Welcome to the 2nd video in the RIDE THE WAVE series – to help you check over your own website to make sure it is appealing to both visitors and to search engines.
We are going to look at:
- Branding 03.21
- The critical ‘ABOUT’ page 04.44
- Finding information fast 06.23
- Menu system 06.59
- Website content 08.52
- Identity of a business 11.40
- Opening times and prices 13.06
- Links 14.24
- SSL certificate 17.22
- Speed 18.20
The numbers after the titles are the time stamp, where you will find the topics on the video.
If you’ve got a website built in WordPress, Squarespace or Wix and you are a DIY kind of person, you can improve and evolve your own website.
The aim is to connect with an ideal audience, as covered in the last video and provide them with an easy, enjoyable experience.
These simple goals also help to get the website positioned higher on search engines. Win, win.
If you can’t update your website directly, there are still lots of things you can have noted down, ready for when you can afford to have it updated by a professional.
Take the opportunity to observe what you have got set up.
Try to create a habit of consciously checking your website as often as possible.
Few website owners know how to really take care of their websites to help it thrive on search engines and increase traffic.
Even fewer website owners look at how to keep the visitor interested once they are on the website. To gain an important new connection.
When you want a website created, you’re mostly looking at design, colours and photos, which is good, that’s fine.
However, there is much more to successful website design.
The more attention you give the following, simple tasks, the greater the return.
I’m not asking you to do them all this week.
Keep coming back to your website to improve it bit by bit. A website should not be so static.
I’ll take you through a few valuable tips that you can keep in mind.
In follow up videos I will help you carry out certain tasks at home.
Leave a comment or drop me a message with a question, I’ll endeavor to answer it in one of these videos.
Let’s dive in.
Branding. What it says to your customer.
I want you to go on to your website. Take a really good look at it.
Take in the logo, the colours, the font, the photos and the tone that it is written in.
What do they say to you?
Does your brand speak to your ideal audience?
If you listened to the previous video you heard me talk about your ideal audience.
Who are you hoping to attract?
The colours, fonts and the logo have a big impact when trying to appeal to a certain type of customer.
Let’s compare some different company websites:
An action sport website needs to be bright and exciting with inspiring photos.
Compare that to masseuse’s website which would be more calming with tranquil colours and photos.
A high end restaurant would need a modern or perhaps classic font and colour scheme.
Compare that to a family friendly cafe, who should use a more fun, vibrant font.
Look at the words on the screen. What tone are you using?
Try to be more inspiring and less business.
Excite the visitor and connect with them on a personal level, so they remember you at the vital point when they want to book.
This is where ABOUT page becomes so important.
The crucial and meaningful ABOUT page
The ABOUT page on a business website is so often overlooked.
People shy away from it. Many think it’s unimportant. Others don’t want to seem vain.
Let me ask you – how will you stand out from other businesses if you don’t tell your story?
What sets your business apart from the competition?
The success of your business surely has to be paramount, and your embarrassment pretty insignificant in this highly competitive online marketplace.
This is your business, the business you have nurtured and grown from nothing.
Your personality, your passion and your history will be at the core of your business and the ABOUT page is the place to demonstrate that.
- How did you get where you are today?
- What qualifies you to do what you do?
- What are your likes and dislikes?
- What are your ambitions?
To connect to an audience, set a setting and provide a story.
Help the audience to understand, know and trust you.
Make them feel what you feel and choose you over the competition.
Humans make decisions and purchases on an emotional level.
We are also very visual so use relaxed, natural photos of yourselves on the about page and through the rest of the website.
The setting could be of you enjoying exactly what you are selling or working hard creating a product.
Your audience wants to find information fast
Take some time to read through and move around your website.
Imitate a visitor that has no knowledge of your company.
Use your computer. Then do the same on your phone.
Ask your friends or family to explore your website too.
See if they can find out what your company does, book or enquire quickly.
Do they feel inspired to book with you?
Can they quickly find the product or service?
Which leads us to the menu system.
The menu system, or navigation system, is such an important part of any website.
Check that it’s not difficult to find, instantly.
