Read time: ~10 min


Design is everywhere. I don’t think we’ve ever lived in a time more focused on design. Especially for small businesses. You can’t just exist and be good at what you do. You have to have a brand (personal or professional) and it has to have *aesthetic*.

So I totally get you wanting to put your aesthetics out there! 

  • I understand you hired a photographer and want to show off your high-quality images.
  • I understand you want to let the photos do the talking (they were expensive after all).
  • I understand words aren’t necessarily aesthetically pleasing (depending on who you talk to). 

But as your copywriting and SEO girls’ girl, please do not let your website rely on images and graphics. 

  • Do not make it text-lite.
  • Do not take copy off your website.
  • Do not pass go and collect $200 (publish) until you’ve promised me each page has at least 400 words of VISIBLE text. 

Let’s talk about it. 

Your website’s purpose and the role content plays

I know your mind went one of three ways when I mention low copy websites: 

  • Graphic designers/interior designers
  • Luxury anything
  • Artists

Two things to keep in mind: They’re already established and what they’re selling is visual.

A Chanel, a Tiffany’s, a Baccarat doesn’t need (as much) website copy because they’ve been smothering you with copy for the past 100 years.

A famous artist might not need a lot of copy on their website because those images are what they’re selling. Plus, people already know who they are and are coming to them. 

For interior designers and the like, again, the images are the service they’re selling, but in other areas website content is necessary to get people from leads/admirers to customers.

You’re a small business playing by a different set of rules — and you don’t have hundreds of years or millions of dollars to back you up. 

The purpose of a website & the role content plays

Do you love IKEA instructions? No, so why would you make your website IKEA instructions for your potential customers? 

Visuals are extremely important to a website. Yes they’re pretty and yes they can tell a story. But the beautiful part about a story is how it changes from person to person based on their experiences and unique perspectives. 

Visuals require interpretation. 

Your website shouldn’t rely on open-ended visuals for visitors to decipher your message. It can leave people confused and annoyed.

Websites thrive on clarity. Direct communication via website copy leaves no room for misinterpretation and ensures visitors understand exactly what you offer, how it benefits them, and guides them towards a desired action (making a purchase, subscribing, etc).

Think of your website like a convention center. 

  • The outside has a name, multiple points of entry, signs, and looks ‘inviting’
    • That’s organic SEO. 
  • You walk into something designed to be visually pleasing. It’s pretty, it’s bright, it’s airy, it smells good — whatever. You’re in and it’s cool so you’re going to stay
    • That’s the website design. 
  • Now you need people to get to where they need to go
    • That’s your navigation & headers. 
  • You have signs, posters, arrows, screens, tables, and all kinds of other things to help people find what they’re there for and point them in the right direction of how to get there.
    • That’s your website content. 

The content on your website tells customers and potential customers what’s going on and what to do. The visuals make it a fun and interesting journey. 

Website copy & the SEO and conversions of it all

SEO’s main function is to get your website (i.e. product or service) in front of an audience who is searching for it. That’s organic traffic. 

Organic traffic uses keywords and phrases from your website and matches them with a query (question) a searcher is inputting. The more helpful the content, the better it is received. Hold this thought, we’ll come back to it. 

You know you need to grab people’s attention when they land on your page, and people’s attention spans are short. But your website isn’t a social platform that you’re trying to get them to stay on for the next 90 seconds while you edutain them.

The buy-in is bigger. 

So yes, we need to grab their attention but we also need to keep it. That’s where copy comes in (and specifically having a copywriter write your copy). 

How do we do that?

  • Draw them in with a good image
  • Get them to stay with a headline that resonates with them
  • Keep them scrolling by speaking to their desires, wants, and goals
  • Convert them by telling them what to do. 

By helping your audience understand you and how you solve their problem, you’re creating helpful content. Kinda, it’s way more complicated but that’s the watered down version. 

Usually, when someone is talking about conversions they *cough* tech bro podcast experts *cough* mean sales. But conversions can be any kind of action you someone to take: 

  • Newsletter signups
  • Ebook download
  • Reading a blog
  • Following you on socials
  • Sharing with a friend
  • Subscribing to your channel/podcast

But conversions don’t just happen, like poof! Copywriters make them happen with clear copy, storytelling, and guidance. 

The benefits of strong website copy 

You can have a website full of copy that does nothing. I have another rant blog about how writing website copy is different from writing anything else. The key is having strong website copy.

Now, I have a different definition of strong copy than the industry at large. Out there on the internet, strong copy usually means: 

  • Salesy / formulaic
  • Braggadocious 
  • Pushy 
  • In your face

To me, and to my clients, especially in the sustainability industry, strong copy means: 

  • Authentic / real
  • Personality-driven
  • Funny
  • Relatable

Both accomplish the same thing, but mine is more of a community-connecting-we’re all in this together-should we get coffee? Kinda way. So make sure anyone you bring on to write copy gets it

When you have strong copy, a lot of little ‘lucky’ duckies follow it. 

Improved clarity and communication of your offerings

Clear copy means thorough. You don’t want people to read anything on your site and go, “wtf?” 

