THINK About Your Website
By: Teresa Mitchell, Wendy Ogryzek and June Bachman ~
How long has it been since you took a few minutes to glance through your website from an objective point of view? It’s a good idea from time to time to take a look, and really think about it … especially from the perspective of your clients. Our websites evolve continuously as we make updates and changes. And, every so often it is a good idea to take a step back and make sure we are presenting what we want to present in a manner that makes the user experience the easiest and best it can be.
This month we are suggesting a few items to look for in your website … If you aren’t doing these things – now is the time to start!
Are You Maximizing Your Domain Name?
The best business website addresses (URL) say what you do and where you do it. Take AutoRepairShopBallard.com. It conveys in an instant what they do and where they do it – they fix cars in Ballard! It also includes both a location keyword and the keyword phrase auto repair.
Don’t freak out about needing to change your domain name … however, you may wish to consider adding an additional domain name. We generally recommend that businesses have at least two domain names … one that is used for branding (on all printed materials) and another that leverages the use of location and keywords. For example the brand domain for AutoRepairShopBallard.com is ApexBallard.com.
Does Your Website Have Broken Links?
Broken links are dead pages … you know the ones that you click on and then a page is displayed stating that page doesn’t work. This is equally frustrating for both your website visitors and the search engine spiders. Broken links can result in an immediate loss of credibility for your business. Visitors are easily frustrated because they can’t find what they wanted to find on your website. Not only may they end up leaving your website quickly … but you’ve lost the opportunity to continue communicating with them. Equally frustrated, the spiders who are working their way through indexing the pages of your website … simply leave, and do not continue to move through your website to finish the indexing.
Where is Your Website Hosted?
It is always tempting to find the most economical way to host your website. However, you may not be getting the absolute best performance by paying less. For example, many of the “big players” who offer really inexpensive hosting, place your website on web servers with lots and lots of other websites. Full servers will never perform as efficiently and effecting as hosting offered by smaller companies with fewer websites on their servers.
Additionally, the search engines have recently added how long it takes a web page to load to the calculations they use to determine how high your website will be ranked. Fuller servers perform more slowly, and therefore you web pages may load more slowly as well.
Warning: SHAMELESS PLUG – If you are looking for the best hosting value in town … bWyse will host your website for only $35 per month which INCLUDES one hour of changes to your website each month!
Do You Have Your Contact Information on ALL of Your Web Pages?
Most websites have a contact page with address and phone number information. Make it easy for both your website visitors and the search engine spiders to know where you are located and how to get in touch with you. Visitors may enter your website from any of your webpages. By having the contact information on all pages, you save them the trouble of having to search for and then click on the contact page. Search engine spiders often times will capture your contact information and use it in their mapping results. Having the information on all pages makes is easy for the search engine spiders to locate the contact information right away.
How Often Are You Updating Your Website Content?
Once again, you need to keep both your website visitors and the search engine spiders happy. One of the best ways you can do this is by updating your content on a routine basis. Website visitors can spot stale content a mile away … and just like broken links, stale content will degrade your company’s credibility. Likewise, the search engines want to provide the most current and up to date information in their search results. The search engine spiders take note as to how current your content is … and they will rank websites with more current content higher, than those websites that don’t have current content.
Is Your Website a `Template` Website?
Admittedly, we believe there is a time and place for template websites. Template websites are better than no website at all. If you are just starting your business, the template website may serve your purposes … for the first year or so. However, the limitation of template websites are so great, you really end up doing your business a disservice by utilizing a template website for very long.
Template websites are websites where “You Can Build It Yourself” – by making a bunch of choices to slightly tweak the website to add your logo and some content. Ultimately these sites will not reflect your business and brand professionally – the templates are designed to appeal (be sold) to you – not to your clients. You are also limited to where and how you can emphasize content on the template pages. If you started with a template website and it’s been a year or so … it is time to move your website to the next professional level … and rebuild the website using a professional design.
Is Your Content Easy to Scan and Quick to Read?
Here is what you should assume: the only one who will read every word you upload to your small business website is you. Make your content scannable. Make it easy for your small business website customer to get in and get out of your site with what they came to get – a product, an appointment, a phone number, a service, a piece of information! Don’t write in full paragraphs … use headings and bullet points. The easier you make it for your website visitors to find what they need … the more quickly they will move to the next step … contacting you!
Don’t be overwhelmed if most of the above apply to your website. You don’t have to fix everything all at once. Put a plan together, prioritize the elements that you can change, and spend the next three months incorporating the changes you can do. And, as always, if you have any questions, or would like a FREE Website Analysis … give us a call … we’d love to take you to coffee!