The average “about” page on most local business websites is boring. The content found on these pages is often limited to bragging, self-promo and mentions of awards no one but the owner is interested in. You can do better.
If you’re running a local business you should consider what you’re telling potential customers about yourself.
Do you come across as trustworthy, reliable, knowledgeable, useful and (shock!) entertaining?
Hopefully, you’re not subjecting readers to the usual cliches found on the typical local business website!
What to Say?
Aim to produce excellent, high-quality web pages. Make them so compelling that anyone reading will be impressed and persuaded by your efforts in making yourself useful and informative.
Consider using a combination of text, image and video/audio. Showing your face is a trust-building signal.
Push yourself to remember all the questions you’ve ever been asked by people enquiring after your products, services, location, qualifications and background.
Let’s pretend you’re a window fitter. Imagine you’re having a website built, and that you want to create good written content to tell customers about you and the business.
Here are some hypothetical questions to ask yourself:
- What areas do you serve specifically and is there anything unique or special about these areas?
- Are you a family-run business?
- Are you fitting newer window styles only, or can you accommodate period styles?
- What is the thickness of the glass and where is it manufactured?
- How do your windows cancel noise and reduce heat loss?
- Is trapped window moisture an issue in certain houses prone to damp (like Victorian solid-walled properties)?
- Can you say anything about house building styles of the past and the types of windows used at the time?
- What practices have you encountered by other window fitters you disapprove of?
“About” Page Case Study: Nottingham/Derby Damp Proof Service
I worked with a local business – a domestic damp proofer – to develop two website About pages. We wanted these pages to appeal to people in two areas of the East Midlands within 12 miles of Ilkeston; West Nottingham and East Derby.
Every sentence and paragraph was heavily researched and went through many revisions. It was a collaborative process which involved asking the client questions, taking notes and teasing out interesting details.
Obviously, lots of mentions of the client’s services were worked into the text but was done so tastefully, in an offhand manner.
Brainstorming and Note Taking
Steve, the client is full of knowledge. He was able to either tell me off the top of his head what I wanted to know or to go away and think about it and get back to me.
Steve played the expert, I played the layman. I took loads of notes and got clarification on everything with follow up questions. It was almost an informal interview.
Additional reading and research led to fascinating tidbits which would be later worked up into a first draft, edited heavily and sculpted into a coherent piece of writing.
Relevance, History and Local Places
We used lots of longtail keywords and keyword variations on the theme of surveying, moisture problems and damp proofing in Nottingham and Derby. Part of the strategy was to use names of suburbs/streets/buildings/boroughs and references to local businesses/organisations.
This approach tells the search engines that the page is about “Nottingham” without necessarily repeating the word “Nottingham” over and over. That would be spammy.
The content included a relevant history of both Derby and Nottingham and the types of materials used in domestic properties going back 100 years or so.
Keywords included historic brickworks, local social housing initiatives, the government domestic dwelling policies of yesteryear (slum clearances after both wars) and well-known housing estate contractors.
Personality and Narrative
When customers phone up, it is Steve who answers. The man himself! There’s a sense of continuity and much to ask him to elaborate on from what is written on his website.
Similarly, if you’ve been in your industry a while, you’ve much to say about it.
You’ve become familiar with or have witnessed common issues, laws, regulations, good/bad practices and market forces.
Using this information you can be:
- Mildly annoyed (we all love to hate shysters, scammers and cowboys)
The first-person narrative style of writing is effective for a small business website. The pronouns “me, myself and I” prevent everything sounding like a corporate encyclopedia.
The Final Pages
The published web pages included text, image and video. The video was shot on an iPhone with a cheap tripod.
The images were a combination of embedded Google street view and images from Wikipedia used under a Creative Commons License.
In case those pages disappear, I’ve made a screenshot below.
You can access the entire screenshot and read all of the text by clicking here.
It opens in a new tab.
Organic Search Traffic
Google analytics tells us the “About Nottingham” page is the second-best performing on the website, organically.
SEO: Be Lengthy and Substantial
The better written, lengthier and detailed web pages usually outperform “thin” content in search engines.
Thin content means there are not enough words on the page, and therefore little for the search engine crawlers to get their teeth into.
Conclusion: It’s Your Reputation
Well-written content delights readers. A selection of decent About pages gives potential customers any number of topics to mention or comment upon when they get in touch.
If writing is genuinely difficult for you, hire someone local to help you. Get them to get the right information out of you.
This is all comes down to good communication. Every bugger has a website but few of them are putting in the graft where it matters.
Don’t worry about rival businesses stealing the About Me text (or whatever you write about) off of your website. They’ll never be you.