Category Archives: Peter Lyle DeHaan’s Columns

Articles by TAS Trader publisher and editor Peter Lyle DeHaan

How to Handle Pricing on Your Answering Service Website 

Sometimes Posting Too Much Information Can Work Against Us

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-answering service

Over the years I’ve looked at hundreds of telephone answering service websites. A few are great, many are good, and some need improvement. A common page for many answering service sites covers pricing. There are different ways to handle rate information, each with their advantages and disadvantages.

Post Rates Online

Though I’ve never tracked it, I think most answering service websites post their rates and rate packages. 

This has the advantage of eliminating budget-conscious tire kickers—who won’t hire you anyway—from taking up your time. It has the disadvantage of conditioning answering service clients—especially yours—to shop for price. Remember, if someone selects your service based on price, they’ll leave as soon as a better price comes along. High churn results. Therefore, I’m not in favor of this practice.

Request a Call

Another approach is to encourage people to call you for more information. You could say something like, “Contact us today for a customized package to fit your specific needs.” 

The advantage of this approach is setting the expectation that you will design an answering service solution to meet the unique requirements of the prospect. The disadvantage is that you will invest time pursuing clients who merely want the cheapest service.

Complete a Form

A step up from requesting the prospect to call you is presenting them with a simple form to fill out to receive more information. Since they’re already on your website, this is an easy ask. The fewer questions you require them to fill out, the greater the chance they will complete your form. 

The advantage of using a form is more requests for information then if you ask them to call. The disadvantage is even more cost-conscious prospects to weed through.

Use an Online Quoting Tool

An option I’ve only seen a few times, but which bears consideration, is an online quoting tool. Prospects enter their basic call parameters and call volume into an app on your website. Then the tool automatically provides a custom quote to best meet their expected usage. You can either display their custom quote once they enter their information or you can automatically email it to them. Obtaining their email address allows you to follow up. 

The advantage of using an online quoting tool is that you can still provide rates quickly to prospects, thereby eliminating those who are shopping for the best price. This also keeps you from posting rates online. The disadvantage is the cost of setting up the quoting tool and maintaining it.

Action Step

Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each of these approaches based on what you want to accomplish, your position in the marketplace, and how your prices compare to your competitors.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Make Sure Your TAS Website Is Ready for Search Engines

Having Great Content on Your Website Means Nothing If No One Can Find It

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-SEO Elements

A few months ago we looked at SEO (search engine optimization) for telephone answering service websites. In that short column, we touched on the essential SEO elements: page or post title, description, and keyword or keyword phrase.

These are the three critical SEO elements. Start with those as the most important, but don’t stop there. Here are some key supporting SEO considerations:


For SEO purposes, a well-written page or post will use subheadings every couple hundred words. This helps people who scan. This is important since most visitors will scan your content and not read it word for word. Make your headings bold and add heading tags, such as H2 or H3. (Use an H1 tag only once, and that’s for the title of your page or post.)


Every page or post should have an engaging graphic or photo that relates to the content. Give the image a name that reflects it, such as, professional phone answering. Don’t use image1 or Dx23ga234k. Then add relevant SEO alt text to the image. 

Link Strategy

For SEO purposes, it’s a good practice to link every post to another post. And have an existing post link to the new content. Also, many SEO gurus now recommend one outbound link per post to a high-authority site, that is, one that gets a lot of traffic.


Every page or post should be at least three hundred words long, but aim for five hundred. Anything shorter than three hundred doesn’t give search engines enough content to analyze, so they’ll skip that page.

Keyword Density

We mentioned that having a keyword or keyword phrase is a critical SEO element for each page or post. Make sure the content includes your keyword phrase without overusing it. According to Yoast SEO, aim to use your keyword phrase in 0.5 to 3 percent of the text. (In a 500-word post this is 3 to 15 times.)

Web address

A final consideration that’s easy to cover is the words in the web address for that page or post. Make sure they reflect the theme of the content and include the keyword phrase. 


