Do you know if your website is working as hard as it could be? Do you know where to look to find out? You could check your web traffic logs but that just gives you raw numbers, it doesn’t tell you how to fix the problems.
This tutorial will show you how to troubleshoot your website by finding and fixing potential sales-busters before they have a chance to do damage.
Interestingly enough, these problems usually aren’t big ticket items. Often they are copywriting, design, or usability flaws that can be patched up quite simply with a little effort and know-how.
So, here we go… this is what I look for when I conduct a website content writing and design analysis for visitors to my copywriting website:
-Grabby headings and subheadings. People are looking for an anchor, a place for their eyes to land when they arrive at your webpage. Help them by providing a heading that demands their attention and offers a solid benefit.
-A customer-centric writing style. Talk more about “you” than “us” and answer your prospect’s main question: “What can you do for me?” Aim for a tone that’s personal, warm and inviting.
-Inverted pyramid. Your key points, the meat and potatoes, should appear early in the copy with secondary selling points lower down.
-Calls to action. Never assume that visitors will pick up on your navigation scheme and find their way around. Tell them right in your copy what they should/can do to accomplish their goals, and provide links to those pages.
-Prove it. Back up your pitch with evidence of past performance, testimonials, case studies, whatever it takes to prove you’re as good as you say you are. (And be sure to use the full names of real people for your testimonials. Bogus accreditation like “B.R., Boston” has no credibility.)
-Dispel objections. Ignoring people’s reasons for NOT buying doesn’t make those reasons go away, it just makes the people go away. Instead, address their objections and deflate them.
-Flaunt your uniqueness. Example: A visitor to a webhosting site already knows the benefits of hosting. What he/she really wants to know is why YOUR hosting service is better than your competitors’. That’s your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and your business should clearly identify one or more of them in your copy.
-Check twice for spelling/grammar mistakes and excessive punctuation.
-Proper search engine optimization. Title tags, description tags, and content should contain your top keyword phrases. Red flags start flapping if I see a keyword phrase repeated often in your content that doesn’t appear in your title tag, or vice versa. I also check to see how many incoming links you have. These days, link popularity and proper content optimization are two of the most important SEO strategies.
-More good words. Pages with only a line or two of copy have a much harder time gaining solid rankings for their chosen keywords not to mention communicating with their prospective customers.
-Professional image. Your business site should have a pleasing appearance, a well-designed logo, and a generally grown-up look. An expensive custom design isn’t necessary but anything that looks amateur or homemade diminishes credibility.
-Consistency of style. I look for fonts, page layouts, color schemes, and menus that stay the same from page to page and within each page.
-Unity of design and message. Does your design style match your message and target audience? A bold color scheme embellished with cartoon characters might not be appropriate for a seniors health care website.
-A tagline and/or statement of purpose in an obvious place. How long does it take a new visitor to figure out what your site does? More than a few seconds and your usability score starts to tank.
-Text layout. Replace those long blocks of copy with short paragraphs, lists, highlighted areas, tables… anything to break up the page into easily-digested bites.
-Navigation labels that make sense to the most people. Don’t say “storefront” or “index” when you mean “home”.
-Tell the whole story. Plugging your product or service is only the beginning. Make it easy for visitors to learn about your guarantee, shipping fees, returns, and other policies BEFORE they click the buy button, not after.
-Short and sweet menus. Do you have one of those 20-item menus on your home page? I’m looking for a short, logical menu with a linking structure to internal pages that shows you put some thought into how visitors will use your site.
This list doesn’t cover every potential trouble spot but it does touch on the main snags that frequently crop up in small- to medium-size business sites. I hope it helps you determine how well your website is working and how to tweak it for better performance.