page that will draw their attention and get them to read more. Subheads are great for this, setting out your main points and giving an easy-to-access overview of what the reader can look forward to if they commit to reading the body copy.

Another advantage of subheads is that, because they are highlighted with H2 tags, they are weighted more highly for SEO and are therefore a great place to insert keywords.

Other ways to visually break up your text include bullet points, and pull quotes – like the one below. A pull quote should be taken from a little later in the post and is used to ‘tease’ the reader with what’s coming up.

“In every blog post you write, make sure you include at least one link to another part of your website.”

2) Make it visually appealing

As well as subheads, consider using imagery to break up your text even further and add an element of visual appeal. The nicer something is to look at, the longer your visitor is likely to stick around.

The type of imagery you use will depend on your brand and your audience, of course. For example, if you’re a travel agent then it’s nice and easy – simply weave in a handful of aspirational destination shots through your blog and you’re sorted.

For a B2B services brand, you might wonder how you can use imagery but there are actually plenty of options. For example, you could include graphs or tables to illustrate key points. Or look at the way we create ‘further reading’ panels using our brand imagery, colours and fonts below.

3) Use internal (and external) links

In every blog post you write, make sure you include at least one link to another part of your website. After all, the more pages your visitor reads, the longer they’re on your site. Plus it will help get your bounce rate down.

Linking to another blog post relevant to the subject you’re writing about is always a good option, as it’s pure value add. But you can also link to a product or services page, or your About page, or anything else you feel your reader would genuinely be interested in.

Our visual ‘read more’ panel below is a good example, but add links in the main body of text too. Make sure the phrase that you add the link to contains words that match with the destination content. For example, we wouldn’t want to ask you to click on ‘this link’ because that doesn’t mean anything, but we might suggest you check out our Small Business Resources.

And don’t forget about external links too. It might seem counterintuitive to send people away from your site but consider Google’s main goal: to connect people to the most useful information possible. If we link this post from Moz on the ‘5 SEO recommendations that matter’ – which you’re likely to find useful, since you’re reading this blog – then that signals more value adding and will encourage Google to rank us more highly.

TOP TIP: When linking to an external site, make sure you set the link as ‘open in a new tab’ so that your reader doesn’t get distracted.

Using dwell time as a benchmark

Dwell time is only one factor that contributes to a good SEO strategy. But it’s important because it acts as a good indicator of how valuable and engaging your content is. It’s a tangible metric that you can measure against.

In this post we’ve mainly focused on blogs but the same sorts of things would apply if you were talking about a product or services page, for example. Don’t have too much text all in one block. Make sure the page is visually appealing. And create links where it’s appropriate.

Have a look at what the dwell time on your website is now and then implement some of the suggestions above. Keep an eye on your numbers and see what effect the changes are having. Experiment, test, measure and keep tweaking so that you squeeze every last drop of value out of your content.

And if you’ve got a copywriter or copywriting agency involved in writing content for you, then make sure you’re reporting back or giving them access to your stats so that they can help move the dial in the right direction.

It’s not the sexiest page on any given website, which means it can often be overlooked. But the humble FAQs page is actually an extremely important one, which every single business should prioritise. Here’s why.

1) It’s useful for your audience

This is the first and most important factor to take into consideration, because – as with all of your marketing – your audience needs to come first. A good FAQs page will provide real value to your website visitors, answering many of the questions they have and ideally helping them move along the buyer journey towards working with you.

Start by thinking about the questions you’re asked regularly. What about the objections you meet during sales calls? Are there any mistakes people make when doing business with you that you can preempt with a clever FAQ?

2) It stops you from repeating yourself

Answering questions you often get asked will save you time too. Next time you get an inquiry about one of the issues that is included in your FAQs page, simply direct your correspondent with a link or copy and paste the answer into the email.

You can repeat FAQs in different places too. For example, you might include a few relevant ones on each of your product or services pages. We also share ours on social media, giving us extra content for our content calendar.

