Why proofreading your web copy is essential

Nothing screams “unprofessional” like web copy filled with typos.

XYZ Web Design boasts about creating beautiful, responsive websites for their clients. Take their own site, for example. They’ve done all the right things…made it responsive, easy to navigate, pleasing to the eye…but, uh oh, they forgot one thing. Proof reading! Sadly, there are cringe-worthy typos on almost every page.

The truth is, typos are easy to make but not always so easy to spot (I’ve made some doozies myself).

So what’s the big deal about a few misspelled words?
A website full of typos doesn’t inspire confidence. What’s a prospect to think? These guys aren’t buttoned up.   They aren’t professional. This is not the quality of work I want for my company.

That’s why it’s important to have another pair of eyes proofread your copy before you post it.

Of course, websites aren’t the only places typos occur. A client, who happens to be in the building trades, had a misspelled word on his truck. Instead of installation, it read instalation. One day a driver of another vehicle pulled up alongside him and said:

“I hope your work is better than your spelling.”

 

Continue Reading ·

Search Engine Optimization – 6 terms that help you talk the talk

SEO, SEM, SERPS…you hear these buzzwords (is there such a thing as a buzz acronym?) bandied about.  But what in the world do they mean to you, the website owner?

Here are six important terms to know when optimizing your website for the almighty search engines.

1. Keyword / keyword phrase –  these are the terms web searchers enter when they’re looking for your type of business.  It’s “key” to know what terms they use, not what terms you use to describe your business. This is where keyword research becomes critical.

2. Meta tags – behind the scenes stuff that helps search engines index your pages. Meta tags are placed in the html of a web page and include page titles and descriptions that contain your keywords for that page. The meta description shows up in the search results, so be sure to make the text engaging.  It could mean the difference between a prospect clicking through to your site…or not.

3. SEM – search engine optimization (SEO) + paid search (advertising ) = search engine marketing (SEM). Most search ads are pay-per-click, meaning the advertiser only pays when someone clicks on their ad.

4. SEO – Search engine optimization refers to the on-site techniques that help a page rank higher in search results. This includes optimizing title tags, meta descriptions, headlines and text with unique keyword phrases, making it easier for search engines to correctly index your pages.

5. SERPS – the acronym for Search Engine Results Pages. These are the pages that pop up in Google, Bing or Yahoo when a web user enters their search phrases.  The goal, of course, is to land on the first page as most people look no further.

6.  Anchor text –a descriptive hyperlink  that leads to another page in your site.  These words give visitors – and the search engines – a clue about the subject of the page being linked to. The more descriptive the better, i.e.,  instead of learn more, you might want to make the words our new widget the link to your new product page for an extra bit of Google juice.

Now that you know how to talk the talk, it’s time to walk the walk. Apply these principles to your website and you can look forward to more traffic and more leads.

What words would you add to this list? Please share.

Continue Reading ·

5 Be’s to Build Your Business in 2012

Some folks say, “What will be, will be.” But to be successful, you’ve got to take a more proactive approach.

Here are five Be’s for making 2012 your best year ever!

1. Be Known. Your website’s About page is a great opportunity to tell who you are and the passion behind what you do. Customers and prospects want to know about the people in your company. Adding bios and photos makes a personal connection and builds trust.

2. Be Found. Website optimization is the gift that keeps on giving. When you have SEO working on your behalf, you attract traffic to your site and become a contender for purchases you would otherwise miss.

3. Be Recognized. Providing helpful information on a company blog positions you as an expert in your field and gives visitors a reason to come back to your website. A recent study shows companies that blog attract 55% more website visitors than non-blogging companies.

4. Be Clear. For the new year, out with the insider-speak and in with customer-friendly language. Keep your message concise, easy to read and focused on benefits for the buyer.

5. Be Remembered. People remember stories. You can tell your persuasive stories using case studies. In them, your company is the hero, solving customers’ problems and saving the day.

Get the free report! Contact me, and I’ll be happy to send you my how-to guide for generating leads with success stories.

How do you plan to make 2012 your best year ever? Share some tips here.

Continue Reading · 0

Yourdomain.com — Who owns it?

