Tag Archives | websites

Objectives for your website, page by page

When constructing your website, you have to know why you are doing what you are doing. Each page can only achieve a few things.

Here are some suggestions:

Home page

  • Let site visitors know they are in the right place by answering WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) from their point of view and
  • Capture their email address in return for an incentive such as a tip sheet
  • Tell them where you want them to go next with clear navigation

About page

  • Share personality
  • Filter out people you don’t want
  • Explain why people should choose you

Testimonials/case studies/trade & professional logos

  •  Give confidence by providing external endorsements

Services page/s

  • Prompt an enquiry

Product page/s

  • Buy now

Free resources

  •  Add value
  •  Shareable on social media

Blog

  • Demonstrate expertise
  • Encourage interaction
  • Be found on search

Contact page

  • Get in touch
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10 essential questions before you even think about writing your own website

As a web copywriter, I’ve written hundreds of websites, and have compiled a list of standard questions to help guide decisions about what content goes where. Here are 10 of them. I hope you find them useful when working on your own website and other marketing communications.

1. Who are your clients?
Who buys your stuff (there may be more than one group of target customers)? Which is your ideal client? Which is the most profitable type of client (either because they spend most per transaction or bring most repeat business)?
> This becomes your Home page or Our clients page

2. Who are you?
Who are the people behind the company (people buy from people)? This is the ‘About us’ or ‘Who we are’ page of your website, or personal profile if YOU are what you are selling. It can be one of the most popular pages on your site — check your Analytics to find out. Buying ‘on screen’ is a remote and impersonal experience, so you want to include as much of your unique personality as possible.
> This is the About us section of your website

3. What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
Why do your customers buy from you instead of anyone else? What makes you different? Why should anyone give you their money?
> This may form your Why us page

4. What do you sell?
This part is all about you, your products and your services. What problem do you solve or solution do you provide? Which is your core speciality? Which is most profitable (earns you most income for least effort or expense)? Do you have a range of price points (cheap, medium, high)? What market research have you done to prove there is a demand for what you sell?
> This becomes your product/services page/s

5. What is your objective?
What do you want people to do as a result of visiting each webpage? What is your most wanted response? What is your desired call to action? This assumes you are producing ‘direct response’ advertising (where you want to get a measurable return on your investment) not brand awareness advertising (usually, only the big brands do this).
> This is your call to action

6. What are your FAQs?
What questions do your customers most commonly ask?
> This may become a separate page or be answered in the general web copy

7. What ‘added value’ do you provide?
These days, it’s not enough to have a website full of ‘sales’ pages. What can you offer that other people don’t, to make your website ‘sticky’? If you provide added value, it encourages repeat visits, demonstrates your expertise and generates goodwill. It can also result in valuable inbound links from the social media community.
> This may be a blog or resources section

8. Do you have any external endorsements?
Are you a member of any trade or professional bodies? Have you won any awards? Do you have testimonials or case studies written in the format problem:solution:results?
> This may be used on your Home page, About us page, or footer/sidebar of every page

9. What is your brand?
What are your 5 top brand values? How are they expressed in the look, feel and tone of voice of your brand (or personal) identity? What does your logo look like? What are your corporate colours and house font? What is your strapline (if you have one)?
> This is expressed throughout the website

10. What are your keywords?
What words or phrases do people use when searching online for your service?
> If you want to be found on search, selected landing pages can be optimised for your desired search terms

These are just 10 of the ‘discovery’ questions I ask when I meet clients in real life so I can do the best possible copywriting job for them — in fact, there’s a total of 20 that cover all aspects of their business. You’ll find the full set of 15 web-related questions when you buy my Little Fish Guide to Writing your own Website book that was launched this summer and reached top 10 in its Amazon category (nudge, nudge, hint, hint!)

So what other questions would YOU ask?

This article has also been published on Fresh Business Thinking and Marketing Lens

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4 words NOT to write on your website

“Welcome to my website. Please wipe your feet – there’s a mat over there, by the front door. Now, do come in, but please take off your shoes because it’s a pale-coloured carpet and you might have been walking in something nasty.”

