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Avoiding common content mistakes made by small businesses

This is a guest post for our blog by Ruth Perrington about the content creation issues that small businesses or start-ups face when first building their online presence.

As a small business or start-up, you likely already know the value of talking to your potential customers in the right way. And in this day and age, the best vehicle for this discourse is your website. But that doesn’t mean that every single business makes the most of this opportunity; in fact, quite the opposite is true.

A large majority of small businesses make the same mistakes time and time again when generating content for their website. So rather than telling you exactly what you should be doing with your content, let’s take a few moments to see what you shouldn’t be doing. Here are the biggest content mistakes we see on small businesses’ websites – and how best to avoid them yourself.

Your content is too long and poorly optimised

A lot of people assume that writing content is easy. You just jot down a few details about why you’re business is so great, right? Well, that may be fundamentally true, but there’s a lot more to it than that. First off, many start-ups make the mistake of writing far too much content on their site. They’re desperate to make a good impression, and end up cramming every benefit on the front page.

There is also frequently a lack of optimisation (use of keywords to be more visible on search engines). Both of these issues can be addressed by trimming the content to around 300-400 words per page and using a reasonable keyword ‘density’(that’s the percentage of times your target keyword appears).

You scare away prospects by listing your prices

Whether or not you’re making this mistake will depend on your industry and the type of product or service you offer. Service businesses in particular often have higher list prices than others, simply because the return on investment of their offering is higher. But when you list every price on your website, you risk scaring prospective customers away.

On the other hand, if you don’t list your prices at all, the prospect may look elsewhere for an answer – potentially one of your competitors. The solution is to try – and this obviously doesn’t apply if you’re an ecommerce website – to list a price range rather than exact figures. Then people will enquire to find out more about your services and what your rates are.

Your ‘About Us’ page leaves visitors cold

Here’s a missed opportunity that many new businesses fall prey to. And that’s partially due to so-called ‘best practices’. Essentially, the mistake is to use their ‘About Us’ page as a place to list a long drawn-out history of the company, and why it’s so great. But this doesn’t really answer a prospect’s concerns.

Rather, your About Us page should tell them why they want to invest in your company, why your product or service is better than others, and exactly what they will get out of dealing with you. Focus on what’s in it for them instead of what’s in it for you.

You don’t make the most of social media

We all know how important social media is, so we’ll leave those key benefits for another time. But the mistake that some new businesses make is to not include social media as part of their content strategy. They spend time building pages and pages about who they are and what they do, then fail to actually follow this tone of voice through via social media. Your profiles should be an extension of the personality you exhibit on your main site, so keep it consistent. And the more imaginative you are with social content, the better.

Don’t forget – while there are many of managing your reputation online, one of the best techniques is to employ a strong content strategy. By avoiding the mistakes listed above, your reputation will have a strong start, and that’s an excellent foundation on which to build a great brand and create lots of happy customers.

Just make sure that whenever you’re writing content, either static or social, you put yourself in the shoes of the customer – what would make you want to use your services? With that sort of point of view, you really can’t lose.

Comments

  1. Comment by Mattias Gronborg, 2:26 pm Aug 16, 2012

    Mattias Gronborg

    Mattias Gronborg

    Thanks! Great post.

    The most successful small online businesses are the most consistent ones. Prospects run away from businesses and people who are inconsistent. Consistency is an important ingredient when we build trust. I must admit that it is a huge challenge for me. If you are having a back and forth approach the momentum never kicks in.

    -Mattias

    Reply
    1. Comment by Kittie Walker, 2:26 pm Aug 16, 2012

      Kittie Walker

      Kittie Walker

      Hi Mattias

      Absolutely spot on as usual – consistency is key.

      Which is why slow and steady wins the day. If you rush or try to do too much in one go – you burn yourself out! On the other hand if you pace yourself then you find it much easier to become consistent.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts 🙂

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  3. Comment by Retha Groenewald, 2:26 pm Aug 16, 2012

    Retha Groenewald

    Retha Groenewald

    This is an eye-opener. I realise that my weakness is the About page. Part is due to inexperience and part because I am not sure what to put there. This is definitely on my to-do-list. Thanks

    Reply
  4. Comment by Kittie Walker, 2:26 pm Aug 16, 2012

    Kittie Walker

    Kittie Walker

    Ah, glad it provided some insight for you… the about page is surprisingly important. Visitors don’t tend to go there as a first stop but they will do when they want to get a feel for who you are and what you are all about….

    Reply
  5. Comment by Rebekah Radice, 2:26 pm Aug 16, 2012

    Rebekah Radice

    Rebekah Radice

    Great article Kittie! Your last point about strategy is so important. I see this mistake made over and over. A company “plays around” with social media, but fails to truly integrate it into their overall marketing plan. Then they wonder why they waste so much time on social media with zero results. Consistency and a commitment to goals is key!

    Reply
    1. Comment by Kittie Walker, 2:26 pm Aug 16, 2012

      Kittie Walker

      Kittie Walker

      Hey Rebekah, thanks for stopping by and connecting! We see the same mistake over and over too… the mind boggles. We rarely provide social media marketing campaigns in isolation but work with our clients to build fully integrated marketing strategies that they can implement or we can deploy on their behalf. I agree consistency and commitment to the agreed goals is key.