flower tree

5 Simple Ways to Spring Clean Your Online Business

Overheard in the office this morning: “The sun’s out so I can’t complain.”

After a few grey days and long months of winter, that pretty much sums up my feelings exactly.

Spring has officially sprung in the British capital!

Even if I’m still in boots and a jumper (hey, it’s London) the sunnier weather signals a fresh start — a chance to dust off those landing pages, make your social media shine and brighten up the ole blog.

The best part? They’re easy, and dare I say, fun updates to make.

So let’s roll up our sleeves and breathe some new life into your online business.

These five tips will tidy up your digital space in no time and give it that glow other websites wish they had.

1. Revamp Your Headlines

Headlines and page titles play a huge role in attracting visitors to your site.

They’re not only the first words people see when they land on your website, but they also tell readers exactly what they will gain by clicking on your content. Or at least, in theory, that’s what they should do.

To see if your headlines are providing as much value to your community as possible, open up your blog or a landing page on your site and ask:

  • Is the benefit clearly stated?
  • Do you want to click to read more?
  • Can you easily understand what the article, video, landing page, etc. is about?

Every title on your website should pass this three-part test with flying colors.

In fact, you can even apply this “rule” to your social media posts too.

Because headlines are THE chance to pull your reader in.

If you’re feeling stuck or not sure how to craft a compelling headline, look at magazine covers and newspapers. Try to incorporate their bold punchiness into your titles.

The Onion is a master of this, although I would say it takes a certain brand to pull off this type of headline:

Think of the benefit your reader will receive by clicking on your page and put it right into the headline.

Above all, keep your audience top of mind when writing headlines. Because if it’s meaningful and relevant to their lives, it will catch their attention.

2. Perform Better on Google

Wouldn’t it be awesome to know which search terms are taking people to your site?

Google Search Console is a free tool that tells you just that and more.

Once you connect your website to the Search Console, you can see:

  • The search terms that pulled up your company’s pages during an organic search on Google
  • How many times one of your pages showed up in a user’s Google search results (the tool calls these “impressions”)
  • How many times a user clicked on your URL via a search
  • The click-through rate for each URL (i.e. the percentage of impressions that received clicks)
  • The position of your URL on the search page

This is a wealth of information about how users are finding your content through search, so how can you use it to your benefit?

A nifty video on using Google Search Console.

As digital marketing guru, Neil Patel, suggests, you can use it to zone in on search terms that aren’t resulting in clicks.

Jot down the search terms that have a high number of impressions but a low number of clicks.

Then try searching for the term yourself and seeing how your webpage appears in Google.

For these underperforming search terms, that can mean your SEO title and meta description aren’t clear and compelling enough.

Like your headlines, the Googler should know exactly what the content is about just by skimming it: short and to the point.

Next, make sure the description below the SEO title is also crystal clear. By giving the reader a bit more context while piquing their interest, your meta description can be the difference between them visiting your site or not.

No matter how you choose to use these insights, this tool is a quick and easy way to see which keywords are bringing people to your site. That’s gold.

3. Read More Tags & Widgets

I recently noticed it was next to impossible to discover new content on my website.

At the end of my blog posts, there was a small clickable link to the next post, but even I had trouble seeing it.

blog screenshot
On my blog, the links had to be changed to black and increased in size (see above).

For websites built using WordPress, Squarespace or Wix, the title of the previous blog post will typically appear at the bottom of a post, under a “Recent Posts” section or via a link to “Newer” or “Older” articles.

If this is difficult to find on your blog, try making the link bigger and more visual.

If your website is built using WordPress, you may also be able to add a widget to your footer to give visitors another way of discovering fresh content.

footer screenshot
The Recent Posts widget is fully customizable. Here’s how it looks on my footer.

This update, made by adding a “Recent Posts with Thumbnails” widget or “Read More” tag to your website, is one of my favorite tricks because it’s a small change that makes a big impact.

Plus, it extends the shelf life of your content. What’s not to love, right?

