A website is often called the hardest-working member of a marketing team: It’s on the clock 24/7 answering customer questions, encouraging orders, and spreading the word about your products and services. By creating lovely, compelling, persuasive website content, you can help your business leverage its site to increase customer satisfaction, acquire new customers, and boost sales.
Website content is a broad term that encompasses many elements. Here’s what it is, and an in-depth guide to creating strong content for your ecommerce site.
What is website content?
Website content is any written, audio, or visual content element on a website. It can include blog posts, marketing copy, photos, logos, embedded videos, podcasts, and any other creative elements on a site.
Website content can also combine mediums. A blog post might include text, images, and an audio option to listen to the article. Single elements like interactive infographics might also combine multiple elements. For example, an interactive map of the US that populates with state-specific info when a user hovers over an individual state might combine graphic design and text into a single piece of web content.
Web content vs. web copy: What’s the difference?
The words “copy” and “content” are sometimes used interchangeably, but web copy is technically a subset of written web content. Written or textual content encompasses any writing on your website. You can distinguish between content and copy by their purpose:
- Web content. Web content (such as blogs, articles, and resources) is typically longer form. Its purpose is to educate, inform, entertain, or persuade an audience.
- Web copy. Web copy (such as taglines, banner text, and calls to action) is typically shorter and exists primarily to inspire an action like signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase.
Types of webpage content
Here’s an overview of the types of written content frequently found throughout a website:
- Marketing page content. Your homepage, About page, and landing pages are all types of marketing pages. Marketing page content communicates information about your brand to current or potential customers. These pages often contain multimedia content elements like photos, illustrations, graphics, or video.
- Product or service page content. Product or service page content explains the value of particular products or services, may include posted answers to customer questions, and encourages purchases through product reviews. Product pages typically include a call to action (CTA), such as an Add to Cart button.
- Blog posts. Blog content is article-style, long-form written content that provides information of value to your target audiences. Unlike marketing page content, blog content isn’t necessarily always about your company. Instead, blog posts are often part of a company’s search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing strategy: They educate or entertain and use specific keywords in an effort to show up in search engine results.
- User-generated content. Some companies post user-generated content (like testimonials or reviews) to their websites. User-generated content encourages purchases through social proof, the phenomenon in which people choose a course of action by mimicking the actions of others.
- Case studies. Business-to-business (B2B) companies often use case studies to show their product or service in action with a particular customer. These typically examine a particular customer relationship and show how a product or service helped that customer solve a problem or reach a goal.
- Downloadable content. Some companies will make long-form content (like ebooks and whitepapers) available for download in exchange for your contact information—this is known as gating content. Downloadable content is popular with B2B companies, but it can also be effective for B2C ecommerce companies, as long as the content provides specific value that isn’t readily available through online sources. For example, an ecommerce brand that sells boutique tonic water and ginger beer might offer a downloadable introduction to mixology ebook that includes a section of recipes featuring the company’s products.
- Help center content. Help center content answers common customer questions and helps customers navigate any potential problems. It can increase customer satisfaction and reduce the burden on your customer service team. For example, if your customers frequently struggle to find the On button for your product, including instructions in your FAQ section can limit customer frustration and reduce the number of people who contact you for help.
Shopify Learn: Content marketing
Create a website content strategy that satisfies the questions and needs of your customers.
Characteristics of good content
Good website content provides value to readers and promotes your brand. To do this, it needs to be clear, engaging, and tailored to your target audiences. Here’s an overview of the qualities of strong website content:
- Clear. Clarity is paramount. Confusing content frustrates readers and discourages engagement with your site.
- Polished. Presenting clean, polished, and grammatically correct content can increase trust—while spelling and grammar errors and typos can diminish it.
- Digestible. Companies format website content for easy consumption on digital platforms. Because many website visitors skim, content often includes informative headers, bulleted lists, and short paragraphs to provide value to readers who are in a rush or looking for a specific piece of information.