Remember we are talking split seconds.
The menu system should be placed at the top of the website, when you look at it on any screen.
It is very usual to see a menu here, and it is where people naturally look for it.
Going against the grain might feel distinctive, but that’s fully against the purpose of a website.
View the website’s menu on a desktop and then on a phone.
The top level items, here, should display your most important services.
On a laptop or desktop computer the main menu items need to be right in front of the visitor, as soon as they arrive.
The visitor must be able to access what they want quickly, limiting clicks.
If they don’t see what they are searching for, they are likely to leave.
On a mobile, the menu will probably be a responsive menu, hidden behind an icon.
This is usually unavoidable because we have less space on a small screen.
Although it is possible to include quick links to important pages using icons or short words.
Either way, make the menu icon super clear.
My advice is that you actually label the button MENU or even TAP FOR MENU.
People are too busy to spend time looking for where they should be next.
Make it intuitive.
Give immediate access to the important areas of your business.
Don’t make people think too much.
Check the website content, check spelling and grammar.
Read through the content of your website.
- Is it quality?
- Is the wording correct?
- Is it in the right tone of voice for your audience?
Get outside of your head and into the customer’s.
Ensure you are explaining your service to someone who knows nothing about it. Look at your business with new eyes.
Explain the small things that are related to the business.
Show them everything you can – how do you help, provide or serve them?
Be sure that the spelling and grammar is correct.
A useful tip is to copy and paste the wording of each web page into a word editor like Google Docs or Word.
Here you can check, edit and rewrite the content.
The word editor will flag up any misspelled words or grammatical errors. Plus you can do the corrections over a few days or weeks.
If you don’t enjoy writing then simply write notes.
Highlight areas that can be improved and material that can be added.
Taking time and care over content speaks volumes to your audience.
A badly written website reflects badly on your business.
Be consistent, even with the smallest thing like capital letters on titles, commas and apostrophes in the right places.
And – Google rewards websites that are well written.
It is well known that thin content – pages with one or two paragraphs – do not rank well on search engines.
However, as with all things, there is a middle ground.
Firstly, do not fill pages with ramblings.
This is the kind of content that comes straight from someone’s head and should never make it onto a business website.
Always check and edit your articles.
Be sure that sentences are to the point and in some kind of order.
Don’t hop from one part of the service to the other, and back again.
For example – sleeping arrangements, food, sleeping arrangements.
Don’t repeat yourself – especially not within one page unless truly necessary.
We both know that your visitor will not read everything on your website.
But people do scan web pages, so provide everything they need to know.
Break the text up into well structured paragraphs.
People pick out parts of a web page that are most important to them, as they scan.
This kind of structured content will be fantastic for search engines simply because it provides a brilliant layout for humans.
The identity of your business
On a business website you must disclose certain information about the company.
Certainly in the UK and the US it is a legality to have a physical registered address. Not a PO BOX.
That address must also be clearly shown on the website, along with ways in which to contact the business – including non-electronic means – and the company number.
I still see companies excluding their address, concerned that they are giving away their home details, which is understandable.
Usually a quick search on the internet will let anyone know where a business is registered, even if it is not directly on your website. So what’s the harm in including it?
If you are worried about a home address, use an accountants address as the registered address.
Having clear contact details makes it very obvious to visitors, and to search engines that you are a legitimate business.
Search engines want to see this because websites that are cagey about an address are very likely to be breaking some kind of rules.
Contact details should be clearly visible to show you are serious in business, willing to answer questions and be at hand.
Include them on a contact page, on terms and conditions and add them to the footer of your website too.
Opening times and prices
Opening times and a clear price range gives confidence to a visitor, and accommodates Google’s quest for openness and clarity within business.
Clearly showing them aids this bigger picture that we are painting for search engines to trust our websites and rank them higher.
The reasons behind it are again to do the legitimacy of a website.
Make sure the opening times and prices are the same on your website as they are on web directories such as TripAdvisor, Booking.com and, of course, Google Local.
Having conflicting information across the net will not help your online presence.
Search engines take into account the information you’ve provided on other websites, as well as what you’ve put on your own.