Addressing these SEO elements will help search engines find, appreciate, and promote your site and its content. But remember that the title, description, and keyword phrase are the essential SEO elements. Handle these three items first. Then add the rest.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Streamlined Billing and Collections

Increase Cash Flow by Shortening the Time Between Billing Cut Off and Payment Receipt

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-billing cutoff

As we look at ways to be a responsive answering service, one critical, but too-often overlooked, area is billing and collections. This affects cash flow and is a critical consideration in maintaining the financial viability of your answering service. Each additional day that you wait to receive payment is a day left with you trying to operate without the money that’s due you. 

Let’s look at some ways to streamline billing and collections.

Billing Cutoff Date

How close is your billing cutoff date to when you begin processing invoices? The goal is to make it as short as possible. If you bill monthly, what happens when the end of the month occurs on the weekend? What if it’s a long weekend? Do you wait until Monday or the next business day to begin work on billing? If so, that’s one, two, or even three extra days added to your collection cycle.

If you bill every twenty-eight days, you can strategically pick your billing cutoff date to when you can best work on it. This might be on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

Billing Cutoff Time

When do you download or transfer your billing statistics? Though midnight is a logical cutoff time, does that make sense if you won’t start processing information until 9 a.m.? Though nine hours may not seem like much, it represents nine hours of billing that you can collect this billing cycle as opposed to the next one.

Regardless, the goal is to shorten the time between downloading your stats and sending invoices. Strive to make it the same day.

Sending Invoices

Most businesses today email their invoices. Do you? Mailing them adds an extra two or even three days to your collection cycle. Look for ways to get your invoices to your clients’ payables department as quickly as possible. Is texting invoices an option? Most people open text messages within a few minutes. That’s faster than email and much faster than snail mail.

Receiving Payments

Do you have clients mail you a check? That adds another couple of days to your collection cycle. Can you have them pay by credit card instead? Though credit card payments involve additional fees, it may be worth it to collect on time, especially for chronic late payers. What about ACH (Automated Clearing House) and ETF (electronic funds transfer)? These are low-cost ways to collect faster.

Related to credit card and ACH payment is timing. When do you process those payments? Is it when you generate the invoice, at the due date, or sometime in between? Shortening the number of days will allow you to collect faster and reduce your collection cycle. However, don’t change your processing timing without first clearly communicating the new policy to your clients.


Seek ways to shorten the time between your billing cutoff and receiving payment. This will improve your cash flow and increase the health of your answering service. For further information, explore two related accounting principles: average collection period and accounts receivable turnover.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Ideas to Streamline Agent Training

Look to Increase the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Instructing New Employees

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-agent training

Last month we looked at ways to streamline answering service agent hiring. Now that they’re hired, the next step is to optimize their training. For this initiative, we have two potential goals. One is to train better, and the other is to train faster. Ideally, we want to do both.

To address the speed element, we can look for ways to streamline training from both the company standpoint and the new hire perspective. When we streamline the trainer component, we reduce training costs and decrease trainer hours. When we streamline the trainee component, the new employee becomes productive faster and does so at a lower cost. This reduces the chance of them getting bored or frustrated during training and quitting. It also allows them to generate revenue for your answering service faster.

Here are some techniques to streamline agent training:

One-to-Many Instruction

The more agents you can train at the same time by one instructor, the more efficient that trainer will be. This has the highest potential at larger answering services that hire and train more employees. But smaller answering services that typically train one agent at a time can still look to employ one-to-many training opportunities. Even if one trainer instructs two trainees, it will double the trainer’s output. But what about classroom-style environments with an instructor training four, eight, or even twelve employees at one time?

Though some aspects of training may require one-on-one instruction, look to minimize those instances whenever possible. This allows you to maximize the instructor’s effectiveness with one-to-many training scenarios.