4. Boost Your Instagram Profile

With 1 billion people using Instagram each month, it’s easy to see why businesses choose to grow their community on the app.

It’s not a one-way relationship either; people interact with brands on Instagram.

According to Hootsuite, 60% of users discover products on the platform and 75% take action, like visiting the business’s website.

A content-packed Instagram bio with Linktree and Highlights.

This is why upping your Instagram game is so important.

Here are two simple ways to do that all within your Instagram profile:

  • Add Linktree to your bio so you can share multiple links to your website at one time
  • Use Highlights, or curated Instagram stories that do not disappear, to draw in your followers

Both of these tools are free and easy to use, not to mention a quick way to share more of your brand with your community.

What type of links can you add to Linktree?

The beauty is you get to decide. It could be your latest blog post, newest product, About page or even a music playlist. All you have to do is upload the link and switch it out whenever you see fit.

Highlights, on the other hand, are much more visual.

Pro tip: Canva has free templates you can use like this one to design your Highlights.

These permanent Instagram stories can be made up of photos, videos or both and can be a window into many aspects of your business: events, blog, services, tips and inspiration, ambassadors. Even the office pet.

Most importantly, they give your brand another dimension, a more personal one. Because what’s the point of social media if not to connect on a personal level?

Now, give Linktree and Highlights a go and watch your Instagram profile come to life!

5. Revive Your Blog

We’re not talking a full overhaul here, just some fun keyword search to give you new topic ideas for your blog.

I say fun because you sort of feel like an undercover detective when you find out what people, in general, use the web to search for.

Let me show you what I mean, with the help of two free tools:

  • Google Trends tells you how often a keyword was typed into Google over a period of time.
  • Wordtracker is similar in that it estimates how many times a keyword was searched for over a set time, but it also shows you how competitive that keyword and related search terms are.

Google Trends is a helpful way to identify seasonal trends, dig up relevant topics that people are interested in right now and see which geographical regions are seeking out your content.

A snapshot of topics and queries related to Van Gogh over the past month in the UK.

Alternatively, Wordtracker’s value comes from the competitive analysis it performs on a keyword.

It effectively tells you how many businesses are paying to get that keyword seen by as many people as possible.

That means you should focus on keywords with a high search volume and low competition. Those are the topics people are interested in but aren’t being overly covered by other brands.

‘Easter’ has been searched for roughly 60,500 times in the past month.

Once you start plugging in your own keywords and getting a feel for these tools, you’ll see how handy they can be for producing fresh and relevant content for your audience.

And with that, you are well on your way to giving your digital storefront that special springtime glow — one that radiates sunshine and success.

Looking for help to achieve that glow? Drop me a line at celeste@cbacontent.com.

Old Station House B&B

A Bed & Breakfast Guide to Attracting New Visitors to Your Site

The sun was setting as we walked up to our bed and breakfast in Broadway, a charming village in the Cotswolds.

Andy opened the door with a warm handshake and a smile, welcoming us inside so we could drop our bags before he gave us a tour of the house.

Starting in the entranceway, he gave us a brief history of the house,  which used to be the station master’s house in the early 1900s. This is the exact location, he explained, where the steam railway’s operator lived and managed the train line.

Inside the Old Station House

View from inside the Old Station House B&B.

By the door, Andy pointed out some flashlights that we could borrow at night and just inside the door he showed us a table full of brochures and guidebooks on Broadway and the surrounding countryside.

As Andy led us through the breakfast room, living room and up to our bedroom, my boyfriend and I immediately felt welcome and at home knowing exactly where everything was and how everything worked, from putting in our breakfast order to indulging in a nightcap before bed.

He pointed out the obvious (“Here’s the snack bar”) and the not so obvious (“The hallway lights are on a timer”), leaving no questions in our minds. Little did he know, but Andy was perfectly exemplifying how your website’s content can attract more people and convert more prospects.

Using Andy as our guide, here are three benefits of being as clear and transparent with your site’s visitors as possible. 

