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Is your website really delivering?

Updated: Wednesday 25th October 2017

 

Is your current website really delivering? I highlight common shortfalls I find when auditing other websites. Have a think about your own website at each stage and see if you are able to use this article to make improvements.

When I introduce myself to established business owners, I'm usually met with "Thanks, but I already have a website". My heart sinks, however, I will make a note to take a look at their website when I get back to my desk. What I often discover is that these websites are falling short. Sadly the business owners are blissfully unaware that their website could be delivering better results.

First impressions

I would argue that any website that has not been given a makeover in the past three years is unlikely to make a strong first impression. Just like the fashion industry, what was once 'on trend' slowly begins to look tired and dated. You probably don’t wear the clothes you wore three years ago, so why present your business on an outdated website using Comic Sans and bevelled buttons?

It takes a website visitor less than three seconds to form an opinion about a business. In those three seconds, the visitor’s eyes are not reading the text, they are digesting the way that the page looks and feels.  Subconsciously, they are forming assumptions about the business. An out-dated website will make a visitor question whether the business is serious about what they do, they may even question the financial state of the business. First impressions are everything.

Talk to your target customer

All businesses should know who their target customer is and their website should be built with only their target customer in mind. Trying to communicate to a wide variety of potential visitors will simply confuse your message. Talk in plain English, if your website is full of technical jargon or meaningless business speak, your visitor will have already hit the ‘back’ button.

Call to actions

A lot of emphasis is placed on the importance of CTA's. These are the buttons that say "SIGN UP" or "BUY NOW". Too often I see these prominently placed right at the top of a page or in a pop-up box on page loading, this is way too soon. Your visitor will want to explore your page, digest the information and form their own opinion before committing to taking any action.

Have a clear sequential path

It’s no use making bold claims in a red font or using explanation marks to force your message!!! All you will do is trigger suspicion and friction in your visitor's mind.

Your website should be trying to nurture the visitor to come to their own conclusion about your product. For this to happen, your website must guide the visitor along a sequential path, helping them form a series of positive opinions or yes's. To do this you will need to communicate in a logical sequence, ensuring your message is quantifiable and believable.

If your website visitor journey is properly planned, then your visitor will have formed those positive opinions and conclude (for themselves) that they want your product.

Search engine optimisation

A small business owner may have a visually appealing website, but they could be blissfully unaware that their website has not been properly built or optimised for search engines. I recently helped a new client who complained of no leads from his old website. When I looked into their old website it was completely empty of all the basic (but unseen) elements which play a key role in SEO.

Common mistakes that I see include poor use of the 70 character page title tag, or the 160 character meta description snippet.

Images are another area which is often overlooked. An image file name and its ALT tag can both help boost search rankings when used properly. For example, having an image of your shiny new product named abc123.jpg will not help Google, which in turn will not help you.

You can easily look under the bonnet of your website by right-clicking and choosing “view page source”. There is a lot of code, but you can find your meta-description, file names and alt tags, check that they are properly named and configured to give the best chance of high search rankings.

Never have multiple domains

In the old days, businesses could get away with having multiple websites to flood the market in the hope of picking up extra business. This is now discouraged; indeed Google will penalise and demote a website if it sniffs duplicate content or deception.

In pursuit of remaining the #1 search engine, Google spends millions on creating algorithms to provide the very best and relevant search results for its users.

Google's algorithms are searching for natural clicks to a website. The more natural clicks a website achieves, the higher it will go in the search rankings. Having multiple domains will only water down your clicks for each domain and see your rankings fall. Its far better to have 1 domain getting all the clicks, which will ultimately place you higher in searches.

Conclusion

A website needs constant analysis and auditing. Is your website properly built to maximise the opportunities when a search engine crawls your page? Will your website earn the trust of your visitor in the first three seconds? Does your website have a clear journey planned for your target customer? Is your message clear enough to help the visitor to conclude that you are worth doing business with?

If you have answered no to any of these questions then you should definitely be thinking about having a review of your website.

Updated: Wednesday 25th October 2017

 

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