You came up with the perfect dot com, dot net or dot org for your business, and woo hoo! – it was available. So you quickly purchased and registered it, signed up for a hosting package, and launched your online business.

Two years later, when it came up for renewal, you signed on for another five years and went about your business.

That’s the best case scenario. Here’s the worst.

This recently happened to one of my clients, a tile contractor.

Seeking to simplify the process, the web designer registered the domain name and purchased a hosting plan under his own account. That way, Mr. Tile wouldn’t have to worry, and when it came up for renewal the designer would notify him and take care of it.

Sounds good, right?

A year later, the unthinkable happens – the designer suffers a massive stroke and doesn’t survive.

Now what?

Time was running out on the contractor’s domain name and he did not want to lose his site.

After a few calls to Network Solutions he was told he needed to get a copy of the death certificate. Well…that was out of the question. The next option was to make me, as the writer on the website, an account admin which would enable me to then turn the domain over to Mr. Tile.

Bottom line, after lots of back and forth, the contractor was able to work it out with Network Solutions, save his domain name and purchase a hosting plan in the nick of time.

Moral of the story: Register your own domain name and closely monitor your account so you don’t risk losing it.

Be sure to renew your url and hosting package in plenty of time before they are due to expire. Don’t be like a friend of mine who wasn’t paying attention to her renewal notices and bingo – someone scooped up the name and turned it into a porn site!

Have you had any hair-raising experiences around your domain registration? We’d love to hear about and learn from them.

Continue Reading · 0

5 tips for taking your website from blah to blossoming

Is your website littering the landscape with self-serving content, confusing navigation, a call to action that’s missing in action?

Well, what better time to clean up your ‘Net presence than spring? After all, like all growing things your website just needs a little TLC to produce amazing results.

Here are five easy ways to nurture your most valuable green marketing tool.

Give your website a little TLC and it will reward you with amazing results.

1. Clear navigation – visitors expect to find your nav bar across the top of every page. Don’t disappoint. Create a clear path through your site by labeling the navigation tabs with standard terms such as About, Services, Contact. This is not the place to be cute.

2. Juicy text -let’s face it, web searchers are looking for information, so make sure your site provides it. Rather than going on about what you do, give them conversational, jargon-free copy that addresses their concerns. Then, format your text for the way people read online using short paragraphs, subheads and bulleted or numbered lists. Make your message compelling and visitors will spend more time (and money) on your site.

3. Call to action – Sign up for our newsletter. Call for an appointment. Order now. Whether it’s a link to a download or  asking for the sale, a direct call to action gets results. While this may seem obvious, it’s amazing how many businesses overlook this important step.  Help your visitors (and your company) by being clear about how to take the next step.

4. Update often – make it a living, changing, growing site by posting new content frequently.  Add new products, articles or blog posts and Google will reward you with higher rankings. And, you’ll be giving customers a reason to visit more often.

5. Add video – build trust and show your brand personality with a short, punchy video clip on your website. Not only are videos engaging, they also enhance your SEO. According to SearchEngineWatch.com, Google and the like are programmed to display a mix of content types in search results. For this reason, they give more weight to video than to other forms of Web content.

What  have you done lately to take your website from blah to blossoming? We’d love to hear your tips.

Continue Reading · 0

A copywriter’s wish – may your new year be jargon-free!

No more bla bla blaAt the end of the day, on Christmas Eve, I hope Santa brought your deliverables on time and on budget. As the global leader in innovative solutions, he strives to exceed expectations and always thinks outside the gift box. After all, that’s his core competency. And for you, as one of his key stakeholders, it’s a win-win!

Uhhhh….what I really mean is: Have a happy holiday and a jargon-free new year!

The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, “as corporate complexity collides with fanciful phrasing…it’s getting harder to tell what some companies actually do.”

Resolve to bid farewell to overblown language.

Unfortunately, we’re surrounded by examples of this kind of writing. Here are a few I love:

  • Your Full Service Food Service Service Company (this wordy slogan gets the repetition award!)
  • A company called Universal Business Solutions says they “Deliver new business process management solutions to automate core processes.” (Can somebody please translate that for me?)
  • Another boasts: “We take a structured approach to our implementation engagements.” (And they do it in their brochure, no less).