Your readers feel welcome

During Andy’s tour, he told us since we were staying in one of the smaller rooms that we could spend as much time in the living room as we’d like. 

Oh, and the light in the bathroom, he made sure to tell us might not turn on completely (it’s only happened once or twice) but the light above the mirror should be bright enough if needed.

Fireplace

Our favorite feature of the house.

His explicit instructions and homey tips for our stay put us completely at ease.

To provide this sense of comfort to your audience, use straightforward headlines on your blog posts that tell readers exactly the benefits they will receive by clicking through. Also, make sure your landing pages have uncomplicated titles, use clear language and a clean layout with ample white space.

It’s easy for customers to find their way around

Shortly after our arrival, we knew exactly where we could find things, and if not we knew we could ask Andy. The first morning, we even knew to put the long spoons we used for jam in a tall, clear glass so they wouldn’t leave sticky spots behind.

Everything was intuitive and easy to follow.

That’s what your website should strive to do — seamlessly lead your visitors from one page to another while providing them with the information they need to learn more about your service and purchase your product.

You can do this with the headline and layout suggestions above along with call-to-actions that pop out on the page, an easy way to contact you directly and user-friendly navigation.

These guidelines also apply to things like your business’ social media posts and newsletters — always aim to make your outreach messages clear with unambiguous directions so that your readers know exactly what to do next and are therefore more inclined to click to learn more.

A return visit is more likely

The night before we left the bed and breakfast, Andy reminded us that the steam railway reopens in March and when the weather is warmer, the village is buzzing with things to do.

He also told us he’d be happy to pick us up from the train station next time and if we wanted to go on a new hike, he would drop us at a footpath in the town nearby and show us which pubs and gardens to stop at along the way.

Inside the bed and breakfast

Train station touches were found around the house.

In other words, he gave us many reasons to come back. And I’m certain we will!

So when thinking about how to get visitors to return to your site, think about what you can offer them: free expert advice, exclusive deals and discounts, an online course, downloadable templates. Be creative! Put yourself in your visitors’ shoes and ask, why would I go here and not somewhere else? 

If you get stuck, remember Andy and his wife, Jenni — the perfect hosts. They made us feel right at home by giving us a carefully thought-out tour, precise instructions and multiple reasons to plan a return trip.

All photos by Alex Chirita.

woman jumping

3 Compelling Content Ideas to Win Over Your Audience’s Heart

The last bite of seafood pasta had been twirled onto my fork and finished off.

None of us wanted to leave this restaurant, its beachy, open-air construction built right into the cliff.

To remember it, we took a photo with the very friendly staff before saying ciao and grazie. It was a 30-minute walk back to the ferry, but just as we were leaving, our waiter said, “No, no, why don’t you take our boat back to the main beach? It’s a three-minute ride and free for people who eat at the restaurant!”

My friends and I quickly exchanged glances, all thinking the same thing: No way! They are SO nice here, this is the best restaurant in Capri!

And just like that, they won our hearts over. Their free shuttle saved us time and energy, which after walking everywhere on our trip, was very much appreciated.

restaurant photo

My friends and I with the wonderful restaurant staff!

For them, it was a small gesture to show how much our business meant to them, and for us, it made us feel like queens of Capri.

The restaurant’s complimentary boat ride is also a great example of how your website should interact with your own prospects and customers.

You want to leave a positive, lasting impression on your visitors and one way to do that is to give them something for free that will help them, or their wallets, out.

Here are three ideas for giving your website that little something extra. Because little things can go a long way and have a powerful impact on your audience.

1. A downloadable freebie

Don’t you love when you go to a website and they give you something that you can actually download, print off and use? It feels like you’ve been let in on a secret and since it’s free, you think you’ve hit a mini jackpot.

And it’s not just your audience who is gaining something. A lot of the time, these freebies are given in exchange for an email address, so if someone does download your cheat sheet, recipe or city guide, you will have a way to communicate with them in the future. To offer them similar solutions.

