Tag Archives: Web Content Writing Advice

CHECKLIST: Is Your Website Working for You?

 

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Your company website is much more than an online placeholder—much more than the Google equivalent of a Yellow Pages listing. Ideally, your business website is the hardest-working member of your sales team, a brand ambassador that’s tireless in its effort to draw in new leads, convert them into customers, and ultimately showcase everything that’s great about your business. In a perfect world, your website keeps your e-mail inbox full of inquiries, your phone ringing off the hook.

Of course, this isn’t a perfect world, and it’s possible that you don’t exactly have a perfect website. Is it time to rewrite your website content, rethink the navigation, or even overhaul the site completely? Maybe. Before jumping to any conclusions, though, use our quick checklist to determine what you’re dealing with.

A Few Quick Questions to Ask About Your Website

Who are you trying to reach with your website? Who’s your target audience? Who are the people who benefit from your products/services? Who’s your ideal client? Who can you help? Think about the answer, and write down a simple, sentence-long statement about who you’re on a mission to serve. Use that as a guide for your website overhaul; you might even include that sentence somewhere on your home page.

Do you have a useful About page? A good About page isn’t really about you at all—not really. Nobody wants to read seven paragraphs of text about your company history. What people care about is the value you can provide. Does your About page suggest what’s in it for your customer?

Is the branding consistent? Does your website use a coherent vocabulary of colors and fonts—and are those branding choices reflected in other marketing collateral, like social media pages and brochures?

Do you have streamlined value propositions? Whether you have a list of individual Products, a list of Services, or something more general, you need to ensure that your website is to-the-point about how it makes your customer’s life better, how it solves problems, etc. Another way of asking this question: Does your website identify your clients’ problems, and posit your brand as the solution?

Are there strong calls to action on every page? Your site should lead customers through the sales funnel, and provide easy ways for them to engage with you.

Does your site capture leads? Are there forms on your page where customers can input their name and contact information, perhaps in exchange for an e-book or some other downloadable offer?

When was the last time your site was updated? A good website needs to be refreshed regularly with new content. When’s the last time you refurbished your page?

Use these questions to assess where your company website stands now—and perhaps start brainstorming some changes, if needed.

If you decide it’s time to rewrite the site, or simply add some new, fresh content, Grammar Chic can help. Give us a buzz at 803-831-7444, or visit www.grammarchic.net.

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3 Things to Cut from Your Company Homepage Right Now

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They say that less is more—and when it comes to your company’s homepage, that can often be the case. The front page of your website establishes the first impression that most clients and potential clients will have of your brand. It ultimately determines whether your leads become sales, your visitors turn into paying customers—or whether they simply navigate off the page and forget about you altogether, unimpressed by what they saw. As such, it’s important to have content on your home page that helps your brand to shine. At the same time, it’s important to delete anything that diminishes your brand’s appeal.

The Grammar Chic team visits an awful lot of business websites, and many of them are quite good—but some have elements that are likely doing more harm than good. Three of these damaging elements are especially common—and if any of them currently mar your own business website, then we recommend you ditch them immediately.

  1. Your life story.

We say this frequently, but it’s most assuredly pertinent here: The content on your website really isn’t about you. Not even the content on your About Us page. No, the content on your website should be all about the reader, and what benefits he or she derives from doing business with you. When John Smith visits your business website, he should come away from it with a good sense of what’s in it for him to pick up the phone and call you, or click over to your e-store to order a product. He should be able to envision himself benefitting from your company’s offerings.

Yet, far too many businesses use their home page to outline their entire history, or to provide a personal narrative from the business owner. These things can have their place on the About Us page, perhaps, but your homepage needs to be quick, to the point, and value-focused. You only have a few seconds to form that positive first impression, so focus on consumer benefits.

  1. Buzzwords.

We’ve written about this before, as well, but meaningless marketing buzzwords can really turn off your readers. Your company website should have a voice of its own, communicating whatever it is that makes your business special. Clichés and jargon are only going to detract from that.

  1. Prices.

There is an ongoing debate about whether it’s smart to have all your pricing online, and we’re not saying it doesn’t have its place. Many companies do benefit from having pricing online. It doesn’t always work out well to have it on your homepage, though. It can be a turnoff to some, who might otherwise have dug deeper into your site to learn more about the company. If you do choose to include pricing, put it somewhere other than the homepage.

What would you add to our list? What elements never have a place on a company homepage? Tell us in the comments section—or reach out to us directly: Call 803-831-7444, or visit http://www.grammarchic.net today.

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How to Use Keywords in Your Web Content—Without Going Overboard

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At Grammar Chic, Inc. we spend many an hour writing website content for small business owners. We’ve written equipment summaries for manufacturing companies, ‘About Us’ pages for business consultancies, employee bios and corporate histories for all manner of companies—and that’s just in the past few days. Diverse though these businesses may be, there are a few common threads that connect them—one of which is an abiding interest in keywording.

“Should we be employing keywords?” some business owners ask us—and the answer, of course, is yes. “We should be using a dozen or more keywords on each page, cramming them into every paragraph,” others tell us—but not so fast: While keywords are important, so is strategy. Yes, you want to use some keywords in your content, but you want to do it in a way that’s ultimately appealing to human readers and to search engines.

Defining Some Terms

For those who are new to online content writing, a few definitions might help. Keywording is also called keyword optimization, and it simply refers to the practice of making sure that online content has enough instances of a keyword. Keywords, in turn, represent the words or phrases that are commonly used in search engines to find different kinds of content. If you’re a plumber in the Charlotte area, then the keywords on your radar are likely to be “Charlotte plumbers,” “Charlotte plumbing companies,” “North Carolina plumbers,” and perhaps even phrases like “Charlotte drain cleaning” or “Charlotte toilet installation.”