3) It qualifies your leads

Once you’ve covered the questions that your audience already has, think about how you’d like to educate them. This is a great way to avoid awkward conversations with people who just aren’t a good fit for you.

For example, on our FAQs page we have a question about whether people can get a discount if they provide us with some draft copy. The answer, in a nutshell, is no. But we’ve used the FAQs page to set out the reason why in a friendly way. 

The fact that it’s there for everyone to read means no one will feel like we’re saying no just to them. It’s not personal, it’s policy.

4) It’s good for getting keywords in

Having a well written FAQs page is good for SEO in a number of ways. First, it is a page which by default has a lot of H2 subheads, in which it is quite natural to find a large number of keywords.

For example, our FAQs page includes questions such as:

All are genuinely questions people have and want answered, but they all contain important keywords that will give us a boost on Google. 

The fact that they’re phrased as questions is a bonus, as many people are now searching this way thanks to the advent of voice-activated search.

5) And there are other SEO benefits too

If you’re clever, you can use your FAQs page to create internal links to other content. For example, we have a question about how to prepare for a copywriting briefing. We also have a blog post on the subject, which the FAQ links to.

If someone reads the FAQ and then clicks through for more information, we reduce our bounce rate (the frequency with which someone arrives on a page and leaves without clicking through to another) and increase our dwell time (the length of time someone stays on the website).

In support of the humble FAQs page

From both a human perspective and an SEO one, from your perspective and your customer or client’s, an FAQs page is a useful tool. It’s also super easy to write, as the formatting is naturally simple and formulaic.

You can get that little bit more creative and group your FAQs by subject type or category if the page is getting crowded. If space is an issue you can also hide the answers so they only appear in a pop up box when someone clicks on a question. It may be helpful to have a search box or a form where people can submit their own unanswered questions.

But ultimately if you’ve not got anything yet then just start somewhere and let the page grow as your business does. It might not be the most exciting page but it’s all adding to the effectiveness of your site as a whole.

Should you write your own website copy? It’s a question many founders ask themselves, especially when their business is still relatively new or small.

The answer isn’t black and white. There’s inevitably a cost associated with getting a professional copywriter involved, and it may be that your budget simply won’t stretch to it. But there could be costs if you do the writing yourself too.

Too many people are quite happy to pay for a graphic designer, photographer or web developer to ensure that their website has the right look, but when it comes to the copy they shrug and say, “Oh that’s ok, I can write it myself.”

Unfortunately, being able to write an articulate email or even a blog post isn’t the same as writing effective website copy. So before you get started, it’s worth asking yourself a few questions to make sure that you’re not going to inadvertently let your website down at this hurdle.

1) Have I got a structure in place?

Before you start writing, you need to think about both your sitemap and the structure of the page content itself. It’s not just about deciding which words to use but which ones will go where and in what sort of hierarchy. This is both a design and a copy decision.

You’ll need to understand user experience (UX) and the journey people will take from arriving on the site to taking some sort of action. And you’ll need to support both those visitors who are willing to read every word of copy on the page and those who will be doing no more than scanning the homepage.

2) Have I worked out my core message?

Speaking of scanning, if someone does spend just 30 seconds on your site, what is the one thing you want them to know, think or feel about your business? Have you ensured that your top level copy communicates this quickly and easily? 

As well as your core message, you’ll want to think about your supporting messages and how the copy serves these to the right visitors in the right places. People only read an average of 20% of the copy on any given web page, so you need to make sure they get what they need as quickly as possible.

3) Do I know how to balance benefits and features?

You may have heard marketers talking about how copy should highlight benefits over features. What this means is that you need to sell the outcome of doing business with you, rather than the actual facts of your product or service. As someone clever once said, “No one wants a 2 inch drill bit, they want a 2 inch hole.”

But there’s a balance. If you keep going on about how your customer or client’s life or business will be transformed, without telling them how, they’re going to get frustrated quickly. A good website will balance emotive and factual copy, and a good copywriter will know where to prioritise each one.

4) Can I see from my client or customer’s perspective?