Think about what makes sense to offer from your brand’s perspective and create something they will enjoy and get good use out of. For instance, you could give them:

  • A  template or checklist for doing X (editing your own photos, writing a novel, etc.)
  • A calendar of events that pertain to your company’s industry
  • An e-book or professionally-designed document that compiles helpful information on one topic into a downloadable PDF

2. one-time purchase offer

You’ve probably seen this on e-commerce sites before, but another way to entice your customer to buy your product is to offer them a discount.

Depending on how and when you would like to offer this on your site, it could come in the form of a “new member discount”, a percentage off their purchase for a limited time or free shipping.

This can also be a win-win for you because if visitors have to sign up for your newsletter in order to receive the discount, then you will have their email address and access to their inbox. If this is the case, consider mentioning the discount next to the newsletter signup button on your site. More on how to successfully do that here.

3. expert knowledge or advice (with no price tag)

Using different mediums and channels, you can get really creative with this one.

There are many ways you can share valuable information with your audience, but some of the most popular and engaging solutions include:

  • Podcasts
  • Video
  • Blogs
  • Live-streaming (i.e. Facebook Live, live stories on Instagram, etc.)

The cool thing about podcasts is that they attract people who genuinely want to hear more from you and your brand. They actively choose to listen to your show because they are interested in your specialized topic.

Separately, I watched a video recently where vlogger Thomas Kuegler said one of his followers got to know him way better after watching one or two of his videos than she did after reading his articles for a year.

That’s a pretty big impression and a reminder of the kind of impact video or live-streaming can have on your community.

Finally, if you still aren’t convinced that blogs are good for business, think again. There are many benefits of blogging, from increasing traffic to building your authority and trust with readers.

Sure, blogging or discounting your product may not be as glamorous as a free boat ride across the Isle of Capri, but it will have you feeling like a million bucks when customers start raving about your company.

girl in market

Easy as (Pizza) Pie: How to Make Your Customer Say Yes

Marinara or Margherita?

Coca-Cola, birra or acqua?

That’s how they take your order at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Naples, what some consider to be the best pizza place in the world.

Sure, it doesn’t hurt that this was the pizza Elizabeth Gilbert affectionately described in Eat, Pray, Love, but part of the restaurant’s appeal is also its simplicity. They make two types of pizza in one brick oven and offer three kinds of drinks while you wait.

No menu. No-nonsense decisions. Just happy customers.

Pizza from L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele

I heart pizza and websites that make it easy for me to say yes.

So, how can you make your online customers act and feel the same?

By creating content that clearly defines your product or service and motivates behavior.

More specifically, by addressing these four questions and incorporating their answers into your sales and signup pages.

1. Why choose your service over someone else’s?

Framed on the wall next to our table in the pizzeria was the excerpt from Eat, Pray, Love that details Elizabeth’s infatuation with their Margherita pizza. And on adjacent walls were family photos and pictures of celebrities at the restaurant.

These customer memories and stories are like testimonials for their business. They tell visitors what others think of their pizza and how this tradition has been passed down through generations. Together, they bring this famous Napoli experience to life.

So before asking someone to subscribe to your newsletter or buy a pair of your shoes, give your offer some context and let your customers know you are an authority in your industry.

For example, you could include a testimonial from a past customer to show how your product helped solve their problem. Or add a certification badge or award you received to the page as a symbol of your brand recognition.

Bottom line: give them a way to trust your service and assure them you are the best solution to their problem.

2. What exactly are you offering?

At the pizzeria, everyone around us was at various stages of digging into their pizza so we knew exactly what to expect. Plus, the smells coming from the brick oven were so divine you could almost taste the dough.

Brick pizza oven

Seeing and smelling the pizza just made us want it more. Photo by Christie Jones.

Even though your website can’t capture your customer’s senses the same way, it can use descriptive writing and visuals to tell them what your sofa feels like, how it looks inside a living room, what it’s made of, etc.

