12th January 2021

Website copywriting: what’s changed?

Sophie Cole

Consumer behaviour is ever evolving and, over the past few years as online shopping has increased, the bar for website performance has risen sharply. Now, we’re buying more on mobile, want relevant information as quickly as possible and expect outstanding responsiveness from every site we visit. And while some of these demands can be met by using one of the many website building programs out there, effective and engaging website copywriting isn’t so easy to nail. We’ve been looking back at some of the trends that have influenced website copywriting over the last few years, and what they mean for your website copy.

The move to mobile

Since 2017, mobile devices have accounted for roughly 50% of all web traffic worldwide. As a result, websites must be optimised for a great mobile experience. Most website building tools allow you to see what your pages look like on mobile, meaning it’s easy to get the design right. Making sure your website copywriting is engaging on both desktops, and mobile devices is trickier.

There are many hurdles your words need to clear if they want to make an impact on readers. Your text sections need to be packed with relevant information without feeling like a series of boring lists. They also need to be organised in a way that doesn’t give your readers thumb-ache; if they have to scroll through miles of text to find what they’re looking for; potential clients will most likely click off.

Instead, paragraphs with just a few short, snappy sentences and clearly defined calls to action will make it easy for mobile and desktop users to find the right information and what to do next. It can be harder to show your company’s personality with fewer words, but the best writers will find a way to infuse your brand identity into every carefully chosen word.

Poetic, lengthy sentences are lovely in a novel, but they’re not right for a website. Just imagine scrolling through William Faulkner’s record-breaking passage (a 1,288-word sentence) on your tablet.

Auto-translate friendly content

The miracles of modern technology mean our phones and desktops can now translate virtually any international content into our chosen language. And in our increasingly globalised world, that’s a great thing. We can navigate the websites of German, Japanese or Brazilian suppliers without becoming a polyglot for the sake of business.

But these AI translation tools can miss the nuances a native speaker or professional translator would pick up. Take HSBC’s $10 million rebranding effort in 2009, which had to repair the damage of ‘assume nothing’ being mistranslated as ‘do nothing’.

If you want to avoid any of your messages getting lost in translation, you should approach your website copywriting with a global audience in mind. Slang or colloquial expressions (such as ‘not your cup of tea’) give your content a friendly feel in the eyes of a domestic audience, but they can muddle your message when put through Google translate.

SEO and its impact

We couldn’t talk about website copywriting without touching on the advances SEO has made over the last few years. It’s not easy to get right, and keyword phrases can feel like the enemy of creativity. Luckily, we know a thing or two about taming and harnessing the power of the SEO beast.

Writing for voice search

‘Ok Google’ and ‘Hey Alexa’ have entered our daily vocabularies, and it’s estimated 50% of all searches will be spoken by the end of this year. If you want your content to be discovered by people using voice search, you need to make sure you understand how these queries differ from typed searches. This topic is way too broad to tackle in one paragraph, but you can find an in-depth analysis of writing for voice search in our article series.

Questions and answers

Your audience is a curious bunch with plenty of questions for their chosen search engine. If you want to put your company in their eye-line, you need to anticipate what they’re looking for and give a straightforward answer. You might have noticed that Google now adds a snippet to the top of its results page when you ask a question. Let’s say you searched ‘Who is Stratton Craig?’. Google would make your life easier by bringing a concise answer from the most relevant page straight to you.

Answering your target audience’s questions is an easy way for your website copywriting to skip to the front of the queue. If you’re not sure what they’re looking for, tools like Answer the Public and Google Analytics can help you learn more about consumer searching trends. In practice, you might incorporate the phrase ‘we’re an ethical energy company in Bristol’ to capture searches for ‘is there an ethical energy company in Bristol?’ or the more straightforward ‘ethical energy company Bristol’.

Carefully placed keywords

We’ve come a long way from the keyword-stuffing sins that used to be common practice in the world of bad SEO. Search engine algorithms have become more aligned with how we interact with websites. Rather than prioritising clunky keywords or phrases, search engines now reward pages that have incorporated keywords into well-written copy that actually answers the searcher’s question. Your content needs to have a natural flow to be viewed as high quality in Google’s eyes.

Make website copywriting a priority

To make your website as effective as possible, your website copywriting needs to be one of your top priorities. Make sure it’s at the heart of your website planning so you can give it the time and attention to achieve maximum impact.

Working with a digital copywriting company like Stratton Craig can help you get it right first time, every time. We work with SEO experts and design agencies to help you build a complete, high-quality website that delivers exactly what you need. Get in touch to see how we can help with your website copywriting needs.