One of the benefits of having an external copywriter creating your website copy is that they will bring an outside perspective. Too often as business owners – and even marketing managers – we are too close to the subject. 

We are so knowledgeable about what we do or sell that we forget what it’s like to be new to our business. We think as people supplying a product or service, rather than people looking to buy these things. And we use the word ‘we’ too often, forgetting that good website copy should always be about the reader first.

5) Do I know how – and when – to move people to action?

It’s no good just getting people to read your website copy. The copy needs to encourage them to do something. This is where calls to action (CTAs) come in. In some cases you might want a visitor to click through to another page to get more information. Will you ask them to ‘read more’, ‘meet the team’, ‘discover the latest features’?

At some point you’ll also want to ask them to buy, or get in touch, or download something, or sign up for something. Again, wording your CTA is crucial if you’re going to turn their interest into an actual sale or lead.

6) Can I really write?

Ooh, now this is a tough question. Because you’re likely in one of three camps. You either know you can’t write nearly well enough to do your website justice (probably not, otherwise why would you be reading this?). Or you believe you can write well and you’re correct in your assumption (in which case, fantastic).

Or you believe you can write well but the truth is that you can’t (ouch). If you’re not certain, get feedback (more on this later). Don’t ask people who will flatter you. Ask those that care enough to tell you the truth. Tough love doesn’t feel nice, but neither does not getting any leads through your website.

7) Have you got the time?

This is a purely practical point that is nevertheless worth considering. After all, if you run a business then you’re bound to have a lot on your to do list. Think about how long it’s likely to take you to write your own website copy, and then think about what else you could be doing with your time. 

What would you be charging a client if you spent those hours delivering your service? Is it as much as you would have to pay a copywriter to write your copy? Or perhaps you could spend the time writing a business plan that gets you funding, or a presentation that will win you a huge new contract. What use of your time is going to add the most value to your business?

Whatever you decide…

Even the best writers need a good editor. If you’re going to write your own copy, make sure you get feedback before you press the ‘go live’ button. Feedback, as we’ve already said, from people you can trust to tell you the truth. That might be people in your industry, clients or any professional writers offering a feedback service like our Website Health Check.

First ask them to scan the copy quickly, and report back on what their first impressions were. What do they think you do? Who do they think you work with? What do they think makes your business different to others in your field?

Then get them to read more deeply. What impression do they get of your brand? Are there any words or phrases that stand out as being ‘not quite right’? Is any of it confusing? Do they know where to go to get the information they need.

All of this feedback will help you work and rework your website copy until it becomes something that not only reads well but will actually deliver results for your business. Then give it to one last person to proofread it for typos.

If, in the end, you decide you need professional help, don’t be disappointed. Even professional writers don’t automatically make good website copywriters. There’s so much more to it than being able to craft an articulate sentence. Deciding to work with an experienced website copywriter could be the best decision you ever made!

Do you know what we always find really sad? The number of poorly written websites in the world. So many businesses invest heavily in design, in development, even in photography. But when it comes to written content, they get the poor marketing manager to cobble something together. Anyone can write, right?

There’s no doubt that design and development are both vitally important elements of a highly performing website. But written content is what your audience will be looking at to determine whether you can do what you need them to, whether you know what you’re talking about, whether they can trust you.

And getting it right is about a lot more than having your A-level English certificate. You need to take a strategic approach to your written content and make sure you’re not making any of these common mistakes.

It’s hard to understand quickly what you actually do

If you teach yoga classes or you produce craft cider or you offer accountancy services, it should be relatively simple to explain what it is your business does. But not every product or service is as easy to understand, especially if you’re talking to an audience that is less knowledgeable than you.

One of the best ways to quickly communicate what it is you do is to focus on the value you can bring to your audience. How will buying from or working with you benefit them? Why will their lives – either personal or professional – be better for having chosen your product or service?

But don’t be too obscure or generic. “Disruptive software that transforms organisational paradigms” doesn’t really mean anything when you break it down. And “A unique formula that’s better for the planet, better for you” could apply equally to a host of eco products from washing powders to facial scrubs.

