Select Page

What Content Do I Need for My Start-Up Website?

iStock_000016644190XSmallSo you have decided it’s time to host your own website. Welcome to the cyberworld. But honestly, in the world of Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, Pinterest, countless blogs, news sites and e-real real estate, you were probably already here. Now you have just decided that you’re ready to build your own little e-home for your start-up – and just like a real home, you have to get your furniture moved in. If you haven’t caught on by now, in this case, furniture equals content.

Here’s where a lot of people go wrong when it comes to creating for your site: they don’t narrow down what they want the site to be or what it should communicate. But your website is not just a pretty place on the Internet. It has a job to do for your start-up and that is to let people know about what you do and encourage them to do business with you.

Here are some tips to create great content for your website.

First, Decide Who You Are and Be Consistent

What are you selling? Who are you talking to? Although these questions seem pretty basic and self-explanatory, you would be surprised how many websites give no clear indication of what the company is all about. Everything on your site: theme, colors, design, logo, etc. should be part of a bigger picture, which is, of course, your business introduction to the world.

Remember that your website is an extension of your brand. Every page should reflect the same theme and colors found on your business cards, letterhead, brochures, etc. You want to be sure the whole package represents a cohesive professionalism — which also means creatively written and free of grammatical and spelling errors — across the board.

Choose Your Pages

Many websites contain a format with the following headings, offering clear navigation:

■      About Us – This page tells the basic story of the business, perhaps how you got started, your mission statement and a summary of the services you offer, how and who you have helped.

  • A subpage may be a Staff or Our Team page that gives brief bios of your core workers. The bios should only include relevant work experience and maybe a few personal interests or hobbies.

■      Products/Services – This page talks about what you are offering. What is for sale? You may want to put to think about an online catalogue for this space and links where they can actually purchase your products or services. If you’re leery of putting prices on your website (some professionals recommend that you don’t while others say that avoiding pricing is rubbish”) describe the service and include a link to get more information about it. The link can either direct the potential customer to send an email for more information or call a phone number to speak to someone in your company directly about it. You can also include a clear call to action.

■      Case Studies/Testimonials/Portfolio – There should be someone who is willing to share what you have done for them or how working with your company has helped them. If you’re a start-up, maybe you don’t have too many of these customers yet. Still, let’s say you’re a graphic design business and created some flyers for Cousin Bob that time, it counts. “(Insert Business Name] created custom flyers for me that got my customers excited about my business. They really were able to turn by ideas for a great design into reality.” — Bob B. Note that the testimonial doesn’t say, “My cousin George really helped me out — for cheap!” Keep it professional; potential clients don’t have to know Bob is related. Instead a picture of the work should speak for itself.

Having some sort of example or sample of your work — or even a picture of your work if you offer an actual product — is standard for a portfolio page.

■      Contact Us/Location/Map – This page gives the standard information about where you are located, the hours you are open and how people can contact you. You can also have a Contact Us form that people can complete on your site that sends information directly to your email address. One reason why people opt for a contact form instead of listing a direct email address is because posting the address may invite lots of spam. If you’re concerned about spam use the format name[at]domain.org to thwart any bots that may try to stalk your website.

If you have social media pages (and yes, you should!) include links or plugins to those pages as well.

■      Resources/Links/Blog – People will return to a website that they find useful. One way to ensure that people will view your site as a resource is to have helpful information. If you’re an IT firm, you may want to post links to the most updated resources for that area. If you’re a start-up that helps other businesses get started, you may want to link to governmental pages to help organizations get incorporated or get 501c3 status.

It’s also good to have a blog on your website because you can consistently post relevant topics to bring people back to the site and they can stay updated on new products and services. Don’t forget to post links to blogs on your social media outlets as new posts become available.

■      FAQS/Terms of Service/Disclaimers – If you know that you have specific terms about refunds or certain disclaimers, include the legal jargon on this page. You can also give a list of helpful answers to questions your potential customers will probably have.

