Instantly Improve Your Website’s Copy Using this Checklist

Nov. 13, 2019 – Whether you’re writing your web copy from scratch or looking to update the copy you currently have, this checklist will help you improve your website using core copywriting principles.

1. Know Your Audience

Who does your product or service help? What itch are you scratching? What do your customers care about? And what will make them click “buy”?

Knowing who you’re speaking to will help you answer many questions as you move forward, so always start here.

2. Check Your Analytics

Do you have a high bounce rate? Is no-one clicking through to your sales page?

Knowing what is currently working vs. what isn’t can help you plan where you need to focus your energy as you rework your copy.

(If you’re building a new website or don’t currently have analytics installed, consider this a priority—analytics can give you insights into whether your content is working or not so you can continually adjust and improve)

3. Embrace: “Know. Like. Trust”

Research says that people like to do business with brands that they know, like, and trust.

As you write your copy for your website, keep these principles in mind. At each stage, ask yourself:

  • Does this copy help people get to know me/the business better?
  • Does this content make us likeable and approachable?
  • How am I building trust on this page?

If your content isn’t meeting one of these principles, consider cutting it.

4. Hone Your Headlines

Research from the Nielsen Norman Group has shown that:

  • The average visitor will spend less than a minute on your website and will read less than 25% of your content
  • Your website needs to capture your visitors’ attention in the first 10 seconds, or else they will click away

You need to capture the imagination fast. Focus on your headlines, the first words visitors to your site will read. Make sure they contain key information and give your visitors a reason to stay.

5. Simplicity is Key

Make your website easy to read and scan. Take a look at your copy. What might be making it harder for a visitor to quickly find what they’re looking for?

Common problems include:

  • Long, complex sentences
  • Dense paragraphs (aka a “wall of text” — aim for 3-5 sentence per paragraph, max)
  • Industry jargon

Tools like the Hemingway App can help you check whether your writing is getting too complicated.

6. Be Direct

Your website copy should be talking to someone. Use the word “you.” Use your customers’ language.

For example, the sentence “Get fitter in three months” puts a lot of distance between you and your customer. “We can help you get fitter fast” feels more personal and builds connection.

7. Don’t be passive.

Avoid passive sentences. Passive sentences often sound long-winded and lack authority. For example, replace “results have been demonstrated…” with “I’ve delivered results for…” Passive sentences sound more like an academic report than a conversation— not a great way to build rapport with your customers!

8. Be Bold

Avoid hedging when you’re selling your business. If you write something like “You may discover that you love our cookies” you sound uncertain about your own product. Whereas “It’ll be love at first bite!” shows confidence in what you’re selling. Check your copy for any moments where self-doubt has crept in.

9. Cut the Cliches

When you’re first writing your web copy it can be easy to fall into cliche. You write copy the way you think a business should sound.

The problem with this is that you end up with “filler” words that at best a customer ignores and worst make you sound like a sleazy salesperson.

Examples include:

  • Describing your company with buzzwords like “innovative,” “groundbreaking” or “world class”
  • Using superlatives (e.g. “The world’s best XYZ…”)
  • Mimicking clickbait headlines (E.g. “you won’t believe what happened next!”)

10. Focus on Benefits, not Features

When you’ve created an amazing product or service it’s natural to want to tell everyone ALL about it. And surely, customers want to know what they’re buying, right?

This is true up to a point. But what customers really care about is how your product or service is going to help them. Convince them they need to buy what you’re selling.

11. Have a Clear Call To Action

Your website should make it clear what you want your visitor to do next on each page. Do you want them to buy something from you? Do you want them to sign up for a newsletter? Do you want them to click-through to the next piece of content?

Remember, a call to action isn’t just for your home page. Each page of your website should clearly signpost “what’s next” to your visitors.

12. Establish Your Authority

Establishing yourself as an authority is one way of building trust in your business and your brand.

Common ways to build your authority include:

  • Backing up your claims with data and statistics (how many people have you helped? By what % have you reduced a problem?)
  • Using testimonials (make sure they sound real, not overly gushing)
  • Showcasing who you’ve worked with before (with their permission)
  • Include case studies (i.e. examples of your product or service in action)

13. Make Design and Copy Work Together

Crafting the right words is just one aspect of making your website copy effective. It also needs to look and feel right on the page. Make sure your web copy is well-placed (no awkward line breaks, etc), has plenty of white space around it, and works in tandem with your images.

And remember: more than half of all web traffic is mobile. Check your website looks great on all devices and avoid cluttered content.

14. Proofread & Edit

Good grammar and impeccable spelling do still matter. Research shows that grammar mishaps can negatively impact your sales and conversions—so double-triple-check your work.

Finding mistakes in your own work can be tricky. Consider trying the following techniques:

  • Read your work from the last paragraph to the top of the page
  • Read your work out loud
  • Use a grammar checker, such as Grammarly
  • Get someone else to check it for you

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