Recorded Lessons

Look for segments of training that are highly repetitive. Record the instructor giving that lesson. Then have future trainees watch the recording. This is a one-time investment that you can use repeatedly for many new employees for months or even years. Just be sure to periodically review the recording to make sure the information hasn’t changed. When the recording becomes out-of-date, make a new one.

Self-Study Opportunities

Not every part of agent training requires an instructor. New employees can conduct some aspects of training by themselves. This may include reading training materials or engaging in hands-on interactive instruction. Though you might need to develop some of these tools yourself, you may be able to get others from your vendor or user group. Whenever possible, adapt what’s already provided instead of making your own.

Fast Productivity

Does your answering service have a high-volume account or a group of accounts that are easy to serve? It might be worthwhile to structure training so that your new hires can handle just this one high-volume account or a group of easy accounts quickly. This will let them gain experience early in the training process. And it will allow them to be productive much faster. 

After they’ve taken these specific types of calls for a while, they can return to training and prepare to handle your other accounts. Not only does this benefit your TAS by having these new hires handle billable transactions quickly, it also benefits the employee by giving them a break in their training and letting them take calls—which is what you hired them to do.


Streamline agent training to save money, improve results, and produce productive employees faster.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Optimize Agent Hiring

Streamline Your Hiring Process to Realize Fast Results

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-phone interview

Have you ever offered a promising job candidate a position only for them to decline because they already accepted a job with another company? I have. I took too long. Even though they claim to have preferred to work for me, they grabbed the first job offer that came their way.

People today—including job seekers—have little patience. We live in a world that wants instant gratification, and we have little tolerance for waiting. Unless you want to continue to lose qualified candidates, you need to optimize your hiring process. Look for ways to make it more efficient so you can hire the best applicants before someone else does.

Don’t continue to follow yesterday’s hiring practices, because they’re no longer appropriate for today’s workplace. What is the average time between a job seeker first expressing interest and you hiring them? I hope your answer isn’t more than a week. Even a couple of days is too long. Can you get down to twenty-four hours? How about a same-day decision? Just how fast can you act?

Here is an idea to consider. Note that this isn’t a proven plan to follow but merely a possibility to spark your creativity:

Online Self-Assessment

Once you’ve captured a prospective employee’s attention, provide them with an online self-assessment tool that will allow them to determine if an answering service environment is a good fit for them. Present a series of questions that reflects work at your answering service. The more questions they answer “yes” to, the better fit they are. Score their answers. Then tell them: “People who score between X and Y tend to like working for our company, whereas people with lower scores may struggle to succeed in this position. Do you want to apply?” [Note: unless you take time to validate the outcome, don’t record their score or ask them their results. To avoid a legal quagmire, let them use this tool privately to determine if they want to move forward.]

This assessment occurs online and automatically without any involvement on your part.

Phone Screening Call

If they want to proceed after taking the online self-assessment, move them immediately to a prescreening evaluation over the phone. This is a standardized set of questions to rule out candidates who don’t fit your criteria, such as people wanting full-time work when you’re hiring part-timers or candidates seeking a business-hour’s position when your openings are for evening and weekends.

You should script the call flow so that any of your operators can conduct the phone screen call. Anyone who passes should move on to a phone interview.

Same Day Phone Interview

For candidates who pass the phone screen, give them the option of an immediate phone interview, or let them schedule one. Yes, an immediate phone interview. Connect them with your hiring manager or HR department. Again, this should be a structured process that will provide an instant pass/fail outcome.

Though you may prefer an in-person interview, remember that all their work at your answering service will take place over the phone, so a phone interview should be more indicative of their capabilities than an in-person meeting.

Make an Immediate Offer

For candidates who pass the phone interview, make an offer at that point. Don’t delay. Desiring to compare a group of candidates who pass the phone interview will not only take more time, but it also increases the risk of your best candidate receiving a job offer from someone else before you make yours.