Make Sure Your Design Is Clean

Going back to the real estate analogy, just keep this in mind about your website: Just like a house that has a bunch of mismatched, crazy color schemes, a website full of jumbled disorder will drive your audience away. But a cleanly designed site with good, compelling content will keep them coming back. You’ll have a cozy, welcoming e-home for people to visit.

3 Ways You Can Improve Your Website’s Homepage

iStock_000015003066XSmallNearly every day I give critiques and suggestions on how a client can improve their web content or I give estimates on the cost of writing content for entirely new websites. In most cases, I find that the homepages are always lacking either in information or they’re simply non-existent.

 

No Homepage Content at All

This issue is found on ecommerce sites most frequently. Their focus is on selling their products, but without some sort of introductory text to your business, you are missing out on communicating with your visitors, as well as keyword opportunities.

If you aren’t going to include homepage text, at least make sure your site has a Meta description. Meta tags may not be as important as they once were, but without a meta description for your homepage, the search engines won’t have a description to post with your link in the search results.

 

Tell Us What Your Business Is!

This goes back to the homepage as well. I can’t count how many times I’ve been on a “consulting” site and had no idea what their actual business or service was. Who were they consulting with and why? If your visitors can’t determine what your business is from your homepage, you’re making it too hard. Even 100 words will go a long way in educating and enticing your visitors.

 

Don’t Make Pages Longer Than They Need to Be

There’s really nothing worse than going to a website and seeing a 1,000 word homepage that’s northing more than an extended sales letter stuffed with keywords. Newsflash – nobody’s going to read 1000 words on why they should buy toilets from you.

Again, this is something I commonly see at the bottom of ecommerce sites, but it’s also common on a variety of others. There’s really no point and the days of keyword stuffed pages are long gone. Unfortunately, a lot of people out there haven’t got that memo yet and I still get requests to write these.

 

In most cases, a homepage can be kept simple and sweet. Don’t overwhelm your reader, but do communicate with them. Tell them what you’re about and what information they can find within your site. From there, make it easy for them to find that information through an easy to navigate website design. Focus on answering your visitor’s questions before they ask them.

Do You Need to Hire a Web Content Writer and a Web Designer?

Simple answer? Yes. Web designers have a lot on their plate. They are responsible for creating a website template, writing HTML and Java language and perfecting the layout of the website to the client’s specification. Web designers are also put in charge of finding web graphics and icons, which are essential to a website’s marketability.

Many web designers expect you, the website owner, to provide articles for SEO marketing. Web designers are not professional writers and usually cannot be bothered with writing individual web pages. After all, they’re making thousands of dollars a week by creating websites. Writing a few content pages on the side only slows down their income.

What about web designers or web firms that claim they offer web design and web writing? Easy one—they outsource the writing to an SEO or writing firm of their choice and add the cost to your bill. Rest assured, if they are using a quality firm, they are charging you double what they pay to get the work done. The most honest web designers in the business will tell you to write your own content, or work with a writing firm on your own. That way, you can reduce your total expenses by avoiding package deals and only paying for what you need.

The easiest thing to do is to write content yourself, right? Sure, but writing for the web is not as easy as it might seem. The very idea of knowing that your words are being shown to millions of people across the country is enough to discourage many businesspersons from writing fulltime. They prefer to sell—to market! They don’t want to have to worry about writing dozens of articles a day and spending another hour correcting their spelling and grammar.

What about the option of hiring an individual freelancer? It may seem cheaper at first, but you will soon find that the best writers charge more or less the same price as a writing firm. Cheap freelance writers are usually overseas, speak little English, report inaccurate information, or plagiarize someone else’s work. A writing firm has the added advantage of more personnel (meaning more variety, and greater dependability) and technical knowledge of Search Engine Optimization practices.

Instead of paying for a package deal, hire a web designer and work with a writing firm on a regular basis. Remember, if you want to keep readers coming back to your site, you must provide fresh content on a monthly or even weekly basis.