Have you ever had someone steal the text off your website?
Whilst I am flattered that another web development company might choose to use our text on their website, it serves as a warning just how anonymous the web, and how easy it is to take things that aren’t yours.
Google doesn’t like it if two websites have the same text, and will look at the two and judge which one is the copier and which wrote the original text. It discounts the copier (and often won’t rank it for any terms) and awards the original writer with the power of the ranking.
When you write text for your website the copyright is immediately owned by you, just like with other original works like art, design or photography. Someone infringes your right if they steal your text and use it on their website.
I believe it’s important to know who is copying my text, so periodically I run Google searches for key sentences in quote marks to check is someone’s inadvertently borrowed some of my words. If I find some (and I inevitably do) I ask for a link to my website as a credit to me as the author, or I ask them to remove it. Over the years I’ve had our website copied about 15 times, and snippets and paragraphs taken about 200 times.
There’s a great website for checking to see if someone’s copied your text, have a look at CopyScape.
Click here is perhaps one of the most overused phrases on the Internet.
If you’ve got any click here links on your website, it’s time to spring clean your content and remove every last one of them. People are savvy enough with websites that they realise what a link is, and that you click on it to see more information. Links are usually fairly obvious too, they’re in a different colour and they’re underlined.
Remember that each link you place on your website is a call-to-action, so instead of being tempted to write click here for more information on your next website update try linking keywords and phrases of what your customer will actually find on the next page.
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Your links should be an enticement for your potential to go further through your website. It’s like holding their hand and giving them a guided tour of your business.
Think about how boring a guided tour would be if we said go through that door instead of… behind this door is Napoleon & Josephine’s elegant matrimonial bedroom.
By writing great calls-to-action links you’ll keep your customers interest in your products and services for much longer.
Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of your goals when building a website. We get ties up by the visuals; where photos go, how logos are positioned, what shade of green should you use… those sorts of fiddly bits. But the important part, perhaps the most important part, is keeping focussed on the goals.
Each page of your website should be trying to kick some goals, and before you even start writing the text for your pages you should have a firm grasp on which goal you’re aiming for.
Here’s some examples of what goals your website should be targeting.
Usually your website will have many goals, with most having the ultimate goal of generating sales. Achieving your website goals will be infinitely more successful with the use of strong calls-to-action.
The anonymity of the internet allows businesses to easily hide behind a professional design and snappy text. Sometimes this can be a disadvantage though, with businesses coming across as stuffy, or bigger than they actually are.
It’s easy to forget that contact with small business is one the of the major advantages of eCommerce. I love buying from boutique and niche operators from places far away, and many others do too.
I am subscribed to a highly enjoyable eNewsletter written by Carol Dorman of Quill Writing Services. Carol’s newsletter is aimed at small-medium businesses and tackles communication and marketing issues. This article is extracted from a recent newsletter, I encourage you to subscribe.
Ever had a touch of the ‘bureaucracies’? A twinge of ‘official-itis’? You may not have heard of these conditions but, as a small business owner, perhaps you’ll recognise some of the symptoms:
A web page that tells visitors everything that the business does and how it does it using only words with a minimum of three syllables to demonstrate that it is sophisticated, knowledgeable about almost everything and will always know more than them even if it’s not in the business’ field of expertise.
Your web page should:
- Be friendly
- Make visitors feel welcome
- Be easy to understand while illustrating expertise
- Use bullet points and appropriate punctuation to enhance the reader’s experience.
These are pretty extreme examples but there is often the tendency to keep our selves out of our written communications with customers and prospects.
Why is this? Could it be that we’re afraid of being seen as less than professional if our customers see the human side of our business?
Perhaps it feels safer to hide behind: “Our office is obliged to remind you that payment is due” rather than: “I’d like to remind you that your payment is due.”
After all, isn’t it better if a client gets mad at The Office instead of me?
Let’s look at it another way. One thing that’s nice about living in a small hamlet is that business is always personal. The Post Office lady knows me by name, and I know her. The same with the couple who run the General Store. It’s never just about milk, bread and pop-rivets; there’s always a chat and a laugh as well.
What about you? Do you prefer a recorded message asking for your customer code when phoning a business or a real human being with a friendly welcome who asks how he can help?
It’s time to appreciate how great you are for your business. After all, it wouldn’t exist without you. So, let your customers in. Let them see who you are – the living, breathing, marvellous and fabulous being behind all the marvellous and fabulous things that you do.
