The foundation of any great website is its words: whether you’re trying to sell something, entertain, answer a question, or solve a problem for your audience, you’ll do it with words.
Sadly, many websites are lacking finesse in the words arena, which costs their owners potential new customers and can even result in negative press (site shaming does exist!).
In my experience, these are the five most common web writing mistakes that will cost you potential customers, followers, clients, and brand advocates. You name it, they’re going to click off of your site the second they see these easy-to-avoid errors.
1. Spelling errors and typos
A couple of small typos on a Web page are forgivable (and can happen to anyone, including myself), but if the mistakes move into the realm of deep-rooted spelling problems—such as confusing “they’re,” “their,” and “there”—the level of your reader’s trust will drop exponentially…as will the chance that they will ever visit your site in the future, much less buy from you.
2. Poor grammar
A recent study by Global Lingo found that 59 percent of potential customers would not do business with a company that had obvious grammatical mistakes on its website or marketing materials. That means that six out of ten people who visit your website will high-tail it out of there—forgoing a possible purchase—because you wrote “the affects of society” or “I run good.”
3. Abusing the right to capitalize
The basic rule is simple: don’t capitalize a word just because you like it, think it should be emphasized, or just think it looks better that way. Some more tips:
- Don’t do This in running Text—it Looks ridiculous.
- NeVeR dO thIs.
- And finally, WRITING IN ALL CAPS IS EXTREMELY ANNOYING (IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE YELLING).
4. Spacing and formatting issues
One problem that I often see in website copy is too many spaces between words, especially before new sentences. So I say to you: forget the two spaces before each new sentence “rule.” This is a holdover from the typewriter era—it no longer applies! Other common problems include:
- No spaces between words (the equivalent of a formatting typo).
- Too much of a gap (formally known as a paragraph break) between sections or paragraphs.
- Underlined text. (Underlining on the Web is a way to denote a link—that’s it. Use italics for emphasis.)
- Using crazy, hard-to-read fonts, or a text color that clashes with your website’s background color.
5. Neglecting your audience
I hate to break it to you, but people visiting your website aren’t all that interested in your business. They’re interested in how your business can help them solve a problem, be entertained, buy something, or answer a question. Make sure that your website’s copy and navigation is focused on satisfying your visitors’ needs. Do they usually want to learn more about your services? Make that information easy to find. Are they going straight to your blog? Give them plenty of navigation options, and ultimately draw them back to your sales pages.
Interested in learning more about what your audience wants from your site? Send them a quick survey with a prize (a coupon for 10% off the next time they buy from you, etc.) and ask them!
My final tip? If you’re ever in doubt about your website copy, hire an editor to look it over. Or better yet, hire a professional copywriter to make sure that your content is solid from the get-go! Inkbot Editing offers both of these services.
This post is part of the Word Carnival series of monthly blog posts. Click here to read more posts on this month’s topic, “100 Best Ways to Screw up Your Business Website,” written by other whip-smart entrepreneurs, marketing mavens, and small business owners!