When they are out of sync, it suggest that the company no longer exists.
Another bonus of having prices on your website?
You encourage the right types of enquiries, avoiding having to answer questions from completely the wrong type of customer.
Links throughout a website.
There are two basic types of links that you should know about for the moment – internal and external links.
Internal links are links to content on your own website, helping visitors to navigate around the site.
Use them wisely and frequently within your content.
As the user reads they can find out more information on the next page or post.
The indications help the visitor to form a natural flow through your site, which is why search engines reward links within content very highly.
One of your pages can be quite general, over-viewing a topic or service. Within it, link to pages with deeper meaning.
Link text should always be descriptive.
When you link to a page, use detailed text.
Refrain from using READ MORE links – they fail to help search engines understand what comes next.
External links are links to other websites. Be generous with external links – they are a powerful SEO signal and, like internal links, should be included throughout the website.
So many website owners avoid putting them in their content for fear of losing the reader.
The benefits of external links far outweigh the loss of a reader.
And anyway – you’ve written compelling content so they are certain to return to your website.
Use external links to back up points you have made or help the visitor to find more information.
The websites you link to should always be relevant to the business. However, they can be a little off beat.
For example – links to companies within an area help the website to rank better when searches are being made for that area.
So think – if you are an accommodation website, linking to local restaurants, things to do in the area and even the local cobbler would all help.
When you carry out your website check – check every single link.
If you have a big website there are plugins that can help you with this.
Correct links are a big sign to search engines that the company is providing the visitor with the best experience.
Dud links show that the company is not looking after its website.
A website that is perceived as not being looked after drops down search engine pages.
Don’t over do it when it comes to links.
A page with hundreds of links will look like a hard sell, spammy web page and will be penalised.
Keep the visitor in mind when you choose who you are linking to. Quality wins.
Lastly, don’t be tempted to stick loads of links at the end of a page or blog post to win merit.
Links within content have way more solidarity.
Check for SSL certificate
When a visitor comes to your website information passes from the visitors computer and the server.
A server is just a computer itself where your website files sit and can be accessed by the public.
Information passing through can be intercepted.
An SSL certificate encrypts that information, protecting the visitor.
So Google places a lot of importance on websites having SSL certificates. Having one protects its users.
You can see if you have one, just by looking up here in the address bar.
There should be a small LOCK icon.
Most hosting companies can provide a basic SSL certificate for free these days, via Let’s Encrypt.
However there are some hosting companies that don’t support Let’s Encrypt and will charge.
Either way, be sure your certificate is valid.
Fast to download.
This is a delicate requirement, because big photos are so fashionable at the moment.
Businesses are convinced that visitors want to see a huge photo of their building as soon as they come to the website.
In the travel and hospitality industry, I would understand this, somewhat, as long as that photo has impact.
But let’s just check the speed of these big photos that you have included.
You probably see these big images come up fairly quickly on your own website.
This is because you have visited your own website before and it’s called caching.
The browser remembers what you’ve already downloaded, so it can provide it to you super quickly next time you visit.
So let’s see it from a new visitor’s perspective, and therefore from a search engine perspective.
Do you know about the INCOGNITO TAB?
- On Chrome click the three vertical dots, here at the top right and then hit NEW INCOGNITO TAB.
- On Microsoft Edge click the three horizontal dots, here at the top right and then hit NEW IN PRIVATE WINDOW.
Now, navigate to your website.
The images are downloading slowly, right?
Think about this on a slow connection.
Would you wait for this image to download if you were on a website?
Considering search engines penalise slow loading websites, is it really worth it?
If the answer is yes, it really is worth it for you, try to find a balance.
There are a few tricks which we will cover in another video – such as:
- using black and white images,
- not using too many images on the same page,
- downloading a low resolution version first,
- using caching plugins and more.
In the next video we will look at fixing errors and issues on a website.
These errors can prevent a search engine from ranking the website well, so they need to be ironed out before any further development is done on the site.
These are the first things to deal with before building a website up to do well on search.
After that we are going to look at landing pages for different key phrases.