Last month we published part one of our guide to creating a killer website. Read on for more need to know advice….
Creating a website which goes beyond about us
Gone are the days when a website was nice to have option for small businesses.
Last month the SBG blog looked at the basics of getting a website off the ground. Now it’s time for the fun stuff! We will explore website content and design, how search engines see your site and how you can measure the success of all your hard work.
More than just a pretty homepage
Whether or not you are working with a web designer, there are six main areas you need to think about which will fundamentally influence your website’s design.
How will you direct visitors through the site so they take the actions you want them to? There are lots of ways design can be used to push your visitor – and hopefully as a result, customer – in the right direction.
Avoid squeezing information into every pixel. You have literally seconds to impress your visitor before they leave your site and if what they are looking for is not clearly visible you are highly likely to lose them before they have really engaged with your business.
Randomly placed elements make sites look messy and confusing.
Avoid using pictures for the sake of it and take the time to think about what you really want your images to say. For example, a coffee shop showing people smiling and chatting gives a very different view than an empty coffee shop. It seems obvious, but it’s so often overlooked.
Fashions come and go, but a good solid text font for body copy is always the way to go.
Some websites are hideously complicated to navigate with information hidden all over the place. Homepages should be like signposts, with each of the signs visible and logical. Ultimately you want the visitor to do something as a result of looking at your site. Therefore, your ‘call to action’ must take the best possible position on the page.
A picture is worth a thousand words
As mentioned, images need to speak to your website visitors. They need to be good quality and give an impression of your business as a whole while enticing visitors into your website. Dingy, poor quality or cluttered images can have the opposite effect.
In an ideal world you would commission a professional photographer to take bespoke images for your business.
If your budget doesn’t allow for this Page Crafter has some great of tips for how to take your own photos
The other option is to use stock images from an online image library. Although these can feel a bit soulless, if used along side your own images they can work well. Some image libraries charge royalty fees, but there are free options too, such as unsplash and pixabay.
Words, words, words
Don’t underestimate the power of well written copy. Short, punchy sentences which grab attention and pull visitors into your site are exactly what you are looking for.
Being able to effectively sum up what your business in a short pithy sentence is not only useful for your website. It will serve you well in every way you come into contact with potential customers.
Think about your tone, avoid jargon and acronyms and strike the balance between not enough and too much copy on each page.
A successful website will persuade potential customers to take action. Although design elements such as placing contact information prominently can go a long way towards achieving this, good copy is important too. For instance, use case studies or customer feedback to show how your product or service stands out from the crowd.
What are keywords?
When building a website you will often hear on-page SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) mentioned. Put simply, it means creating web pages which explain to search engines what your site is all about. Done well, it will help you appear higher up the list when people search for words relating to your business, and so increase traffic to your site.
You can create the most beautiful website, but if people can’t find you when using a search engine such as google, it’s all pretty pointless. So when writing for a website you need to understand the kind of words and phrases people would use when searching for your business. These are your keywords.
Many of the words that are key to your business will be at the forefront of your mind, but there are online tools which can help with this task. Keeping your keywords up to date is important too – it’s not a job you can do once and then forget about it.
Once you have identified your keywords you need to strike a fine balance between creating easy to understand copy which is appealing to your visitors, while including the keywords to help you move up the search rankings.
A good copywriter will understand how to do this in a natural way that reads well while also ticking the SEO boxes.
How else do search engines see your site?
Alongside keywords there are a number of other behind the scenes tasks which will help with your on-page SEO.
Keep them short and if possible include keywords. Break up longer text with subheadings, again including keywords if possible.
HTML tags (title, meta, and header)
Although each slightly different in approach, they are all a way of summing up what appears on your website pages, so search engines can find them. There are many online guides offering further information.
Labels given to images so that if someone read you the words, you could imagine the picture that appears on the web page. This is really important in helping to make your site accessible.
Most good template sites will prompt you to complete HTML tags for each page or if you use WordPress you can add a plug in called Yoast to do this.
Alternatively contact SBG and we can talk you through all of the elements or even take the task off your hands.
Keeping your site secure
Most template sites take on responsibility for keeping your website secure. For example Wix, Weebly and Square are generally seen as very secure.
If you decide to use WordPress, you are responsible for keeping the site and its plug ins up to date. If this isn’t done parts of your site might stop working, or worse it might be hacked and you could lose all your work.
Can you measure results?
Linking your site to Google Analytics and Search Console (both free) will give loads of information about how well your pages are performing and how many visitors you are attracting from where. They will also highlight any element of your site that isn’t working.
You are never finished!
Websites must be regularly updated to be successful. SBG’s Liz Smith said: “My main piece of advice would be learn how to access your site and add information yourself, even if you don’t feel that confident with technology. If you rely on a web developer to make regular small changes your costs will soon mount up. Your website developer should be able to show you how to do simple tasks such as editing text or adding blog posts yourself.”
At SBG we have specialists in web design, development, copy writing, marketing and search engine optimisation. This wide range of services makes sure you will get a site that works for you. Our team care about producing a good quality site that will add value to your business.
All of these services are offered as standalone options, or as a complete package, so get in touch to discuss how we can help you.