4 things a small business should not say on their website

Author’s note: this post is primarily geared towards super-small businesses, or as I like to call them, “microbusinesses”, or “upstarts”. They generally have 10 or fewer employees and often are just one person selling handmade products. For more on Upstarts, check out the blog series.

Part of my job as a consultant is not only to help small businesses find creative solutions to help them make more money, but to find ways to improve on what they’ve already got. Every time I see a small business owner that with a pre-made template from Godaddy or Vista Print, I often see the same mistakes in telling their story (or attempting to) that cause them to lose visitors, lose interest and ultimately lose money.

If you’re going to try to do it yourself, here are the 4 things you should make sure are not on your site, and what to replace them with:

1. “Welcome to our site!”

Almost always followed with something like “we’re so glad you stopped by.” Yuck.

Listen, I appreciate a friendly greeting when I visit your store or call you on the phone, but it does nothing for you online, except show that you didn’t get a copywriter involved. When people visit your site, either by way of typing your address in directly or – even more important – because they found you on Google, they aren’t usually coming to poke around. They’re there for a reason, and that reason is what you’re selling. Therefore, the best thing you can do is give me quick access to the things I’m here to see. Tell me your specials, give me the information I came looking for, or just let me browse your products. Whatever you do, don’t stand in the doorway with your smile and friendly demeanor. Right now, I’m not interested. Put that stuff in your about page – I promise I’ll get to it.

2. “Click here.”

The “click here” phrase was created for one thing: to train people how to use the internet. You see a blue underlined word, move your mouse and click it. The coaching was great in the mid ’90s when The Today Show was trying to explain the internet to people, but it’s just not necessary today. Using the phrase on today’s internet makes you look almost childish and redundant at best. Instead of saying

Make it more useful and engaging by saying something like:

Admittedly, this one takes some time to weed out of your thinking, particularly if you got your start on the internet in the 90s, like I did. See a “click here” on my site? Please let me know.

3. News

Oh, boy. Stepped on a few toes there, didn’t I? See, there’s nothing wrong with having a news section on your site per sé, but the problem is the illogical thinking behind it: I’m not coming to your site to read the news!

When blogging first became a thing, CEOs everywhere decided they needed to embrace the ability to keep visitors and users consistently updated on their products and services. The thing was, nobody knew what a blog was at the time, so the “blog” page was renamed the “news” page and it was a dud from the start.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a corporate blog, but use it for the right reasons – to inform, educate and enlighten your visitors and readers. Do not primarily use it to talk about version releases, internal updates and other junk the average user won’t care about. Also, let’s call a duck a duck and name your page “duck” erm – I mean “blog”. It’s okay to do that, now.

4. “Coming Soon!”

If you ever, ever have a page on your site that has nothing on it but a cheesy graphic and the words “coming soon” or “under construction”, then you need to kill it with fire or just quit the internet. Really.

Think about it: If a page is important enough for you to put a heading on it and put it in your navigation, shouldn’t it be important enough that you don’t disappoint every user who visits it? If I click on a link that says “specials” and the Specials page says nothing other than “Specials are coming soon! Check back here for updates!” then guess what I’m absolutely not doing? I’m not coming back to your site to see your specials, because if you didn’t make the time to put it out there immediately, it’s not a priority to you. I will go elsewhere.

A coming soon page is worse than worthless. It has zero SEO value, and will actually make your users angry when they get to it. So follow this rule: If it’s not ready to bring value, it’s not ready to go public. Remove all your “coming soon” pages today.

Is this you?

Please don’t misunderstand the purpose of this post. If you’re suffering from bad online marketing practices, I’m not mad at you! Obviously you have very good intentions, but what you need is a partner to help you make your website work for you. If you’re looking for one, please get in touch.