When you arrive on the homepage of our client Rocko’s website, it’s immediately clear who they work with and how they help them. Further down the homepage, the copy elaborates on the detail.

There isn’t a clear reason to choose you above the competition

Clarifying what it is you do and how it’s beneficial to your audience is one thing. Now you’re on their shortlist, you have to show them why you’re the best option for them compared to everyone else on the market.

This is where you have to think about everything from your value proposition to your brand personality – and make sure it’s conveyed in your website copy. Perhaps you’re a recruitment company that prides itself on its strong values and ethics. Maybe you offer the widest range of bike hire options in the South West. It could be that you’ve got multiple awards, hard-to-get accreditation, a stellar client base.

Whatever you believe your audience will most connect with, you need to be showcasing that front and centre in your website content. Chances are it will inform your messaging throughout your site.

Our client SDS Drives offers a very tangible suit of products and services. But their copy makes it clear that it is their experience and their relational approach to business that makes them special.

It’s difficult for people to find what they’re looking for

People will navigate through your website in one of two ways. They will use the menu, and they will also scan subheads and follow calls to action (CTAs) through the body copy (the main text on each page). Both options must be as simple as possible to use.

On your homepage, you need to ensure that the body copy links through to each of the most important areas of your website that you might want people to visit. Obviously this should include your product or service pages, but might also include your About page, case studies page or blog.

If you offer a range of product or service categories or work with distinct audience groups, make this as clear as possible on your homepage so people can quickly get to the section that’s most relevant for them.

While the consumer-facing product panel has an emotive subhead, further down the homepage there’s a section clearly dedicated to trade buyers, making it easy for the right people to find the relevant section.

You haven’t provided any social proof

You can say you’re an expert or your product is the best on the market until you’re blue in the face, but you’re never going to be as convincing as someone who has already benefited from working with or buying from you.

Your website should, at the very least, include testimonials. These don’t need to be extensive. A few lines capturing how you made a difference to your customer or client is enough. You can clump these together on a dedicated page but they’re far more powerful spread through your site where people can’t help but see them.

Case studies are even more powerful, especially for service-based businesses and especially if that service is relatively complex. These longer pieces of content should set out the challenge you helped to solve, the way you did it and crucially the results. If you can pepper your case study with quotes from your client, even better.

We helped our client Smplicity demonstrate that they deliver more than a standard technical Salesforce support service. Instead, their case studies show how they provide strategic input that delivers tangible results.

You aren’t telling people what to do next

Getting people to visit your website is the first hurdle. The next is to get them to stay and engage – to actually read enough of the relevant sections of content that they at least move along the customer journey towards working with you. But you don’t want to leave it there.

A call to action is one of the smallest segments of copy on your website and yet it is potentially the most powerful. Your audience needs to know what to do once they’ve finished reading a page – do you want them to buy something, sign up for a newsletter, join a webinar, book a demo?

Be clear on what you want your audience to do and then test different CTAs to see which has the most impact. The difference between ‘buy now’ and ‘add to basket’ could massively increase your conversion rate.

Our clients Footdown are clear that they want people to book a demo of their groundbreaking software. The CTA appears in multiple places on their site, including the hero banner on the homepage.

How to fix your website content so it delivers results

If you’ve identified one or more issues with your current website content, don’t panic. Knowing there’s a problem is the first step towards fixing it, after all. 

It may be that before you can actually fix the copy, you need to go back and do a bit more work on the fundamentals. 

Who is your audience and what problems are you solving for them? How do you communicate what it is that you do so that people will both understand and care? What is your value proposition? Why should people work with or buy from you and not the competition? 

One you’re clear on these, you’ve got a much higher chance of creating website copy that resonates. Then it’s just a case of coming up with engaging messaging lines, crafting punchy and persuasive paragraphs to back them up and structuring the copy so that it supports the customer journey.

Our #WriterInResidence, Sam Whitlock, turns his attention to what in many cases is a much neglected part of a website – the contact page. Read on to find out which brands are doing it well and why. 