- Valuable. Good website content delivers value—either educational or entertainment. Educational content increases an audience’s knowledge base in a particular area or helps the reader solve a specific problem, while entertaining content moves or delights the reader.
How to write good website content: 5 tips
- Identify your audience
- Create a brand style guide
- Develop an editorial process
- Leverage intros and conclusions
- Optimize for SEO
Strong website content is a critical part of your marketing and business strategy. The good news is: You don’t have to be a renowned author to create engaging, persuasive copy for your small business. You just need to know who you’re talking to and why you’re talking to them—and follow a few key web-specific best practices. Here are five tips for creating content for your website:
1. Identify your audience
It’s much easier to write content for a specific type of person than for an abstract general audience. To solve this problem, many business owners create buyer personas, fictionalized representations of a business’s ideal customer.
For example, one business might create the buyer persona Helen, who is 24 years old, loves swimming and is working in finance but dreams of career switching into marine biology. Another might create Sue, who is 58, loves roller derby, worries about paying for her kids’ education, and dreams of retiring in Mexico.
Just as you’d speak to these people differently, you’ll write for them differently. Creating specific buyer personas can help you generate content ideas around your target audience’s needs and vet voice, tone, and structure for a particular readership.
2. Create a brand style guide
Many businesses create brand style guides for written content. These guides contain the basic information needed to write content for your brand. For example, you might provide an overview of target audiences, emphasize active voice, define acceptable brand tones, and weigh in on a number of editorial options, such as whether or not to use the Oxford comma, how and when to abbreviate, and when to spell out numbers.
Creating a style guide can help you maintain consistency across pieces of content and make it easier to delegate content writing responsibilities to members of your team.
3. Develop an editorial process
Content creation involves multiple stages (and, often, multiple members of your team). You’ll brainstorm ideas, develop an outline, draft content, review and revise content, and perform a final proof before publication.
Committing to a content writing process can organize your workflows, minimize the likelihood of errors in the final product, and provide transparency for outside writers or involved members of your team. It can also support consistency by making sure that content written by different people is subjected to a standardized internal process.
4. Leverage intros and conclusions
Written content needs to capture an audience’s attention right away. That means making the intro to any piece of written content snappy and engaging. Avoid lengthy segues and expected hooks (such as, “Since the dawn of time”) on blogs and articles, and lead marketing and product pages with a brief headline that highlights product value in a nutshell, like “Your skin care problems solved” or “No pores, no problem.”
Web content writing specialists also pay particular attention to conclusions, considering what action they’d like a website visitor to take after reading a piece of content. Web content often ends with a call to action, or CTA, such as “Learn More” or “Contact Us” for marketing pages, “Add to Cart” for product pages, or helpful links to other resources on your site for blogs and articles.
5. Optimize for SEO
Optimizing your content for SEO can help your website appear higher in search results and increase the likelihood that your target audiences will find you via a search engine query.
Use your buyer personas and target audience research to identify and incorporate relevant keywords—but avoid prioritizing search engines over human readers. Overusing keywords, or keyword stuffing, can decrease content clarity and value, and damage SEO performance. Optimal keyword density is around 1% to 2%—so in a 200-word article, you might only use your target keyword two to four times. Using it 30 times can frustrate your readers and cause search engines to penalize your content by dropping it lower in search engine rankings.
Website content FAQ
How often should website content be updated?
The frequency of website content updates depends on the content, and changes in your business or industry or on your brand’s calendar. If you’re A/B testing your marketing copy, for example, you might update web content as soon as you have a winner, and update product or marketing page content whenever the information becomes outdated.
How can you optimize website content for search engines?
Some tips to optimize your website content for search engines include: incorporating relevant keywords; including helpful links to other pages on your site; writing clear and concise meta descriptions and headers; and including alt tags for all images.
How can you measure the effectiveness of your website content?
Effective website content delivers measurable results. These ecommerce metrics can help you gauge the effectiveness of yours:
- Organic traffic
- Time on page
- Scroll depth
- Bounce rates
- Click-through rates
- Conversion rate
- Social shares and mentions
- Backlinks to your site