This is the second installment in our two-part series on writing site content. If you missed the first installment, make sure to check it out HERE.
Now that you have a list of dazzling vocabulary words, all firmly anchored in your brand and bursting with powerful positive associations, it’s time to, um, actually write some site content.
You knew this moment had to come.
Step 4: Write page headlines by expanding your words into phrases.
Each page of your website needs its own headline. These are not like the titles of the papers you wrote in school—think of them more like the phrases you see on highway billboards.
When done properly, headlines are the first things readers’ eyes are drawn to on a page. Being visually appealing is a big part of their role on the page—along with introducing the purpose of the page and solidifying your brand, of course.
From Skittles. You can’t say your eyes had any trouble finding where to go.
Your Headline To Do list:
- Go for the unexpected. Intrigue people. You want to jolt them into paying attention.
- Stick to short headlines. They’re punchier.
- Be conversational, and you will sound approachable. (Be formal, and you will sound cold.)
- Do NOT be pushy or market-y, just friendly and helpful. Today’s consumers are wired to instinctively recoil at obvious marketing tactics. Your company is better than that.
- Make it eye-catching. Your headlines can’t just sound good—they have to look good, too. Think big, easy-to-read fonts in contrasting colors.
- Consider asking a question. Some of the most effective headlines are questions.
So, instead of “Our Products,” what if you said, “What’s On Our Shelves” or “Take a Look Around”? All of these introduce the page’s purpose, but one is a phrase I’ve seen a million times on a million different websites. Instead of “Our Services,” you could say something like, “Let’s Talk Shop.” And so on.
Cleverness: the most powerful weapon in site content writing.
Step 5: Craft your body text.
Too many people think this is the first step in the content-writing process, when it’s really the last. A distant, distant last.
This is not the time to wax eloquent for 10 paragraphs about how your great-grandpa started the biz with his two bare hands, then passed it down to your pa, who made you swear on his death bed that you would always, always put the customer first.
Nor is it a time to ramble about your company’s countless awards and accolades, using gag-inducing phrases like “history of excellence.”
Basically, rambling of any kind is out. You can safely assume that readers are going to read, at most, the first sentence (maybe the second) of each paragraph, up to about four paragraphs. No matter how critically interesting the details of your business are to you, text for the sake of text is not going to get your business anywhere.
How to Craft Solid Body Text
1. Look at how much space you have. Adequate white space is critical for the skimming eye, and much more important than words. You don’t need to determine an exact word count, but you should have a ballpark in mind.
2. Start with bullet points. If you dive into writing body text without really knowing what you’re trying to say, you’ll end up rambling. And that’s a no-no.
3. Expand the bullet points into (short) sentences. Pay extra attention to those first sentences, since the reader might not make it past them. Ideally, they should be able to get a good idea of your entire body text by just cherry-picking the first sentence of each paragraph.
4. Add some flair. Find the spots where your brain goes “yadda yadda yadda…” and inject something fun there. Anything the lighten the tone and give the brain a break.
5. Cut, cut, cut. Be merciless and respect your physical screen space. Every writer must learn to part with their own genius words for the sake of brevity and visual simplicity. That means you, too.
So many business owners are happy to brush their site content under the rug with a simple excuse: “I’m not a writer.”
But most business owners aren’t web designers, either, and you don’t see them drawing freehand logos in Paint and praying for a miracle. They know their options: hire a designer or learn how to code.
The same goes for site content. If you don’t want to look like an amateur, hire a writer or learn how to write.
It’s that simple—and that complicated.