Writing Copy for Your Homepage (and Tips for Other Pages, Too!)

A sketch of a web design on a notebook.

We’ve been spending the last few weeks talking about website updates on the Talk Copy to Me podcast, and don’t worry, that conversation will continue in 2024 when season three kicks off. Until then, you’ll have two week’s of replays as we take some holiday downtime.

In today’s episode, we’re revisiting the fundamentals of crafting engaging website copy, focusing on one critical component for the most part: the homepage. But don’t worry, we’ll cover some elements to consider for your other pages too.

This episode is great if you’re considering drafting your own website copy or copy updates in the next couple weeks. But don’t forget to tune back in on Thursday January 4, 2024 to hear an episode all about writing and editing the most common website pages.

Copy says: Listen in to this episode of the Talk Copy to Me podcast

Here’s what you need to know about writing homepage copy:

  • The essential elements of a homepage, including the hero section, footer, and navigation bar
  • What comes between the hero section and the footer of the homepage
  • How long website viewers stay on a page before deciding whether to stay or go (a Nielsen Nelson Group stat)
  • The role headings, subheadings, and calls to action play as it pertains to homepage copy and converting leads into buyers

Want to listen to the a few older episodes website copy?

Here you can learn why your website is an important asset, what to write on both your about page or your services page, and what other pages your website may need.

To catch up with the more recent episodes, take a moment to determine when it’s time for website updates and how to prepare for them. Then, listen in to learn what pages you need for your website, how to do audience research and competitor research before wireframing your website pages.

quotes from this episode of the Talk Copy to Me copywriting podcast

Quotes from this episode about writing your homepage copy from Erin Ollila

  • “Here is your chance to share what you do and how it benefits your end user, and it’s their opportunity to self identify and make sure that they’ve landed in the right place.” – Erin Ollila

  • “In so many marketing related things, the correct answer is it depends, and that is absolutely true for what goes on a home page.” – Erin Ollila

  • “What you want to do is make sure there’s an actual flow for the reader so they understand each message, and the hierarchy of the way that you’re sharing the content is purposeful.” – Erin Ollila

  • “If you’re offering services or products on your home page, you’ll have buttons that lead them to those secondary pages so your calls to action should be clear and easy to understand.” – Erin Ollila

  • “The goal of your home page is to allow your end user to self identify to create trust, to grow your authority, and I want you to lead them through the next steps of working with you.” – Erin Ollila

Get to Know the Host of the Talk Copy to Me Podcast Erin Ollila

Learn more about your host, Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and went on to co-found Spry, an award-winning online literary journal.

When Erin’s not helping her clients understand their website data or improve their website copy, you can catch her hosting the Talk Copy to Me podcast and guesting on shows such as Profit is a Choice, The Driven Woman Entrepreneur, Go Pitch Yourself, and Counsel Cast.

Stay in touch with your favorite website copywriter, Erin Ollila

Wondering how to write homepage copy? Stop worrying about it and read the transcript to find out!

