When looking at websites online, how much time do you spend reading each page?
Think about the very first time you visit a website, do you read all the text on the home page in its entirety before moving on to the inner pages?
I’m guessing the answer is no.
We all suffer from information overload – TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and the biggest culprit … the internet.
Your website must work hard to keep the reader engaged.
Of course the internet is no bad thing. In fact I’m sure you’re quite a fan.
It allows you to market your holiday let to the masses with minimal budget, increase enquiries, and hopefully fill up your calendar with lots of bookings.
But in order to achieve those bookings, your website needs to sell. And for it to sell, the content needs to be clear, easy to read, to the point and hold the attention of your readers.
Don’t rush straight in and fill each page with lengthy text-heavy information.
If you do, that’s mistake number one.
Let’s go back to the earlier question when visiting a website for the first time – do you read each word on the page?
Like most of us, you’ll scan the page first to see if it’s of relevance or interest.
Then, if the website owner is lucky, you’ll go back and pick out the information that is relevant to what you’re looking for.
But for many websites, you won’t go back. The likelihood is that you’ll continue to scan the website, flicking through each page as you would a brochure.
Text heavy pages with little formatting are impossible to scan. So rather than your website visitors sticking around to pick out information relevant to them, they’ll shut your site down and go elsewhere.
Remember, your readers have low attention spans.
So write each page of your website with that in mind.
- Use short paragraphs of just two or three sentences at most – this breaks up the text into bite-size pieces so it’s easier to digest.
- Include bullet points – a tried and tested technique allowing your readers to grab key information quickly and easily.
- Use headings and sub-headings – allowing readers to understand the content of the page without needing to read anything else.
Of course you want those readers to take the time to read each page properly, after all you spent a lot of time creating it.
But play it safe, assume they won’t and write your content with that in mind.
Your sub-headings should form a brief synopsis and still entice the reader to make a booking.
DON’T SHOUT AT THEM!
If you do, yep you guessed it, that’s mistake number two.
There’s a time and a place for formatting text.
Do you find it easy to ready text on a website when the entire page is formatted in bold, or italic, OR IN CAPITALS, OR ALL THREE?
Formatting should only be used to pull out the key information – the main selling points of your accommodation.
Use it wisely, and sparingly.
Guide readers through your website, as you would when showing guests round your accommodation on arrival.
One of the least used pieces of functionality on holiday let websites, but one of the most useful when it comes to getting an enquiry, are links, or ‘hyperlinks’ as they’re officially called.
Links are the best way to guide your website visitors – AKA your potential guests – through your website to the pages that are going to help close the deal.
People like to be told what to do, so tell them where to go next with a ‘call to action’ and a link.
For example, after a brief intro on the home page you could link to the accommodation details page, allowing readers to get to the nitty gritty of your property.
From the details page you could link directly to the availability calendar, allowing potential guests to find out if the dates they had in mind are available.
From here, you could link through to the rates page.
And finally, from the rates page you could link through to your contact page for that all important enquiry.
See how easy you’ve made it for your website visitors to find the key information and decide what page they should visit next!
Be the ultimate host – go above and beyond.
Links aren’t just for internal purposes. They’re also great for sending your readers off to other websites for more information.
This turns your website into a one-stop shop for all the information they could possibly need to plan their holiday.
Website visitors like this. Website scanners love this. It makes life easy for them. They don’t have to do any of their own research as you’ve laid it all out for them.
And what’s more, you’ve provided a service that may be unexpected. Something your competition probably hasn’t thought of.
Just remember, when linking to external websites you should always set the link to open in a new window. This makes it less likely that your website visitors will navigate completely away from your website, never to come back.
Don’t confuse readers. Page content should always relate to the page headings.
Even though you should provide as much information as possible, that doesn’t mean your content should go on and on. Even if you do use short paragraphs, bullet points and formatting.
This stems back to the earlier point – your readers have a short attention span.
Ensure the information contained on your home page encourages the reader to delve into your website further. The content on your details page is specific to your accommodation.
And so on …
A good technique is to think of your website as a hotel.
For example, your home page is the hotel reception.
As with a hotel reception area, your home page should entice visitors to stay. It should be inviting, welcoming and provide an overview of what you have to offer.
It then acts as a portal to the rest of the hotel – or in our analogy, your website.
Don’t make mistake number three, by duplicating the same content across different pages of your website. Even if it’s not an exact duplicate.
- Your home page should: Provide a brief synopsis on the accommodation and its location and give website visitors an idea of what it would be like to holiday there.
- Your ‘details’ page should: Provide detailed information specific to the accommodation. The rooms. The facilities. The outdoor space.
- Your ‘local area’ page should: Provide detailed information about the location. Local amenities. Local attractions. Must-see sights.
- Your ‘getting here’ page should: Provide detailed information on transport options, getting to / from your holiday let. It could also provide transport information for guests during their stay e.g. car hire, bus/train/boat information, etc.
And finally, for the website scanners amongst you, here’s an actionable summary:
- Break paragraphs down into bite size chunks.
- Include sub-headings, bullet points and some formatting.
- Add links to persuade website visitors to do what you want them to do.
- Provide clear relevant information specific to each page.
Now take a look at your website, is it RWLAS*-ready?
*Reader With Low Attention Span