Building a website or blog for your small business takes forever. Hey, why is that? It’s an ongoing task – not one that you set and forget. As algorithms change,, so do the habits of the average Internet user.
Remember flash enabled websites?
They were in and out so fast people forget that they were actually a thing.
When did the “responsiveness” of a website become a critical factor? Companies didn’t care if you could use their website on a cell phone and now they’re paying thousands of dollars to make sure their website remains intact across all platforms.
The Internet is constantly evolving. To deliver the best quality to your customers, it’s important to know exactly what they want and what they’re looking for when they arrive.
We spend quite a lot of time making sure that our homepage is beautiful, eye-catching, and functional. Truthfully, most people that come to your site won’t land on your front page. They’ll find one of your posts on Google, click a link from another website, or see some of your content floating around on social media.
Your audience is likely to land on a post or subpage first – which is why it’s important that blogging is a part of your online marketing strategy, even if you hate to write.
The rare visitor that lands on your homepage will immediately look for something updated – a blog, news, events, anything that tells them what you do on a regular basis, showcases your personality, or gives an indication of how much you know.
These five elements take into consideration that your are if visitors will land on a random post- not on your homepage.
1st – A quick photo scan.
Before they read a word, your visitor is likely to do a quick scroll up and scroll down. They look to see whether or not you have pictures, and if you do, they’ll read the captions.
Experts suggest that pictures are important to break up text, making it easier to read. But, there’s another reason why using photos in between your content is so crucial.
Pictures set the overall mood and tone of a post. If an article has many charts and graphs, then your visitor will be prepared for data-driven content. They develop the expectation that the post is well-researched and factual.
If the photos are of sunsets and oceans, they expect to feel inspired or relaxed and stress-free after reading your post.
When they see photos of children, they expect a personal interaction and are prepared to say “aww” at some point.
The photos you choose to use in your post are just as important as the headline and the opening sentence. These all work together to give your reader a reasonable and accurate expectation.
2nd – Scan text for anything specially formatted
The internet has turned us into professional skimmers. We know that naturally, the most important details lie somewhere in:
- bullet points
- bold text
- italicized text
- differentiated font choices
- content boxes
When choosing to format your text differently, make sure it’s reserved for incredibly useful and valuable information. Those sentences are one of the first things your visitor will read.
Often times, we make our decision to read an entire article based on a set of bullet points.
A mistake I made in the early stages of SipBlack was making my headings vague and catchy because I wanted people to be intrigued enough to read the meat in the text. Six focus groups later, I learned that my visitors were more confused than intrigued.
Use headings to describe exactly what will be in the paragraphs following; avoid any abstract wording or short, funny phrases.
Stick to telling them what’s there, and delivering it.
3rd – Check the length of your paragraphs
The general consensus is that shorter paragraphs work better. Limiting paragraphs to 2-3 sentences gives the reader a chance to digest information and continue reading the article all the way through.
I’m not so quick to say this is the absolute best way of producing content. An example of how longer paragraphs can be done well is Gary Vaynerchuk. Take a look at these huge blocks of text! And yet, it’s incredibly readable. He also has a massive and engaged following.
My suggestion is that if you’re not quite comfortable with your audience, you haven’t found your voice just yet, and you’re still in the “I don’t know what to talk about” phase, then stick to shorter paragraphs with no more than three sentences.
It takes quite a bit of confidence to pull off longer paragraphs like Gary’s.
4th – Use social proof to decide if you’re relevant
Once they’re finally done consuming the post they landed on, their next question is, “Who owns this business and should I trust them?” They’re heading straight for the “About” section of your website. (Read mine here).
Most people are not going to read your entire About page unless they’ve already come across your business a few times. That’s like reading the entire bio of every random person you meet – not going to happen.
What they will do is give it a quick skim, look at your picture to put a face to the words, then see how “relevant” you are.
Thanks to celebrity transparency, we’ve become comfortable with judging the relevancy of a person. As if somehow the more relevant you are, the more your opinion matters. I feel terribly embarrassed to be a human when this is how we judge new thoughts and ideas but for now, that’s the way it is.
Are you somebody or a nobody? Social proof decides whether or not you’re someone worth paying attention to.
Social proof comes in the form of:
- Social media followers
- Associated with people they trust (features on bigger websites)
- Badges and awards
- Share counts
5th – Ready for a call to action
A strong and compelling call to action (CTA) does not have to feel “pushy” or “salesy.” It should come across as the next logical thing for a visitor to do.
Without a call to action, your audience ultimately feels lost and confused.
Think of your website as your house. When guests come to visit, do you say “Come on in,” then leave them standing in the foyer? No, you’d show them where to go and what to do next.
You tell them to take their shoes off and either they’ll oblige or they’ll say, “I prefer to leave them on.” A call to action does not guarantee that your guest will do what you want them to do, but it does guarantee that they’ll consider it.
Your Call to Action depends on the priorities of your business. You can ask visitors to:
- purchase a product
- leave a comment
- download something
- visit another post (keep reading)
- subscribe to your list
- hire you
- try something new
Your call to action is the final thing you want your visitor to do before they leave. It should be displayed prominently and be specific, as well as easy to understand. If you need an example, take a look below.
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