Most successful businesses today have a website, but not all of them are effective. Effective websites have a purpose, they do something, such as generating customers. Put simply they do what they are supposed to. According to an article by Intergrowth 85% of people perform some type of online search before making a purchase. This makes it a rough place to be if you don’t have a website or have a bad one. Lack of a website means you have no credibility or low credibility if you can be found on some kind of social media platform. For a business to survive in this day and age it has to have some kind of online presence or it's likely to suffer.
Fortunately, having a website can fix this, but I stress “can”. Just because a business has a website doesn’t mean that site will help them. In some cases, it may hurt your business by causing people to think of you as a scammer. This can be for a variety of reasons but one common issue is due to the quality and poor execution of a website. You can also raise concern by having overly sales-y wording on your site or even not having enough about you or your business.
My point is, there are a lot of hurdles to jump over when it comes to building your website. My intent here is to hopefully alleviate some of those pain points and help you fix some of the issues.
I’ve broken this down into three categories.
I think in most cases when a business owner thinks about improving their website they believe the area to best spend their time and money would be SEO or ranking on Google.
This isn’t a bad area to spend your time and money but there are some expectations to manage here. Ranking on Google can be very difficult for anyone but more so for someone that has little to no understanding of it. Over the years Google’s search has evolved and changed drastically. At one point it was just a matter of including a bunch of keywords in the Meta Description (backend or coded segment) of the website. Today it's much more complex than that.
For starters, there are a lot more businesses online today which means more competition and higher difficulty of ranking for any specific keyword. It's never an exact science because Google doesn’t release their formula but there are some standards that can help you rank. Semrush has a fairly handy blog article that provides “15 Keys to Improve Your SEO Ranking.” I’m just going to cover a few of the more common issues and areas that I see often.
The quality of the content on your site can have a drastic impact on your rankings. Including plagiarized content from other sites is always a bad idea, google can detect this. In addition, the content should flow and be broken up into sections. Don’t just drop a large essay on the homepage and think that is going to have a positive impact. Google needs help understanding your content. Use header tags (h1, h2, h3, etc.) or other elements to break up the content. Finally, it's important that your content is credible, citing from well-known credible sources will help.
SEO consists of a lot of things but one is on-page SEO which refers to the objects and information on your website. These things can be images, titles, links, or copy. This is where keywords come into play. Be sure to include your selected keywords in varying places of your website but make sure you research them first. Keywords can be short “doggie daycare” or long “doggie daycare in downtown Indianapolis” but, you’ll want to make sure that people use those keywords and also, consider the difficulty of ranking for said keyword.
This includes information and actions that support your website from other websites. This in short means links from other websites that point to your website. Many SEO experts believe this is the king in the world of SEO. The more reputable a linking website is, the more weight it carries for you. Kind of like when a person gets a referral to a job, the closer the person is to the hiring manager or owner the more likely they are to be hired.
I see it often, a designer has limited to no experience building a website or writing code and they make a mess of the backend of the website. This creates a couple of problems. First, it can lead to slow loading times and that means people leaving your page if they have to wait even 3 seconds. Additionally, this also can cause issues with Google’s search bots. If these bots hit a snag on a page, it doesn’t bode well for you. Google will penalize you causing your ranking to decrease across the board. Using a website such as Pingdom can give you some much-needed insight and direction.
Mobile-Friendly websites or what are often referred to as responsive websites enable a site to be used on any size window or mobile device. Over the past few years, this has become increasingly important. Intergrowth reported in 2021 that 56% of all online consumers use a mobile device to locate a business online and 40% of people search exclusively on their phones. Google has recognized these stats and regularly changes their algorithm to match. So, your site is going to suffer if it doesn't work well on mobile.
Fortunately, most themes and designers worth their salt develop responsive websites. However, they aren’t all developed well, meaning if they don’t display correctly or adapt to most sizes this can be a problem and lead to your website being penalized.
Your age doesn’t matter to Google’s search bots but the age of your website does. Age is viewed by when Google first indexed your page not when you first bought the domain. When a website is first launched and indexed its value is very low for the first three months. After that, it doesn’t play as large of a role. According to Google, a website that is 6 months old has very little difference from one that is 12 months old.
A key part of the success of any website is messaging. In a way, your messaging has to sell you or your product without being overly sales-focused and give people a reason to want to work with you or buy your product. Your copy has to be engaging but can be a great way to be creative and show personality. Remember, customers have so many options so they are not buying your product or services so much as they are buying you. Many businesses operate under the illusion that being the fastest, cheapest, and best is what customers want but that's not true.
If you go to a restaurant that has good food but the experience was terrible it's not likely you’ll be back. People are willing to pay more, wait longer, and get less for a better experience. So, if a customer can get a sense of knowing you it will establish some trust that the experience will be pleasant. I’m not saying write out your entire history because people don’t care and have short attention spans but small tidbits of humor or carefully worded phrases can help set a customer at ease.
Another thing to consider when putting together your messaging is the hero or header section of your website. This is easily the most important part of any website. Since most have short attention spans if they don’t find something to grab their attention when they first load into the page there is a strong chance they will leave. So, how is this done? Well, most in business are familiar with a value proposition. It’s a quick way of saying what we do without a lot of over-complex words and offers a sense of promise. Using a value proposition with a call to action that has a clear understanding of what that button will do “book now”, “download our free guide”, etc. is a great start. If you want to amp things up then including a strong image or something of visual interest can grab someone's attention.
When it comes to messaging there is a lot to learn and understand but if you spend the time and truly understand your target you’ll keep people engaged and wanting to work with or buy from you.
The last part of a successful website is design. As stated above many people have short attention spans and because of this, they need visual interest to keep them engaged. However, just having a “really cool image” in the background isn’t enough and if not aesthetically pleasing can cause a visitor to be deterred from taking the desired actions. This is why large brands spend so much money on updating their packaging and overall trying to keep a fresh look.
Visual interest is more than just a large title or fancy text, it's built on psychology. Certain visual colors and shapes can force someone to be less interesting and in the case of a website can cause someone to quickly leave, leading to Google penalizing you.
A site also has to flow. When a visitor first opens the page we want them to engage and continue to scroll or click a link. The problem is when colors clash or padding and alignment are off it can be displeasing to the eye or give the wrong impression. This can often cause people to perceive a site as a scam or untrustworthy. Many scammers put together very quick websites that don’t tend to stay up long. So, they drop a theme on it and add some generic content and many people recognize the look and feel of the site. So, using a theme or a quick website builder application can hurt more than help if not done correctly.
In the end, there is a ton more stuff to know about building an effective website but you can do it. It just takes time, a bit of thinking, and effort to get your website to attract, interest, and convert visitors.
I hope this helps set you on track to discovering the usefulness of an effective website. However, if you find yourself in need of my services please book a free discovery call.
All of us want to save a little money and do the things ourselves that we feel we can do. In some cases it can be difficult to achieve the desired results or start off on the right foot, I’ve been there. When it comes to building a website there is a lot that goes into it. Many may have a preconceived idea that a website is no more than a business card or little more than a place where people can look up information about your business.
With millions of websites and platforms out there, design significantly helps separate the best from the mundane. Let’s admit it, we get frustrated when websites don’t respond immediately or are not user-friendly. Great websites are geared towards helping users navigate flawlessly and look sophisticated at the same time.
Most successful businesses today have a website, but not all of them are effective. Effective websites have a purpose, they do something, such as generating customers. Put simply they do what they are supposed to. According to an article by Intergrowth 85% of people perform some type of online search before making a purchase.