Once you’ve made the offer, don’t push them for an immediate yes/no answer. Though some people will accept right away, others will want to think about it. If that’s the case, schedule a follow-up phone call.

This idealized hiring process could take less than an hour. Though it will require effort to fine-tune each step and compress it into a sixty-minute procedure, you can do it.

Now your next task is to optimize your onboarding and training process to make it just as efficient.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Don’t Forget SEO for Your Website

Your Website Isn’t Finished Until It’s Optimized for Search Engines 

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

If you have a website for your answering service, I suspect you’ve heard of search engine optimization (SEO). It’s a critical component of every website, assuming you want people to find you. SEO means that the content of your site is optimized for search engines. If you skip this step, expect the search engines to skip you.

SEO is part art and part science. Many people promote themselves as SEO experts, promising grand outcomes. Some know what they’re doing and produce great results. Others talk a good game but can’t deliver. Even more irritating, some SEO experts disagree on best practices. The final frustration comes from the reality that SEO best practices change often.

In addition to consultants, there are books, classes, and seminars that teach about search engine optimization. Though I can only touch on SEO in this short article, here are some things to consider.

Pages and Posts

Though the terminology may vary from one web platform to the next, a page is static content that doesn’t change often. Examples include your home, services, get started, about, and contact pages.

In contrast to pages are posts. Posts are the dynamic content that you publish on your blog—assuming your site has one. You use pages for content marketing.

Both pages (your online marketing brochure) and posts (your content marketing gateway) benefit from SEO. 

The Essentials

Every page or post will have a title for visitors. Write a title that will capture their attention. Beyond this, there’s also an SEO title working behind the scenes. This is for search engines. Search engines will evaluate the title and display it in their search results. Most web platforms allow you to differentiate between these two types of titles. If not, you must write a title that will work for both visitors and search results.

Next is a page or post description, called meta-description. Your visitors won’t see this directly, but it will display in search results. You want this meta-description to provide information that will grab the search engines’ attention.

The third element is a keyword or key phrase. The content on each page or post should revolve around this word or phrase. But avoid repeating keywords or phrases on different pages and posts.

There are many other SEO elements, such as headings, graphics, link strategy, keyword density, content length, and URL selection. But title, description, and keyword are the essential SEO elements.

SEO Tools

Your website designer should have handled SEO for your pages when they designed your site, but not all do. Ask if they did. Then verify. But what about the content you add, such as blog posts? They need search optimization too. You can pay someone to do this, or you can use an SEO tool, often called a plug-in. A couple of leading SEO tools are Yoast SEO and All-In-One SEO. They’re easy to use, but mastering them—just like SEO—takes time. 

Remember, your answering service website isn’t finished until you’ve added SEO.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Consider Content Marketing for Your Answering Service

Provide Valuable Information Your Clients and Prospects Will Appreciate 

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-content marketing

In past columns, we looked at how to make your answering service website stand out and the main pages every site should have. Now let’s switch our focus to content. You know what to put on your homepage, services, get started, about us, and contact us pages. But what if you want to incorporate a blog on your website? 

Coming up with good, fresh content on a regular basis is a challenge for TAS owners and managers who are already too busy. So if you’re going to make it a priority, you want to make it count. Avoid blogging about random topics that don’t provide value to your readers. You want to post what matters. This means content marketing.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is providing information that your audience will appreciate, find useful, and see as beneficial. It is not advertising. And it is not the place for self-promotion. Also, your content marketing piece will seldom end with a direct call to action.

Though this will frustrate advertise-focused people, the goal of content marketing is to provide value to readers. In doing so you establish yourself or company as a credible source a practical content they’ll want to read month after month.

Find a Theme

To guide your writing and direct your vision, you need a theme for your blog. That way your audience will know what to expect, and you’ll meet their expectations every time. What should your theme be? That’s a great question. 

What are you and your team knowledgeable about? This is an ideal place to start. There are two general areas to consider: answering service content and client-focused content.

