7 Best Website Practices for your Small Business
Business websites are a dime a dozen, but finding one with good design and even better copy is a bit like finding a rare gem. Once you find them, though, they’ll be the websites you stick with because they’ve taken the time to build their brand.
So what’s a small business to do to make this kind of quality first impression? And where do you start if you’ve not previously been a big website copywriter? Well, today is your lucky day, because we’ve got 7 of the best secrets to developing and absolutely acing your website copy. Because anyone can be a marketing legend, you just need the right tools to get you there.
Not even on the web yet? Don’t worry, there’s help available for that too. Look out world, your small business’s website will be perfect yet!
Use headings and subheadings
It’s no surprise that a big ol’ hunk of text isn’t exactly the most eye-catching thing people can read, so that’s why headings are so essential. Group what you’re trying to say under umbrella subheadings; it helps make your points clearer and is less intimidating to read.
Get to the point
Whether your website copy is long or short, always make your most important argument straight off the bat. There’s always a risk with any online content that readers will skim stuff, and even skip the end, so make sure the thing you most want to communicate makes it into the lead paragraph. That way, if they do leave the party early, they’ll still get the main gist of the page.
Avoid cheesy stock photos
What’s worse than your lead image being one of two men in suits shaking hands? Nothing, because using tired cliché images of people in unnatural poses never looks good online. Selecting your style of imagery for a website can be tough, but it’s often just as important as what you write, so you have to make it count.
If your brand doesn’t take itself too seriously, try and inject some humour into your image choice, or if it’s a youth brand, use images that incorporate your target audience. But the best way to go when it comes to images is to use ones of your own product – clothing, wine, bags, whatever – or add photos of your team on the ‘About Us’ page to make connections with your readers. Check out this blog for some top picks for free stock photos.
Get familiar with SEO
First of all, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, meaning how well you rank in search engines like Google. If you’re working with a website that has an SEO widget – or can install one – don’t ignore it.
Follow the instructions, even if they seem odd to you, because they’re designed to help anyone become a pro at SEO. And by optimising every blog or website page you’re writing, you’re more likely to pick up more readers from around the web. Here’s another nine tips to get a good ranking in Google if you don’t have an SEO widget.
Know your audience
It might sound like an easy task, given you live and breathe your business, but sometimes knowing your audience is more complex than you think. If you’re targeting academics or scientists, use the correct jargon that gives your copy credibility.
If it’s a lifestyle brand or fashion label, you might want to sound a bit more laidback in your language. Do your research into what they like, where else they go online (AKA competitors), and you’ll soon learn what they want to read.
Keep it short and sweet
For most online copy, try to stick to 500 words or less. Website content – unless you’re into white papers or studies – isn’t meant to go on and on. When people click on online articles, they want to read punchy, succinct and to-the-point copy.
This doesn’t mean it needs to be boring or sans personality, but it does mean you can’t waffle on too long or add little side notes throughout the text. The Copyblogger’s Copywriting Library is a great place to start to learn a few tricks of the trade.
Don’t write copy for copy’s sake
Like your mother used to say: ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’. That rule, in a way, applies to website copy; if you don’t have a fresh perspective, a new product, or a well-crafted comment, then you shouldn’t just throw any old copy on your website.
Make sure when you post an article or create a new website page that it serves a purpose, delivers a message, or is something you’d want to click on yourself if you saw it in Google. It can be something your brand feels strongly about – like marriage equality – or sharing some exciting news about your company.
A final word
Website copy is a tricky beast, and requires some forethought, planning, and a good eye for interesting angles. But as long as you keep listening to what your audience wants, and start to build a strong, consistent personality for your website through copy, people will begin to resonate with what you have to say.
Because while it might look hard from the outside, it’s not something you can ignore, and with these handy tips, anyone can be a marketing legend. And if you’re yet to even start to build your own digital presence, fret not, because True Local has everything you need to get started.