NOTE: Bots help to auto-transcribe the Talk Copy to Me episodes. We strive to do our best to make corrections, but please forgive us for any typos or confusing phases below. SUMMARY KEYWORDS homepage, website page, webpage, website, web copy, audience, navbar, website copy, services page, navigation bar, website footer, hero section, conversion, copywriting, SEO, website copywriting SPEAKERS Erin Ollila Erin Ollila 00:00 Hey friends and happy holidays. Just a quick reminder that this week’s episode is a repeat from one of our earliest actual episodes of the talk copied me podcast. We have been talking about how to write and rewrite your website copy. So I thought, what is better to share with you then some of the episodes that were specifically about your homepage about page services page and the rest of the website pages you needed. Today’s episode is an edited version of episode four, which is called a welcome home how to write homepage copy, you will kind of hear everything that goes on the page for a homepage. But I referenced those other pages because the links to those episodes will be in the show notes. Pretty much if you want to binge the series, you can listen to episodes 456 and seven, and they were all published between February and March of 2022. So enjoy these episodes and I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season. eating as many cookies as possible, drinking as much hot chocolate as you can and cuddling up on the couch with your comfiest blankets. Hey friends. Welcome to the top coffee Timmy podcast. Here we empower small business owners to step into the spotlight with their marketing and messaging. I’m your host, Erin Ollila. Let’s get started and talk coffee. All right, be honest with me for a second. How does your website make you feel? If you’re squirming in your seat right now, you are definitely not alone. I hear this all the time from prospective clients. They know the importance of a quality website, but they’re not thrilled with what they have right now. Heck, Erin Ollila 01:55 even I understand where you’re coming from. For a few years, I felt so uncomfortable sharing my website with potential leads. And the worst part about that is I’m a website copywriter. If my copy is not speaking to my ideal audience, how can I convince other people to hire me to write their website for them? Right. I’ve since moved past that cobblers kids have no shoes syndrome. And I’ve updated my own copy to a place that I’m comfortable to share my website. But I share this with you now because I understand where you’re coming from. All of my clients who come to me already having existing websites feel that same way. They’re worried that their copy doesn’t speak to their audience, or it doesn’t showcase their mission, vision and values in a way that they want it to. They may feel like there’s no personality, they’re not nailing their value proposition or it’s not clear from their web presence, what an incredible experience that they actually do provide for their customers. Oh, and I also hear from a lot of people how jealous they are of their competitors websites. They feel frustrated that people who have been in business for a shorter period of time, or who may appear to have less experience than them seem to be vocalizing their message with clarity and attracting the clients that they wish that they could reach. So I’m going to spend the next few episodes talking about some of the most important pages on any small business website. We’ll review the homepage, the about page and the Services page in detail. And for the fourth episode, we’ll finish this mini series. Talking about all of those extra additional pages you might include adding to your site, like a Frequently Asked Questions page or speaking page. But today’s episode is going to talk all about the homepage. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, users often leave a website in 10 to 20 seconds. And that data actually comes from the 2011 Not right now, think about how much the Internet has changed in the past 11 years, I’d venture to guess that that time was probably cut in half or more. Now you probably only have about three to five seconds where the person viewing your website decides whether or not they’re going to continue investing their time to learn about who you are and what you offer. So what can you do to keep them on your site? How can you structure your homepage to capture their interest and keep them reading? Well, what I’m about to say to you guys might seem controversial, but there are only three sections that are pretty much mandatory for all home pages, the navigation bar, the hero section, and the footer. And don’t worry, we will talk about what may come between The Hero section and the footer and just a bit. But let’s start with that navigation bar. When I say to think about a homepage, most people are not thinking about the copy that goes on the navigation bar at the top. But it’s really one of the most important spaces of your entire website, your navbar should be simple, concise, and clear. Its sole job is to direct the user toward the key sections of your website that they would or should be interested in. Think of it as a tour guide, where so many people go wrong with a navbar is that they either overload it with pages, or they try to be way too creative with the titling of their pages. So let’s first start with titling. For most small business owners that are service providers, your navbar should have a home about services and Contact page, your audience will know exactly what to expect when they see those titles. There is no need to be heavy, clever here, just call it what it is. So for example, one website I was on recently had the about page titled as profile. But when I was reviewing the site, I thought profile meant case studies for clients that they had worked with, and I was pretty confused. So when I clicked into it, and then it started