Writing for the Web, Part V
Subject Line: The Write Market Release – Issue #7
CONTENTS IN THIS ISSUE:
1. Editor’s Remarks – Info on search engines and directories
2. Writing For The Web Part V
a) “A Fool For A Client” by Bob Cortez
b) “Navigation – Lead ’em to the sale.”
3. What’s New at The Write Market
4. Free Monthly Drawing sign up today!
5. Pssst Pass it on…
Welcome all new subscribers!
It’s November! I looked out my window just a few days ago and saw frost on the ground. You know you live in the cold part of the world when you see road signs that say “Frost Heaves”. (Frost heaves are buckles in the road due to the extreme temperatures.) The upside to frost heaves is that more people stay inside and surf the net.
Have you taken a good, close look at your web site? Is your web site really ready for the potential traffic that the winter can bring?
Through my travels on the internet – I’ve met some interesting people. The person who writes our guest article is not only interesting – he’s also a pretty good guy. It takes some kind of courage to stand up and admit that your web site is not all that you’ve cracked it up to be! I’m sure you’ll find Bob Cortez’ article both amusing and informative.
After reading Bob’s article and some insightful remarks by Judy Vorfeld – I realized that our web site’s navigation wasn’t nearly up to snuff. The larger your site becomes, the more complex the navigational system will become. Your site’s navigation must be up to speed. Do people know what your site is all about right from the first page? Is it clear where people need to go to find more information about your services or products?
If you are new to this newsletter, please visit our site at: for previous articles in our tutorial “Writing For the Web”.
What’s the difference between a search engine and a directory? Most “Search Engine Sites” now contain two parts, a directory and the engine itself, the directory has categories you click through and the engine requires the submission of keywords. Being in a directory does not necessarily mean you are in the “search engine” proper. Thus it has become important to submit your site to both the search engine and the directory associated with that particular search engine.
If you haven’t heard the big news, yet, AltaVista is now using the Open Directory Project (ODP) to add the “human element” to their search functions. ODP is a human edited directory that is associated with Lycos, Hotbot, AOL Netfind, and now AltaVista. If you aren’t in this directory, yet – go submit your site to the most relevant category.
To submit to ODP, go to and look down through the categories until you find the one that is most appropriate for your site and then hit the “add URL” link at the top of the page – instructions will be given from that point on. Read those instructions carefully.
Also – if you’re not in yet, try to get listed there, as well. LookSmart is the directory which feeds Excite.
It seems that more and more search engines are hopping on the directory bandwagon – that is – they are trying to get more relevant searches by adding directories to their sites. I’m not sure yet how closely intertwined ODP will be with the search engines. In otherwords, I am not sure how your listing in ODP will affect your ranks in the “search” part.
I do know that getting listed in the “Go Network” at Infoseek will definitely increase your ranks in Infoseek. To get listed in Go – you can become a “Go Guide”. For more information on what is involved in becoming a Go Guide and what it entitles you to, there is a little link at the top of http://infoseek.go.com/ called “Go Guide”.
If you are not interested in becoming a Go Guide – but you are interested in getting your site listed, you may send me your URL, the title you would like (keep it brief and to the point) and a short description (also keep it brief). Also, tell me the category that you feel best fits your site.
I have recently become a Go Guide – and I can submit your site for you. I am not guaranteeing you will be listed in Go – but I will guarantee that I will submit your site to be reviewed. And yes, I do profit from this – not monetarily – but the more sites I contribute that get listed – the higher on the rungs of Go I can get.
One more thing – if you are recieving this newsletter twice in your email box – it is because you signed up twice. Just send me your email address, tell me that you are getting it twice and I will remove one of your email addresses.
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A FOOL FOR A CLIENT
By Bob Cortez
In the legal profession it is said that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. Sometimes if we are too close to a project we can’t step back to get the perspective we need…seeing the forest for the trees and all that.
I’ve just had one of those “aha” experiences: a rare moment when all of sudden your entire world shifts a little. You get a flash of clarity and focus that allows you to see things with new eyes.
I consider myself pretty good at seeing the big picture, but I had become myopic in my own business, regarding my web site. I was so focused on providing tools and resources for visitors, I lost track of the fact that the main reason for my site was to create business for myself…Duh.
Now, others had told me that my site had lost focus. People that I respect and admire like my friend and coach Billi Perry (http://www.cashflow-solutions.com). When I revamped Billi’s site, she asked why I didn’t do the same with my own site. If it was good enough for her, why wouldn’t the same thing work for me? I went back and looked at my site again, and while there were things that I could change, overall I thought it was pretty good.
I had a fool for a client.
The opening act of my most recent revelation came when Billi baited me into revealing my attitudes about good spelling and grammar on my moderated discussion list. I figured most people didn’t think it was all that critical. Wasn’t it the content that mattered? Surely a few spelling and grammatical errors would be overlooked if the information was solid.
Billi and others argued quite effectively (http://www.onelist.com/archives.cgi/homebiz) that spelling and grammar are absolutely critical to online success…that a site or article containing stupid errors (either through ignorance or sloppiness) reflects poorly on the author, and is “a” if not “the” determining factor on the choice to do business with them or not.
At this point another good friend, supporter, and member of the Homebiz Community, Judy Vorfeld (http://www.ossweb.com) stepped forward and volunteered to proof and edit my site. Of course after the severe drubbing I took on my discussion list, I immediately accepted and was looking forward to cleaning up my act.
Now comes the “aha.”
Part of what I do for my clients is to focus their site presentation on what they do. I counsel them to use the first paragraph of their site to clearly identify what they do, and how what they do benefits the visitor. Simple, huh?
