This week’s guest blog post is by Renee Manella, Communications Coordinator at Statement Media, New Plymouth’s public relations, marketing communications and content creation specialists.
How to revamp your homepage
Did you know you’ve only got 10 seconds to keep people on your homepage? Your web content has the power to captivate your audience – or send them packing. Whether your web content needs a revamp or just some careful tweaking, here are a few tips to help you create stellar content for your homepage.
First impressions matter
The first time someone visits your website, they’ll invest about 10 seconds of their time deciding if it’s worth lingering. You’ve got 10 seonds to capture your audience and make that crucial first impression a good one. Of course, copy is just one part of your strategy here (site layout, graphic design, site load time all have their roles to play), but it does mean that if you’re not leading with your most important message, chances are your customers are never going to even see it. People are just too busy to sift through bulky paragraphs of copy.
Now that we’ve established how critical it is to lead with your key messages, let’s have a look at what they are. A simple way to answer this is to jot down the answers to the next 2 questions in as few words as possible. By distilling your message to its essence, you force yourself to present it as clearly and concisely as possible.
- What are your customers looking for (what’s the service/product you provide)?
- What can only you give them (what’s your point of difference?)
By leading with benefits (what your product/service does better), you focus on the customer’s needs, and get them hooked in the first seconds.
Now let’s check how effective your website is at serving up this crucial information. See if you can find the answers to those questions on your homepage in 10 seconds. If not, let’s take a look at how we could make that information more prominent.
Keep it snappy
Lots of text is boring. Unless you’re a news website, there’s probably not a good justification for having screeds of text on your homepage. Succinct, clear, concise language propels your site’s visitors smoothly through to their destination: your product/service. Try these next steps to help reduce word-clutter on your homepage:
- Ask yourself: why do I need this word/line? If the answer is not immediately crystal-clear (and be brutally honest with yourself – remember, you’ve got 10 seconds!), take it out
- Cut out any redundant or repetitive text
- Shave off the adjectives (unless they’re essential in expressing your point of difference)
- If you do have a lot of text left after you’ve gone through and deleted the fluff, then use headlines and bullet points to make it easy to skim-read
- If you simply can’t bear to lose all that carefully-crafted content, why not repurpose it as blog posts? You can always link to it from your home page.
Enough about me. Let’s talk about me.
For most of us, our websites are our virtual shopfronts, and we invest a lot of time and money into making them attractive. Then we shout at everyone who comes through the virtual shop door. A friendly, conversational style works best on websites, so relinquish your inner salesman swagger and start to engage.
Now that you’ve got a page of clear and concise text, it might help to read your text aloud – imagining you’re writing to an acquaintance who has asked for your help. Some tips here are:
- Use “you” instead of “we” – this helps engage your customer, and feel like a person.
- Avoid jargon
- Use the active voice (rather than “Our websites are created by our team of designers who…”, you’d write “Our designers create websites…”)
Make a compelling call to action
What do you want your customers to do? Call you? Book an appointment? Purchase? If it’s not crystal-clear what your customers should do on each page, they probably aren’t doing it. Help them out by telling them what they can do next.
The professional touch
It’s fine to write your own content. Just don’t underestimate the face-lift that a professional can give you. Anyone with a pair of scissors can give themselves a haircut, but when you choose a stylist you’re asking a professional to help you cultivate the look that you want to show the world. As Sue Shallenbarger commented in The Wall Street Journal, “looseness with language can create bad impressions with clients, ruin marketing materials, and cause communications errors.” Consider investing in professional copywriting for your home page. As you probably discovered when you tried to jot down your essential message earlier, it’s difficult to make it succinct and enticing. Good content works subtly. It can be difficult to articulate why you trust a certain brand’s slogan over another, or what brought about that glowing warmth you feel towards your favorite blogger.
Do a little SEO
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the use of keywords to get your website to the top of search results. If you type your product/service into Google/Bing/Yahoo and don’t see your business on the first page of results – well, welcome to SEO!
Unfortunately, the sheer volume of organisations jostling for top-ranking spots makes it very difficult to compete with popular keywords, and there’s no quick recipe for success here. There’s a staggering amount of information (and pseudo-information) on SEO out there. We use SEO Planner for WordPress and Google Keyword Planner (this requires an Adwords account) for quick keyword research, but if SEO is just too much for you to deal with right now, then don’t sweat it. SEO is a valid way to get traffic to your site – but it’s not the be-all and end-all. Getting people to your website is one thing. Getting them to come back is a different ball game – and that’s where your high-quality web content comes in. When you’ve built an audience who trusts you, recognises your status as an industry expert, and knows your site will lead them to the answer they’re after, they’ll head straight to your site. No SEO required.