WHY GIVE AN 'F' ABOUT YOUR WEB CONTENT?
Don’t give an ‘F’ where your web content goes so long as you can cram all the info in somewhere? Bad strategy if you want people to actually read it.

Now of course you want people to know as much as possible about your business. You’ve got to let them know how fantastic it is, right? But here’s the thing – you don’t have time on your side. People don’t hang around on websites. You’ve got a matter of seconds to hook them in and get them to stick around to read more. So you’ve got to get your words in the right place to grab people’s attention. And that place is in an ‘F’ shape.
 
Eye-tracking studies have shown that people read web content in an F-pattern. Starting off, they’ll read horizontally across text at the top part of the page. Then their eyes will drop down a bit and they’ll read horizontally across again, though probably not to the end of the line. Lastly, people scan down the left-hand side of the page.

So forget about people reading your content like a book, line by line, word by word. That’s not how it’s going to go down. This is how it’s going to go down...
1 Topload your content
In other words, get all the important stuff you want to say in the first couple of paragraphs. Think carefully, now. You’ve got a limited amount of space to really get your message across so don’t mess things up with unnecessary details. You need to give the reader the sort of information that will get them interested in your product or service. That will obviously depend on your business, but the key is to be clear and concise about what you’re offering and how you can help.

Once the reader is interested, they might hang around a little longer. They might scroll down to get more info. They might click to another one of your site pages. Heck, they might even hit the Contact button. They might do a lot of things – but only if you grab them quick. If you lose them at the early stage, chances are you’ll have lost them for good.

2 Put important words on the left
With the F-pattern, people scan down the left side of the page. This means you need to get important words in early, at the beginning of the sentence. So if you’ve got something to say, get to the point. Likewise, write sub-heads and bullet points wisely.

Here’s a quick example:-

* Book before the end of June to get 50% off
* 50% off when you book before the end of June

The first sentence? The first few words didn’t jump out at me so I stopped reading. The second sentence? Pow! Straight to the discount – I’m sold!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Everyone can write. But not everyone can write web content. If you’re really serious about your business, shouldn’t you be hiring someone who knows what the ‘F’ they’re doing? 

PHOTO: Flickr
 
 
...Continue
WHO'S AFRAID OF THE BIG, BAD BLOG?
Blogging. The thought of it makes you break into a cold sweat, doesn’t it? I mean, what are you supposed to blog about?
 
Don’t get scared. Trust me, you can do this. You just need a few ideas. And, oh look, here are a few ideas...
 

Give your blog celebrity appeal
Celebrities. We’re obsessed with them. So use them. All you’ve got to do is figure out how your product or service relates to the famous person in question. Because obviously you can’t just mention names without a reason. That would be silly. So, for example, Sir Richard Branson was recently in the news talking about pre-nups – perfect blogging fodder for solicitors and finance experts. Kate Moss just got back from a girlie spa holiday? Hello travel specialists! Nicole Kidman spotted surfing? Cue water sports companies. See how this works? See how easy it is?
 
Keep royalty on your radar
If a royal sneezes, you can blog about it. Well, sort of. Kate Middleton is the one to watch right now. If your business has anything to do with pregnancy and babies, what are you waiting for?
 
Be on trend
Using a survey or new research in your blog post is a sure-fire winner. Let’s say 7 out of 10 women don’t have time to clean their house*. If you run a cleaning business, get that into your blog. Just launched an amazing time-saving cleaning product?  Happy days!
(*I made that up, but you get the point, yes?)
 
Get with the theme
Where there’s a theme, there’s a blog. And believe me, there are themes-a-plenty to choose from. A quick internet search revealed that in April we’ve got National Pet Month, National Gardening Week and National Stop Snoring Week. That should keep a few businesses in blog ideas for the month.
 
Be nosey for news
If it’s in the news, people will be talking about it. They’ll be looking to read about it. They could be reading about it in your blog. From hot TV programmes to political scandals, you can always find a juicy/informative/interesting/weird news story that you can talk about in your blog. Just remember to make it relevant to your business. If you manage to get Poldark into your blog, I’m impressed. Want to tell me how you did it?

Happy blogging!
 
[photo credit] Flickr
...Continue
WANT MEDIA COVERAGE? START CLOSE TO HOME
I love editing my local parish magazine, Spotlight. I get to find out about interesting people in my village and also help them to promote their business.
 
One woman who runs an Italian cookery school puts a regular recipe in the magazine. It’s a great way to remind people who she is and what she does – and has even resulted in her being asked to talk on local radio.

We’ve featured a body painter – that’s human bodies, not car bodies! – who picked up several bits of work after he appeared in one of the Spotlight issues. Then there was the male embroiderer whose story sparked a real interest, not to mention phone enquiries.
 
A local magazine – even if it’s just a tiny parish publication – can be a great place to start a press coverage campaign. It’s usually pretty easy to get featured. As an editor, I’m always looking for interesting content to fill Spotlight so it’s great when villagers get in touch.
 
Before you approach a publication, have a clear idea what an article on your business will offer the readers. Is it a quirky business that will grab people’s attention? Is there an interesting story behind the business? Can you offer tips and advice? 
 
We’ve had a driving instructor giving road safety tips. A life coach offering advice on coping with Christmas stress. And we currently have an accountant who’s a fount of information on all things tax related. They all give our readers something to think about – and they get to promote their business while they’re at it.
 
So, while you might aspire to the Guardian or Vogue, when it comes to getting your business noticed, don’t underestimate the power of your local publication!
...Continue
SPOT THE MISTAKE
See it? Sadly, the firm of solicitors this typo belongs to didn’t.
 
The mistake didn’t appear in an internal document that a few staff members saw. Oh no, it showed up in a colour ad in a Bedfordshire business newspaper. Obviously highly embarrassing – and who knows how it affected their business. Personally, I’m not sure I’d trust them with my legal matters given their poor attention to detail.
 
Even worse than typos is the dreaded spelling mistake. I see them on websites all the time but when I kindly point them out I often just get a shrug and a ‘Oh well, it’s no big deal’. Newsflash – it is a big deal! One businessman realised this when a spelling mistake on his website was corrected – and, lo and behold, the revenue per visitor doubled.
 
The fact is, typos and spelling mistakes do nothing to help your credibility or show you off as a serious, professional business. Frankly, it makes you look a bit sloppy. It makes people wonder how bothered you are about them if you can’t even be bothered to use Spellcheck. It turns people off buying into your services or spending money on your products.
 
The bottom line? A cavalier attitude to your web content could cost you dear.
...Continue