talking about the business owner and what the business owners processes and experience has been I was I didn’t expect it I really expected client information. So similarly, your audience will know that they can contact you if they were going to a contact page. It doesn’t have to be renamed anything like communicate, or Hello, we want to keep the titles in our navbar as clear as they can be so that the audience viewing your site knows where they’re going. Previously. The other thing I said was one of the big problems with NAV bars is that they get overlooked. And I gave a few examples of the common pages that belong on a small business navigation bar. That being said, I can’t give blanket advice for what pages are important and what pages are not. That depends entirely on the business and their own visibility goals. My website, for example, has been a homepage, a services page, a podcast page, and about page and a contact page. So in some cases, a services page can actually be broken down into two separate pages that end up in a navigation bar. An example of one of my clients who did this recently is a lawyer that I worked with whose law firms services were on one page, and whose public speaking and training services were on another. When deciding what goes in your navigation bar. Remember that it’s acting like a tour guide and directing your end users to the most important pages on your site. Keep the titles clear and the options minimal. Okay, now let’s move into the hero section. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s that large banner that appears on the top of your homepage. It often covers a good portion of the screen or the entire screen as the site loads. In the hero section, you will find an image as well as a header and sometimes subheading copy, and a call to action. This by far is one of the most important places you should focus on when you write or update your homepage copy. Why? Well, let’s think back to that Nielsen Norman Group stat about how quickly people leave your website. And especially when we consider what that stat would be if it was updated for 2022. Then the deciding factor here to whether the person should stay or go doesn’t have anything to do with the navigation bar, but it has everything to do with the immediate information that is being presented to them. And that information exist in your hero section. Here is your chance to share what you do and how it benefits your end user. And it’s their opportunity to self identify and make sure that they’ve landed in the right place. If I’m suggesting that your navigation bar as a tour guide, think of your hero section as the cover of a destination brochure. It’s what advertises where you’re going. For example, if you’d like to go to Mexico, but the brochure cover advertises Paris, you’re immediately going to know that you’re in the wrong spot. The same thing happens with web sites. If you are not clear and descriptive in your hero section, your audience may assume that they’ve simply landed in the wrong place and leave. Now if you Like me, to be honest to you, I do think that the heading and the subheading of the hero section on the homepage is probably some of the hardest pieces of copy to write for your website. What I recommend here is drafting option after option after option to get you to the place where you’re easily able to identify and articulate what your site is all about. So this might take some trial and error, you might put something there and continue to change it until you’re comfortable. But if this is all new to you, and you’re thinking to yourself, like, okay, Aaron, thank you for telling me this is one of the most important places the pressure is on now. I don’t know what to say. There are three common copywriting angles that usually work for most headings and subheadings in the hero section, and you actually might see a combination of two or more of them. So they are number one, the problem number two, the solution. And number three, what you offer. So for example, number one the problem, let’s pretend we’re writing the web copy for a housekeeping service. The heading in the section might say something to the effect of you’re tired of coming home to a messy house. And what that’s doing is allowing the audience to self identify that the problem there exist. Option number two was writing a solution focused heading. Using that example above, a solution focused heading could be something to the effect of enjoy a sparkling clean home without ever having to lift a finger. And finally, option number three explains what you offer in a clear and concise manner. So for example, in my subheading, I currently use the description and offer description and I say, a strategic and SEO focused website words for creative entrepreneurs and smart service providers. However, some websites can skip a pain are solution focused heading by presenting this one offer based copy description in the hero section. So I know that was a lot thrown out at you. But But all I’m trying to say here is, those three options are a great starting point if you don’t know what to actually write here. So you can talk about the pain point, you can talk about the solution, and you can talk about the offer. You can do it by combining them or just using one. All right, let’s talk about that final third section that I said was mandatory for every website. That is the footer. Often there is very little copy that goes in here. But it’s a great opportunity for you to share any additional pages that may be of service to your audience, but don’t have the priority that needs to be in your navbar. Like a Frequently Asked Questions page or a Testimonials page. It’s also a really smart place to put your social media icons. Let’s remember that we don’t want people to leave our website. So when we advertise our social media icons on the top of our homepage, we’re giving a visual indicator to our audience that they