Writing web copy effectively requires hours and hours of work. You could just bash out whatever first comes to mind and hope that it works. However, you’re asking a lot of your web copy. You want it to tell people who you are and what you do, and to sell your products or services.
Before you start writing your copy, you need to do some preparation work. You should already know about your products and your industry, and hopefully at least little about your brand. There’s still plenty you could learn before you get writing, so take a look at some of the tasks you should complete.
Know Your Audience
If your business is up and running, you should know your target audience. You’re going to need to be familiar with them, so if you don’t know much about your customers and potential customers, now is the time to learn more. You might find it useful to build some buyer personas. These are fictional representations of the customers you’re looking for, generalising about the type of people interested in your brand. Think of them as character descriptions, giving names and even faces to your target demographic.
Here’s an example for a (made up) business selling cat supplies:
Steve is a family man with two cats. He’s busy but wants to make sure his cats are well cared for. At the same time, he’s also conscious of the family budget and doesn’t want to spend more on the family pets than on his children. He doesn’t want to spend all his time going back and forth to get cat supplies, and he doesn’t want to have to drive to a retail park in the middle of nowhere for pet shops. He wants a service that will consistently have their preferred cat products in stock, with affordable prices and fast delivery.
The above is just a short example – you can go much more in-depth if you want to. You can include details such as age, location, education level, and more.
Research Your Competitors
Who are you competing against? Very few businesses have no competition at all, even when you’ve come up with a genius new product. You can still be competing against businesses that are trying to solve the same problem that you are.
To find your competitors, start by searching for results for your keywords. Who is doing similar things to you, perhaps in the same region as you? You might already know who your competitors are, but you need to check out their website copy. As you find out more about them, you can work out what they do well and what doesn’t work so well for them. What do they do that you like or don’t like? What do you think you could do better or differently?
Think About SEO
SEO is vital to think about before writing web copy. You need to get your website seen in search engine results. The first thing you should do is some keyword research to find the best keywords to use on your site. You can start by using the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool. You can use this tool to get historical search volumes for words and phrases, as well as get ideas based on keywords or URLs.
If you don’t know where to start, try inputting a competitor’s URL to see which keywords they’re using. You might not want to use these exactly, but it can help to give you ideas. You can also just enter a word or phrase related to your business. If you think you have some keywords you want to use, check search volumes and forecasts to see how well they perform.
Another way to look for keywords is by doing a few Google searches. Pay attention to the related searches at the bottom of the page.
Is your website already set up? Or perhaps you have a similar website running? If it’s connected to Google Search Console, don’t forget to check your queries to see which searches you have been appearing in.
Develop Your Tone of Voice
Does your brand already have a solid tone of voice? If not, you should think about how you want your copy to read. Your tone of voice shows your brand’s personality – it needs to appeal to your site’s visitors. Keep your buyer personas in mind when you’re crafting your tone of voice. What does your brand sound like? Fun, formal, silly or serious? Are there any particular words or phrases that you like or don’t like?
When you’re developing your tone of voice, you can create a style guide to follow, which you can use for other marketing materials. It will help you and anyone you work with to remain consistent in all your advertising.
Structure Your Content
You should think about how your content is going to be structured. What pages does your website have (or will it have)? Where is the text going to sit on the page? Although the layout on each page can be figured out as you go along, you need to know what pages you want before you get started. You need to do this for your website design, so it only makes sense to have a site map worked out.