In the “Build A Better Website” series, we’ll dissect a website page by page and put it back together with purpose and great content so that each page of your site can build trust, earn credibility and drive revenue for your business.
The lonely “About” page – so ubiquitous and so neglected. When was the last time that you considered this pillar of good website content, let alone updated it? Is it more than a mere timeline-style book report of dates in the history of your life or company? Be honest – if you didn’t know you, would you want to hire you based on that page?
The About page has become “one of those things” that we all put on our websites, without any particular intent, usually agonizing over how to make our bios sound precisely perfect yet missing the point of the page entirely.
But wouldn’t you prefer to put together a page that helped you? That inspired people to do business with you? That encouraged people to contact you, get to know you, visit your page again or learn more?
Would you like an About page that matters?
If the answer is yes, read on! Here are some practical, actionable ways to turn your book report bio into a compelling About page that can actually get people to call, contact and even hire you.
1. Figure Out Who You’re Writing For
This, of course, is the foundation of all good website content. Before you write a single word, you need to know who you’re writing it for. The details of your company won’t change; your telling of them will, depending on who you’re telling.
We’ve talked before about defining your target audience so get to work figuring out who your visitors are.
Imagine one of your current customers reading your About page. Pick your best customer, your worst customer, your most critical customer. Imagine each of them reading your page and what they might want to know.
Then imagine a perfect stranger reading your About page. Imagine what he might want to learn and what information would be valuable.
If you have the luxury, ask a few of your customers or prospects what they’d want to know if they were reading your About page.
Whatever you do, try not to think like yourself! You are inherently biased and you already know everything there is to know about your company so you might overlook important points or dismiss them as “obvious”. But what’s obvious to you from “inside the bubble” of your company and familiar world may be completely foreign to someone else.
Recently I read a study conducted by Google’s Matt Cutts of who found that 80% of “everyday people” have no idea what SEO is. As someone enmeshed in the world of SEO I found that statistic shocking. From inside my bubble, I’d assumed that anyone who had ever turned on a computer knew what SEO was. You can imagine the disservice I’d do to my audience – and my business – if I wrote about that on my website under the assumption that people knew what I was talking about. This applies to you, too. Be mindful of what your customers know vs. what you *think* they know.
2. Choose Your Voice.
Once you know who you’re writing for, you will be able to inject your content with the appropriate personality.
Remember, the details of your company will remain the same. It’s up to you to decide how to tell them. When you know who your audience is, you’ll know how to approach the writing process. Are you trying to appeal to the serious businessperson or the fun-loving one? The sober investor or the spirited entrepreneur? The risk-taker or the security-lover?
Finding your voice doesn’t have to be hard, complicated or scary. It simply means that you choose how to approach your business and customers. If the tone of your page is light-hearted, casual and humorous, don’t count on attracting the most staid engineers and accountants. On the other hand, if those people aren’t your audience, it doesn’t matter what they think of your page.
Based on your audience and your business goals, choose your tone and style and write from that point of view.
3. Start With The “Who” And The “What”.
When people visit your About page they have 2 primary questions on their minds: who are you and what do you do? Answer both of these questions first and clearly.
Start with a single headline or a summary statement.
“The AlphaOmega Company builds custom pink elephants for your front yard so that you can make a statement in your neighborhood.”
That about sums it up! The details can follow but someone who is looking for a pink elephant, or to raise some eyebrows in the neighborhood, will immediately know they’re in the right place.
Lots of people have trouble describing what they do either briefly or clearly. I had this problem for a long time when we first started our business. I wanted to tell people everything about everything and in my mind there were so many nuances to what we did that I couldn’t possibly describe them in less than an essay.
Wrong wrong wrong!
It doesn’t matter how fascinating your business is to you. Or how many nuances you think there are. Here’s what matters: your web audience has an attention span of 5 seconds and diminishing. Tell them what they want to know and make it fast before you lose them. Spend extra time figuring out how to sum up your products or services into a single sentence if you can, or one short paragraph at most.
