As a small business you probably have, or at least should have, a clear picture of what you would like people to think about when they think about your business. The problem is that there are mistakes you can make that mean that the content on your website is saying the wrong things about your brand.
Part of the problem is that while you can talk face to face with your target audience at times when you are dealing with a website you are relying on the written word (the content on the pages on your site). With this in mind there are 3 basic mistakes that you can make in your content that will affect your branding (and may also affect the positions you get in the search engines).
1. Spelling and Grammar mistakes
At this point you may be thinking, so what if there is a small error or two, no-one will notice. Sadly this isn’t true and there is no such thing as a “small” error when it comes to spelling (it’s either right or wrong). People notice bad spelling and this often has a big impact of what people think of your site and ultimately your brand.
If your website uses “to” instead of “too”, “your” instead of “you’re”, “there” when you mean “their” or uses “effect” rather than “affect” your readers will be able to tell that you didn’t proofread the content before you published it. When I say “proofread” I mean manually check the content rather than run it through a software programme (although you can run it through software first if it makes you feel more comfortable).
Part of the reasoning goes that if you don’t take the time to check your own site what else are you not spending the time on, your product or service maybe? If you are cutting corners on your product or service is it worth the price you are charging? That very simple mistake of saying “Our service helps clients grow there business” can escalate very quickly.
I would personally, also argue that if you are aiming at the UK market that you should be using UK English, don’t use optimize if you mean optimise etc.
2. Content for the sake of it
I was talking to a client today about the content on their website – he had been told that they needed to produce new content on their site every day and wondered how he was going to find what to write about. I advised him not to feel that he had to stick to a fixed schedule and post to his site when he had something to say that he felt was interesting. This might mean that there was nothing posted for a few days but if he was struggling to find something to say it was likely that he would come up with content that he wasn’t interested in and that would reflect in the content. If he isn’t interested enough to write about something why should anyone else be interested in reading it?
Also, if you are not producing good content then it’s not likely to meet your brand’s image and standards and could damage it.
3. Vocabulary and Jargon
Remember that you are using your website to convince people to do business with you eventually, this might be after reading the content of your page and then contacting you or it may even be placing an order direct from the site. This is easiest if the reader feels that they are having a one-to-one conversation with the author of the page. After all, most people search on the web because they are looking for an answer, which could be something like “how do I find a local accountant?” or even “where can I buy an ink cartridge for my printer?”. If they visit your site and find that they can get the answer to their question in the language that they understand they are more likely to spend their money on your service or product.
By using shorter words and less jargon you will make the reader feel more at ease, help more people understand your content and are less likely to make people feel that you are talking down to them by using big words. A site that we use here at Forest Software is read-able.com that allows you to enter an web page address and get a result of the typical reading age that will understand your content. For example http://read-able.com/check.php?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.forestsoftware.co.uk shows that the average 13-14 year old would be able to understand our home page.
I mentioned the affect on your search engine positions, there have been comments by both Google and Bing that spelling and/or grammar can affect your rankings as you will see on this Search Engine Land page.