Earlier this month I announced a new strategic partnership with digital agency, Straut & Skobelev. S&S are digital masters! They have worked on a wide range of projects the world over, offering services such as Ux/Ui web design, interface animation, E-commerce, SEO, Start-up development and so much more. To better introduce them to you, S&S Account Manager, Igor Korotkov and I put our heads together to create this guide to writing the perfect About page. Enjoy!
AN ABOUT PAGE IS ABOUT YOU. TRUE OR FALSE?
The answer to this question is far from black and white. In fact, even though this page says “About” it isn’t really about you at all. Rather it is about what you can do for your target audience. That said, you do need some content that is actually about you, but you do not need to list all the minutia of your institution’s existence. These details should focus on things that bolster your credibility and illustrate how you solve your audience’s problems.
A good 70% of your About page content should be about your audience; the challenges they face, and how you will help them to overcome these issues. The remaining 30% is actually about you; a brief history, awards you have received, any unique features and any other information that makes your institution (or agency or organisation) attractive to prospective students, parents and/or agents.
ABOUT PAGE STRUCTURE
The structure of an About page can be broken down into 3 sections. By following this simple structure, you can create a page, that not only gives people a bit of your story but is also a slick marketing tool too.
It's all about your audience!
Your opening sentence(s) should immediately address your audience's challenges and objectives. Starting with the “why” is a good way to show that you are there for them. Acknowledge the difficulties that exist in your market/industry – this sets the scene for you to tell visitors to your website how you will solve those same problems.
State the facts!
If you are finding it hard to write your About content, simply present the facts. This could be anything from membership figures to the number of new courses you have. No one can argue with the facts.
I know we all like to use phrases such as “The leading provider of…” or “The best English language school….” But if you can’t back these statements up with cold, hard proof, they are nothing more than opinion. If you claim to be the best, you must show how and why (did you win an award? Do you have an exceptional pass-rate?)!
In this section you can also mention any important partners you may have. Perhaps you are a technical school and send students for internships at a big-name industry partner. If this partnership provides a real advantage for your target audience, let them know! Just remember to base any claims on fact.
The next part of your About page should include a testimonial from a student/client. Alternatively, you could include an excerpt from a magazine article that featured your school or reference an interview that you gave. Or perhaps someone on staff has had work published? This section is about you establishing yourself as a trusted, authority on education (or whichever field you may be in).
Once upon a time…
Now it is time to tell your story. In this section mention things that pique human interest. Personalise this part as much as is appropriate. This allows the audience to relate to you and to think of you in real human terms, instead of as an entity or business.
For example, talk about how and why you started out. Did you experience any difficulties that can be recounted in an amusing way? How did you overcome these difficulties and become the successful brand you are now? Where was your first international student from? What did you learn from this student? People love real stories – this section is a where you are free to tell them.
As a child, and before the internet was a thing, I remember reading in my primary school’s prospectus that the school was built on a former daffodil farm. Not only was this an amusing story, it also explained why daffodils would sprout in weird and wonderful places around the school campus. The point is, you don’t have to be business 100% of the time. Often it is the ‘silly’ little stories that people remember (30 +) years later!
A PICTURE IS WORTH 1000 WORDS
Simply put, you must include photos, graphics or even videos on your About page. The reason for this is multi-pronged:
1. A page with images/media is always going to look more attractive to the reader.
2. Non-textual elements are all important to technical SEO.
3. Photos of your team signal that you are not afraid to own your brand and make you
instantly more credible.
So, let’s unpack this further. Point 1 addresses simple human nature. Present a small child with two books, one with images and one without. Although, the child might be briefly curious about the text-heavy book, ultimately, they will find the book with images more interesting. Even as adults, if we think about the websites we visit or the flyers we receive in the post, the ones we are most likely to peruse are those with a good balance of interesting images and information.
As point 2 states, non-textual elements are very important to SEO. If you were to go through a checklist of basic SEO principles, you would see “Includes an image” as one of the fundamental checks. This is because search engine algorithms assume pages with imagery are better than pages without. Bots look for, and rank more highly, image rich content. This doesn’t mean that your page should be stuffed with images, graphs, videos and so on. One good quality image is enough to satisfy crawl bots.
Finally, to quote Igor directly “Nothing brings you closer to your customers than photos of your team.” The number one reason I visit About pages is to see who I am dealing with. When people can see you, they gain a sense of familiarity – suddenly you are not a stranger, but someone they ‘know’ and recognise. In addition to this, putting your photograph on your page is brave. It is a very clear statement that you are proud of your school or business and confident enough in your product to literally put your face to it, which is exactly what point 3 is about.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
We have covered the basic structure and content of the perfect About page. However, we both agree that there are a few other things that you should consider to make absolutely sure your content is tiptop.
- Think about who your audience really is before getting started. Just because you are a university, there is no guarantee that everyone visiting your site will be able to read and understand
academic language. The general rule of thumb is to pitch your language at high school students. This means using language that an educated teenager could read and understand – not that you should
write like one!
- Make sure your spelling and grammar are perfect! If you are a school, I do not need to tell you what kind of message poor spelling and grammar sends!
- Try to include keywords. Even if you do not have a budget for SEO, you are still able to put together thoughtfully worded content. Think about the kinds of words your students might type into Google when they are looking for a school. Now which of those words can you fit into your text? You don’t need to include them all. In fact, it is better to include just one or two.
- If you do a quick read about About pages online, you will see many articles recommend including your full contact address. This is a good point. However, if you are an agent or service provider that works from home, you may not want everyone to know exactly where you live. In this case, use as much of your address as you feel comfortable with. That said, visitors to your About page must be able to contact you easily. Clearly display your contact details or include a contact button/form.
- Lastly, choose a font that is easily read and pay attention to your use of bolding and colour. You want people to read what is in front of them not flick away because their eyes have been assaulted by colour!
Writing the perfect About page can take some time. But with a clear message to your audience that first and foremost you are there to help them, supported by statements based on fact, and some carefully selected imagery, you can create a marketing tool that will convert visitors into students/customers.