Answering Service Content

For content marketing focused on the answering service industry, you’ll certainly be writing about what you know: answering services. Just remember this is not a place to promote your business. This is a place to provide intelligent and actionable content that will help clients better use their answering service and prospects better understand how to select one.

When you do this honestly, you help everyone who uses, or may use, an answering service, even if it’s not yours. But if this is the case, don’t despair. Your excellent posts about the industry positions you as a go-to expert. And eventually they’re bound to go to you.

Client-Focused Content

You can also do content marketing around the topic that’s of interest to your clients or a large group of your clients. Think of this as a value-added service. If you are medical answering service, cover topics of interest to healthcare practitioners. If you specialize in the service industry, right about that. If most of your clients are small businesses, provide them with valuable information about running their company.

The Goal

Regardless of the theme you pick, the goal is not to sell your services but to position yourself as a thought leader and earn their trust. Over time, your content marketing pieces will help drive business your way. And even if you have a regular reader who loves what you write but never uses your service, you can take solace in knowing that your words are benefiting the industry as a group. 

Everyone wins with content marketing.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Look to Fine-Tune Your TAS Processes

Seek to Provide the Fast Responses Your Prospects and Clients Expect

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-customer service

We live in an I-want-it-now culture. People, in general, and your answering service clients, specifically, expect quick responses to their inquiries. If they don’t get what they want when they want it, they’ll seek solutions elsewhere.

That’s why we need to look at our various answering service processes and seek to fine-tune them. The goal is to develop new ways of doing things so we can respond quicker with our present and future clients.

Here are some areas to consider.

Streamline Sales

How long does it take from the time a prospect clicks a button for more information until they’re interacting with a person who can help them? Though it’s a good practice, an automated response doesn’t count, nor does someone texting, calling, or emailing that someone will get back with them in a few minutes. What matters is contact from a salesperson who can answer questions and move toward a successful close.

The patience of prospects is extremely short. The chances of success decrease noticeably as response times increase. For many situations, a five-minute response time is the new standard. Making prospects wait even thirty minutes, dramatically decreases the chance of someone connecting with them and closing the deal. That’s why some companies push for a one-minute response time. Most prospects will wait sixty seconds before they contact another company.

This means you need to figure out a way that the information on the clicked form goes immediately to a salesperson who can contact them right away. Any other steps or delays is unacceptable.

Streamline Onboarding

Once you sign up a new client, what’s your process for getting them setup so you can take calls? This doesn’t mean giving them a generic solution now and fine-tuning it later. This means a fully functional, working answering service solution.

In pursuing this goal, the objective is to balance speed with accuracy. Don’t program their account so quickly that it contains errors. But don’t take so long that they give up on you.

This means sending the information collected by the salesperson directly to the programmer. Even if you sell customers on the paradigm that “it will take us three business days to set up your account properly, because we’re focused on quality,” still look for ways to do things faster and better.

Streamline Customer Service

Now you’ve turned a prospect into a client. Ideally, they’ll never have any customer service issues, but they will.

When it comes to responding fast to customer service inquiries, there are two considerations. The first is how quickly the client can share their concern with someone who can act upon it. The second is how quickly the customer service agent can implement and communicate the solution to the client. Address both these issues, looking for ways to fine-tune your processes to respond with speed and accuracy.

Streamline Other Areas

Sales, client onboarding, and customer service are the three big areas to address first. But when you’re finished with those, this doesn’t mean you’re done. There’s more to do. In accounting, look at the timeliness of sending invoices, handling receivables, and processing payables. What about dealing with technical issues? First restructure procedures that address problems affecting more than one client. Then look at simplifying the process to resolve the technical concerns of one client.

A related issue is in your agent hiring and training procedures. Though this isn’t a client-facing concern, it does directly affect your answering service’s productivity and profitability.

