Website copy is incredibly important, and incredibly complex. Which means its easy for website copy problems to occur.
One of the main issues is that website copy appears simple- a headline here, a CTA there- but its anything but. The words on your website are doing a great deal all at once:
- Conveys your brand messages and values
- Proves authority and highlights professionalism
- Drives website traffic and gets your website ranking on Google
- Sells your products or services and creates demand
- Builds trust in the potential customer by explaining qualifications and experience
- Communicates expectations of the customer
And, the tricky thing with website copy is that it looks effortless.
Investing in professionally written website copy is always a good idea, but it can be costly. With the average UK copywriter day rate at £390 per day, the final bill could be significant for a small business owner.
This means some people have a go at writing their own website copy. They might get some budget-friendly help from a professional copywriter in the form of a power hour or a downloadable resource. This is a fantastic option until working with a copywriter to rewrite a website is possible.
It’s important to me that I help as many small business owners as possible. As well as writing websites and blogs for my clients, I also offer cheaper services such as specific website copy audits, website copy workbooks, and handy blogs just like this one.
If you’ve DIYed your website copy, and you’re not sure if you’re on the right track, I’ve got some advice for you. Here are six common problem areas I often see in website copy.
- Website Copy Error One: Too much writing
- Website Copy Error Two: Not enough writing
- Website Copy Error Three: Unclear product descriptions or service descriptions
- Website Copy Error Four: No SEO keywords, or SEO keywords not in the right place
- Website Copy Error Five: No mention of location
- Website Copy Error Six: Not enough, or no clear calls to action (CTAs)
- Website Copy Error Seven: Typos and spelling mistakes
Website Copy Error One: Too much writing
Problem: I usually see this when the small business owner has written their own website copy and they’ve tried to include as much information as possible. They might be trying to give their customer an insight into their character, their beliefs, their values, and their journey. This looks like websites with 20+ pages and sprawling menus. It also looks like a website with only a couple of pages, but they’re packed with thousands of words. Some parts of the DIY website copy are extremely important and relevant to the potential customer, but they’re lost in the confusion of everything else.
Why it is a problem: It’s overwhelming for the potential customer, and it’s hard to navigate. Too much unclear copy leads to lost sales simply because it looks like hard work to read. Sadly, we all only read snippets of a website page, not every word, and if it’s not easy to navigate, people just give up. If the SEO keywords aren’t clear, then Google won’t know how to rank the website.
How to fix the problem: Identify the key information your customer actually needs to know and focus on that. Strip out any extra information and stick to simple, clear messaging. Take notice of what you read on other peoples’ websites, and what helps you to know when you pay for a service or product.
Website Copy Error Two: Not enough writing
Problem: Conversely, some websites don’t have enough writing. Usually, these websites have beautiful imagery and a strong visual identity, but hardly any copy. It’s hard to navigate around these websites, because there aren’t clear directions for a potential customer to follow. This causes a high bounce rate. The lack of enough words, and specifically SEO keywords, means Google can’t rank the page. The potential customer may have no idea of the values or offering of the business and they may choose a competitor who has all the answers.
Why it is a problem: Having gorgeous images is visually attractive, but it is not helpful to Google which cannot “see” images and needs to read words. It’s not helpful to those who use screen readers. It is not helpful to those who come to the website with specific questions which are not answered. The visitor may be keen to buy from you or work with you but if they don’t know how much delivery is, or where you are based, or exactly what you offer, these are just barriers to conversion.
How to fix the problem: add more copy to the website. The home page needs to be like a cheese board, with lots of interesting nibbly bits to attract different customers. Have a range of key information your customer needs so you are answering their questions and building trust the moment they land on your website. Identify how you want to sound to your customers, what values you want to communicate, and consider how industry leaders present themselves.
Website Copy Error Three: Unclear product descriptions or service descriptions
Problem: Product descriptions or service descriptions which do not convey enough information. A potential customer cannot make the decision to work with you or buy from you if they do not have enough information. Additionally, no SEO keywords means Google will not direct customers to your page.
When it comes to product descriptions, poor website copy means what the product is, does, looks like, and the size dimensions are not clear. The benefits of the product should be front and centre of the description so the potential customer knows exactly what problems the product solves, or how they’ll feel when they own or use it. As more and more people buy online, the product descriptions replace the experience of going into a shop and directly handling or seeing the product before purchasing. Your words should paint pictures of the product in the readers’ mind, reassure the potential customer, and make the product irresistible.
For service descriptions, poor website copy means unclear timelines, benefits, expectations, and deliverables. As services tend to be significant time and financial investments the descriptions need to squash any concerns and reassure the potential customer you can be trusted. The business values, location, and your hard-earned industry experience should be communicated to the potential customer knows exactly what they’re paying for.
Why it is a problem: whenever poor website copy inspires even tiny doubts, the potential customer will look elsewhere. So, the descriptions need to clearly state how problems are solved, and exactly what will happen for the potential customer. Unclear product descriptions simply mean people don’t buy, and unclear services descriptions confuse the potential customer. In both cases the customer may go to a competitor. As well as this, Google won’t be able to drive people to your website without strong SEO keywords throughout the descriptions.
How to fix the problem: Get super specific. Research and use relevant SEO keywords. Use the website formatting to include drop down boxes to allow for extra information without it being overwhelming to the potential customer.
For product descriptions, include a physical description including sizes and colours, delivery information, returns information, reviews, values information, manufacturing information, materials information, and an FAQ section. Check out how the big players write their product descriptions and service descriptions, and see how you can learn from them.
For service descriptions, include precisely how you will deliver the service, why it’ll benefit the buyer, testimonials, location, values, estimated timelines, price ranges, and FAQs.