can leave our site and go over to find out more about us on social media. But we don’t want them to do that. We want them to stay on the site as long as we can. So we can start to build that connection with them. There are a few things that they might find on your footer. So for example, a brief description of who you are. And the services you offer sometimes works there and especially for SEO purposes. For example, I have a value statement in the footer of my website, because I wanted to make sure that for every page that’s viewed, the audience that’s viewing it knows exactly what I stand for before choosing to work with me. There are other options though, for a footer, such as an Instagram feed, I see that in many people’s website, or a logo, even potentially an option that’s built right into the footer for someone to have a contact form or to like contact you directly. There’s there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding what to include in your footer. But when you work with a copywriter as an example, you can make those strategic decisions to figure out what is most appropriate for you and for your business. Because the key here, and actually in all three of these sections, the key is not to overwhelm our audience. We want to be as precise as possible and as clear as possible, so we can help people Move along through our website, understanding what it is we offer and who we are. If you’re listening right now and enjoying what you hear, I would be so appreciative if you hop on over to your favorite podcast player and review the show as well, let’s get back into the home pages. Because I know you’re all probably frustrated with me that I’ve spent this whole time talking about the navigation bar, and the hero section and the footer. And you want to get into the meat of what goes on the rest of the page. Because that’s, that’s what everyone cares about right now. Right? What’s happening in between that hero section and the footer? So, if you remember the last week, what I told you was that in so many marketing related things, the correct answer is, it depends. And that is absolutely true for what goes on a homepage. There are so many different approaches to the copy and contents of the homepage that can be based on the industry, or on offers or on websites, overall goals. So what I’ll do here is I’ll run through some of the most common Sections A person can find on a homepage for small businesses. But the super major caveat here is I don’t want you to think that you need all of these sections on your homepage, you may only need one you may need most, you may need a few of them. They’re just here to describe what you’ll often see, so that you can make the best decision for yourself as to what belongs on your specific page. And if you’re struggling to make the decision of what needs to go on your homepage between the hero section and the footer, feel free to schedule a copy coaching power hour with me and we can work it out together. All right, so depending on what you put in your hero section, it might be smart to follow that up with a secondary copy section. And in this section is where you’ll usually find a value proposition or a solution. This is your chance to answer the what’s in it for me question that your audience is asking themselves if they’re taking the time to scroll down the page. Again, this is another area where they get to self identify and ensure that they’re in the right place. Depending on the business, this could be one sentence, a few bullet points or even a few paragraphs. If you’d like an example, one of my most recently launched sites is for Susan joy, who is a coach for women who are sober, curious, are looking to live an alcohol free life. What she does is take an empathetic approach by addressing her audience’s pain point by asking them to directly determine if they see themselves in any of the bullet points, then she immediately follows up with a potential solution for them. The reason this works so well is that she’s not using a pain point as a marketing ploy, and forcing the end user to wallow in that moment or that pain point. Instead, she’s giving them an opportunity to understand that she gets the current state that they’re in and that they have options. Okay, so a copy section is one section that you might find following a hero section. Let’s move on to another section, your actual offers or services. When you think of your homepage, I want you to always think of the journey that you’re appointing the end user toward. So for most websites, that’s either going to be a conversion, or it might be a connection. A conversion could be where someone could book your services immediately from your website or potentially buy your products or join your program. And a connection could be if they decide to make a discovery or sales call with you. If we don’t actually tell the people viewing our site how they can work with us, they’re not going to move in either of those two directions. So one common section is simply a row that details the most common ways to work with you. Take my site for example, there are three images that lead to a done for you website copy, done with your copy coaching, or done in a flash VIP days. Another common interior section for a homepage is an authority section. There’s multiple ways that you can approach this and you can even have multiple authority sections on your homepage. So a common approach is a strip of testimonials from former clients. We all know that recommendations go a very long way when it comes to selling and word of mouth views of your work are so helpful on any homepage. But another section that you could do an authority section for is what I like to call the merit badges. These could be any awards that you’ve won any certifications you may have if you’re recognized by any type of organization, or they could also be specific stats or data from previous clients that you