Start with your letters. Write them from you instead of your office. Think of your customer as a living, breathing human sitting in a chair, holding your letter. Imagine her wearing glasses and reading by the light of an art-deco lamp. She loves that lamp; it’s been in the family for years.
Now write – to her.
You are the heart of your business. So let that heart shine through!
A call to action encourages someone to do something. Your website visitors need calls to action so they will do the things on your website you want them to do. Calls to action are extremely important for the success of your website.
Great websites use calls to action throughout their text to tell visitors what they should do next. This is especially important at the end of a page when you’re at the most risk of your visitor heading back to the search engine to further refine what they’re looking for.
You will recognise these calls to action from television:
Your website needs to emulate the calls to action of traditional marketing styled toward the goals you’re trying to achieve. Here’s some examples:
I’ve italicised the parts of these calls to action that should be linked. By linking to the content people expect to receive on the next page you increase the chance of them completing this action. It’s also very helpful for your search engine rankings to include good keywords within these links.
Search engines don’t care what your website looks like. In fact, it even seems to prefer the ones most people would believe are old and in need of a re-design. Why is this so?
Google uses the text on your website to determine what you will rank for. It’s a major determining factor.
Google can’t read images. So it doesn’t matter how beautiful your sunrise picture is, or if you’re smiling on your corporate profile page.
Google isn’t fond of flash. Anything that moves, wiggles and blinks doesn’t contain a lot of information, so Google doesn’t look at it as seriously.
Google loves headings. Break up your text into logical pieces with headings on each. Don’t scrimp on this.
Google loves copy. The more text you write and the more pages your website contains will reward you with great rankings. Put important text up the top.
Google hates copiers. Don’t steal other people’s text. It doesn’t belong to you, and you wouldn’t like it if someone stole yours!
One of the major annoyances customers experience with websites is trying to locate contact details, especially phone numbers. Amusingly, the worst offenders are often large corporations who should know better!
My preference is to include some basic contact details below the footer of every page on the website. This means that no matter which page your customer is on, the moment they make a buying decision they don’t need to search hard to find out how to contact you.
Have a clear, easy to find contact page. This should include your extended contact details including details like a map to your shop or office, your fax number, postal address and a contact form.
Please post great examples of contact pages you’ve seen on your surfing travels.
The text on your home page is the most important text on your website.
Your home page not only leads your visitors into the money-making parts of your website, but it also provides the most important terms search engines will use to rank you.
Without text on your home page you’ll fall behind competitors in the search engines, and annoy customers who’ve come to explore your site.
Consider the most important words you believe your customers will type into a search engine and ensure these are included on your home page. This might be your location and industry, like cairns web design, or it might be the product you’re selling, like tennis balls.
Summarise your website on your home page by including useful paragraphs and snippets about what information can be found throughout the website. Invite people to explore further through strong calls-to-action.
Most importantly, don’t let your web designer build you a home page with just images, and no text.
Every business owner wants their website well ranked, but most are mystified about how the ranking work. Here’s some easy steps you can take to start moving your rankings upward.
Consider your product, industry, location and services. Also look toward complementary products and services.
For example if you sell tennis balls you will want to consider tennis balls, tennis, tennis ball, tennis equipment, tennis coaching and sports equipment.
Be careful of including too many keywords as it will affect your customers’ readability and the search engines will not like it.
Here’s an example from a real website:
For those who are fascinated by natural marvels, the privately owned Granite Gorge Nature Park is an unforgettable spectacle.
This is how more keywords could be included:
Granite Gorge Nature Park is a spectacularly scenic holiday destination just outside of Mareeba with wide sweeping views across huge volcanic boulders, private swimming holes and abundant wildlife. Come for a few hours and enjoy hand feeding our rock wallabies, or stay for a few nights in our holiday park. We cater for caravans, motorhomes, campers and are especially popular with Grey Nomads.
Whenever you add new text to your website keep in mind your target keywords and include them as you go.
This is one of my little pet peevs, a bugbear, gets my goat sort of thing. People fall in love with some fonts, and then want to use them for everything. Some fonts were just not made for web pages though.
Have you ever sent a word document to someone and then saw it on their computer and it doesn’t look quite the same? The reason is often because they don’t have the same fonts installed as you do. The same applies to web pages, if the visitor doesn’t have the font installed, they will see it differently.
For the main text of your website use Verdana, Arial or Georgia.