Website Copy Error Four: No SEO keywords, or SEO keywords not in the right place
Problem: a common problem is small business owners not conducting SEO research before they write their website copy. So, they do not have relevant SEO keywords on their website at all. Google is not clever enough to “see” your images or know what you do if you don’t explicitly state it.
When small business owners are aware of SEO keywords and do put them on their website, often the words are in the wrong places. Bust small business owners may leave their meta data blank, and sometimes use the H1/ H2/ H3 tags for sizing and appearances rather than for SEO keywords.
Why is it a problem: SEO keywords tell Google what your website is about. If you want to rank for that word, it needs be on your website. Frequently repeated, and clearly tagged. Google prioritises the text in the meta data and H1/ H2/ H3 tags. If this information is not packed full of keywords, Google won’t know what your website is about, and it won’t send people to your website. This could have huge impact on your sales and income. Simply, low website traffic means low conversions, and ultimately low revenue.
How to fix the problem: It’s really important to start off with the SEO keyword research. Using Semrush, Ahrefs, or the Google Keyword Planner to get a bank of relevant keywords which link to your business, area, and products/ services. Ensure those keywords appear throughout the copy, but specifically in the H1/ H2/ H3 tags and meta data. It’s important to keep the website copy readable and navigable for human readers, as well as useful for Google.
Website Copy Error Five: No mention of location
Problem: it’s a huge problem if a small business owner never mentions their location on their website. It might be an oversight, or simply that they don’t realise how important this information is. It could be that they’re reluctant to mention their location because they work from home, and they don’t want to reveal personal information. Perhaps it’s because they want to appear as though they’re a bigger business, from a big city, not a little business from a little English village. There’s nothing wrong with being a little business from a little place! Location is super relevant to the buyer.
Why is it a problem: People like to buy from local businesses, and UK small businesses. This is key marketing information to help people make their choice. We all want to support our local economy, and we want to be sustainable and socially conscious. That means low air- miles, and fair living wages, and busy local small businesses. Without knowing the location of the small business, a potential customer can’t make an informed decision. On a practical level instead of a values level, not having a location clearly mentions means bricks and mortar shops can’t be found, shipping times and fees can’t be estimated, and local networking opportunities are missed.
Location is very relevant for Google and SEO. Just think how often you google something like “abstract artist Bristol, UK”, or “key cutting, Bristol UK”, or “best coffee shop Bristol UK”. Without the words “Bristol UK” appearing on the website, Google won’t bring up your website.
How to fix the problem: Include a little section mentioning your location on every page of your website and include it in the footer of your website. Use your blogs to frequently mention your location and business owners in your local area. Include phrases such as “proud of our community in [place name]” in headings and mention where products will be shipped from in your product descriptions.
Website Copy Error Six: Not enough, or no clear calls to action (CTAs)
Problem: Sometimes a small business owner is reluctant to appear sales-y, or pushy. Sometimes a small business owner may not be aware how important a call to action is. Sometimes a small business owner thinks they’ve got enough CTAs, but they need more. Not having clear buttons which direct the reader how to act means the reader could be left floundering on the website, browsing non-vital pages, and not heading towards a conversion.
Why is it a problem: Whatever the cause of the problem, the consequence is a potential customer will come to your website, read some interesting information, and have no idea what to do next. Should they contact you? Should they book an appointment? Should they use the search bar to find a product? Small business owners need to clearly know how they’d like their potential customer to behave and use the calls to action to direct them.
How to fix the problem: Break your website down into sections on each page, and after each section include a clear call to action button which will direct your potential customer to their ideal action.
Website Copy Error Seven: Typos and spelling mistakes
Problem: Website copy which has even a handful of inaccurate spellings, typos, incorrect punctuation, unclear grammar is a huge problem. Having long rambling sentences mean potential customers are left confused. A typo distracts from the key message which the small business owner wants to get across.
It’s really important to mention here that some people are dyslexic and there are many reasons why people struggle with literacy. There is no shame in making mistakes with language, we’re all human and we all struggle with something. Making the errors is not the problem, it’s not having solutions in place to fix the errors which is the problem. One or two typos may be missed and are not the end of the world, but frequent mistakes are off- putting.
Why it is a problem: The problem is we all only get one chance to make a first impression. When a potential customer might be handing over money, they should trust that you’re conscientious, reliable, and have good attention to detail. It’s likely that one or two typos will be overlooked, but lots of errors causes concern.
At best typos and mistakes could imply unprofessionalism. At worst, unclear sentences mean lost sales and confused customers. It’s also worth mentioning that scammers who send phishing communications often write inaccurately and this is a warning sign for consumers not to act or trust them. Spotting poor literacy tells a potential customer the business might be unreliable, which is obviously something an authentic small business would like to avoid.
How to fix the problem: Firstly, do not beat yourself up if you struggle to write accurately, there are ways to fix this, and it is in no way a reflection of your intelligence or general awesomeness. When it comes to writing your website copy, start in a program like Microsoft Word. Write freely and don’t care about spellings and errors as you write, but heavily edit/ proofread it when you finish. Try using a dyslexic friendly font, changing the colour of the page, and altering the size of the fonts.
Then, when you’re happy with your website copy, have a trusted friend read over your copy.
Focus on problem areas:
- Punctuation: incorrect apostrophes, run on sentences, overuse of exclamation marks
- Spelling: definitely/ definately, recommendation/ reccomendation, calendar/ calender, independent/ independant
- Typos: from/ form, scarred/ scared, make/ made, on/ in
- Tenses: switching from first person, (I/ we) to third person (they) is confusing, as is writing in past and present tense. Poor sentence structure leads to misunderstanding and unclear messages.
Was this helpful? Great! Please share it with your small business network in case anyone else can use this information. Check out this blog on website copy and find out how I help small business owners like you with their website copy here.