7 Tips for Preparing Website Content
Unless you hire a professional copywriter you will need to create some content for your new website. While it can be exciting to build a website for your business, the reality is that you will also need to sit down and write some text for the website before your web designer can build it for you. If this seems daunting, try these 7 tips to help you get started.
1. Clarify your website goals
What do you really want your website visitors to do?
Define your main goal for the website. For example, this could be for people to phone you, or buy something online, or join your membership website, or find out information, or to establish trust and strengthen your brand.
Consider the different customer personas who might visit your website, and what their motivations and needs / wants might be. Define your ideal customer and keep them in mind when putting together your website content.
2. Create a Sitemap
A Sitemap is an outline of the pages on your website.
The Sitemap can be a simple bulleted list with the page headings, e.g.:
- Service 1
- Service 2
- Service 3
You may have some additional pages that may be tucked away in the footer or in a secondary menu. This can be indicated in a separate list.
Some websites needs to serve quite different groups of visitors such as existing members & new prospects in a membership website, or councillors & residents in a council website. Make sure each visitor group can easily find what they are looking for.
3. Don’t freak out
Dealing with writer’s block
Staring at a blank page can wipe any useful thoughts off your mind. If you’re not sure where to start, go back to your sitemap and jot down a few notes or bullet points for each page in your outline.
Gather any other useful information for each page such as testimonials or photos. You can also look at other websites, including competitor’s, to see how they approach the content and let yourself be inspired.
You may find that you can now start building out your content, page by page. Keep it simple and remember you can always add more later.
Lastly, if you are still really struggling it may be time to ask for professional help. The notes you have already prepared will help a copywriter put together the content for your website efficiently as you have already done much of the groundwork.
4. If you have something to say, say it
Scrolling is fine and longer content can satisfy both users and search engines
Maybe writers block is not your issue but you worry that you may be writing too much.
Years ago we tried to keep content pretty short because people wouldn’t scroll beyond the fold. However this has changed now that we are all used to scrolling our way through newsfeeds and other content on our mobile phones. Scrolling is ok! And so is longer content (without waffling on of course). Some people are visually driven and prefer images and not too much content. This is fine, but there are others who like to find out the details before they call you.
Make sure you state your most important points first. Any nitty-gritty that may not be of interest to everyone can be tucked away in an accordion which only shows the headings and can then be opened and closed to read more details, or in an FAQ page or section. That way you still cover everyone without making the page look too text heavy.
Google and other search engines also like text and prefer pages that have at least 300 words on them.
5. Keep it simple and easy to read
Make your content scannable
Reading on the web is different from reading a book, in that people tend to be distracted and will often only scan a page for relevant information, rather than reading every word.
Bear this in mind when structuring your content. Make is “scannable”. Try to avoid lots of long paragraphs – break them up with sub headings, italics, bold text, bullet points, lists etc.
5. Establish trust
Prove that you are trustworthy
Whatever you are selling, you need your prospects to trust you. Once they have found your website, their main questions are likely to be:
- Do I like this business?
- Does it offer what I need?
- Do I trust them?
There are several ways of establishing trust. A good “About” page which talks about your skills, experience, business history etc, ideally with a photo, will go a long way towards people feeling confident that they know who they are dealing with. Reviews, customer testimonials, media coverage or awards are very powerful. Professional photography of your business premises / services etc will also go a long way, as would a welcome video.
6. Remember your Call to Action
Look back at Tip #1 and tell visitors what you really want them to do
Every website has a purpose and one or multiple calls to action. You have explained your offering and hopefully gained trust – now it’s time to ask for the sale. This could be a “buy now” button in an online store, “contact us for a quote” for a service business, or “join now” or “login” for a membership website.
You might also have secondary calls to action such as “subscribe to our newsletter” or “follow us on Instagram”.
Clarify what you want your website visitors to do, and make sure it works for both existing and new customers.
7. Don’t be a perfectionist
Done is better than perfect
Many a good project goes unpublished because of perfectionism. Your website content does not have to be perfect; it just needs to present your offering in a clear, concise, and authentic manner. Spelling and grammar mistakes can (and should) be cleared up with the help of a spellchecker, and/or a friend who can read over your text and provide feedback.
Websites are not like printed brochures or books. You can change the content of your website at any time. Your website should evolve along with your business and will most likely always be a work in progress as you develop new ideas and ways of presenting your business.
Hopefully these steps will help you put some great content on your page, beat writer’s block and get your website live sooner.