Similarly, a sales page dedicated to purchasing your e-book can include a picture of its front cover or a sneak preview of its opening chapter. The landing page could also include a table of contents and a summary of what the publication is about.

In other words, the more tangible you can make your offer, the better.

3. How will it make your customer’s life better?

The pizzeria has it easy here because when does pizza not make your life better?

In all seriousness, spelling out the benefits of purchasing your product or signing up for your service is a crucial part of getting your customer to say yes. There are many ways to illustrate the value your solution provides, but these questions are a good place to start:

  • What positive outcomes will your customer gain from this purchase or expert knowledge?
  • How will your product or service make your customer feel?
  • Is there research or data that backs up your user-friendly software or posture-correcting pillow?

This is where case studies and glowing customer reviews can help convince others to take the next step. If favorable stats support your business idea or people have flattering things to say about their experience using your service, put them next to the offer.

Remember, real-life examples and scientific evidence are great ways to reassure your customer that your product works.

4. Is it super easy for your customer to take the next step?

As you’ve gathered by now, the pizzeria couldn’t have made it easier for you to order a pizza pie. So easy in fact, I sort of wish every lunch order was that uncomplicated.

That’s the goal you should shoot for when creating a call to action (CTA)keep it simple and specific so there’s zero confusion on what to do next. Visually and verbally, your CTAs should stand out on the page and clearly lead the visitor to sign up or complete a transaction. More on how to do that here.

So the next time you offer a solution to your audience, don’t leave them in limbo, wondering whether they should say yes. Instead, show off your specialized experience, help them visualize your product, spell out the benefits and take them directly to the next step.

Serve them an irresistible slice of your business and they won’t be able to say no.

Writing a checklist

This Content Checklist Will Make More People Want to Visit Your Site

Bathing suit…check.

Passport…check.

Boarding pass…check.

If only improving your website’s content was as easy as preparing for a trip to the coast of Italy (I may be going there this weekend and it may be consuming all my thoughts).

Well, if you knew how to prep your content and had a focused checklist to follow, I think it could be as hassle-free as flying into the Tuscan sunset.

The real challenge is figuring out how to make your website dispense gelato and pasta carbonara on demand.

gelato

Content goals: To make your website as irresistible as gelato.

For now, though, let’s get to that content checklist so you can create a customer journey that people are excited to be a part of.

#1 Does it make sense?

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that other people aren’t living and breathing your brand like you are. Whether you founded the company or recently joined the team, it’s likely you know a great deal more about the service or product than the casual web browser.

That’s why it’s important to put yourself in their shoes and ask if the content on your homepage and landing pages makes sense. Equally important is making sure the visitor clearly understands the purpose and point of your newsletter, about page, blog post, etc.

These  questions are a good place to start when determining if your content will easily click with your reader:

  • Is the brand statement, or the core of your business, prominently conveyed on the homepage and/or about page?
  • If this is the only page your visitor goes to, does it give enough background information on the product or service you offer and describe its benefits in a straightforward way?
  • Is your content inviting and accessible? For instance, do you use sub-headlines and bullet points to break up text? How about visuals to give your audience a clearer idea of whatever it is you are promoting?
  • Do you use industry jargon that others might not understand? It’s best to rephrase in those cases.

#2 Is it attention-grabbing?

One of the best ways to capture and keep your audience’s attention is with an enticing headline. That can mean the title of a landing page, a headline of a blog post or the subject line of an email.

These helpful descriptors have the power to make someone click, open, share or skip completely, so it’s always worth getting the headline right.

Here are some pointers on how to do exactly that:

  • What is your reader getting in exchange for their time? Put the benefit in the title and tell them right off the bat. This will intrigue them to click and find out more.
  • Is the headline an inside joke only your company would understand? Or, are you trying to show off your creative writing skills? Remember, it’s always best to leave puns or clever phrases out of headlines. The clearer the better.
  • “How To” or list headlines (“3 secrets to healthy-looking skin”) are great ways to structure a title because they make you think about the reader and the value you are providing.

