Anyone who’s worked with a copywriter to get content on their website knows it’s not as easy as handing off your URL and asking them to get to work. You need a plan, and your writer needs information.
Still, getting content on your website doesn’t have to be a challenge. Below, we’ve outlined a simple ten-step process for working with a copywriter to flesh out the text on your site. Refer to these steps next time you’re ready for a web content overhaul.
1. Identify your buyer personas
This might be the most important step in the whole process. It’s essential that you know who you’re writing for. You might have a great idea about your product or service, but your buyers don’t care that you’ve been in business since 1899 if what sets you apart is your swift service or domestic manufacturing. Figure out what your buyer personas care about first. This will drive your overall content strategy.
2. Identify and bucket distinct search areas
Think about those personas you identified above. What are they looking for? What do they value? How much do they know about your product or service and how will their knowledge (or lack thereof) influence the way they search?
Ask people in your company how they would search for your products, but also ask people who aren’t familiar with your products or service what they would type into a search engine. You could even survey your current customers. Once you’ve brainstormed based on your personas, loosely bucket your potential terms by category.
3. Conduct preliminary keyword research
Once you’ve identified a few buckets of search terms, use Google Keyword Planner to compare the volume and the competition of said terms. If your copywriter has skills in search engine optimization (SEO), he or she can take care of this step for you.
You can even experiment with Google Autocomplete to get some ideas about popular terms. Google is getting really smart with semantic search and synonyms, so you don’t need to be exact here—but this will give you a good idea of how people are thinking about these arenas.
4. Create a copy outline based on site architecture
This one’s easy. Go through your site or use your sitemap to create a copy outline for each page of your site. Create the outline in hierarchical order and identify top, middle and lower level pages throughout the body of the outline.
For example “Clients” would be at top level category, then maybe “Clients>Education” for midlevel then “Clients>Education>Specific Institution” for lower level/case-study type pages.
5. Supply writer/editor with rough copy
If you don’t have any content for your website, you’ll need to supply your copywriter with some rough copy pertaining to the specifics of your business. You don’t need to be a great writer for this, that’s what he or she is there for.
This rough draft is just to provide them with the information they need to write expertly about your product or service. Give them the bare bones and let them refine it from there. Be available to answer specific questions.
6. Understand the pieces
Your copywriter will rewrite your rough copy draft based on tone/style/voice and other information you’ve (hopefully) discussed in detail. He or she will also create the following on page elements to help with optimization:
- SEO title (title tag) – This is the blue link that shows up in search engine result pages (SERPs). It is not visible anywhere on your page, but it does display at the top of your browser or within your browser tabs.
- Meta description – This is the brief informational text that appears below the clickable links on SERPs. It does not appear anywhere on your page but is still important in getting people to click on your link. It’s a great place for a call to action—tell searchers why they should visit your page for the answer to their questions.
- Page title (H1) – The H1 is the headline or page title of each page. It will likely be the first text on the page and should accurately describe the content on each page. Best practices dictate that your main keyword appear here as well.
- Subheads (H2) – Depending on your design, the H2 can appear as paragraph subheads or a secondary title. By designating a subhead with an H2 tag, rather than simply bolding it, you’re telling Google to pay extra attention. These H2 headlines are another good place for the occasional keyword or keyword variation.
- Body content – This the general content of the page. If you’ve organized your site architecture and hierarchy correctly, your keyword should naturally appear with the body of the text at least once or twice.
7. Review their copy for content
You know your business inside and out. Your copywriter will do his or her best at expressing the goals, methods, products, and services you’ve discussed, but it’s up to you to carefully review the content to determine if they’ve represented your organization accurately. Offer your business-specific insights.
8. Have copywriter implement your changes
Once you’ve identified any areas that need refining, send your edits back to your copywriter. A great way to organize your changes is to use collaborative software like Google Doc which lets you make changes to documents and then compare them with previous versions. You can give access to as many or as few people as necessary to get a good overall assessment.
9. Conduct a final review
Your copywriter will implement any suggested changes. And then it’s time for, yep, another review. Read through all web content carefully. Throughout the process, you may have identified areas where content would be better suited to a different page, or you may have made the decision to add a new page to the site to accommodate more specific content. Review all pages to be sure everything’s accurate and correctly placed within the site architecture.
10. Review on development site
Finally, review the content on the development site. (You may also hear this referred to as the “dev” site.) Things often look different once you upload them to your CMS. You might find that your clever headline is just too long, or falls awkwardly on the page. Or you might discover that your carefully worded call to action falls flat against all the other elements on your page and might require some simplification or other edits.