Basically, these are the terms that search engine users are going to use as they attempt to locate a local plumber, and you want to make sure you have those phrases on your page to let Google know that yes, your business qualifies.

Keyword Analysis

Some business owners wonder how they can pinpoint the best keywords for their needs—because after all, you’re probably not going to be able to use 20 different keywords in one piece of content. The best approach is to be strategic, using a keyword analysis tool. The Google AdWords toolset is one that we recommend, because it’s free and because it works quite well.

It’s easy enough to use: Just type in a keyword and it’ll provide you with information on how popular that keyword is, while also suggesting some related terms you might consider. Generally speaking, you want to use keywords that get some traction—20,000 or more visitors each month—because those are the ones most likely to generate results. At the same time, newer or less established businesses will want to stay away from the uber-popular keywords. There are countless companies trying to rank for “North Carolina real estate,” for instance, so it may be more feasible to pick a less competitive phrase like “Charlotte foreclosures” or “Lake Norman NC homes.”

Using Keywords

After keyword research has been completed, it’s time to write the website content. Here we return to our original question: How many times should you be using your keyword? How can you make sure it registers, without going overboard?

You’ll find plenty of articles telling you that you need to use a keyword 10 times for every 500 words, or that you need 2 percent keyword saturation, or even more like 6 percent. We propose a simpler way of thinking about keywords: You should focus less on hitting a certain number and more on using keywords as organically as possible. Remember that in addition to getting search engine attention, you also want to appeal to human readers; besides, Google focuses less on SEO tricks and formulae, and more on delivering quality content—and if you’ve got 45 keywords shoehorned into a 200-word article, you’re simply not providing anything of quality.

Instead of focusing on hitting a certain number or a certain percentage, then, we recommend focusing on some of the following, more general guidelines:

–          Make your content multi-focused: Use some keywords so that you get the attention of search engines, but never forget that you’re writing for human beings, first and foremost.

–          Consider the purpose of your page, from a reader’s standpoint; what information do you hope that he or she learns, and what action do you hope he or she takes? Allow these considerations to determine the keywords you employ.

–          Don’t bother with keywords that are grammatically incorrect or cumbersome, because it’s impossible to use them and still make content readable for human beings.

–          If you feel like your content is very obviously keyword-stuffed, then you’re probably overdoing it. It is more than possible to use the phrase “Charlotte plumbing services” naturally and organically in a piece of content, but you’re probably not going to use it four times in one paragraph.

Bottom line: Keywords are not unimportant, but neither are they the be-all and end-all of Web content writing. The best bet is to keep them in the back of your mind, but never to let them dictate the entire shape and focus of your content.

Got more questions about keyword use or Web content writing? Visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444803-831-7444.

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How to Write Web Copy People Will Actually Read

WebCopyForPeople-2Your company website is more than just an online placeholder, a way for search engine users to find your phone number or mailing address. It’s really nothing less than your virtual storefront, and it establishes the first impression that most customers and potential customers will have of your brand. A brick and mortar store would never allow its storefront to become run-down, dilapidated, or anything less than welcoming—and neither should you allow your website to fall into disrepair.

There are plenty of ways to spruce up your website, like adding videos, installing social sharing buttons, or even revamping the very layout of the site. More than anything, though, you need to worry about your written content. That content is what search engines use to determine your site’s rankings and online visibility. More importantly, though, good content can educate and empower your prospects to become faithful, long-term customers.

Your Web content may not be performing at optimal levels right now—but there are some quick diagnostics you can run to get it up to speed.

Is your Web content too short?

While there is no magic word count you need to hit in order to achieve effective Web content, your written words do need to offer something of substance. Far too many small businesses settle for a sentence or two, denoting the industry and perhaps some basic contact information but leaving it at that. If that’s all you’re doing, though, you’re not doing much to differentiate your brand from your competitors—and you’re also not giving potential customers much reason to do business with you. But more on that in a minute…

Is your Web content too long?

With the above said, it’s important to have a realistic expectation of online attention spans. Someone who is researching businesses and products probably wants some basic insights, but not an entire book. Ask yourself honestly: If you were a consumer, doing research from your smart phone or tablet, would you have the patience to read your entire website?

Is your Web content educational?

In terms of what makes Web content substantive and enticing, consider that promotion alone is not enough. Nobody wants to visit a website and feel like they are simply being advertised to. Instead, they want to be educated. What do you do? What benefits does your company offer? How do your products/processes/services work? What can people expect when they sign on the dotted line to become your client? Why should they choose you over another company? Again, you don’t want to inundate them with information, but you do want to catch their attention with something meaningful and distinctive.

Is your Web content personal?

It’s important to have Web copy that’s professional—that much needs to be said clearly and firmly. Your company website is not your blog and it’s not really a place to talk about your family, your politics, your hobbies, or whatever else. With that said, consumers don’t like to do business with faceless corporations; they like to do business with people. A company history, CEO bio, or lineup of staff profiles (as we have on the Grammar Chic website) can go a long way toward humanizing your brand.

Is the content easy to digest?

Do you have huge chunks of text on your site, so long and wordy they look like they were torn from the pages of a Russian novel? If so, think about how likely—or rather, unlikely—it is that anyone is really going to sit and read them, especially when they’re on the go and just want quick answers. Tone things down and liven things up with bullet points, sub-section headings, and numbered lists, as appropriate.

Writing good Web copy is not a science, by the way, and there’s no magic formula to it. There are definitely some “best practices,” though—and answering these diagnostic questions can set you on the right path.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.

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