With most websites, there are four primary components to consider:
- Design – how the site looks
- Programming – how the site works
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – how the site attracts people looking for your products or services using search engines
- Content – how the site describes your business
When you develop a website for your business, all these elements must be addressed. Unless you have previous experience with design, programming, or SEO, you probably will not want to manage these parts on your own; you will more likely hire a web developer such as Red Kite Creative.
However, content is one area in which many business owners do try to do it themselves. You might want to try it too. After all, who can describe your business better than you can?
Yet, when you write content for your own website, there can be some challenges. For one thing, knowing so much about your business may actually work against you; you are so close to your products or services that you may not be able to describe them objectively. You may also make the common mistake of writing more about you and your business than about your customers, their needs, and how you can meet those needs.
Content is key, because it accomplishes so much of what you need a website to do:
- Provides keywords for search engines to find you
- Sets the tone for your business
- Helps site visitors understand what you do
- Helps site visitors make a decision about whether to do business with you
- Helps site visitors take the next step in doing business with you
Considering the importance of content, you want to make sure it is the best it can be. Here are some strategies used by professional writers that you can use to write content for your own website.
Features and Benefits 101
To create the most effective content for your website, first make sure you understand the benefits your product or service offers. For example, say you are a natural foods grocer. Your shop carries organic produce, and prepared foods without chemical additives. Is that the benefit? No! That is a feature. A feature is something about your business, products, or services. A benefit is how that feature helps your customers. In this case, your customers benefit by becoming healthier when they eat natural foods from your store.
To turn a feature into a benefit, try the “so what” trick. Say your feature is “My toaster oven has three different settings.” Now, ask, “So what?” Your answer might be, “Food is cooked perfectly every time.” There’s your benefit!
Provide both features and benefits for best results.
See Features and Benefits 101 for more on this topic.
When you write content for your own website, be sure you know who you’re “talking” to. Taking your readers, or audience into consideration is the single most important factor in ensuring your message will be read and understood.
See if you can come up with a composite description of your typical customer. For example, for the natural grocer, the description might be something like “a 35-year old professional woman with two children and a household income of at least $80,000.” The more specific you can be, the better. What hobbies do your customers enjoy? What TV shows do they watch?
If you don’t know much about your customers, try offering a free product or service if they fill out a questionnaire asking about their interests. You can also get clues from who attends your seminars, or who follows you on social media sites.
Now that you’ve identified your target customers, focus on their concerns. Think about what they want to know, and provide that information. Promote your services in a way that responds to their needs. Always strive to answer the question your customers are implicitly asking: “What’s in it for me?”
See Get in Tune With Your Readers for more on this topic.
In Part 2, I’ll share more tips for how to write content for your own website, as well as how to recognize when you might need help.
About the Author: Karen Marcus, M.A. is a Northern Colorado copywriter who has been helping clients in a wide range of industries to put their best word forward for 13 years. Karen is Owner and Senior Copywriter at Final Draft Communications, LLC.
© 2011 Karen Marcus & Final Draft Communications, LLC