For the most part, contact pages fall on the functional end of the website spectrum. Like the exhaust pipe on your car, or the lace on your shoes, the words on your contact page might not register on the “give a damn” scale. As long as the phone number is correct, as long as the contact form doesn’t insult the user – as long as it works – it’s fine. 

But here’s the thing… it could work better. For the most part visitors who click through to your contact page are primed to dial a number or fill in a form but you can’t guarantee that. This could be the moment they glance at the details and think “maybe another time” or “actually, I’m not sure about this.” The role of your copy is to get them across the line.

Some well-placed details and brand personality can go a long way to encourage a site visitor to take action. So without further ado, let’s look at some websites that pull it off.

Spark Data

“We’re waiting to talk to you. If you have any enquiries, pick up the phone and get straight to the experts… “

Spark Data manages to pull off the difficult balance of revealing humanity and serious expertise. They’re not achieving personality with a masterful pun. Nor are they being chatty in their word choice. In fact they’re not obviously saying much, except for one key point of value…

You’re getting straight to an expert. As lovely as administrators can be, Spark Data’s audience wants to talk technical. They need to speak to someone who understands the intricacies of the project they have in mind. And so Spark Data assures them that they will.

The flourish that seals the deal here is that Spark Data don’t present a contact form (as useful as those can be sometimes). Instead they give the names and numbers of three team members who oversee particular departments. This drives home the message that you will speak to an expert and you will get hold of them instantly.

Hullo Creative 

“Whether you’re ready to start your project or you just want to throw some ideas around…”

Our friends at Hullo Creative are a genuinely and effortlessly friendly team with a warm, collaborative approach. And their contact page’s invitation to get going or “just throw ideas around” reveals those qualities in a single sentence. “You’re going to feel like we’re a part of your team,” Hullo says, without saying it. 

They also succeed in taking the pressure off. If there was any doubt as to whether you should contact them, Hullo makes it clear that they’re happy to chat no matter what stage of planning you’re in. 

Even if the conversation is going to come to nothing, they’re happy to hear from you. That’s the kind of reassurance that hits the spot for an audience that might not know what they’re looking for.

[Editor’s note: In the interests of full disclosure, we should probably mention that we wrote Hullo’s website copy…!]

Let’s Travel Somewhere

“If you don’t get an answer immediately, I might just be travelling through the middle of nowhere. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. That’s a promise!”

Let’s Travel Somewhere sparks a sense of adventure without the standard travel slogans. By positioning themselves as the kind of mad-hat explorers who might at any time be mid-way up a mountain or half-way across a desert, they communicate that you can do this too.

Their contact page also strikes the ‘we’re human’ chord like someone playing roots music on a beat-up guitar. It’s not generic. It’s not inauthentically inspirational. And it also – and here’s the real trick – doesn’t sound like it’s trying too hard to be human. It’s simply the appropriate tone for a photography collective-movement-magazine spearheaded by a single woman. 

Secret Swan

“Let’s make a guitar! Just pop your details in the form below and we will contact you within 24 hours.”

Secret Swan doesn’t have anything flashy going on. But they do succeed at getting to the point with enthusiasm and simplicity. 

The beauty of this is that it evokes a sense of “this is going to be simple.” The custom guitar you want will be made and the only thing you need to do is pop – not even write, just pop – your details in the form below. 

Then we’ll get back to you in the same amount of time it takes to watch Kiefer Sutherland take down another terrorist group. Simple.

Boston Tea Party

“Whether it’s gushing praise, a grumbly rant or you just want to say hi, please do get in touch by completing the form below.”

If it suits your brand, humour can add just the flourish you need to make your audience smile. Since Boston Tea Party doesn’t depend on their contact page for custom, they can get away with a bit more irony than organisations looking to win over a client.

The highlight of their contact page is actually just below their witty opener. “But in case you were wondering…” they say, before addressing some frequently asked questions. It’s a nice variation on writing FAQ and evokes the sense they genuinely care about their customers’ concerns, no matter what they said about grumbly rants earlier.