4. Give The “Where”.
If you’re a local business, it’s especially important to let people know where you do business. Have you ever stumbled on a contractor’s website and wondered if he installed kitchen cabinets in your area, or a restaurant site and wondered if you could swing by for lunch and been frustrated by a distinct lack of address?
Your “where” can be a permanent fixture in the header or footer of your site, or it can be on your contact page, but it should also be on your About page. People gravitate toward that page for information, so give it to them. It’s important to provide context and your location does that, whether you’re hyper-local or international.
5. State The “How Long”.
Let people know how long you’ve been in business. This can lend itself to your credibility and reliability. It can be a double-edged sword though, if you’re a relatively new business. If that’s the case, finesse the “how long” to include years you spent doing related work, studying or otherwise perfecting your craft. I said finesse, not lie! Better to tell people you’ve been in business for 2 years, with 5 studying/freelancing/interning than turning it into 7 in business.
If you’ve been in business long enough, use numbers to your advantage. If your company is family-owned and has been around since the early 1900s, a startup year is nice but it’s also powerful to tell people you’ve been “supplying the pinkest elephants on the east coast for over 100 years.”
6. Make It About Your Customers, Too.
Mostly, people really don’t care about you, at least not at first. Before they can care about you and your company, they need to learn to trust you, and one of the ways to gain trust is to tell people what’s in it for them.
A prospect visiting your About page goes with the surface intent of learning about your company but with the deeper intent of learning whether you’re the one who can help them. Should they call you? Contact you? Bother finding anything more out at all?
This is where it becomes doubly important to take that book report bio and turn it into an invitation.
“AlphaOmega Company can help you create the statement you want to make so that your neighbors will see you as the trend-setter you want to be. As a provider of pink elephants on the east coast for the last 50 years, we can get the exact shade of pink that will complement the color of your front door.”
In one sentence you’ve told people what you do, where you do business, how long you’ve done it, and what’s in it for them. You’ve also established a tone and audience (trend-setting, risk-taking).
Find the intersection between your products and services and your customers’ needs and desires and spin your content around it.
7. Use Good Headings.
This applies to any page of your website, but sometimes the About page is relegated to some sort of “other” that doesn’t get the same treatment. Don’t be afraid to be “ordinary” when ordinary works in your favor. In the case of headings, ordinary is your friend.
“What We Do” may not be the most brilliant or unique headline you’ve ever read but it’s pretty clear what information a person can find under that heading. Simple, straightforward and descriptive headings will help people scan your page for the information they want and will break up your content into appropriate chunks instead of turning your page into a laundry list of whats, wheres and whys.
8. Split It Up
Some people want the basics. Some want all the juicy details. Once you’ve gained the trust of your readers, they may indeed want to know more about exactly how your company started, what stumbling blocks you hit along the way, how many nights a week you work at your desk eating takeout.
These details add to the personality, culture and credibility of your company but that doesn’t mean they should all be crammed into your About page. It doesn’t mean you can’t tell them, either!
Tell away, but do it by splitting your page into multiple pages or sections. People who want to read more will do so, and people who don’t won’t be overwhelmed. If you really want to tell the story of how your company moved into its first office, tell it, and provide interested readers with a link to a separate page.
Double bonus: not only do you have more content for readers, but you’ve got more pages that you can use to hook search engines and get your site listed in them to be found by more people.
9. Use Social Proof
When you visit a blog and 200 people have tweeted, 371 people have liked, 82 people have shared it creates the impression that the content is worth something. The more people share content, the more people are likely to share that content in the future because they have the social proof that the content is valuable, even if they’ve never even read it.
While tweeting and sharing may not be relevant to your About page, you can provide this important social proof in other ways. Testimonials are a great way to do this. You can include snippets or even full testimonials and videos right within the content on your About page.
If you’ve won awards, tell about them. If you’ve been mentioned in the news, quoted as an authoritative source, written a book or otherwise been represented in the media, put it out there!
Do this carefully – you don’t want to sound like a pompous braggart. Find a balance between showcasing your accomplishments and putting them in context so people understand that your awards mean better products or services for them.
10. Make It About The People, Not Just The Company
It’s important to give people enough information about your company so you can start to build trust. It’s also important to make sure people know that they’ll be working with people – not just a building or a logo or a web page.