Cut through the bullshit, and get to the core of who you are:

  • Why are you the right choice, what’s your story
  • Why are your products/services the right solution
  • How are you going to solve your customers problems and pain points
  • And how do they get them?

The easier it is for people to understand and relate to you and your brand, the better! That happens through clear content. 

Boost SEO rankings and organic traffic

Lately I’ve heard some people say that writing for SEO doesn’t allow them to write as well. 🚩🚩

Run for the hills my darling because that’s a load of bullllshiiiit

What’s the point of having a beautiful website with perfect content if no one can find it?!

The ‘new’ rules of Google are to write for your audience, forget that Google is there (lol). That’s kind of always been the rule but we still need SEO to act as the bridge between your audience and you. 

Example: Recently I worked with an interior designer. They had a gorgeous website with a stellar portfolio and great press but they were getting a lot of inquiries from people who didn’t have the budget for their services. Upon further inveseotigation, I found a couple of reasons: they weren’t using a key word that could bring their ideal customer to them and their blog had more pieces focused on budget interior designing vs. portfolio pieces and breakdowns clear about the kind of projects they do. 

Strong copy can be SEO optimized while being personality-driven, inviting, friendly, and directed towards your target audience. What, like it’s hard? 

Build trust and credibility

I cannot iterate how important building trust and credibility is, especially within sustainability

I’m going to use greenwashing because that’s my industry but this exists everywhere.

We are greenwashed. All. The. Damn. Time. It’s annoying and it’s frustrating. Sustainability is hard — it can be expensive, it can be inconvenient, so when you (and especially your customers) fall for greenwashing it makes them extra skeptical, extra bitter, and extra on guard. 

You cannot prevent people from being greenwashed, but you can do everything in your power to be real and authentic by building trust and credibility on your website through the copy. 

Example: Recently, a client asked my opinion about a brand who wanted to stock them. I hadn’t heard of the site and when I went to the website, I found it boasted of it being a major industry player with incredibly low prices. However, red flags popped up quickly, the biggest one being how the founder was known for building billion dollar companies. Fortunately I didn’t discover them on my own but it’s still made me skeptical for the next time I come across a sustainable general store type business. 

Strong copy clearly builds trust and credibility not just through listing a resume or having high-profile reviews.

Guide visitors toward desired actions

When we talk about guiding visitors to take action it can feel scammy or salesy. Like we’re pushing them or manipulating them into doing something. I think old copy is like that and it definitely still exists but it doesn’t have to be. 

It’s more about providing options for them at the right time.  

Example: I’ve got water filters on the brain. So let’s just say you found this water filter brand. They filter for a bunch of different things you don’t even understand — you’re intrigued! You end up on a sales page packed with info and graphics and charts and studies and diagrams, it’s great! You’re scrolling, scrolling, scrolling and then it ends.

That’s it. 

  • There’s no clear call to action
  • No “Add to Cart” button
  • No special offer enticing you to buy now
  • The “Learn More” takes you to the home page (unhelpful)
  • You’re not sure if you want to buy now, you also think this could make a good gift, but there’s nowhere to even sign up for an email list

You’re left scrolling back up, re-reading everything, still unsure of how to actually purchase this amazing filter (no buy now button at the top either). Now, you’re frustrated and confused and you’re over it. There are a kajillion other water filters out there and you know what, now you’re even happier with your Brita. 

This is why it’s important to guide your reader. What do you want them to do and how do you want them to get there? 

It’s your job to make that journey as easy as possible. 

Throughout that sales page there should have been plenty of links:

  • To the about page to learn more about their mission, values, and why filtering for 1,000s of contaminants is important. 
  • To a relevant blog on a relevant topic like a time they went hiking and their water bottle fell and opened leaving them without water. 
  • To a shop page/product page to buy the product!! OBVIOUSLY.
  • To sign up for an email list to learn more about the filter, how to use it, and a first time customer discount. 
  • To a how-it-works page to explain how they’re different from Brita and everyone else on the market. 
  • To a podcast where they talk about the clean water and its accessibility

Every website is different, every business wants a different kind of conversion. You need to get your customers 90% of the way there so all they have to do is check yes or no. 

Less is not more

This entire blog is trying to say that less is not always more when it comes to the copy on your website. 

When thinking about your website copy, you need to consider all the different types of visitors who may be coming to your site and their levels of awareness: 

  • Organic traffic visitors who have never heard of you
  • Social media visitors who know you are but have never explored your services
  • Referral traffic coming from another site that has likely talked you up
  • And return visitors who know all about you.

I like to use the analogy of a forest for SEO. You want a forest to grow but it’s not just one type of tree and one type of grass. There’s an entire ecosystem of different plants, animals, and creatures that all contribute to the health and vitality of that forest. SEO is just one piece of the ecosystem. 

The same goes for visuals and content. Neither stands on its own but together, they’re extremely powerful. 

If you’re interested in redoing your website copy or (finally) optimizing it for SEO, let’s talk! 

You might also be interested in: 

The copy on your small biz’s website is so much more important than you think. Don’t delete it!