#3 Do your readers know what to do next?

Before hitting publish on a new landing page or sending a sales email, make sure to include a clear call to action (CTA) in every piece of content. After all, the point of your business is for people to buy your product, sign up for your service, share your article, etc.

In order to get visitors to take that next step, your CTAs should be eye-catching and benefit-driven. It should be a no-brainer why you would click on a button to register for an online course or download an e-book.

Below are some tips for crafting effective CTAs:

  • Visually, does the CTA button or sign-up form stand out from the rest of the page? Putting it in a bright color or using bold text could really make it pop.
  • As for the copy, does it tell your visitor exactly what they will receive after entering in their personal information? Author Jeff Goins is really good at this.
  • Consider adding a photo of the e-book cover, screenshots of the online course or any other visual that helps give your reader a better idea of what they will be getting.

This checklist may be more detailed than the one you have for an upcoming weekend trip, but if you let it be your guide when publishing content on your site, your audience will enjoy the final destination (your digital storefront) a whole lot more.

P.s. If you would like help improving your website’s content clarity, headlines and CTAs, my free custom marketing evaluation is for you. Get a leg up on the competition and sign up here.

People working outside

Put a Spring in Your Website’s Step With These 3 Revitalizing Tips

Cafe doors are flung open. City dwellers flock to the park and I’m sipping on the first iced coffee of the season.

It’s only mid-April but with temperatures in the 80s (close to 30°C), London has fallen under a summertime spell.

Of course it won’t stay this warm for long, but while it does, let’s follow the capital’s lead and swap out the old for the new: it’s time to hit refresh on your website.

These three steps will not only revitalize your site, but they will also prove to be helpful guidelines when publishing content in the future.

1. Eliminate clutter

White space is your friend. It lets your content stand out on the page and gives your reader a more pleasant browsing experience.

Remember, you may only have 7 seconds to grab your visitor’s attention, so don’t let a cluttered layout turn them away before they settle in.

  • Remove out-of-date and irrelevant information like which high school you attended on your About Page. Or photos of your pets (unless maybe you run a pet business).
  • Take down graphics or visuals that don’t serve a purpose. They should either compliment the content on the page or serve as a signal to take an action.
  • Delete sidebars on landing pages — site pages dedicated to making a purchase, describing a service or getting visitors to sign up for a newsletter. The less distracted they are the better.

2. Lose the bulky blocks of Content

Long, dense paragraphs are the last way busy visitors want to learn about your company. Rather, focus on providing multiple entry points so readers can easily soak in your service.

  • Break paragraphs into small, bite-size chunks that are easy to skim. They shouldn’t be more than 4-5 lines long and variation in their lengths is a plus.
  • Use subheads (titles of subsections) and bullet points to break up blocks of text. They jump out at the reader and convey messages much quicker.
  • Mix in other forms of media like photos, videos, infographics and playlists to keep the reader engaged. Making them shareable is even better!

3. Give your social life A Boost

Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to go to the pub and make small talk. This step is all about sparking meaningful conversations online and making your content super easy to share.

Let social media be your megaphone.

  • Display social buttons on every page so visitors can follow you on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Also, adding shareable links at the bottom of blog posts and other content pages will make it easy for your audience to share your business tips, e-books, videos and so on.
  • Post any new, freely accessible piece of content onto social media. The tone and style will need to be adapted for each platform, but it will immediately widen your content’s reach.
  • Make signing up for your newsletter easy and obvious. Add the form to the bottom of each blog post and consider having it pop up on certain pages. Giving visitors a clear way to receive company updates is essential to creating meaningful customer relationships.

Apply just one or two of the above tips and you’ll begin to notice small changes in the way that people respond to and engage with your website.

Think of your online business as a work in progress. But less as “work” and more as a fun touchup, giving your site a pep in its step.

It’ll have you feeling like…

excited gif

via GIPHY