Of course, your contact page is not the only one that matters, just one that is often overlooked, along with these 3 forgotten webpages that can make all the difference.

As for what will work for your website… that depends on your brand tone of voice, your audience and what stage of their buying journey they are on. 

If you’re a small business we’ve got a free website audit guide that will help get the words on your website working harder for you. Or if you’re considering updating your website content, check out how the website copy we wrote for SR2 helped grow their business. 

***

Over the last few weeks we’ve seen a massive surge in enquiries for website copy. It seems that lockdown has been the perfect time for businesses to take stock and look at projects that have been shoved down the to-do list for too long. And refreshing websites is now a priority, as all of us are doing more business online than ever before. 

Your website is your 24-7 brand ambassador, a place where people can find out who you are, what you do or sell, how you work, what your values are, whether you’re any good and a whole host of other things. But sadly, too many websites are built with enthusiasm and then left to gather virtual dust.

If you’re not sure whether yours is working hard enough for you right now, check out this post on 5 things that are making your website look outdated. You might also want to walk yourself through each page using our free Website Audit Guide.

But if you’re already convinced that it’s time for a refresh, here are some things to think about before you get started.

How has your audience changed?

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that we always start with your audience. They’re the people who really matter – after all, one way or another it’s their money that keeps you in business, right?

So think about how they might have changed. It could be that as a business you’ve grown and evolved and are now serving a slightly different group of people than you were before. Your website visuals and copy needs to reflect this. 

Or perhaps you’ve got the same audience but they have different needs now. For example, many retailers have had to quickly improve their e-commerce offering since lockdown started. Physical stores may be reopening slowly but a lot of people will have become used to online shopping since March and won’t want to go back to the old ways of doing things.

How has your offering changed?

Something else that might have changed is what you actually do or sell, how you deliver this or where you want the focus to be. Perhaps you started out offering a range of services but as you’ve grown you’ve decided to narrow your focus and specialise. Or you used to sell a set range of products but now you’re taking bespoke orders.

Whatever the case, you need to update your content so that your audience has a clear and current picture of how they can do business with you.

As an example, our first website spoke solely about the different types of copywriting services we offer – everything from LinkedIn profiles to website copy, video scripts to blogging. In the second iteration we decided to be more focused and concentrate on some of the core services, creating separate service pages for each.

Today we categorise our services into three main segments – content creation, consultancy and training – to showcase a broader range of services that reflect both where we are and what our audience wants right now.

What is the reason for your refresh?

The first two points may well be reason enough – your audience and / or your offering has changed, and therefore you need to refresh your website. But take some time to think more deeply about why you want to make changes.

For example, is it just about your website or is it more about your brand as a whole? In which case, you might need to do a brand refresh at the same time, evolving or redoing your logo, colour palette, fonts, tone of voice and so on before filtering this through onto your website.

Or do you want to sell directly through your website, rather than having people get in touch? That means you’ll have to have strong sales or landing pages, with copy that works really hard for you. And you’ll need to think about the mechanisms of how people book or buy online, if you haven’t already got this in place.

What additional functionality can you include?

Technology changes quickly, which means it’s likely your website could be doing more than it is right now. While we’d never recommend getting flashy for no reason, it doesn’t hurt to surprise and delight your audience with appropriate new features.

For example, we’ve had lots of people comment on how much they like the way our strapline is animated on our homepage. It’s a simple technique but it grabs people’s attention and helps them engage with a key message that resonates with their goals.

But functionality isn’t always front and centre like that. You might want to link your site to a new payment platform, CRM or email provider. Whatever the case, make sure you include this in your wishlist when commissioning about your website refresh.

How can you future proof your website?

Ideally, you don’t want to have to do a full website refresh (as opposed to little tweaks) too often. After all, if you do it properly it will take an investment of time, effort and budget. So when you’re planning your refresh, don’t just consider what needs to be updated to make it work today. Think longer term.

For example, if you’re a services business but you’re planning on putting together a number of pre-specified packages that people can effectively buy online, you’ll need e-commerce functionality. Make sure your site can support that, even if you’re not ready to go live with the offering yet.

