An Annual Check Up: Is Your Copy Healthy?
A lot can change in a year, which is why annual checkups are widely recommended in physical medicine: they can monitor the progression of issues, spot potential problems, and give patients a good baseline for their health. Are you treating your copy with the same kind of care and diligence? Even if you think your business hasn’t changed much in the last 12 months, certain changes – staffing turnover, new service offerings, and even retired guarantees – can cause problems when customers expect one result and get another. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few quick and easy questions to help the process:
1.) Has anything important changed, legally or functionally, in the last year?
While certain events like a corporate buyout, merger, or IPO should trigger a content review, it’s not uncommon for this important to-do step to get pushed to the back burner. Copy and content is about more than entertainment or marketing, it’s about conveying important information to the public. If you’re conveying the wrong information, such as outdated product specs or claims of being the “first/best/only” in your market when you aren’t, you could potentially open your brand up to liability.
2.) Are our links, logo, mottos, and contact information correct?
Sneaky little problems can lead to a world of miscommunication when, for example, a corporate address in a forgotten footnote sends packages or letters to an old office. While you’re fixing up addresses, emails, and phone numbers, it’s also an excellent time to connect old content to new content through hyperlinks in blog posts and articles. This will help establish credibility with your readers and strengthen your library of content by keeping it relevant.
3.) Have we “made good” on any of our old “stay tuned” promises of new products and services?
Hype is a powerful marketing force, but when those “stay tuned” blogs and articles are written, they’re often abandoned in favor of new ones touting the new arrival. Make sure you go back and update these old content pieces with links to news and product pages; if you don’t, searchers that land on those older pages might think the end result is still in progress and move on.
4.) When was the last time we changed the homepage?
The days of writing a homepage and keeping it up for years have ended. Staying fresh, relevant, and true to your actual offerings means putting in some content legwork on your homepage a minimum of once a year. Your target audiences’ needs and expectations change year to year, even if only slightly, and it’s up to you to keep pace with them. Even if it’s only a fresh spin on what you currently have in place, a front-page refresh is always a smart idea to capture attention and new audiences.
5.) Are we repeating anything?
It seems so easy – you have a great paragraph or two about what you do, or your corporate philosophy, so why not stick it here too? Two birds, one stone, right? Not when it comes to search engine optimization, unfortunately. Don’t duplicate your work – think of it like fine art. Everyone – including Google – wants an original masterpiece, and a photocopy just won’t do the trick if you really want to turn the heads of your potential customers.
Everyone – including Google – wants an original masterpiece, and a photocopy just won’t do the trick if you really want to turn the heads of your potential customers. Tweet This!
Taking your “content vitals” each year will help you look polished and trustworthy to your audience; if you put that much time and attention into your words, they’ll understand that they can expect that level of customer service too. It’s also a smart way to eliminate mistakes that slipped by the previous year, correct outdated information, and keep your biggest fans well-informed on new product development. Start your year off right, no matter which month you begin the process: your content, and your brand, deserve a check-up.
Delany M is a well-rounded freelancer with an emphasis in product descriptions, landing pages and articles. With over a decade of experience to her credit, she has enjoyed writing for national chain retailers, small e-commerce boutiques and a wide range of service providers. She prides herself in going “beyond the word” to capture the essence of a brand or company, ensuring copy that is as noteworthy as the goods and services her clients provide.