Because I write and edit website content on a regular basis, I am constantly running into common mistakes that everyone – small businesses, high-tech startups and well-established mid-sized companies – regularly makes. Here are the top five I see most often, along with how to fix them:
1. Keywords mushed into the content
When I write website content, I add the keywords a company wants to use for SEO once the content has been approved. I simply replace words and terms that are already there with the ones that the search engines will reward, but I always, always, always focus on readability.
If you just mush as many keywords as you can into the content with no thought about keeping the flow natural and sentences readable, you will make the content so hard to read that it’ll actually end up sounding fake and forced.
2. The “About Us” page is not about you
The About Us page should delve deeply into your company and go beyond what you do, rather than regurgitating the benefits and features of your products and services. What is your philosophy? How do you do what you do? How are you different from competitors?
You also want to briefly introduce the people who matter – the founders, the company leadership, your advisors. Their bios should be short and friendly. List their role at the company and a brief background that illustrates their expertise and experience. I also like to include some personal stuff to make them more approachable and “real.”
3. Auto-play audio or video
When you arrive at a website for the first time, do you like to be accosted by auto-play audio and video? Me neither. The worst is when you can’t even find the “stop” button and you have to scramble to turn down the volume.
Think carefully about adding an auto-play feature, as it is basically the equivalent of a salesperson who won’t shut up glomming onto you as soon as you walk through the door. No one likes to have something forced on them. Add your audio or video, but give your site visitors the option of listening to or watching it.
4. Hard-to-find contact info
There is no reason your contact information should be hidden. If you have a home office, get a post office box, but you should have your mailing address, phone number and email visibly displayed on your site.
5. Confusing site navigation
It should be super easy for your website visitors to not only find what they are looking for on you site, but also find their way back to where they started. Leave breadcrumbs scattered around by hyperlinking your logo to the home page and adding a home page button on each page. But also make sure that when they enter your services or products sections, it is easy for them to start their search over again.
Image by Flickr user Paul Downey (Creative Commons)