What's going on with online business? 9 May 2011

Could your website be putting off potential customers – instead of drawing them in? Results from a recent survey suggests that many small businesses are let down by their online presence. Once upon a time, a business website was a novelty. Now it’s seen as a necessity by most of us. I think it’s incredible that 30% of the businesses surveyed said they were ‘reluctant’ or ‘embarrassed’ to recommend their website to their customers because of these kinds of issues. What do the results of the new survey suggest when it comes to online content?

Embarrassed by errors?

41% of people surveyed said they frequently find errors like typos or broken URLs on business websites.

The typo trap is a common problem and a great way to undermine your professional image. If you manage your own online content and add it directly to your website, double check it by running a spell-check in Word first. Or get a colleague or friend to read through it before you add it. Also, make sure you check content throughout your entire site, not just on your home page! It all sounds a little obvious, but it’s amazing how easy it is to overlook these kinds of details.

Feeling broke?

As well as the typo problem, broken URLs also put people off.

Double check all the links on your site, for example on your links page, your partner page or testimonials section. Set a schedule to check all your links on a regular basis, say every two or three months, to keep your copy completely accurate.

Getting out of date?

Apparently 66% of companies surveyed confess to struggling to maintain an attractive website, with the most common issue (38%) being the sourcing of fresh content.

There’s no doubt that with all the other pressures on your time, keeping your web copy updated can be a challenge. Again, an informal schedule can help keep your web copy fresh. And that’s not just your blog, but all the content throughout your site. The recent Panda/Farmer changes to Google mean that it’s even more important to regularly refresh all the content on all your web pages. Think strategically rather doing this piecemeal. And when you do add a new page or a new blog post, make sure the style of your copy is consistent with your business brand and target audience.

Online and off putting?

Online copy and presentation is much more than window dressing. It’s the whole darn shop. After all, it’s often the only thing your customer has to go on. The study shows that amongst 1,800 consumers, 37% have switched off completely from poor websites, with another 9% choosing to spend less as a direct result. There are enough challenges out there for small businesses. Let’s make sure dodgy web content isn’t one of them.

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, May 2011

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