Assessing your website

It is always the hardest bit of my job critically assessing anything I have written myself. I don’t think I am overly precious about my work but when you get one idea and come from one direction, it can be difficult to think of something else.

I know that for a lot of small business owners, you are doing everything yourself and that probably includes writing your website content.

Whether your are on version one or version 101, it is always good to take a step back and see if your website is the best representation of you and your business.

So, what questions can you be asking yourself and what can you do to improve your website content?

1) Who is your target audience?

Who is your target audience for your website? No matter what your business if you say ‘everyone’…you are wrong! The most important thing you can do is figure out where your market is and who your target audience are. You can segment it down to just one ‘persona’ if you like, a character or person in your head that personifies your target market and ideal client.

You then need to make sure that the way you are communicating with ‘them’ across your website is consistent, but, more importantly, appealing. This means assessing everything from language, tone, formality and approach.

2) Where are your calls to action?

For most of us, our website is our ‘shop window’, whether we have a physical shopfront or not. It is not just pages of information. Your website is there to do a job. You want people to engage with you; to buy from you; to use your services…so remember to tell them! Unfortunately, it is not like a physical shop where you can jump out and say “how can I help you?”

A call to action is simply an instruction. It’s telling your website visitor what you would like them to do. It can be very direct or more subtle – i.e. ‘Buy it now’ vs ‘Get in touch to find out more.’

Don’t only think about what you say but also why you are saying it. Finally, also consider where and how often you say it. Are the ‘calls to action’ included in ‘buttons’ and are they hyperlinked where appropriate? At the very least, are they in bold text?

3) Is your website user friendly?

If you ask someone what is the most important thing about a good website, I bet most people would say ‘easy to use’. Most website visitors will give your site around 10 seconds to find what they are looking for and if they can’t, they will hit ‘back’ and go to the next search engine result.

Therefore check that in your copy, you are offering clear guidance and clear information. Are your headings self-explanatory? Are you linking between pages to help people move around easily?

One good way to test this is to think about a few pieces of information that a potential client may want to find on your website. For example, your contact telephone number, a particular product, your years of experience.

Then go to your homepage and work out what the ‘journey’ your website visitor has to take to find these things. If it is only a click or two, then fantastic, if it is more than that then consider how you can simplify the ‘journey’. Ask yourself: are your menus working well? Are your headings clear? Have you grouped items or divided services/product logically? Are any links ‘broken’?

Better still ask a friend or family member to do a bit of ‘testing’ for you.

4) Are you answering the ‘search engine’ search requirements?

Don’t become obsessed with search engine optimisation and worry about keywords, at the expense of well-written, easy to follow, copy. However, it is worth considering if your content answers your potential website visitors questions and search needs.

Take some time to think about what someone would type in to a search engine if they were looking for your products or your services. Whether it would be a string of words or perhaps a question, consider how your copy reflects this and answers it, specifically through your headings and subheadings.

Again, ask friends and family what they would search for. Remember it is not always the solution but the problem too, i.e. massage vs back pain.

5) How are you going to update your content?

A website isn’t like a print advert or leaflet. Unfortunately, you can’t just write it and leave it. It needs to be updated regularly, looked after and crafted. The main reason is to help search engine optimisation and keep your website climbing the search engine result rankings, but it also helps to show how ‘active’ and ‘productive’ your business is. So how are you going to do this? It is difficult to constantly rewrite your homepage copy or change your About section! So think about what can and needs to be updated regularly. This will include services and product descriptions particularly, and ideally regular new posts on a blog. Don’t forget to consider topical updates, i.e. Christmas, New Year, Halloween, Easter…and also plan your special offers and competitions. Consider when and how you are going to advertise these on your website. …and then also schedule for when you are going to remove them again! There is nothing worse than seeing a ‘August Offer’ in November!

You cannot just leave your website content gathering dust! So assess what you can update and schedule when too.

Need a fresh pair of eyes?

As I said at the start, I know how difficult it can be to assess your own written work, so if you would like someone else to visit your website, give me a shout. I can be a ‘first time visitor’, take a read through your copy; let you know how I found the experience and give you some ideas for updating things. Get in touch and let me see how I can help.

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