“What do you look for in a small business website?” a friend asked. I told him I look at the content first.
Your web content will help me decide if you can help me. It will also help me decide if I can trust you with my business. Here are some questions I ask when deciding if I want to work with you.
Who Are You, What Do You Do, and for Whom?
The answers to these questions should be obvious. However, many small business websites don’t say who they are, their mission, or their target audience.
Additionally, small technology companies often use jargon. Because I may influence a decision maker, jargon shouldn’t interfere with my understanding of a company’s products and services. In other words, will I get your mission even if I’m not an insider?
Is Your Contact Information Easy to Find?
If I like what I see on your website, I may want to contact you. So, I’ll look for a contact form and a phone number. Although I usually use contact forms, I also want to know if I can talk with you over the phone. If I can’t, I wonder why not.
Where Are You Located?
Many small business websites hide their location and site owner. I leave if I can’t easily find either in a search on Google or the WhoIs database.
What Can You Do for Me?
Website visitors are selfish and I’m no exception. If I land on your site, I want to know what’s in it for me before a pop-up window asks me for my email address.
Do You Have Enough Information to Help Me Make a Decision?
I look at your pages to see what you have: About, Products, Services, FAQs, Contact, and Blog. I also read your testimonials to see if real people wrote them or if you did. In other words, I want to find out if you’re authentic and can actually help me.
Does Your Site Look Dated?
Sometimes a small business website seems abandoned. The content is old, meaning search engines don’t crawl and index the site. The copyright notice, if there is one, hasn’t been updated in a while.
An old copyright notice may also mean the theme and supporting technology is out of date, leaving the site vulnerable to security breaches.
Because most people now view content from smartphones, I also check to see if the website uses the latest mobile responsive technology.
Can I Find the Information I’m Looking For?
Finding information on your site should be easy. So, you want to make sure your site navigation is clear.
You can charm me with your fun graphics and writing. But you’ll turn me off if you confuse me with poor navigation.
Is Your Content Consistent?
Okay, I admit the editor in me is asking this question. You’re writing doesn’t have to be perfect. But, if you say one thing on one page and something else on another, why should I trust you with my business?
Is Your Content Unique?
I often see a small business website that posts prefab content I can find on thousands of other websites. The problem with prefab content is it doesn’t help me understand you and your company.
If you want to distinguish yourself from your competitors and be considered a thought leader in your industry, you have to create your own content.
Do You Focus on Features or Benefits?
It’s easier to write about features than it is to write about benefits because a list of features reads like an old-fashioned resume: “I did this and I did that, and I can do this and that for you. So, hire me now.”
The customer comes first, however, when you focus your content on benefits.
When writing about benefits, you really have to understand your target audience. One way to develop that understanding is by creating personas.
I want to see both features and benefits. The features help me decide if a product or service can do what I need. The benefits help me decide if there’s value in buying what I need from you.
Is the Site Slow?
Unlike many of my contemporaries, I will wait patiently for a website to load. However, if loading takes too long, I’ll leave because I think there’s something wrong with it.
About That Pop-Up… What Will I Get in Return for Giving You My Email Address?
I won’t know the answer to this question until I’ve downloaded your free gift (which I hope is worth an email address) and received a few autoresponders.
What I’m looking for is (1) a thoughtful email sales funnel, and (2) value for joining your email list. If you give me worthwhile content I can use or refer others to, I’m a happy subscriber.
I unsubscribe, however, if I get too many obnoxious emails that use heavy-handed sales tactics. Also, I don’t normally mark email from small businesses as spam unless the sender makes it difficult to unsubscribe from a list.
Answering these questions will help you find ways to improve your web content.
Often, when small business owners feel dissatisfied with a website, they think hiring a web designer will fix all their problems. I feel this is the wrong approach. If you’re unhappy with your site, make sure you analyze your content before you make any changes.