Your design should be flexible enough to add new team members to the About page or tweak the services without endlessly needing to go back to your designer and spend more money. Ask your designer to build this in at the beginning to save time and effort later on.

Whatever your reason for refreshing your website – whether you’re pivoting your business, trying to engage with a new audience or just wanting to make it feel more up-to-date – make sure you think through all these aspects first. That way you’ll be clear on what the refresh needs to accomplish and hopefully you won’t have to do another one for a good while.

Not sure whether your website copy is actually doing what it’s supposed to? Grab your copy of our popular cheat sheet, packed full of proven advice to get the words on your website working harder for you.

We all know the main types of pages your average website is made up of, right? There’s the home page, of course, which we always say should act a bit like the cover of a magazine. Then there’s the About page, where you can talk a bit about your story, your team, your values and so on.

Next you’ve got what you may consider to be the most important page or pages – those that feature your products and services. This is where you can tell people all about what it is you can offer them, how you can solve their problems and meet their needs.

You’ll also probably want to stick a blog page in there (or perhaps you’ll call it news or resources) and a contacts page of course. And then, that’s it. You’re done. Or are you?

In fact there are three other pages you would do well to think about in order to make your website really sing.

The thank you page

Have you got any forms on your website? Perhaps there’s one asking your visitors to sign up to your newsletter. Or maybe you’ve created a few lead magnets to encourage visitors to give you their email address in exchange for a really valuable piece of content. 

If you have even one form, here’s a question for you – what happens after your visitor enters their contact details and hits ‘submit’? Are they taken to a bland page that says “Thank you for getting in touch” and leaves it at that? If so, you’re missing a trick.

If someone has just parted with their contact details, it means they’re interested in you – in your brand, in your expertise, in your value. So why not use the thank you page to serve them more of the same?

Keep them on your website and boost your dwell time by directing them to an interesting and relevant blog post, for example. Or highlight a low cost product or service that might augment the free resource they’ve just subscribed to and see whether you can make a sale. Whatever you do, don’t leave them hanging. 

“No matter how careful you are about finding and fixing broken links, chances are one will slip through the cracks at some point.”

The FAQs page

One of the biggest issues we see on websites that haven’t been written by professional copywriters is too much information. Business owners are so keen to explain every last detail of their product, service, processes and USPs that they fill each page with overwhelming amounts of text.

A far better option is to create an FAQs page. Your visitors will expect this page to be text heavy. And because that text will be broken down into the various different questions, they won’t be overwhelmed by it. They’ll be able to scan to find the question they’re interested in and then just read that short answer.

FAQs are also excellent for SEO. In very basic terms, Google looks at your H1 and H2 headers and subheads first, before looking at body copy. So this is where you want to have a good amount of keywords and phrases. And an FAQs page naturally has loads of H2 subheads, which will contain relevant keywords without feeling forced.

Those subheads will also be phrased as questions, which are becoming increasingly important as the way we search changes. Where you might once have typed “copywriter” and “job description” into Google, now you might ask Alexa, “What does a copywriter do?” – and if your FAQs page asks and answers this question, you’ve got more chance of being seen.

The error page

No matter how careful you are about finding and fixing broken links, chances are one will slip through the cracks at some point. So what happens when someone clicks on one of those links? 

Do they get a standard, soulless 404 error message written and designed by whoever your website is hosted with? Why not a branded error message that reflects your brand personality and tone of voice instead?

Not only is this sort of attention to detail the kind of thing that will make you stand out from the crowd, it will make your audience smile at the very moment when they could be getting frustrated. 

Check out these awesome examples from Pixar and Innocent Smoothies if you want to see how to write an error page with style:

The thank you page, FAQs page and error page might feel like ‘extras’ that are not worth spending the time on. But in a crowded marketplace with not just hundreds but potentially thousands of competitors online, sometimes it’s the extras that make all the difference.