Q. What is wrong with that paragraph?
A. The analogy just doesn’t work.

So why do so many people insist on writing ‘Welcome to my website’ on their home page (over 2 million at the last count)?

Two problems:

1. ‘Welcome to my website’ is dated and meaningless
2. ‘Welcome to my website’ gives you no SEO* benefit

The main heading on any web page is most likely tagged H1** in the code – the H1 tag is one of the things that Google looks at to help decide what are the most important key words on the page and therefore where to list that page in search results.

If you want to be found for a search of ‘Penge Plumbers’, first use Google’s free keyword tool. You may find that people actually search ‘Plumber in Penge’ more than ‘Penge Plumbers’. I haven’t checked so I don’t know if that’s true – but if it is, you’d want your main heading to include the words ‘Plumber in Penge’.

For more help with SEO copywriting and web copywriting for human beings, give me a call on 0845 899 0258.

*SEO = Search Engine Optimisation
**H1 = Heading 1

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Clickety-click

seatbelt

Clunk click, every trip.

In these days of online marketing, it’s all about the click (or ‘tap’ for people using a touchscreen device).

You might be tweeting and posting regular Facebook updates, all with the hope of a clickthrough to your blog or website where you convert clicks to sales.

Once on your website, you might want to direct people from your home page to your product page to your ‘buy now’ button or contact details.

But what words are most likely to get people to click where you want them to?

Don’t click here

Search engines give extra weight to phrases that are clickable, so there is no value in using ‘Click here‘ (despite being commonly used). It’s better to write ‘Click here for more about mortgages’, for example.

Power to the people

Power has shifted from the supplier to the buyer. Instead of instructing people what to do, you have to give them the information they need to make their own decision.

Read more‘ is a top-down order.

Continue reading‘ is a bottom-up option.

 Top tip: Reword your links to get more clicks

photo credit: timsamoff via photopin cc

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How to build a WordPress website

These days, more and more people want to update their own websites. To do this, the tool that has become most popular is WordPress. You may think of it as a blogging platform, but you can also use it to add, edit and delete static pages, text and images, with or without a blog.

Confusingly, there are two flavours of WordPress:

– WordPress.com is free. Hosted by WordPress, there are a limited number of templates you can choose (they call them ‘themes’) and a limited amount of functionality. Another downside is that anyone without an ad blocker on their browser, and anyone viewing on a smartphone, will see ads e.g. ‘One tip of a flat belly’. You can pay $30pa to customise the themes somewhat.

– WordPress.org is also free. You have a multitude of themes to choose from (some paid, some free), and can add plugins/widgets to add whatever functionality you want (some paid, some free). You or your web developer can access the code to make the site look exactly as you wish. You have to buy web hosting, download the software, and do your own updates and backups — be warned that WordPress does get hacked from time to time, so it’s important to do this. You do need a bit of techie knowledge to make sure you don’t accidentally overwrite your entire database and delete everything when you do your backups.

In each case, the default web address will be yoursitename.wordpress.xxx, however, you can pay WordPress $13pa to use your own domain name (it’s called ‘domain mapping’), or pay $17pa to buy a domain name from WordPress.

It’s not completely intuitive, but, like anything, WordPress is easy to use when you know how. Here are some of the key things to know that aren’t obvious.

First, navigate your way to the Dashboard or Site Admin link.

Posts and pages
This is where WordPress language gets slightly confusing. Pages are static pages, as you’d expect. So far, so simple. Posts are blog posts (entries). You have to create a Page and tell WordPress that will be your ‘posts page’. You do that under Settings > Reading. That’s also where you tell WordPress which page is to be your home page (the dropdown menu calls it ‘front page’).

“Order!”
Pages will appear in alphabetical order by default. To change that, go to Appearance > Menus.

Turning comments off
By default, WordPress assumes you want comments on every page and post. To change this, go to Pages > All pages > Quick edit > Untick ‘allow comments’ (you have to do this page by page). You can also reorder the way your pages appear by typing a number in the ‘order’ box.

