Is your website as effective as it could be?
Even though I've probably never seen your website, I'm willing to answer the question for you. And my answer is that your website is not as effective as it could be.
How can I be so sure? Because I'd venture to say that every website on the planet could be improved in one way or another. It's a matter of identifying which attributes of the website should be modified, and testing whether a change in one or more of those attributes boosts performance.
So, what are the key attributes of a website that you should assess when trying to boost performance. Below are the 10 website aspects I consider most important.
1. Look and Feel
The look and feel of your website is much more important than most entrepreneurs realize. Specifically, when visitors come to your site, it's critical that their first impression is positive.
Importantly, think about who your customers are and what they are seeking. And then cater to them. For example, the look and feel of the Porsche.com website is extremely cool and elegant. Conversely, the look and feel of the Ben & Jerry's website (benjerry.com) is very fun and currently shows animated cows playing in a pasture.
Both websites do a great job of conveying the company image they want customers to have of them. Make sure that the look and feel of your website does the same.
The following situation happens to me far too often - I go to a company's website (either I found it online or someone emailed me a link). And then I read the homepage and don't know what the company does.
So, I find myself going to the "About Us" page to read more and to try to decipher what it is that the company does.
Importantly, I'm the exception. Few other visitors will invest the time to figure out what your company does. Rather, if they don't immediately "get it" and you don't immediately show them that you have or might have a solution to their needs, they'll hit the "Back" button and be gone forever.
A quick tip here is to use compelling headlines. For example, if your website sold tires, a great headline would be: "See Our Selection Of Over 500 Brands of Tires at the Guaranteed Lowest Prices." This is pretty much what all customers are looking for (selection and best price), so this headline lets visitors quickly know what the company does and that they are in the right place.
I'm sure your website has many pages, and it's your job to make it as simple as possible for your visitors to find the pages they want.
Navigation should be done on a top and/or left navigation bar, using links at the bottom of your website AND within the body text of all pages of your site.
I ran a Webinar last month using a new Webinar technology.
Shame on me that I didn't realize the new technology didn't work on ipads. So, many ipad owners emailed me that they couldn't access the Webinar.
The key lesson is that more and more, people are using devices other than computers (e.g., mobile phones, ipads) to access websites. Make sure your website is accessible from all of these devices or you will unwittingly be turning away new customers.
5. Quality Content
Website visitors have come to expect that your website will include quality content or information. For example, if your website has articles, they shouldn't be "fluff" - they need to include actionable advice that shows visitors that you know more than they do.
And clearly, having typos and grammatical errors will also turn off site visitors and prospective customers.
Think about the information you need to convey to customers to better solve their needs and differentiate you from the competition. While some of this information is compelling verbiage about your company, more of it should be information that's truly helpful to customers and makes them feel they made the right choice by visiting your website.
6. Amount of Content
The amount of content you include on your website is important for two reasons.
The first is that the more content you have on your website, the more preference search engines like Google will give your site when ranking it for desired keywords.
The second is that if customers are doing diligence on your company, they will want to learn more and more about you. Having a 5 or 10 page website clearly won't allow you to do this (you can start with a small website, but need a mechanism for adding to it).
Having a blog on your website helps solve both your website's need for amounts of content (#6) and interactivity (#7).
With regards to amount of content, adding a daily or weekly blog post entry will allow your website to constantly grow in size. This will boost your website's search rankings and give you more keyword opportunities to rank on (since each blog post might rank for certain keyword search terms).
With regards to interactivity, having a blog allows customers and prospective customers to interact with you. It gives you the opportunity to solicit feedback, which provides quick and easy market research.
Your blog also gives you a voice. Here's why this is important. People prefer to buy from people and not faceless companies. While your main website can have a professional, corporate look and feel, your blog gives your customers a look into your personality, and can encourage rapport and sales.
8. Proof that You are Great
Your website must prove that you are great, since many of your visitors may have never heard about you or your company, and there is a natural skepticism consumers have against companies they find online.
Unfortunately, overcoming this skepticism is not as easy as simply stating "we are great." Rather, you need to prove that you are great.
You can accomplish this by including any or all of the following on your website:
- Media mentions (in which media your company has been featured)
- Credibility logos (e.g., a logo of the Better Business Bureau with a link to your BBB rating)
- Client logos, names, testimonials and/or case studies showing you have performed quality work
- Industry associations and groups to which you belong
- Certifications you and/or members of your team hold
9. Have Multiple Calls to Action
Even though all of us have grown accustomed to going online to find new products and services to buy, the way each of us likes to buy is different.
Some of us like to buy online. Others like to fill out an online contact form. Others like to call a toll free number. And so on.
As the website's operator, it is your job to ensure that you have multiple ways in which visitors can contact you to learn more about buying your products or services.
Also, if customers may not be ready to buy now, include calls to action to download free reports or other items to satisfy their initial needs; these items should require them to give you their contact information for further marketing.
10. Effective Page Layout
The final key attribute of your website is the layout of your pages. The art of laying out your web pages properly is known as landing page optimization or LPO.
The key to LPO is making sure that visitors have to think as little as possible. The ideal layout influences visitors to take the desired actions. For example, if the goal of one of your web pages is to get the visitor to give you their email address, having the email box near the top of the page, with a clear headline above it in a big font, will yield much better results than the same email box on the bottom left corner of the page with a small headline.
There are several heat map programs that can show you exactly how your website visitors are interacting with your website; what they are looking at, what they are clicking on, etc. It is critical that you understand this information, and modify your page layouts over time to get more and more visitors to take the actions you desire.
I hope that from reading these 10 key website elements, you've identified ideas to improve your website. Importantly, you must understand that improving your website is an iterative process. You should always be testing new ideas, and tracking results. Doing this for even just a few months will result in a website that is much more effective than the site you operate today.
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