Your company is made up of people, so put them on your site… whether it’s just you, a dozen or fifty. If your company is small enough, put the bios and photos of your full staff. If it isn’t feasible to put bios of everyone, then be sure to include at least the primary “faces” of your business so that your readers can connect with a real person.
The same rules apply to bios as to your company information: speak to your audience, pay attention to tone, include key details and additional pages for “more” if necessary and let people know what special thing about you can help them.
I was once surprised when a prospect referenced our shared love of mojitos. I wondered how she knew that I liked mojitos, and she told me that she’d read it on my website. That detail is buried somewhere on my website so that I don’t think even I could find it! But she found it, it sparked a conversation, we connected and eventually did business together. Most people would not know that I like mojitos (now you do!) but she was motivated enough to read more and that one small detail created a connection we otherwise might not have made. Take advantage of the power of people.
11. Forget What “The Pros” Do.
Unless you’re totally famous, have flocks of admirers or can win business with or without something as commonplace as an About page, then ignore anyone who does. I take issue with some of the About pages that popular sites hold up as great/ideal/the best.
It’s true, there are fantastic About pages out there that are incredibly beautiful, clever, unique, edgy, and they get attention because of that.
But they get attention for another reason, and that’s because the people who wrote them are already well-known and it’s more likely that people are visiting those pages just to see how clever, unique and edgy they are, and not to find out if they want to do business with that person.
Most of us just need to keep eyeballs on our website for the 5 seconds it takes to get someone to read more.
But it’s very easy to get distracted by these pages, because they are so interesting and we want to be like that, too. We want the stand-out page. We want people to come to our websites just to read our clever About pages!
When you get rich and famous, you can be clever and eccentric, too. Until then, follow the tried-and-true wisdom of effective marketing. Tell people what they want to know, give them information they need to make a decision, make sure they know what’s in it for them, then lead them to your desired action.
Make Your About Page Work For You
Instead of looking at the About page of your website as just another one of those “must haves”, think of it an opportunity and an advantage. You can use it to generate interest, build trust, even convert visitors into customers.
Take it seriously and treat it with respect and it will repay you many times over.
How does your About page measure up? Can you think of a way to make it better? If you have any questions about yours, feel free to share it with me and ask!
More In This Series
8 Tips For A Contact Page That Converts
The One Thing You Must Do On Your Services Page If You Want To Make The Sale
Top 10 Ways To Make Your Product Page A Selling Dynamo
Join the discussion 22 Comments
Super information as always Carol – I have updated my bio and About page on a number of occasions, but I am off to take your advice about stating exactly what your intent for the blog is in the first paragraph. Great advice!
Nicky, it’s awesome that you update your bio. I admit I’m guilty of neglecting it sometimes. But it’s so important to keep up to date because things are always changing and you have to show your best stuff to the world. Let me know how it goes getting to the “intent” – sometimes it’s easier said than done! especially if you have a lot fo good reasons for doing what you do, it can be hard to sum up. can’t wait to read what you come up with.
Some great information, again. Reading this made me want to completely redo my about page.
It’s interesting to know that 80% of people have no clue what SEO means, but I am not surprised, tough. If I didn’t belong to the online world I would be lying if I said for sure that I would know what SEO is.
It’s so true, we need to tell our readers who we are and what we do, duh! Sounds obvious when you read this ion a post, but do we do this? Maybe, maybe not.
I think that letting people (potential customers) know how long we’ve been doing what we do with proof of what we do is like letting them know about our credentials, like showing your resume to your potential employer. Really a must.
Thanks so much for his post, Carol, really enjoyed it 🙂
Thanks, Sylviane, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I know it sounds obvious to “say what you do” but that’s why it’s so important to remind people… because it is so easily overlooked.
The other thing people do is try to be very clever about how they say what they do. It’s really distracting to read these long explanations about people who “build synergistic relationship models to help you leverage your strategic partnerships”… what the heck does that mean??? Just be clear and real! Forget the big words.