You wouldn’t use this kind of language in a conversation, so why expect your copywriter to use it in your marketing materials?

Customers and prospects want to know that a living, breathing human is behind what they’re reading.

So say what you really mean in an engaging, fun style and you’ll connect, establish trust and build relationships.

What are some examples of bla-bla copy that you’ve found?

Please share them with me so I can add them to my collection.

Continue Reading · 0

How to Shake Up and Rev Up Your Marketing

Every week, Carol stood up in her networking meeting and gave the same one-minute speech about her real estate business. While she talked, the other members doodled, daydreamed and drank coffee. After weeks of getting no referrals, she got the picture. At the next meeting she wore a doll house with a for sale sign as a hat. Did anyone hear her message that day? You bet.

Be bold, be heard.

You don’t have to go to that far, but think about your marketing materials. Are they written in corporate-speak? Do they make you seem distant and stuffy, when your firm is built on warmth and informality? Don’t be afraid to create an authentic, even bold, brand personality and let it come shining through.

Start by writing your website copy in a friendly, conversational style, free of jargon. Use humor to connect with people if it’s right for your brand.

As Rohit Bhargava, author of the Influential Marketing blog, says: “Nothing gives the impression that you’re faceless more than using completely neutral third person language across your site. Instead of using the same old marketing mumbo jumbo to describe your business, how about giving people a bit of the story behind your company? … When you can tell a story in your own voice, it creates a foundation for believability in everything else you do online.”

Here are some tips for making your website copy more effective.

  • Address your customers’ needs and concerns
  • Skip the jargon, write in real-people language
  • Use humor where appropriate
  • Be clear
  • Express your personality – find your own “doll house hat”

Contact me for a complimentary review and some tips for making your website lively, compelling and search engine friendly.

 

Continue Reading · 0

Online marketing tip: Provide useful information to increase your chance of being read

Every day our inboxes are inundated with “buy me” messages. And if you’re anything like me, unless you’re really interested in the item being offered, you’ll hit delete.

But – give me some useful tips and I’m ready to pay attention.

The Magellan’s Catalog does a good job of providing information along with their product story. A purveyor of travel gear and clothing, their emails often take an editorial approach, offering helpful tips for making travel easier. And lord knows, the idea of going to the airport and facing the prospect of a full body scan isn’t exactly appealing. So anything that promises to make the experience less taxing, I want to know about.

In a recent email headlined with an engaging play on words: “Getting a Good Flight’s Sleep,” Magellan’s addressed the challenges of sleeping on the plane, i.e., small seats, lack of basic services like clean blankets, droning engine noise. Then they offered 5 bulleted tips to help you drift off aloft.

Where does the sell come in?

In the side bar, with links to featured products like neck pillows, fleece blankets and noise cancelling headphones. And, they cleverly provide customer reviews of several products. Now that they’ve got you in the mood to shop, all you have to do is click on links at the bottom of the email and you’ll land on the product pages of their website.

So take a cue from Magellan’s. Before you send your next email campaign think about what useful information you can share that will make customers view you as an expert, not just someone trying to sell them something. Make it relevant to your product and their needs, and you should see an increase in your open rate, readership and click-throughs.

 

Continue Reading · 0

Google rankings – what page are you on?

Does your website show up on page 1 of Google? Page 2 or 3?

If not, it’s a safe bet that you’re making one or more of 5 common mistakes that prevent you from getting the results you want.

Here’s an article that details these costly blunders — everything from lack of effective keywords, to design, content and usability issues — and tells you how to fix them.

Continue Reading · 0

Dropbox – a cool tool for sharing files on multiple computers

Let’s say you have a computer in the office, a laptop at home and a netbook for meetings and travel. Having access to the files you need when you need them can get dicey. You either have to remember to email them to yourself or put them on your flash drive and hope you don’t lose it (I’ve been there…).

Here’s a great solution – Dropbox is a free download that allows you to store, share and sync your files on all of your computers.

And, you can share them with co-workers and clients so they can add their comments without having to use the distracting markup in Word.

There’s even an app for the iPhone which lets you download files, sync photos and videos to your Dropbox as well as share links to your files.

Download your copy here, and let me know how you like it!

Continue Reading · 0