Home Home
Some themes have a default home page called ‘home’. If you add another page called ‘home’, your site ends up with duplicate home pages, and you can spend hours Googling to find a solution. In these cases, the secret is to give your home page a blank title. The theme then shows one home page only, called home.

Sign out
Hover the cursor over your name (top right).

I originally wrote this article for Fresh Business Thinking

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How to get on page 1 of Google, free

An Australian chiropractor had bought a low-cost template website and contacted me when it didn’t appear anywhere in Google searches.

I edited the home page copy and changed some of the meta-tags in liaison with the developers. Within a couple of weeks, the site appeared on page 1 for a search of ‘chiropractic in [town]’. I also made the calls-to-action stronger, and my client started getting more enquiries from the site than she had before.

Appearing on search may not matter if people discover your business in other ways. But if you want your site to be found, there are certain tips and tricks you need to know.

Disclaimer: Note that Google’s algorithm is a strictly guarded secret and they move the goalposts all the time, so this is just a simple overview. Continue Reading →

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Why I Had To Tell My Client His Website Was Sh*t.

I’m often asked to review a client’s website and write a report listing recommended improvements. I once described one as a websh*te by mistake. Oops.

By the way, I didn’t actually say that. As a copywriter, I’m supposed to be ‘good with words’ and I can turn a negative into a positive. What I probably said was: “Your website doesn’t do you justice.” (It means the same thing though!)

Without naming names, here are 20 things I noticed. Please don’t let any of these horrors apply to your own site:

1. The home page doesn’t answer ‘what’s in it for me’, so site visitors are likely to look elsewhere

2. Lots of pretty Flash animations even though search engines and mobile devices can’t ‘read’ them

3. The copy is all about THE SUPPLIER and not enough about THE READER e.g. ‘We work closely with our loyal customers’ instead of ‘If you want to work closely with friendly local IT experts, you’ll find our door is always open. We’re here 24/7 at the end of the phone or email ready to help you’

4. The most persuasive fact buried at the bottom of the page instead of putting it first or highlighting it in a visual way

5. Indirect language e.g. ‘in order to allow the client to concentrate on their core business’ instead of ‘in order to allow you to concentrate on your core business’ (direct language is more persuasive and appealing)

6. No ‘About us’ page (although people do business with people and like to know who they’re dealing with)

7. No picture of you (when YOU are what you’re selling)

8. Text that reads ‘For 17 years’ instead of ‘Since 1992′ so the copy soon goes out of date

9. No ‘added value’ e.g. glossary page, useful articles, hints & tips

10. A big deal made of ‘our values’ and ‘our mission statement’ when they should be internal documents not customer-facing ones

11. Irritating typos e.g. ‘If your selling’

12. No case studies or testimonials, even though they sell you better than anything you can say yourself

13. Dull content, so there’s no stickability and no reason for inbound links or repeat visits

14. Empty FAQs, despite them being among the most popular pages ever visited

15. Broken links, because people just love that ’404 not found’ page (not!)

16. A financial site designed in red and pink throughout (red = danger/debt), whereas blue is a better colour (for stability)

17. Inconsistent fonts and sizes that give an amateur effect

18. Free hotmail, gmail or btinternet email address, to make it look really unprofessional

19. Space in the phone number in the wrong place (it should be 020 7xxx xxxx)

20. Site breaks in any browser that’s not Internet Explorer

Please let me know if you’d like a site review. I promise to be kind! As a special Valentine’s Day offer, I will put all requests received by 28 February 2013 into a ‘lucky dip’ and pick one site to review absolutely FREE! Email your URL / web address to me at jackie@jackiebarrie.com.

Not only that, but my new book ‘The Little Fish Guide to Writing Your Own Website’ is coming soon. Email me now on jackie@comms-plus.co.uk and I’ll send you the link when it’s ready.

I originally wrote this article for Fresh Business Thinking

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