serviced, or anything that’s in a quantitative form that showcases you as an expert. Erin Ollila 20:31 Moving on another common section for the homepage, especially for small businesses, is what I like to call the intro section. And this works especially well for solopreneurs, or a very tiny company where there’s a face to the brand. On my website, for example, I have an intro section on my homepage, and it acts like a quick bio meets elevator pitch meets. Hi, how are you? I like to think of it as a little hello to the people who may be finding me for the first time, but done in a way that’s not overwhelming to them, where they can easily and quickly decide if they want to learn more about me later on my about page. All right, so let’s not forget the lead magnet. On many websites, there is a section where an opt in is offered. So the business can collect an end users email, so they can continue to nurture and grow a relationship with them via email marketing. We all know how important it is to build an email list. You know, think about how everyone panics when Instagram or Facebook or any of the social media platforms go down for a short period of time. Remember, we don’t own that content that are on those platforms. But we do have control over the people who give us permission to contact them by sharing their email with us. There will be an episode in the future that specifically covers the types of lead magnets or quizzes that work well for many different businesses. So I won’t go too far into that here. But just state that you’ll often find a lead magnet on a homepage. And it is a great idea to have one if list building is important to you. Okay, finally, another common section for the homepage is an additional resources section. And this, like the authority building section can be varied. On some you might find recent blogs that they have written in that section. On other people’s sites, you might have a link to listen to their podcast, or watch videos on their YouTube channel. Or maybe they just have simply a video that’s directly been embedded on the page, which explains things in a visual manner, instead of in a written one. Again, these are not all of your options for a homepage. But those are some of the most common ones you’ll find on home pages. And if you’re listening right now, with a homepage that you’re not happy with, one of my suggestions is for you to look at the structure of the page, and make sure that the sections are layered in the correct areas you want them to be. What you want to do is make sure that there is an actual flow for the reader. So they understand each message and the hierarchy of the way that you’re sharing the content is purposeful. Another thing that you can do if you want to adjust your homepage, will from what you have right now is to review the language that you’re using are the words and phrases that you’re actually sharing in the copy that you have the same words and phrases that current clients would actually use. Are you speaking to them in a way that they’d understand? Are you are you sharing the words that would show them that you understand where they’re coming from, and you also know how to take them to where they’d like to go. The goal of your homepage is to allow your end user to self identify, to create trust, to grow your authority. And I want you to lead them through the next steps of working with you. So there is one thing I didn’t discuss in the details above. There’s something that potentially could have gone in a few different sections, and that is a call to action. Your homepage is one of the few pages that might have multiple calls to actions on it. For example, in your hero section, you might have a button that leads them directly to your services page. In your introduction section, you may have a button that leads them to your about page. And if you’re offering services or products on your homepage, you’ll have buttons that lead them to those secondary Larry pages. So your calls to action should be clear and easy to understand. They should direct your audience to actually take a step and do something. When when you see some people’s calls to action, what I’ve seen in the past is they might just name the button, whatever the end result is. So for example, if you’re offering a discovery call that they’ve given a specific name like coaching, fitting call, instead of saying book your coaching fitting call, which gives an instruction to your end user, they just named the button coaching fitting call, and that doesn’t direct our audience to take any action. So we really want to look at our home pages and question, is there a journey here that I’m sending my audience on? Is my language clear and concise? Am I actually implying that my audience take an action on the homepage? Am I showing them the most important information? And if you can answer those questions, then you can finally feel comfortable that the content that you have is the content that you need. And the language that you’re using is actually speaking to the audience that’s viewing your site in a way that excites them to learn more about you and continue to stay on your webpage. So that’s what I have today for homepage copy. Please come talk to me more about it on Instagram. If you have any questions. Me again, just a quick reminder, we’ll be back next week with another repeat episode on easy website updates you can do before the new year. And then I’ll see you back the week after that, which happens to be the first week of January and our first episode of the third season of Topkapi to me. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Top copy to me. If you enjoyed spending your time with me today. I would be so honored if you could subscribe to the show and leave a review. Want to continue the conversation. Head on over to Instagram and follow me at Erin Ollila. Until next time friends.
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