Right now, when things are probably relatively quiet at your website and possibly in your business as well, it’s a great time to give your website a check up and see if there are changes you want to make for the new year. We’ve been doing a live refresh for 8th & Walton, a company that specializes in retail training. The issues being addressed at their site are very likely to be the same ones you might want to address at your website:
- Duplicate content Since they have courses that cover similar information — for example, how to use Retail Link, a tool designed for Walmart suppliers, with special courses for Puerto Rico, Canada, and the United States — they had a fair amount of duplication from one page to another. This interfered with their success in search. Take the time to rewrite duplicate pages so that each one offers some unique, useful information.
- Consistent voice Several different people had written course descriptions at different times. This makes a lot of sense from the point of view of logistics, and we see it all the time — staff bios written by each staff member, pages for different programs written by their respective program directors, etc. The problem is, you end up with a very different effect from each section. For 8th & Walton, course descriptions ranged from dryly academic to playful, while the courses themselves are consistently dynamic and intensive. Realigning the descriptions to give a consistent voice gives a more accurate picture of the courses, and sounds better.
- Parallel structure A related issue turned up in the listing of course objectives and learning outcomes. Some began with imperative phrases like, “Harness the power of Retail Link to maximize results” and some began with more formal sentences like, “Participants will understand the top five metrics for consumer satisfaction.” It’s just a difference in style, but any page will be more appealing when all the bullet lists begin with the same kind of structure. On the page you’re reading right now, I’m using an adjective plus a noun for a bold-faced introductory phrase each time. You may not be ready to analyze things that much, but you can still tell when things are alike.
- Active phrasing In general, more active language sounds more direct and appealing to your readers. “Essential practices for advanced retail mathematics will be covered” sounds more formal and less lively than, “Expert presenters will show you how advanced retail math can improve your bottom line” — no matter how you feel about math. Active phrasing puts the subject before the verb.
- Strong verbs Thwacking a ball is a snazzier activity than hitting it. Honing your skills sounds jazzier than just improving them. English has the largest number of words of any language — about 750,000 — so there’s no reason not to pick the most evocative one when you’re writing.
- Important keywords At the same time, we have to remember that some of our readers (the search engines) are machines. They can’t be expected to get all the nuances. If “retail training” is the phrase people usually use to find services and products like yours, don’t switch to “shopkeepers’ development” or “vendor in-service.” Use the terms your customers and potential customers will actually use to look for services like yours, and get creative with the words in between those essential keywords.
- Accurate information Do you update everything on your website each time a change takes place in your business? If so, good for you. If not — and that would be most of us — this is a great time to catch things like a new location or a change in focus. I’m going to update my client list this week — how about you?
If we’re honest, most of us probably should have a bit of a wash and brush up on our site content every year. Do it now and start the new year with a nicely polished up website.