Be Ever Streamlining

Once you’ve fine-tuned the processes in all these areas, now you can sit back and take it easy, right? Wrong! Always seek ways to do things faster and better. Don’t accept the status quo, and don’t assume that if something was good enough last year, it’s good enough now.

Always seek to do things faster and better. Other answering services are. If you want to keep up, so should you.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

The Essential Pages Every TAS Website Should Have

An Effective Website Doesn’t Need to Be Big, but It Does Need to Cover the Basics

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-answering service

In Does Your TAS Have a Great Website? we looked at how to make your website stand out as an essential marketing resource for your answering service. The tips offered aren’t revolutionary and comprise best practices for website design. Unfortunately, too many websites in the industry fall short of meeting these essential requirements. Though some answering services can fix their failing websites by updating them, other sites need a complete overhaul.

Regardless of where you are in the process, every website should have five essential pages. Though this discussion is specifically for answering services, the principles apply to any website for any industry.

1. Homepage

Your homepage should embrace visitors and draw them in. It should give them a reason to stick around and explore the other pages on your site. Don’t make your homepage about you. Seriously.

Focus on your audience. Make it about them. This is hard to do well. To see if your words resonate with your audience, ask someone who doesn’t know you or your business to read your homepage and tell you what they think. Adjust the text as appropriate to hone your message to resonate with visitors, that is your prospects.

2. Services

Next you need a page that lists your services. Don’t provide too many options or you will overwhelm them, and visitors will bounce, searching for a more user-friendly site. Ideally, give them two options. That will make it easiest for them to decide. The more options, the harder you make it for them to choose, and if it’s too complicated, they’ll choose to go elsewhere.

Only listing two service options, however, presents a challenge. Three would be okay, four at the most.

Don’t attempt to list every option you offer on this page. Instead, include the popular ones and the ones you want to sell. Then add something about contacting you for custom solutions. In most cases, you should include pricing for each service option. The only exception might be if you are a premium provider and don’t want to get into pricing until after you’ve sold them emotionally on the value of your service.

3. Get Started

The next page should explain how easy it is for a prospect to become a client. Businesses that have used answering services will know what to expect and will skip this page. So write the content for someone who has never used an answering service. Spell things out for them in an easy-to-follow list.

They may not be familiar with call forwarding. Explain it. They won’t have any idea as to which billing package they should select. Give them guidelines on how to figure it out. The goal is to make the process of hiring you simple, easy-to-understand, and painless.

End this page with the call to action, designed to move them from prospect to new client. This may include a sign-up form or a phone number to call.

4. About Us

After these pages, include a section that talks about your answering service. The goal is to make your service shine, while hinting at how your unique characteristics will benefit your prospects. Talk about anything that will make your answering service stand out. This could include how long you’ve been in business, awards you’ve won, or your leadership in the industry or your community.

Every answering service talks about their great staff, so you should too. Share your vision to serve your clients. As appropriate, talk about your quality service, easy-to-understand invoices, or the outcomes your clients can expect.

Don’t be afraid about making this page too long, but make sure it’s easy for visitors to scan. If they’re interested, they’ll read whatever you put there. At the end, list client testimonials. Though you can sprinkle selected testimonials throughout the site, one on each page, listing them all here is a great idea.

5. Contact Us

The final page should tell prospects how to reach you. At minimum there should be a phone number, but most people expect an email address as well. Also list your social media pages. This, however, assumes they’re up to date and you’re active on them. Unless you’re trying to obscure where you’re located, include your mailing address. If you have multiple offices, this is a great place to list them.

Though your essential contact information—phone number and email address—should prominently appear on every page at least once, include all options here. Some prospects will immediately look for a “contact us” page.


There are a couple of other items to include on your website. These are not part of the main five essential items and don’t deserve one of the main navigation tabs, but they should be someplace. One good location is in the header that appears on the top of every page.

Client Portal: Assuming you have a client portal, add a login link for your clients.