Now I guess I better go update my bio 😉
Hi. This came in to my inbox just as I was about to start writing our ‘about’ page for our new website! Thanks very much, its been a great help:)
That’s awesome! Sometimes the karma is just right. I hope this helps you out and makes writing your page easier – and makes it shine 🙂
Fine, make me have to look at that page one more time.
Okay, I’ve updated it over time so I’m guessing it could probably use another once over. I remember when I first learned how to write an “About Me” page you know, tell them who you are, why you are here and how can you help them. I’ve had to go back to it and update it over time as things changed for me and I became a little more knowledgeable in some areas. But then I’ve also been told different things I’m suppose to include on that page so I would get a little confused about who I’m suppose to listen to. I believe I have all the necessary information that’s needed for what I do. But, you’ve made me put this on my list of things to look over this weekend. Never hurts to give it another look and make sure I have everything included I’m suppose to.
Thanks for this reminder Carol and for always giving us such in depth information pertaining to whatever it is you’re sharing with us. You do know how to include some awesome details young lady.
You’re absolutely right, Adrienne, things do change and it’s important to make sure people know where you are now – not where you were two years ago when you last wrote that page. I find people do that with photos, too. Their profile photos are something from 10 years ago and I know people want to look their best and look young but it’s not representative of YOU. I say stay in the now.
If you put together a good About page, it should be pretty easy to keep up with it if you spend a few minutes here and there making the changes you need. If you let it languish for a long time it’s going to be a bit more challenging. Sounds like you have your ducks in a row though, so that’s a great place to be!
Impressive, I mean it 🙂 I do update about page in my blog whenever I can and add more related information but it’s quite simple. I know you’re talking about websites which operated by businesses. But still About Page is a factor that bloggers can related to. Right?
I wasn’t even had an about page when I start my blog, but later I felt that without an about page readers not trying to trust my blog. Yeah, I got traffic but not trust. Lots of new visitors but few returning visitors. Readers wanna know whether my blog operated by humans or bots. no? 🙂
So I’ve implemented about page on my blog and as and when I update it with more information. I’m glad I mentioned my blog creation date last time I update it. My stats show me that visitors takes time to stop by and read my about page too. But I think I might go through it again with your 11 tips to craft more.
I’m sorry, but I’ve got a question for you 😉 (I know you don’t mind) Absolutely, we should figure out whom we writing for when it comes to writing and engaging with broad audience. But it doesn’t mean we should forget about “being ourselves” and create another whole new impression for our online readers. no? 🙂
Thanks again for your tips and detailed post dear 🙂
Have a fabulous week…
Mayura, thanks for your insight and I agree – it’s just as important for a blogger to have an About page as a business. Perhaps even more important, because sometimes businesses can get away without a great page if their products or services are good, but blogging is very personal. People do want to know they are connecting with another human being who is listening. If people like you, they will be more likely to return and read what you have to say.
To answer your question, yes, I believe that you must be yourself. Never try to create a “personality” just to make a certain impression. You can’t be anyone but yourself, and that is what people are going to want and what they are going to appreciate. When I’m talking about knowing who you’re writing for, I mean that for a few reasons –
1. You have to know what they want so you can tell them things they will find helpful or interesting. As a blogger, maybe people want to know if you own a cat or whether you like pizza. That is personal. But as a business, you probably want to give different details.
2. Depending on your audience, your tone will change. If your business is serious (let’s say you’re a financial planner), you don’t want to take a casual attitude because that could scare people away. If your business is fun, you don’t want to come across as boring. So it’s more about choosing language and style than about changing yourself. Plus, your personality will probably define your audience to some extent anyway. If you’re a very casual, fun loving person you’re not going to have a business that is strict and serious.
I hope that helps. feel free to ask questions any time!
I had a doubt that how can we change our tone without being ourselves or changing personality. But I get it now. I don’t wanna be another person and that’s most stupid thing to do. However our tone will goes with what we love to do and our attitude towards it. Our audience will build around that personality. As you said if I’m a casual person I won’t love to work in strict and extreme conditions. Hmmm…. That makes sense.
Thanks for your explanation dear 🙂 It helps me to clear some doubts I had in my mind… Really appreciate it.
