Website copywriting, when done correctly, is an intricate process that enables a company website to communicate persuasively with prospects and customers, as well as communicate effectively with search engines to improve its organic search visibility.
Thus, Web copywriting services proficient in creating content for users and Google give a website a great deal of lead-generating power. Here is an overview of how Web copywriting should proceed on a website project.
Discovery is the initial phase of a website project, and an excellent time to involve the agency's lead copywriter and content strategist. While a skilled copywriter can produce effective content from detailed discovery notes and his or her own online research, engaging clients in actual discussions goes a long way toward imparting to the writer a sense of the client's communication style, sales and marketing challenges and the language of its business. These factors are indispensable in the creation of content that appeals to customers and prospects and sounds authentic. And without appeal and authenticity, the lead-generating capacity of a Web page is virtually nonexistent.
2. Creating a Content Document
The next phase in copywriting for websites is the agency constructing a content document. This document is used to write the content, separating content elements into various compartments to make translating the text into a living, breathing Web page easy for designers and developers. The content document includes a number of key ingredients, including:
- Keywords — Instructions about which keywords to include on each page
- META Description Field — A space for the copywriter to compose a snippet of text that appears beneath a link to that page on a Google SERP (search engine results page)
- Key Messaging Points — Guidance from the client and/or project manager about what points should be emphasized on the page
- Headlines — H1 and H2 page headlines written by the copywriter with a mix of keywords and persuasive/interest-building phrasing
- Introductory Text — A space for high-level, high-impact content to be positioned at the top of the page
- Secondary Text — A space for more detailed content that usually appears lower on the page
- Design Element Text — Space(s) for text to be used for graphical page content, such as call-to-action blocks
- Inputs — A list of writing resources for a given page, supplied by the client and/or project manager. (Guiding copywriters in their research by making client content such as sales collateral and industry information links known to be authoritative available is advisable.)
A content document ensures no content elements are overlooked, which would have caused significant delays in the project later. In addition to the content document, the copywriter also uses inputs such as content reference wireframes and rough sketches to get a complete grasp of the assignment.
3. Providing Sample Content
One of the biggest website project traps to avoid is having a copywriter produce 100 pages of new content, only to have the client say, "This isn't what we wanted at all." Besides wasting hundreds of hours of work, such a response creates a significant delay in the project and often causes ill will between the client and agency.
To prevent this, the website copywriting service best practice is to present the client with a few pages of finished content for review immediately after the site map is finalized. If disconnects in style, accuracy and/or emphasis exist, far better to fix them now than 97 pages later. If the discovery phase of the project has been conducted thoroughly, and especially if the copywriting team has had direct involvement, tweaks rather than major overhauls occur at this stage. Once issues have been resolved, the copywriter can proceed on the balance of the content with confidence.
4. Writing the Content
Completing the new website content is not simply a matter of pecking out words on a keyboard; a number of issues may still need to be worked out, depending on the nature and complexity of the website. Key issues include:
- Achieving uniqueness on similarly themed pages. Here is a common example. Individual product pages within a given category may be similar in nature, with similar or identical customer benefits. However, for SEO purposes, content must be as unique as possible on each page. The copywriter, either independently or in collaboration with the content strategist, must determine how best to overcome this challenge. One solution may be to create a master list of all available benefits, and apply only some of them to each product detail page, using unique phrasing in every case. Thinking out a solution in advance allows the copywriter to write more quickly.
- Adding word count in a meaningful way. Although writing for SEO and humans is usually one in the same, occasionally the two come into conflict. For example, a given set of Web pages may require 1,000 words for SEO purposes but necessitate only 500 words for an audience of prospects and/or based on available content inputs. But since humans and Google can easily detect "padded," spam-like content, the copywriter must determine how to make up the word count shortfall with useful, relevant information. This is usually accomplished by obtaining additional inputs from the client or doing independent research.
Effective planning and forethought allow copywriting execution to proceed quickly with a high level of quality. If the copywriter has to pause on every page to think about what needs to be said and how to say it, then important preliminary steps have been missed. An agency with website copywriting experience and expertise does not allow this to happen.
5. Editing and Proofreading
In addition to copywriters and content strategists, a website copywriting services team must include editors and proofreaders. Despite all that is said about the "dumbing down" of current reading and writing skills, a website with grammatical errors and incomprehensible phrasing damages a company's credibility, confuses customers and prospects, harms brands and ruins the website's ability to generate sales leads.
Editing ensures the live website content is concise, accurate, persuasive and properly written. Different types of editing are applied to website content:
- Substantive editing looks for logical coherence and effective, persuasive messaging.
- Copyediting focuses on style, tone, word choice, grammar and punctuation.
- Fact checking, often done by the client, confirms statistics and other factual statements are correct.
- SEO editing reviews content to make sure keywords have been properly inserted in the page's content.
- Proofreading checks for conformance to the applicable writing standard, such as AP Style or the AMA Manual of Style.
When vetting website copywriting service providers, clients should carefully review the agency's editorial team and process. Shortcuts or shortcomings in the editing phase can result in a project "fail" even when every preceding content creation step has been well executed.
As mentioned earlier, Google has become adept at recognizing and ranking high-quality content — i.e., content that is useful, relevant and authoritative. Humans, too, have become more discriminating in evaluating website content — a necessity given the amount of truly awful content confronting them online on a daily basis. To gain an SEO edge over competitors and generate more website leads, top-quality content is now essential.
Straight North Web Design Services
Need help with your website copywriting project? Give us a call today at 855-779-7675 or request a quote.