Employment Opportunities: If you’re like most services, you’re on the outlook for quality staff. Include a link for employment opportunities. On this page, sell them on the desirability of working for your answering service, and make it easy for them to apply

Blog: Some answering services have a blog. This is an option you should only take if you’re committed to posting regular, valuable content. For most answering services, a blog is a time-consuming item that they don’t have time for.

However, a blog is a great long-term move that will engage your audience, improve your SEO rankings, and make you stand out in the industry. (Unlike “client portal” and “employment opportunities,” you will want to list your blog as one of your main navigation tabs.)  To learn more about the value of a blog, explore content marketing.


Use these tips to improve or overhaul your website. This will attract more visitors. It will help you turn more prospects into clients. You’ll sign them up faster and keep them longer.

That’s what the right website can do for you.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

How to Make Your Website Shine

Discover How to Make Your Website an Essential Marketing Resource

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

In Does Your TAS Have a Great Website? we talked about the importance of having a killer website to serve as your online home base for your marketing plan.

You can hire a professional web developer to do this for you. You can also do it yourself. Either way, here are some tips to guide the process. Follow these and you’ll be ahead of most websites in the answering service industry.

Seek a Clean, Fresh Design

First, pursue a website that looks fresh and clean. If this tip doesn’t provide enough clarity, then avoid the opposite: a dated, cluttered website. Don’t try to squeeze everything in a small area. Instead use white space to make the content more inviting and readable. Stick with one common font, with black type on a white background. Anything else is hard to read, as well as trendy, which will become dated fast. Also, keep a simple color palette that matches your logo.

Provide Search Engine Friendly Content

If you want people to find your site through organic search, make sure you have at least 300 words on every page. Google needs to see that many to properly index it. This means don’t put text in graphics, which search engines can’t read. It also means avoiding making visitors click “more” to read additional text. Be sure all the text on a page is readily available without an extra click.

Avoid Industry Jargon

Most answering service websites contain industry terms that most prospects won’t understand—unless some answering service has trained them. Don’t make a prospect speak your language to do business with you. Instead speak their language. This means explaining your service in terms they can understand from a basic business perspective. Keep things simple, and you’ll close more sales and do it faster.

Make It User Friendly

your website

If someone ever asks you how to navigate your website or where to find something, this is a clue that you need to simplify its structure. Make it user friendly. Make it intuitive. Don’t hide links to needed information. Visitors should be able to find everything from your home page. The more clicks they need to make or the longer they need to search for something, the more likely they are to bounce.

Focus on Mobile First

A few years ago, website traffic reached a tipping point, where more visitors used mobile devices then computers. This means you need a mobile-first strategy when it comes to website design. Merely being mobile ready isn’t enough, though it’s a good start. View your website on a mobile device, and see how easy or hard it is to navigate. I’ve been to some websites on my smartphone and was so frustrated that I closed my browser and went to my computer. Few prospects, however, will bother to do that.

Proof Content and Test Links

I’m surprised at how often I see errors and typos on TAS websites. Website designers are weak when it comes to catching problems. You need to hold them accountable. Get as many people reviewing your website as possible. Even more valuable is asking people who don’t use answering services to give you feedback.

Prioritize Search Engine Optimization

I suspect you’ve heard of SEO (search engine optimization). If you’re like most business owners, you’re ignoring it or giving it scant attention. This is a mistake. The best website will struggle without SEO, while a less than ideal one will get more traffic if they do a good job at SEO.

SEO is part science and part art. You need someone who can master both. And just because they say they’re an expert, doesn’t mean they are. The proof is in results. As an SEO guru begins optimizing your site, you should see results within a month, two at the most. If your traffic isn’t increasing, you’ve hired the wrong person. How much should traffic increase under a good SEO program? The answer depends on how bad things are to start with, but the results must be measurable and should be significant.


Apply these tips when you update or overhaul your website. You’ll get increased traffic, fewer complaints, and hopefully more sales.

Next month we’ll look at the essential pages every TAS website should have.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.