The beginning of a new year is always a time of reflection and if you are a business owner or marketing manager, that might mean you’re thinking about whether your website is fit for this new decade we’ve just started.

It would be great if websites were timeless things that could be created and then left to their own devices, bringing in endless leads and sales without us having to do anything else. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case.

Websites can begin to look dated very quickly and, unless you do something to refresh it, can actually end up damaging your brand image rather than enhancing it. After all, your website is your 24-7 online ambassador and a key touch point for potential customers and clients.

Here are some of the things you should be looking out for.

Your last blog post is dated August 2018

Blogging can be a powerful tool for any business. It can raise brand awareness, establish you as an expert in your field, add value for your audience and encourage loyalty, not to mention boosting SEO. 

But if you’re not posting regularly – at least twice a month or more – then you’re going to struggle to get results. And if your last post is months or even years old, you’ll give the impression that your website is no longer active.

The solution? Create a content plan and get consistent or bring in someone to help you write your blog. Alternatively, you can take the dates off your posts. It won’t help them generate results but at least you won’t give the impression you’ve given up on the idea of blogging.

You’re using the same generic stock images as everyone else

There was a time when stock photography was a great way to fill your website with quality, professional images but these days they just don’t cut it. Your visitors want to get an impression of you and your brand, which just won’t come across if you’re buying in images that hundreds of other businesses are likely to be using.

One issue with stock photography is that you usually end up having to use a selection taken by different photographers, all of which will have a different feel. This means your look isn’t consistent, and we know that consistency is one of the most important factors in creating a great brand image that creates trust.

Investing in original photography means you can create the look you want, something that is uniquely you and can be used consistently across not just your website but your social media, print marketing materials and more. Today’s consumer wants authenticity, and imagery plays a big part in that.

Your website doesn’t work on a mobile 

The way we interact with the internet has changed. Just think about how you access your favourite sites. Chances are you move between your desktop, laptop, mobile phone and tablet without really thinking about it.

If your website can’t do the same, it will immediately stand out as being old-fashioned. Many website designers actually create mobile first designs these days, and sites like Squarespace give you the option of viewing pages in both mobile and desktop format as you create pages so you can see how the design changes.

Another factor to think about when it comes to laptop vs mobile is load speed. If you’ve got hundreds of high res images on your site then it’s going to use an awful lot of someone’s monthly data and take ages to load on their phone, which means they’ll likely click away before they get to what they’re looking for.

You’re asking people to “click here”

A call to action might not be made up of many words but it’s one of the most important parts of any web page. It’s the bit that shows people what they need to do next, whether that’s read a blog post, sign up to get alerts about upcoming events, fill out a form to book a consultation or pick up the phone and get in touch.

There was a day when we’d write a nice long CTA and include in it the phrase “click here”, which would either link to a contact page or automatically generate an email to pop up out of nowhere with your brand’s email address autofilled in the ‘to’ line.

Today consumers want something a little more inspiring – find out more in our blog post on how not to write a call to action – and the way that we scan web pages means your CTAs need to jump out of the page. That’s why buttons are so popular.

Your pages are too cluttered 

Remember when websites were filled with endless text, dozens of images – not to mention autoplaying GIFs – as well as side menu bars that took up about a quarter of the width of your page? Well times have changed and even if you’re going for a ‘retro’ look, you’ll want to avoid having a cluttered website.

Design will play a huge part of this. Have a look at some of your favourite websites. Think about how the pages are structured, how many images are used and in what format, the (limited) range of colours and consistency of fonts. All of these things combine to create that more contemporary, streamlined look we prefer today.

And don’t forget the copy. Writing for the web is about much more than being able to string a sentence together. It’s about understanding the way we read online and making sure you don’t have endless paragraphs of text on each page. It’s about being able to write eye-catching headlines and subheads that draw people in so that they actually get to the body copy. And it’s about knowing that you don’t need many words, just the right ones.

Before the month is over, set aside some time to look over your website – from the home page to the contact page – and be honest about what you see. It may only take a few tweaks to get things looking sharper, or it might be time to invest in an upgrade.