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Turning your website from friend to foe - how to get your site right.

by Sam Leader

If your website’s written content fails to strike the right note with your customers and prospects, it could be doing your business more harm than good. How many of your customers come to you through your website? If the answer’s not many, perhaps it’s time to put the spotlight on your site’s content.

Reviewing our own websites is a task many of us procrastinate over. But regularly checking all the weapons in your marketing arsenal, including your website, is a valuable exercise. Most of us don’t appreciate how much our online presence reveals about our business. People equate sloppy websites with sloppy businesses. If your website poorly represents your business, you could be losing sales.

All you need to do to ensure the content of your business’s website is on track is spend an hour or so reviewing it to check it meets the following criteria:

1. Is it useful to my customers?
A common error businesses make is to use precious web space to talk about what they do rather than how this benefits their customers. Read through your content and ask, “Does my customer need to know this?” If not, ask yourself why it’s there. Remember, writing doesn’t have to be bad to lose a sale, just unnecessary.

2. Has the content been written with the web in mind?
Web content requires a different approach to traditional marketing methods, which is why cut and pasted brochures don’t cut the mustard with today’s sophisticated web user. With web content, brevity and informality is key. Messages can’t afford to get lost in long, complicated sentences – consider using bullet points of information, as they’re easier to digest.

3. Are there any mistakes?
Websites with spelling/grammar errors, broken hyperlinks and outdated promotions are all too common, and are a real turn off for users. Believe it or not, I’ve spotted most of these mistakes on the websites of blue chip companies. That’s why it pays to ask:

4. What do people think?
Feedback from others is vital if you want perspective on your website’s effectiveness. Everyone loves being asked for their opinion so branch out by asking people whose websites you admire for their thoughts. Assure everyone they can be honest and take criticisms on the chin. After all, your site’s never going to develop if you only listen out for the good stuff.

5. Do I need to get help from outside?
All business owners are expected to be Jack of all trades but if writing isn’t something you particularly enjoy chances are you’re not going to be come across as clearly as you think. A good web content writer can take the job off your hands, divining information and clarifying how you want to come across before writing your content for you.

How did you go? Perhaps you discovered you need to spend time getting your web content up to scratch. If so, remember this: while producing decent web content requires time and effort, it’s worth it since it could well be what turns the next browser of your website into a buyer.

Based in Sydney, Sam Leader is a business copywriter who provides written content for the websites, brochures and e-newsletters of small to medium-sized businesses. Sam’s background is in marketing, enabling her to bring a clear customer focus to the content she creates. Visit her website at www.myword.com.au or contact her by email sam@myword.com.au.

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