When I turned Judy loose on my site I expected to have my writing cleaned up. Spelling corrected. Grammatical errors and run-on sentences eliminated. What I received was much more. Judy could see the forest for the trees. She saw that I had failed to follow my own first rule and took the time to demonstrate to me what I should have already known. (http://www.ossweb.com/cortez1.html) …….WOW!
Sudden clarity and focus.
What I could do for others, I could not (or did not) do well for myself.
Can you identify your own blind spots? Or have you gotten too close to some areas of your site or your business, and simply can’t see the forest for the trees?
Do you have a fool for a client? If so, consider consulting a professional to provide you with a new perspective.
For organizing, time management and cash flow solutions contact Billi Perry at mailto:[email protected]
For Copy editing, Web Site Coordination, and Translation Corrections contact Judy Vorfeld at mailto:[email protected]
For marketing, promotion and web consulting let me give you an “aha” experience like the one I received. mailto:[email protected]
Visit Bob’s site at: http://marketing.tqm-online.com/morefool.htm for “The Rest of the Story”. You will also find a link in his article to another wonderful article called “Cluetrain Manifesto”.
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NAVIGATION – LEAD ‘EM TO THE SALE
Go look at the navigation on your website. Answer these questions:
a. Is it clear from the home page what your products and/or services are?
b. Is it clear from the home page how to get more information on your products and services?
c. When they get to the “more information” pages – is it clear how they can order or how they can move to the next level – communicating with you?
d. Have you analyzed your “target response”? In otherwords – what are you trying to get your visitors to do – does your navigational system clearly lead people to your target response?
Navigation will be made up of three different strategies:
1. Web Copy
2. Hierarchical Structure
1. Web Copy
Your web copy needs to “lead” your customers to the sale. It needs to pull them down the page, forcing them to scroll, because they want to read what comes next. And at the bottom, it must make them want to click to the next page.
If you use buttons or graphics as part of your navigation strategy also include a text link that gives a hint of what is going to be next. Do not underline text unless it is a link.
Before you begin to think about your navigational structure – be sure to have a good idea of what you are going to say on your web pages – of what each page will do and say. Perhaps your first page will discuss benefits and then they will move off to other pages that discuss features.
The navigational structure will be developed as you write your web copy.
2. Hierarchical Structure
I will outline a very simple structure, for one product:
a. Opening Page – emphasis on benefits
b. Secondary Page(s) – more benefits, features and pictures of the product
d. Guarantee and/or Warranty
e. Closing Page – Ask for the Sale (This is where you want to include the prices.)
If your site is more complex than one product:
a. Include a maximum of 8 links in your “main” directory.
b. Organize in a hierarchical fashion – if you have more than 8 pages – think about using sub directories. Can you divide your site into sections? Your “main” directory might link to “sub” directories. For instance, at The Write Market we have several sub directories. Our main links are: home, services, products, webmasters, newsletters, and about us. From there we break down even further and lead people to more directories. For instance, “webmasters” is a second level directory. “Articles” is a third level directory off of “webmasters”. Try to avoid going beyond third level directories.
c. You might consider keeping your product or services pages separate from the rest of your site. This means – not linking to anything else on your website that might confuse the navigation of your product and services pages. However, include one link back to your home page so that they can get out of that section if they don’t want to be there.
You will see that many sites use graphics – either buttons or bars – to create a uniform or consistent navigational directory on every page of the site. You don’t need graphics to create directories. However, if you do choose graphics – they should look professional! You can create all of your navigational directories with text links.
A. Your navigational directory or may be placed on the left or right side of each of your pages.
We recommend the left rather than the right for two reasons:
1. Surfers are used to having the directory on the left hand side.
2. Right aligning your directories can cause problems in older versions of some browsers.
B. You may have “navigational bar” that runs across the top and bottom of your pages they might look like this:
Home | Features | Testimonials | Guarantee | Order Now
C. You may use a combination of both left or right hand directories and top and bottom navigational bars.
In any of the above scenarios – it is recommended that you include a link back to your home page or your “main directory” page on every page of your site.
1. Layout the flow of your site on paper before attempting to put it on the web.
2. Write your web copy first. At least have a general feeling of what it will say before you attempt a navigational structure.
3. Continually go back and re-examine your navigation – as your site gets bigger you may fall into the trap that we did – not clearly outlining the purpose of the site on the home page. For our site – it is next to impossible to outline our “target response” on every page – so we have to settle for outlining it on the home page.
4. Understand that as search engines begin to index your pages – people may end up coming into your site from various pages – not necessarily your home page. Can people still find their way around if they come into your site from any page? Do people still understand the purpose of your site if they come in from any page? (This is a tough one.)
5. Make sure you have links to and from your home page or wherever you keep your “main directory” on every page of your site. (This will also help the search engine spiders find their way around.)
6. Always offer a link to the target response on every single page in the section that you are trying to sell something or get some kind of response. For example – “Order Now” or “Free Consultation”.
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WHAT’S NEW AT THE WRITE MARKET
We’ve added another section to the Free Graphic’s Mine. It is called “holidays” and you will find some Thanksgiving clip art – free for your website:
FREE MONTHLY DRAWING
Congratulations to last month’s winner of our free monthly drawing – 2Virgos: Here’s where we placed their banner: http://www.thewritemarket.com/Gallery/backgrounds.shtml
Sign up for the monthly drawing for a free banner!! Send an email to mailto:[email protected] Also include the text you’d like to see on the banner and the link to your website.
The free banner will be standard banner size – 480×60. So you can use it in any banner exchange program. Plus we’ll put it on our site, for one month, in the graphic’s mine.
Please, keep sending us your 5 line ads: mailto:[email protected] We will publish three ads per month in this newsletter – it’s free!
PSSST – PASS IT ON…
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