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So. What makes good web copy?

Wow. So much for the 'getting to know you'. Dive straight in with the big guns, why don't you?

OK, so when creating a new website or revamping an existing one, one of your key goals is clarity – having a really clear, simple, message is critical.

But your website should do a whole bunch of other things...

1 It should clearly set out what you do – especially in the first few seconds. It needs to explain in a non-cryptic way that you are.

2 It should explain your credentials – people need to have confidence in you.

3 It should explain your offer or services – why are people here and how are you going to solve their problems?

4 It should compel them to take an action known as a CTA, a call to action, such as sign up for an email or get in touch.

5 Chiefly, it should take the reader on a journey – it should show them that you understand what life is like now, and how it could be after using your product or service.

Everything starts with your homepage

In most cases, the most important page of your website is your homepage, and before you begin writing it you have to put yourself in your reader's shoes.

Why have they arrived?

They're probably here because they have a problem of some kind – and they want to know how you can help. So they probably don't need a long explanation of the area that you cover when they arrive.

Let's say you're a hypnotherapist. If they wanted to know what hypnotherapy is, they'd type in 'what is hypnotherapy' and get directed towards the NHS website or Wikipedia.

They'd be coming to you, meanwhile, because they want to know how you can help them.

So think long and hard about why people might end up at your site. What is their problem? What terms (keywords) are they searching for on Google?

Often, website owners and marketing people develop an actual persona of a typical customer – it's a guy in his 40s who's pretty successful, married with kids. We'll call him Mark or whatever. You then write for that person.

You might also want to think about USPs you have, your unique selling points. So sticking with the hypnotherapist angle, "I am the only licenced hypnotherapist in Glamorgan", or whatever.

If you don't have a USP, it's worth thinking about what you could offer – something that makes you more attractive than the next therapist.

Conversion-focused copywriting

When writing a conversion-focused website (one of the things I do as a freelance website copywriter), your call to action (CTA) should be clear and consistent – best not to put lots of different ones on a page.

Bottom half of two people sitting facing each other in chairs, denoting 'therapy'
A therapist, yesterday

It could be "Contact me" or "Email me today". If there's an offer, such as "Contact me today for a free self-help ebook that 98% of clients say calmed their stress levels," try that.

But be truthful!

Interestingly, negative calls to action such as "Don't forget to sign up now for your free ebook" or "Don't miss out on..." can be effective.

When reading everything back, you want to ask:

1/ Is it obvious what I am offering?

2/ Does it read well, with short, sharp sentences?

3/ Am I speaking directly to the intended buyer? Have you made that connection?

4/ Will people be nodding along going, "Yes! That's me! You totally get me!"

5/ Is your solution compelling and clearly explained?

6/ Have you worked in your credentials, so they can believe in you? Have you demonstrated how and why your solution has a good chance of working?

7/ Is there a clear CTA – people have to know what to do next.

8/ Have you done your SEO homework and added keywords?

9/ Have you made sure that the website on which your words will appear looks OK and appears professional from a design POV? Get feedback from friends. A website builder like Wix lets you try multiple styles for free before you select one and upgrade your plan.

10/ Can you add any social proof, such as Google reviews? If you don't have Google reviews but do have some client testimonials, add those. It helps Google and visitors to see that you have some authority. Google tends to promote sites that display something called EAT – expertise, authority and trust: it wants to prioritize sites that can demonstrate this.

How do you display EEAT? It's all about showing your credentials, writing authoritative, well-researched copy, and demonstrating trust, with verified reviews and linking to trusted sources. There's lots of articles about it online: look it up.

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