It's important to update your website often...
A website like NZHerald.co.nz is updated every day, and Google knows this, so it indexes it every day. That means new content will show up on the search engine results pages on a daily basis – a must if your product is time-sensitive like NZ Herald’s!
However, if Google returns to your website after a month or two and finds that it hasn’t been updated, it may choose not to return for another 3 months. If it finds your website has still not been updated in this time, it might not return for another 6 months, and so on.
Regular updates mean search engines will schedule in regular crawls of your website, which will mean your new content is shown in the search engine results faster, and can start winning you new visitors more quickly.
Where do your eyes go first?
A visitor to your website typically has an attention span of only a few seconds. That means your website must hook them in that amount of time. Make sure the first thing they see or notice is something interesting enough to buy you more time.
Make sure your home page tells your new visitor succinctly and clearly 'what you do' and 'who you do it for'.
Include key keyword phrases into your text without making the content stilted, include keyword phrases in headings, sub-headings link text, menu text and in alt tags.
Do you know right away what this website is about?
You have limited time to get your message across. If there are too many distractions, your site visitors may not ever know what you are selling.
Make sure you spell out 'what you do' and 'who you do it for' on your home page in a brief but succinct statement.
If you are not sure you have it right, ask someone who is not familiar with your organisation and industry to read your home page and tell you what you do.
Did they get it right? Do they understand what you do?
Is the important information 'above the fold'?
Most website visitors want to know the details without doing a lot of work. If they have to scroll down to find the main idea, they will likely leave earlier than you’d like.
Make sure that your unique selling proposition (USP) is clearly spelled out. This is a piece of information that says in one sentence or less why someone should do business with you - 'what you do' and 'who you do it for'.
Make it clear and prominent on your website. Make sure that it doesn't contain industry jargon that visitors may not understand.
Can you easily find the benefits of your product or service?
A visitor to your website wants to learn as much as possible about the benefits of your product or service.
Features are important, too, but the most important thing a visitor can take away is a sense that this product or service will make an impact in their life… for the better.
Is there a clear call to action?
If customers like what they see, it is important to move them along easily. There should be a prominent, clear call to action on your website.
Your call to action may be to buy now, start a free trial, learn more or something else. Make sure that you are not sending mixed messages with too many calls to action. Choose the one that matters most and make it easy to find.
Is the font easy to read?
Make sure your font is easy to read and is not distracting. Don’t get fancy; just stick with a simple, sans-serif font in a colour clearly readable on the background.
Why are Verdana or Arial always used on websites? The reason is very simple - there are only a handful of fonts that look similar that are installed by default on both Windows and Macs. Consequently, these "browser safe fonts" find their way into almost every website out there.
Use fonts other than "browser safe fonts" and you run the risk of your website text using the default font on your visitor's computer - normally Times or Times New Roman.
Are there bulky sections of writing anywhere on the page?
Long, bulky paragraphs are likely to get skipped as your visitors skim read.
Try breaking up your copy into smaller sections that get the point across quickly.
- Use bolded or coloured headings.
- Use bullet points for lists.
And don't centre the headings or copy. Web visitiors read in an F shape from left to right - use this layout will ensure your message gets across more easily and quicker.
Do the menu items clearly tell you where they will take you?
Website design and usability are important considerations that often get overlooked.
Think about what information you would want to find if you visited your website, and plan your menus accordingly. There should almost always be an “about us” and “contact us” page - it's tempting to have menu items named differently, but don't make it vague for the visitor - make your website simple/easy to navigate.
There are millions of active websites & the average person only gives a website 10 seconds before deciding whether the website is worth their time.
Is there an easy way to contact the business?
If your website does its job, you'll likely have interested prospects who want to learn more or simply have a few questions. Make sure they have an easy way to find you. Potential customers also want to know that they will be able to get a hold of you if needed in the future, whether for warranty service or support.
Include basic contacts like a telephone and email link on every page (in the same place) e.g. under menu items on LH side, or at bottom of page in the footer.
And also have a good contacts page with useable information e.g. postal address, street address and a map (if appropriate), phone numbers, emails, hours. Add an email form if you wish, but also include the information for those that want to call or post or even fax. Put yourself in your customers' shoes and think about the different information they might want for different situations - hours, phones, emails, faxes, postal, street, map, particular directions. They maybe wanting to send you a Christmas card or a gift!
Can you find out more about the owner or employees of the company?
Visitors often want to know that they are dealing with real people.
Having an 'about us' or 'profile' page is a great way to show the world why you do the job, what your passion is, what makes you tick. Include photos, too – everyone likes to associate a face to the business. Professional photos are good, and show the company as professional.
Like most web pages, keep it succinct, well written and to the point. You can make it fun and use 'gravatars' instead of actual photos of yourself and/or staff. Or professionally done, with skills and responsibilities.
Do you feel personally connected?
Visitors who feel personally connected will be more likely to take a look around your website and/or become a customer. Tell your story, and tell them why you are the right choice. You can personally connect with your visitors by being honest, using a conversational writing style and including real testimonials from other customers.
Is the writing on your website corporate or conversational?
Corporate writing is good for…well, big corporations. But a small business shouldn’t pretend to be a big, formal entity that is disconnected from the public. Your ability to relate to your customers is a big reason why they will eventually choose you – start right away with an engaging, conversational tone in your writing.
Capturing leads from your website visitors...
Is there a web form above the fold?
A web form is really the only way to capture leads from your website visitors. Make sure that it is in a visible place above the fold. The simpler it is, the less information requested, the more people will fill it out. Never ask for information you will not use e.g. if you are collecting newsletter subscribers, don't ask for their phone number - all you need is an email address, but you may like their first name so that you can personalise their newsletters.
Is the offering appealing enough to make you want to give your email address?
Your web form should also offer an incentive piece to spark a visitor’s interest and convince them to give you their information. Make sure that this incentive piece is appealing – offer real tips, actionable advice or special deals that will immediately help your prospects. Something tangible they can use almost straight away.
Is there multimedia in your website?
Multimedia is a great way to add character and interest to your website. Videos, podcasts, tutorials and other multimedia options allow you to present your message to your visitors in a way that appeals to them.
Just make sure that you use multimedia wisely - don't just add it in just because you can, or have just found a new online tool - try to think as one of your visitors. If you find this hard, ask a few people to review your website as you watch them navigate around it. Don't make any comments yourself, just let them loose. Make notes. Everyone will have different likes, dislikes, actions but watch and listen carefully!
Are there links to social media on your website?
Social media allows you to communicate with your prospects, and it allows them to communicate with each other.
Ensure you include links to your blog, Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts on your website.
Make it easy for everyone to find you on social media…even if they don’t fill out your website form, they may choose to follow you in some fashion.