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10 Unmistakeable Signs Your Website Needs an Overhaul

Apr 17, 2008
Most business people know they need some kind of web design. Learning HTML and CSS means learning a whole new language (and if you don't know what those initials mean, you probably hired a designer).

But many people are convinced they know how to speak and write. So, they reason, why bother with a copywriter? They'll just write their own words.

Sometimes that works. But if you're making one of these 10 mistakes, your copy -- the words on your website -- are killing your business.

1.Your headline says, "Welcome."

Hey, come on. Visitors who come to your website know they're welcome. You created the site. You bought a domain. You're paying for web hosting. Of course they're welcome! Let's cut to the chase.

In fact, if your headline does say welcome, don't bother with the other tips. Move directly to find yourself some copywriting help.

2.Your sign-up box is hidden at the bottom of your page and/or you don't offer an irresistible freebie to motivate visitors to leave their contact information.

No sign-up box at all? Ouch. Read no further. You're using the web like a billboard, not a means to interact, communicate and build relationships.

3.Your home page doesn't communicate what you do and why you're different.

Never mind the vague stuff like, "I help people reach the dreams their souls yearn to find." How about, "If you're huffing and puffing to climb a flight of stairs, you may be climbing directly to a heart attack. I specialize in clients who think "exercise" is a 4-letter word and couldn't tell you where to find the nearest gym. Ask me about my 90-Day Fitness With Finesse Program."

4.You keep getting compliments on a beautiful site, but nobody's calling you.

Congratulations! You've got a work of art, but you really need a direct response advertisement.

5.You've got something at the top of your home page that isn't a headline.

A nice photo? A logo? Are you making visitors scroll down to get to your message?

6.You haven't created a path for visitors to take through your website.

Menus are great but you also need to suggest a logical sequence, from your home page to your "free stuff" and "contact" pages.

7.Your bio reads like a history lesson: where you've been, what you did, and where you went to school.

Sure, those features are important. But your bio should demonstrate why you are the best person to provide your service. Show, don't tell.

8. Your testimonials say you're "interesting" and "helpful."

Get convincing, results-oriented testimonials signed by real people. If you're a b2b, get URLs. Edit your testimonials to show how you got results.

9. No success stories.

Unlike testimonials, success stories showcase your process and need not refer to specific, identifiable people. Often this section will be the strongest client attraction magnet on your whole site.

10.You keep getting queries for the wrong service.

You're targeting HR managers. But you keep getting calls from individuals who just got handed a pink slip or the performance review from hell. Or you now offer marketing communication services and you still get calls about the time management service you offered five years ago.

When you overhaul your target market, mission or position, your copy deserves an overhaul, too. Confusion rarely leads to customers.

Bottom Line: Coy isn't what you learned in school. Your English teacher might faint dead away if she saw what you're creating. Copy for websites comes from direct mail copy -- those long mail pieces you like to toss. It's called "direct response" because people either ask for more info immediately -- or wander away forever. With TV and magazine ads, you can win customers through repetition: you're in their face.

Not so with direct response: you get one shot. And copy helps you make the most of it.
About the Author
FREE 7 Best-Kept Secrets of Websites That Really Attract Clients: My Special Report gives you insider tips to convert tire-kickers to buyers and earn money while you sleep. From Cathy Goodwin,Ph.D. at Website Marketing Strategies
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