16 Questions to Improve Your Website Copy

I’ll be rewriting my business pages during May. These are the questions I’m asking myself. This is a good list for assessing any page, but will be most helpful for looking at static pages where you can do direct edits. If you are dealing with a large dynamic site, then look for ways to leverage your platform and databases to handle things at scale.

The Basics

  1. Is it there? – This sounds simple but you’d be amazed how many pages I find with incomplete copy or no copy at all. The most common cases are sites that have been through big redesigns or are trying to add a lot of new pages at once. Take the time to read all the sentences on the page. 
  2. Does everyone see it the way you do? – Make sure that tabs, accordions and anything script-driven looks right in the main browsers.  Also take a look at it on mobile devices and be aware of the most popular screen resolutions for your visitors.
  3. Is it grammatically correct? – I know it’s challenging to get blog posts published on a deadline, so I can cut you some slack there. But your Contact Us, About or Shipping Info pages shouldn’t have typos.
  4. Where’s the headline? –  If the page doesn’t have an obvious declaration of topic, then you are betting that people will read the page to figure out what its about. The odds are not in your favor.
  5. Is it accessible through internal links? – Give orphan pages a way to connect with the rest of your site. Make sure that a page can be reached from at least one page on the level above and the level below.
  6. Is it in the right place? – Quick test: have someone unfamiliar with the site try to find the page. If they go to a different section than you expect, then you need to look at navigation or figure out if the page is about what you think it is.

Getting to Business

  1. Who am I writing for? – A tricky one & one that I’m working on for this site. If you haven’t had time to build personas or you are working with a new audience, then you need to use internal feedback or trial-and-error until the data starts coming in. But start refining your tone, language and structure as soon as you get a real feel for who you are talking to.
  2. Do I need this page? – Another tricky one, but if a page doesn’t provide value to you or a visitor, or it’s redundant, then get rid of it. You can also look at re-tasking the page. It may not be useful now, but maybe some edits will let you use it to cover another topic or add more detail.
  3. Am I covering the important stuff? – I mean important to your visitor/customer not to you: Do you have a money-back guarantee? When is the event? What is the table made out of? How often will I get your newsletter? If you are not covering their main questions, then you are not going to convert them.
  4. Am I staying on topic?Sometimes you need to tell a story or offer background before getting to the heart of the matter. All that’s fine, but try to be concise and focused.

Going Above & Beyond

  1. Am I missing SEO opportunity? – The most important thing is meeting customer needs, but SEO shouldn’t be ignored. See if it makes sense to include a brand mention or a couple of links to other site areas in the copy. Also look at heading elements (h1-n).
  2. How shareable is it? – I’m often surprised by which pages on a site get social shares. It’s not just products or blog posts. For example, shipping calendars will often get shares during the holiday season. Take a look at open graph & twitter cards to help your content standout in social searches and streams.
  3. Will it show up in internal search? – Roughly 10% of your visitors are going to use site search to find what they are looking for. Make sure that your search is configured to pull from the right places. If possible, see about weighting content that you think is most important, so that it shows up higher in the results.
  4. Can I use this somewhere else? – Why not turn each FAQ question into blog posts? Or use some info from your About page in a PPT about your company? You’ve already invested the time to make the content good, so why not get more value out of it.
  5. Should I be tracking this page more closely? – Usage of Shipping Info, About Us, FAQs and other support pages can be indicators of how well you are showing the value of your content or products to visitors. Maybe you should setup some filters or goals to learn how often these pages are being seen?.

Improving on What You’ve Got

This is the 4th post in a series about improving your website with targeted changes. This post starts   my discussion of site copy. I’ll be using my own site for examples and you can follow along to see what I come up with. If you have questions or need clarification, then leave a comment.

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