19 October 2016

Guest blog post – Rachel Hodges

Hopefully, whatever your business and its relationship with the web, you’re already a signed-up member of the ‘I know it’s worth having a website’ club. There’s no getting away from the fact that the first thing anyone will do when they want to find out more about you is read about it online and your website is your very own showcase.

All too often I hear from businesses who don’t feel confident about writing for the web, worry what they can do about SEO and are not sure about how to keep up with the competition.

Here’s your easy-to-follow action plan to help with all that.

Take a look at the competition

Whether you’re planning your first website or a site refresh a great place to start is to look at other websites out there. However, this isn’t an excuse to browse away a dull afternoon – you need to be analytical. Draw up a list of websites to compare and make sure they’re a mix of genuine competitors, businesses in your field but perhaps operating in another region, websites you just like and identify with.

Compare how their websites are organised; do some seem more logical than others or show off product more effectively. Have they taken the time to explain the products carefully rather than providing generic ‘sales’ patter generated by the supplier. Remember, search engines like websites to have original content and disapproval of duplication across websites. Also carefully compare any services being offered. Do these include options that your business could benefit from, particularly from out-of-area competitors.

Keeping up your standards

Remember when you’re choosing a style or theme for your website design that you’ll need to keep images, page content and news up to date so don’t choose anything too complicated. There’s nothing wrong with starting small and adding in more features over time.

Choose a business voice that’s right for you

As a copywriter I’ve had to learn how to write in the voice of all sorts of businesses, including luxury retail brands available at Selfridges and Harrods, online boutiques, communications companies, estate agencies and commercial plumbers. All have their own voice and you have to reflect this carefully by using words that are right for them individually.

Here’s what I mean:

The luxury market might prefer to use ‘bespoke’ or ‘tailored’, for the mid range it might be ‘exclusive’ or ‘just for you’ then even more direct would be ‘it’s a one-off’ or ‘suits you’.

When you’re looking at your competitor websites see what language they are using to describe themselves. What impression does that give you of the website? How does this compare with your own? If you’re not coming across as you’d like think about the range of words you’re using. How could you say things differently?

Keywords will help build your SEO

Yes, there is a lot to know about SEO and much of it is very technical and quite simply you probably don’t have enough hours in the day to keep up with it. However, your website content is a great place to start strengthening your SEO to help boost your position in search engines.

If you know the Google Keywords Planner or their Trends tools then they are a great source of keyword inspiration and data that you can get for various regions across the world, over varying lengths of time. Without these you can still do some useful research. Think about the words you’d use to search for your own business online and ask as many friends and family as possible the same. What variations do they come up with? Do you see trends forming and are you using these keywords in your web copy. And remember, using popular words just once is not enough. Add them to headings, web addresses, throughout the page, image names and if relevant use them as linking text to other areas of your website.

Read more about SEO in Rachel’s blog post on how working with SEO couldn’t be simpler.

Writing for the web is different

Remember, when writing for the web you’re not creating a business plan or essay. Short, to the point, and only the most salient details are needed. Website users have always been skim readers, and this has only got worse with tablet and start phone technology. Everything they need to know must be front-loaded to the top of the page. Then expand on the details as they scroll down adding in eye-catching headings and images to keep them glued to the page. Make linking text obvious if you’re creating links between your pages (BTW which is a good thing to do to help SEO) and never underline text that isn’t a link as people will try clicking it and think it’s a broken link as it doesn’t go anywhere.

Rachel Hodges – Copywriter and Content Strategist

Highly experienced, Rachel works with bportrait 02usinesses building their first website or those wanting to take their current site to the next level. She offers a complete copywriting service for digital and print, can build a voice for your business that is right for you and tackle your content SEO. Rachel loves helping others build their business profile and claim their place in the digital world. Find out more about Rachel and her work at www.rachelhodges.co.uk

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“All too often I hear from businesses who don’t feel confident about writing for the web, worry what they can do about SEO and are not sure about how to keep up with the competition.”

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