Have a great day 🙂
I miss a good About page bad. I should (such a weak word 🙂 )
These pointers will come handy when I finally decide to create a sound “about” page.
One thing is for sure, my blog is NOT about me and it need to enrich others’ lives, that I know.
Thank you for sharing your insight !
True, a good blog is about what you can provide by way of valuable content for your readers but it’s also partly about who you are because people come to read what YOU have to say. There are plenty of blogs out there, so why did they pick yours? It has a lot to do with your personality and style and who you are. So finding the right balance between sharing “you” and giving your readers good content is important. I hope you get to work on that page soon!
Once again Carol, another awesome post. I’ve worked on the “about me” page a few weeks ago to update it. I had a nifty one minute video prepared, but it crashed. I forgot all about it until I read this post….Oh well back to the drawing board.
What I like best is #9 Social Proof. We do work hard syndicating and that is the best social proof in the world.
When I visit some blogs I see no comments, there is nothing on social sites, I get a little unnerved because I start thinking – hey maybe this is a phony site. Or what is this person doing?
Social Proof goes a long way.
Thanks for another great post,
I’m glad I could remind you to get that video up, Donna. Believe me, I know how sometimes you can get so busy that the little things fall off the radar. I agree that the social proof is so important. I’m like you, sometimes when I visit a blog and there are no comments, no shares, I wonder… what is this person doing? Do other people know something I don’t? It’s kind of like being the only one at the party.
Good luck with your video and thanks for your thoughts!
Thanks for providing such a great article!
I have a decent About Page on my blog, but I’m sure it needs some sprucing up. This post definitely provides some “meat and potatoes” on just how to do that!
The social proof aspect is important, and I always like to see that I’ve engaged my readers enough for them to share my content. The funny thing is, the posts that I think are going to be homeruns usually get an average response. The ones that have done the best have been total surprises to me.
Thanks again for the valuable information. It’s going to come in very handy in the very near future!
Ok, my gravatar just popped up. This post was to ask why it may not have. You can delete it if you wish. I don’t know why the delay with the gravatar.
I’m glad to be able to help get your gears turning on ways to work on your about page! I find the same funny thing happens to me – I write a post and think “now that’s the one!” and it gets ok traffic. Then there will be a day when I feel like I rushed through something just to get it done and I get a ton of traffic. Who knows! It’s always a bit of a wonderland 🙂 As long as people keep coming back it’s all good.
Not sure about the gravatar… might’ve just been a lag with Disqus. That happens sometimes. Also it has to be set to a “G-rating” though that doesn’t explain the lag.
Glad you stopped by!
I definitely think that your About page is a great opportunity to connect with new site visitors and potential clients. But it’s also an opportunity to convert first-time site visitors into new subscribers so I’d make an email capture form prominent on that page as well.
Currently, mine needs a little work. (I always have a hard time with my About page). But it’s the 2nd most visited page on my site after a user hits any entry page so I know it’s well worth the effort to invest the time in getting it done right.
Good tip, Ricardo. No reason every page on your site can’t have a good call to action! If someone is interested enough to read your About page, they may just be in the mood to sign up for your list.
Isn’t it always the hardest thing to work on your own page? I must change a sentence here and a paragraph there on mine about every five minutes, then I forget about it for a while or I’ll keep obsessing. It’s always easier to give advice than take it 🙂
I actually like the structure of your about page. it has the signup in a nice strategic place and the testimonials are a great touch. It’s also reader-centric. the only thing I might add is something a little fun or personal about you beyond your brilliant ability to keep real estate agents on their toes!
Another great post Carol!! keep it up 🙂 the most important thing to do is first of all
Identify you website’s targeted goals, ask yourself what is your main
purpose for building this website and who are your targeted audience? If you answered these 2 questions then start to set priorities to achieve your goals by restructuring the website and may be adding or deleting or modeling your website pages.
You’re 100% right, Ann. That’s a step that so many people miss! I’ve had many conversations that start like this: “I want my website redesigned.” “Why?” “It hasn’t been done in a while and its getting old.” Yet they can’t actually articulate what needs to change or why! We get excited about looking “new” and forget about being “effective”.