I’m often asked to ‘take a look’ at new business websites, and then offer an opinion. Of course, politeness forbids a robust direct critique - we all know that life is hard enough for the startup business owner - so I tend to let them down gently whenever I spot what I call ‘Schoolboy Errors’. Probably the most common of these basic mistakes is the tendency to forget who their content is intended for.

Everyone knows that building confidence is one of the major benefits of having a business website, allowing even the smallest firm to compete at the same level as bigger rivals. Unfortunately, the tendency of most small business owners is to forget this principle and fill their content pages with yards of self-promotional text. Personally, I’m convinced that it is unwise to simply re-word your company brochure or your latest advertising campaign into some rehashed text, just to ‘fill the space’ on your website. Whilst It’s true that many large firms do just this, my opinion is that this lazy practice won’t produce the results you expect - and may, in fact, do more harm than good.

If you want to get leads, enquires or sales from your site you should try to remember the old networking saying ‘KNOW LIKE AND TRUST’ when you are writing the content for your web pages. Remember that for the most part you are talking to strangers and your primary job is to instil confidence in your services or products. Here are a few things that I have found useful when planning a new site.

  • Be clear about your offering
  • Write for the web
  • Make it easy to get in touch
  • Build Trust and credibility
  • Be mobile friendly
  • Keep it up to date

When a visitor arrives at your site you don’t have a lot of time. You need to make it clear who you are and what you do and also you need to make it clear what the visitor needs to do to take action.

Headlines and straplines are really important. In a few words, they sum up what you, your business and the website are all about.

People read differently on screen they tend to scan and pick up snippets. Typically they read only around 1/3rd of the page and this will be mostly the top section and the headings. Their attention declines the further down the page they scroll - Therefore it’s vital to get your message across in the top section of your pages. It’s always best to use simple language so that your message gets across in the shortest possible time. Writing in CAPITALS look aggressive and should be avoided. Use short sentences - Sub Headings - Bullet points - Highlighted keywords - These techniques will hold the reader’s attention by making your text more interesting and easier to read.

It may sound obvious but making it easy to get in touch is often overlooked. Consider having your contact details at the top and bottom of each page at the very least, in addition to a traditional contact page menu item. If you have a physical location provide a map or directions - and don’t forget to mention your opening hours! A clear call to action should be placed at the bottom of every page, this should make it clear what the visitor needs to do next.

Building trust is really important even for websites that don’t sell directly, Visitors typically arrive for the first time usually having heard about the company in some way, this could be a personal referral, online search or a business card. However, they have found you  - ALL visitors will want to see indications that you are professional and reliable.

Client testimonials are like gold dust - especially if they are what I call ‘third party’ reviews. By this, I mean reviews posted directly onto an independent website - In the absence of a direct recommendation from a friend or colleague third party reviews are considered to be one of the most influential factors in the buying process for the majority of consumers. If you don’t already have a system in place to ask for testimonials, I suggest you get one!

Get an SSL Certificate
Having an SSL certificate means that your site displays the security padlock in a visitor’s web browser and means that data passed from the site to you is safely encrypted. SSL helps you gain trust and also helps with your Google ranking.

Look the part
Professional design and well-written copy are vital ingredients. Even subliminally, good design will go a long way toward building trust. If the website quality is high then your product or service is seen to be of high quality by association.

Be Mobile Friendly
Now that Google is using mobile readiness as a ranking factor, and more than 80% of web traffic comes from mobile devices, it makes sense to build your site ‘mobile first’ with mobile users in mind at the outset.

Update Regularly
Search engines like fresh new content- and so do real people! Fresh content will certainly help your rankings and it will also show your visitors that you are still in business - there’s nothing worse than a news page that was last updated in 2012 or a feature that has stopped working because the software has not been updated in time.

If you need a hand keeping on top of things or would like to know about our concierge service for website owners, please get in touch via the website www.thriftysites.co.uk


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Steve Elliott

Owner | Proprietor at ThriftySites
Getting to know about you and your business is an integral part of any successful project – and you’re part of that process. No two firms are the same and frankly, the person who knows best about your business is you. That’s why we work in partnership with clients. We want you to be successful online and we need you to tell your friends and business contacts how great the experience has been for you. Because that’s how we get 90% of new clients, by word of mouth and referral.

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