Your website is one of the most valuable marketing assets your business has. When it's performing well, it's a 24/7 marketing machine that can generate new leads and help you deliver great information to your audience. When a website isn't performing to it's potential, it can be an eyesore and distance your business from the people you're trying to help.
Many businesses jump for a complete redesign when a site isn't delivering the right results. This process, however, can take months and also be very expensive. Often, there is good content on your site already.
Why throw all that hard work and good content away?
Instead of pursuing a complete overhaul of your website, here are 3 Easy Steps to Improve Your Website (Plus one extra at the end!). Use these tips to focus your effort where it has the highest impact on your website's performance:
1. SEO Quick Wins
When planning the design and content of your website, you likely started by identifying your audience (or personas) and planning the tone, visual style, and other aspects of the site to cater to those ideal customers.
Even though this is absolutely the BEST way to optimize a site for your users, you may have accidentally neglected a vital audience member: Google.
Think of a search engine like the salesperson at your local record store. There's no way that person can listen to every album and make the perfect recommendation every time you come in, so he/she uses things like genre, name, record label, and recent best-sellers to make an educated suggestion for what you're looking for. For a webpage, these categories can include page title, meta keywords, meta descriptions, and your website's reputation.
To Increase your Search Engine Optimization, use these tips to make sure your webpage is highly recommended:
- Put your targeted keywords in H1 and other header tags. This lets the Google bot know that these words are important to the content on the page.
- Optimize images with relevant and accurate alt text. Also, make sure these images load quickly (a high load-time can make you rank lower) and that you own the images you're using.
- LINKS! Links are the silver bullet of SEO. The more other websites that link to your content, the easier it is for Google to recommend. Also important is checking older links to make sure they still work, and using external links (links to other sites besides your own) to build a referral network and encourage those sites to link back to you as well.
2. Design for Success
Design trends are always changing, but this change is not purely aesthetically motivated. Many modern web design trends are based around user interaction. Minimalism, flat design, responsive design, and current visual hierarchy trends exist because they have been proven to produce positive results for many organizations.
If you want to increase your website's conversions, or simply provide your users with a more positive experience, it's worthwhile to take a good, hard look at your current website's design. In many cases, making a few tweaks to your site can give you a performance boost similar to a redesign, with much less time or expense.
Here are a few key areas to look at when evaluating your website's design:
- Does the design promote the content your users are looking for, or is it distracting from it? Take a look at your key colors and images. Is there too much contrast? Does your eye enjoy reading the site, or does it become strained?
- One of the most difficult parts of designing a website is the navigation. Can users quickly identify how to get where they want to go? Users should ideally know their next "step to success" within 3 seconds of a page loading. That can be the next page link, a Call-to-Action, or a piece of media, but it needs to be easy to find.
- Is your content consumable on all devices? When you optimize your website for only one device, be it desktop OR mobile, you're alienating a huge portion of your audience (poor responsive design can also negatively impact your SEO status).
3. (Quality) Content is Still King
It's not hard to argue that content-overload exists, especially when looking at popular blog topics. Unless your business exists in a specific niche, it's almost impossible to get search engines to pick up your content about 101 topics anymore; there's just too much existing content. Don't be fooled, though, content is still king, it just needs to be tackled in the right way.
First, make sure your current content is easily digestible. Similar to design trends, content trends exist because they have been proven to work in many cases. Take the format of this blog. It's organized as a list with sub-lists in between, which lets the reader (YOU!) quickly glance and digest the information, and skip the parts you don't want to read.
TLDR: Give your users what they're looking for, quickly and easily.
(See what I did there?)
Here's your list of quick tips for analyzing and improving your content:
- Try to take the key points out of existing content and change the format into a list, guide, or other easily digestible format.
- While you're at it, update content that is no longer relevant or accurate, and reexamine your SEO strategies on a piece-by-piece basis. Check keywords, header tags, meta descriptions, image alt-text, etc...
- When planning new content, here are the top two ways to get found on search engines: Advanced topics and adjectives. Blogging 101 is probably one of the most popular blog titles out there right now, but a title like "7 Simple, Advanced Blogging Strategies" is not only content that will rank easier, but also that users are actively searching for.
4. BONUS TIP: Learn to Love Data
Here's an extra tip for free! If you REALLY want to improve your website, you need to get acquainted with data and User Experience. The absolute best way to make sure your website is delivering a great experience to your users is simply to ask them. Using modern measurement tools to gather user feedback helps you make the best decisions about what to fix on your site. These fixes will give your audience a better experience, increase your conversions, and increase your online-marketing efforts effectiveness and accountability, but it does take a lot of work.
Here are some tools to help you collect user feedback:
- Google Analytics - The free analytic software every website needs. Not the most user-friendly tool out there, but it's the most numbers heavy. A little bit of training and customization goes a long way.
- HotJar - It's amazing this service is still free (although the paid plans are worth their price as well). HotJar takes a screenshot of your webpage, analyzes what users click on, hover over, and their scrolling behaviors, then overlays a heatmap over the page to show you what content is important to users, and what isn't.
- HubSpot - The grand-daddy of online marketing, HubSpot is the only all-in-one solution for your marketing efforts. HubSpot creates results like nothing else for serious businesses.
So there's your roadmap to improving your website. Take this information and focus your efforts on:
- Reviewing and improving your SEO strategies and tactics
- Designing a site that is easy and enjoyable to use
- Creating QUALITY new content (and refining old content)
- Tracking user behavior to improve your website according to the feedback your users give you
If you have additional questions, please contact us today. We're happy to lend a hand.