7 tips for rewriting website copy (and why you should do it)

You can spend thousands on web design and other visuals to make your business, products and services look marvellous, but without the right words on your website you’re misusing a powerful tool. Here’s how to rewrite your website copy to make you stand out.

1 It’s all about the story

People buy into a story, simple. Readers are smart (well, most of them), so you need to exceed their expectations online. To differentiate your business, and increase leads, you need to tell your distinctive story. Every independent business is unique, and this should shine through in original narrative. Familiarity breeds trust, which leads to conversions, in a roundabout way.

2 Keep Google happy

If your written website content is not regularly refreshed, and, more importantly, your site doesn’t get viewed, shared and linked to, you can watch your business slip down the rankings. Do yourself a favour, get to know about Pandas, Penguins and Hummingbirds.

3 Be original

Stop using the same, tired phrases as everybody else, like this. You might think that words like ‘innovative, high-quality, professional, dedicated, friendly’ are fine, but, really, in today’s online world they just won’t cut it. Why? Because you sound like everyone else, so you’re making it difficult for readers (prospective customers) to decide between you and your competitors. Come on, spend a bit of time on the words (and your branding for that matter, see below); the pictures look after themselves. This is the drivel that drove me to become a copywriter.

4 Mind your grammar

In this age of text speak, you may think the use of sloppy grammar, spelling and punctuation on your site goes unnoticed – it doesn’t. It’s the same as delivering sub-standard products or leaving chipped paint and peeling wallpaper in your premises.

5 Sort out your on-site SEO

This is an easy one, really, if you’re any good at summing up your business in a few words. First, gen up on meta tags (they’re the page title, description and H1-H6 headers which appear on search engine result pages and hide behind your headings to tell Google, and the other guys’ robots, what your page is all about). Then, get shortening those descriptions. Or you could just hire a copywriter who knows about these things.

6 Hook them in, stay on target

Hook the reader in to every piece of copy within 15-25 words (the first sentence), then keep the pace of the writing so you don’t lose them. Also, don’t bury the most important element in the copy – everyone scans online content these days, so it may get missed. Get to the point and keep the focus of the piece of writing. Don’t be over-wordy, and don’t use jargon or acronyms (unless absolutely necessary, in which case, spell it out). These are just a few tips I’ve picked up along my journalism journey.

7 Encourage an action

Don’t let your readers (prospects) just click off. Use a strong call to action at the end of each page, and include a link which directs them to the next page or piece of content, like this.

But, wait, there’s more: brand identity

Of course, this is all a pointless exercise unless you know how to communicate your ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘who’ (and ‘how’).

This is all about concisely describing your products and services (what you do and why it’s of benefit to your customer), explaining your unique selling point (why you’re different), illustrating the reason you get out of bed in the morning (why you do it) and, most importantly, knowing your customer in minute detail.

Without all this ground work (which involves some deep questions about your brand values and tone of voice), you might as well not bother with writing website content. Ah, bejeezus, what the heck’s he going on about now? You could always ask me.