Having a website is one thing. Putting your website to work for you is another thing altogether. There are over 60,000 new websites launched every single day – and most of those remain invisible and useless. While it is entirely possible to dive deep into the technical weeds when it comes to effective website deployment, I’m going to keep this blog very high level. There are simple non-negotiables any website must have so you can grow your business. In addition, there are practices that will work equally against you. We will look briefly at both.
KEY WEBSITE CONTENT
Most websites talk primarily about the organization, presumably since the most common website templates are designed that way. It seems an About Us section, Bio, Team, as well as a long list of Services and an occasional Why Us section are mandatory.
They aren’t. You can have them, and having them can potentially help your SEO ranking in organic searches, if you do them right. However, for converting traffic into customers, you need to think about your content a little differently.
Critical Website Content:
What you do. A clear explanation of what your company does at the top of the page – not buried somewhere in the About Us, or after scrolling halfway down the home page. A logo and tagline won’t do the job either.
A clear Call to Action. Also known as a CTA, immediately tell your site visitor how they can have access to you, your services, or perhaps a useful tool you offer. Then tell them again in another part of the home page, and then in other locations of the site. To be very clear – you can offer a newsletter sign-up, but that is not a strong CTA.
The pain you solve. Some go too far here, painting a bleak picture of the customers’ suffering, complete with images of people in pain, or homes burning down. That’s not only unnecessary – it works against you, identifying you with the pain, rather than the solution. But clearly articulating what your customers struggle with let’s them feel seen and heard. They know you are talking to them.
The solution you provide. Make this content insanely (and emotionally) compelling. Paint a vivid picture of what life is like as a result of working with you. This needs to be on the home page or the landing page.
Proof of success. Whether you have killer testimonials, a long list of clients, articles and books, case studies or work samples and results – put this proof of your credibility front and center. For added punch, put another chance at your CTA right next to this. If they are reading it, they are considering you.
A Useful Download. It is important to have an immediately useful downloadable tool that potential customers will crave enough to exchange their email for it. If it is really mind-blowingly awesome, you can even charge a small fee for your download. However, the main point is to grow your email database with warm leads for you to nurture.
One last caveat to all of the content on your site: Keep it as short as possible, and pepper it with key search terms you want to be known for. Visitors only read about 20% of copy, while search engines read it all. Don’t go overboard on key words – but certainly ensure they are present.
There really are only a handful of functionality do’s and don’ts for most websites. The five biggest ones are:
Fast Is Friendly. Generally, if your site doesn’t load in 3 seconds, you lose traffic. The fancier the site – which means the more plugins are involved – the slower it will load. You can get away with load times of up to 7 seconds in the case of sites that are lower traffic, but keep an eye on your speed, and if you can improve it, it is worth the investment.
Mobile-friendly. Over 60% of us are viewing websites on our smart devices, not our laptops. If your site doesn’t function smoothly on a mobile device, or translate well into a mobile format, then rethink your site platform or design. You cannot afford to be left behind.
Content Over Sizzle. There was a time when almost every site had a rotating banner at the top of the home page. That is no longer a good practice. An even worse practice is loading key content into a rotating banner. The reason for this is visitors simply don’t linger on a banner long enough to absorb the content. A looping video behind one set of key content is a good alternative these days.
Optimize Your Images. Make certain the imagery on your site is not too high in resolution, since this will slow the site down. And for goodness sake! Make sure you are not using imagery illegally by grabbing rights managed images you have not bought the rights to use.
Keep Links Current. Make sure all your links pointing to, from and within your site work. Broken links are frowned on by search engines.
BUILDING A PATH TO YOUR SITE:
It is 100% false that if you build your site they will come. A new website with no clear path pointing to it is just an invisible tree in the forest. Here are the most common ways you can create the path must faster than SEO, which will typically take a year or more, even when done correctly.
Create ads. Whether you use AdWords, Facebook, or any other platform, an ad will point traffic to your site. The key is to know what people search for, and how it intersects your offering, and provide a compelling solution. The best ads today link to a download or tool.
Be a Guest. Whether you submit articles, blogs, or do an interview on someone else’s podcast, be sure your bio and website info are included. By placing your content on other sites and platforms you are growing awareness for your site.
Social Media. Both your profile page and your posts can easily point to your site. Don’t miss every opportunity to reference juicy content from your site, and place the URL in graphics you post.
Create Collaborative Partnerships. Whether you are co-hosting a class, co-sponsoring an event, or just sharing aligned content to each other’s audiences, this is one of the best ways to grow an entirely new audience for both parties.