Writing great website copy is downright hard to do. It takes a shocking amount of time and is often riddled with frustrating roadblocks, like delays in review by a senior staff person or uncertainty about how to talk about a new program or service. In fact, when one of our web projects is delayed, it’s almost always because content creation is taking one of our nonprofit clients longer than expected. When writing website content for your nonprofit, keep the following best practices in mind:
Start Writing Right Away
Give yourself way more time than you think you’ll need. Writing enough copy to fill a website will undoubtedly involve a good deal of frustration. You’ll hit periods where you just can’t find the right words. By starting early, you’ll have time to walk away and come back fresh the next day.
Write First, Polish Second
Don’t worry too much about finding those perfect words the first time through. Instead, focus on getting your thoughts down. After you have the basics written out, you’ll have time for polishing your wording and clarifying anything that’s unclear.
Don’t Just Copy Your Current Website’s Content
It’s fine to use some of your old website’s copy. But don’t simply copy and paste from the old to the new. Rethink your wording. Craft your story in a slightly different way. Update key data and any information that may be outdated. Website content development is your chance to make improvements, your shot to ensure you’re getting the most out of your website. True, it’s faster and easier to copy and paste. But a bit of extra time now can make a world of difference down the road.
Write How You Speak
And speak specifically to your target audience persona. You don’t have much time to engage a website visitor. Use a conversational tone to help connect with your user right away. Writing website content should be a reflection of yourself, so don’t be afraid to let your voice come through.
Think About Search Engines
Think of the types of words and phrases that people looking for your website would type into a search engine. Use those words and phrases throughout your page content to help tell search engines what your content is about. Since search engines use the text on your website to rank your organization in their results, it’s helpful to include at least 300 words on each page whenever possible and use the word you’re targeting three times.
Avoid Widespread Duplication
Search engines don’t like to see duplicate content on different pages. Too much duplicate content can hurt your search rankings. It’s also annoying for your visitors to read the exact same content in different locations. It’s great to repeat important themes in multiple places throughout your website, but vary the phrasing to keep it fresh.
Define Acronyms Before Using Them
If you’re going to use an acronym in your writing that some visitors may not know, define it. For instance, write non-governmental organization (NGO) before referring to NGOs throughout the remainder of your page.
Try to give concrete examples whenever possible. Anyone can say they’re good at anything online. Think about how you can stand out and prove that you know what you’re talking about. Giving examples can help prove to a visitor that you understand what they’re looking for.
Focus on Your User
When writing website content, think about the kind of content a visitor to your website would want to see. Instead of simply stating what you’re good at, provide users answers to the common questions they’ll likely have about your organization and what you do in the community.
FREE CHECKLIST: Writing Website Content for Your Nonprofit
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This page is Chapter 5 in our Beginner’s Guide to Nonprofit Website Content.