Almost every business has a website these days. As I wrote in this post, many people set up websites without goals in mind, and do so quickly just to have a web presence and get exposure. Some businesses invest in SEO and social media to drive more traffic to their site. They are told that this is what they need to do to get more business. While yes, improving your digital marketing can bring more website traffic, my first question is always:
What do people see when they get there?
SEO and social media bring in more website visitors but they will not necessarily help convert business on your site. Websites should be thought of as sales tools and if yours is not leading to more business, it may be time to do some updates BEFORE you start to bring in more traffic. Think about this: a realtor would not advertise an open house to attract buyers to see a run down home, he would assess the value of the home and potentially recommend some renovations or staging BEFORE exposing it to a larger market. This post is a handy checklist on how to audit your website and optimize it for sales.
1. Key Message: On your homepage, the key message of your business should be clear. It's great if you have your logo and a nice photo visible, but once the page loads, do people know what the website is and what your business does? If not, update this immediately. People browsing websites have a short attention span (2 seconds before they scroll down or click away) so it is vital that you speak to them directly and efficiently.
- Royal Financial - "We advise companies on how to spend money and make money"
- Blue Collar Construction - "Building beautiful homes to last a lifetime"
- Maggie's Diner - "Southern comfort food like mom used to make"
If you read the examples, notice that they inform what the business does but are not dry. They are one liners but still punchy and make the business sound good in the eyes of the viewer. This is the "hook", and what will get them to stay on your site.
2. About: Do you have an About page or an About section? After the homepage, the second page a visitor will look for is your About page. Once they are drawn in by your "hook"/the key message, they will go to the About page to learn more about what your business does and who runs it. This is not the place to be shy. As a small business owner, a personal touch is your differentiation factor over a larger company. For example, Nike's website most likely doesn't have a photo and bio about the owner of Nike. A brand that big has its leaders further removed because the brand stands on its own. Your brand will be more successful if you add a face for people to attach the brand to. I'm not saying to splash your face all over your website, but one professional headshot will do just fine. This will add a human factor to the brand - a great way to build trust and encourage people to work with you. If you have a video, even better!
3. Call to Action: A call to action is a button or link directing your visitors to DO something, and when you successfully get your website visitor to complete your call to action, this is called a conversion. More than aesthetics and information, websites should put their focus on conversion and improve their conversion rates (percentage of visitors who actually complete the call to action) by including clear calls to action throughout their website. If you don't know what you want your users to do when they land on your page, there is no sense in having a website, so figuring that out is step one. Otherwise, they'll land on your website, browse through, not be encouraged to do anything, and leave. There you lose a potential customer or client. So convert your website visitors to customers and clients or at least inquiries by adding calls to action! Examples of calls to action are:
- Shop Now
- Book Now
- Reserve a Table
- Buy Tickets
- Request a Quote
- Order Now
- Connect with Us
- Contact Us
Simple! Whichever you pick for your visitors to do, make it stand out (a button is great) and appear on almost every page. Every page in your website should be intentionally thought out as a step by step process to convince the visitor towards your call to action. You want them to complete it before they close the site, because they may not visit again! So every time you have a page with content that helps "sell" your business, include your call to action on that page. The optimal place for a call to action is at the top right of a page near your primary navigation. This way, users can choose to call or shop or buy or book at any stage of their browsing. You never know which page is going to be the one that convinces them, so keeping it in a consistent position and noticeable will make it unmissable.
4. Menu: How many items does your navigation have? Best practice is to keep it to 7 items maximum. If you make your menu items more general and user-intuitive, all other pages should be able to fall under your main menu. The primary items users look to the menu for are: About, Services or Products, Team/Who We Are, Pricing, Gallery, Blog, Contact and your Call to Action. Of course, there are other industry-specific categories that people would want to look at in your primary menu, for example Menus for restaurants and Rooms for hotels, etc. etc. Whatever your industry, try to keep it to 7 items and group your sub pages into these categories. It will make for a cleaner site and better experience for your visitor.
5. Content: This is one of the biggest updates we make in website design. Many businesses overwhelm their websites with content! YES text is great, and giving your audience information is a good thought. However, think about yourself as a user when you visit a website. You do not want to read and read and read. You want to capture the main points of what the website is and offers, decide whether or not you want to buy a product or hire a company. It's that simple: if you do not want to be reading through paragraphs to see whether or not this business can fulfill your need, visitors to your website do not want to do so either. Include information, but make it easy for people to digest and find the answers that they are looking for. The expression "less is more" is key here. And if you have a lot of information to give, break it up into smaller bites, for example by using lists. Graphics are a great way to make information more visual and engaging as well. So while it can be tempting to write a novel on each page of your website (and your SEO expert is convincing you to do the same), refrain from doing so. Instead, communicate clearly, simplify your messages, and make sure your audience doesn't have to dig for answers.
Ask a friend or colleague you trust and is your ideal audience to take a look at your website and ask these questions:
- Do you understand the purpose of this website and what my business does?
- Does it appeal to you and give you enough information to make a decision?
- Would you want to buy or submit an inquiry based on this website?
Being too close to your own company and website, you might not know how your target audience is going to react. So make sure to ask a few people what they think of your website so you know if it needs further improvement.
So there you have it! A quick 5-point audit for your website that you can do on your own if you feel it's time to update your site but are not ready for a redesign. Once your site looks better and has the right tools for conversion (turning visitors to customers and clients), then it's the perfect time to invest in SEO and social media strategy.
This was a quick overview of what you can do on your own to look on your site, but we offer comprehensive website audits (much more than 5 points) and partial design as well, so if you'd like a more in-depth look into every area of your website and how you can optimize it for conversions, we're happy to help! Send us a note and we can chat.