Is your website the life of the party, or a complete snooze-fest? Does it really matter?
Hell, yes, it matters!
Think of it this way. When you walk into a store where everything is arranged in an enticing and irresistible way, you often end up buying way more than you intended. When you walk into a store that is cluttered, disorganized, and junky you feel like you’re at a yard sale – you will likely be overwhelmed and leave without making a single purchase. Websites are much the same way.
In the web world, we have two criteria for “life of the party” websites – user experience and SEO.
We also have two criteria for dud sites – lack of user experience and lack of SEO.
Pretty simple, right? Not so fast…
The idea is simple, but the execution is not. You can probably think of several websites off the top of your head that are a complete dud. So let’s get back to rating your site. Answer these questions “yes” or “no” and we’ll tell you if your site is the life of the party or a complete bore.
- Have you hired someone to take professional images of your business for your website?
- Has your website design been updated in the last two years?
- Does your website render properly on a mobile device? (Example: if your website appears as a miniature version of your website, and you have to enlarge everything to read it, the answer to this question is “no.”)
- Does your website have an immediate call to action that solves your customers’ most common pain point?
- Do you have at least 1000 words, featuring several relevant keywords, on your homepage?
- Does your website load quickly, especially on a mobile device?
- Are your services quickly and easily accessible, particularly on a mobile device?
- Is your business’s messaging clear and up to date?
- Do you have a blog strategy for your website?
- Does your website have a layout that is consistent with your industry, tells your story, and speaks directly to your customers? (Here is an example: http://plumbingniche.wpengine.com/)
OK, before we let you know if your site is killing it in a good way, or killing it in a bad way, let us quickly elaborate on each of these questions and why we asked them…
- Stock imagery. When stock imagery first came out, it was all the rage. But now sites that incorporate strictly stock imagery are boring. Using professional imagery that tells your story is far more powerful and exciting. If you can’t afford a photographer, just make sure that you structure stock photography in a way that tells your business’s story as best as it can.
- Website design trends. They seem to change faster than Kim Kardashian changes her shoes. Your website design doesn’t always have to be on trend, but it does need to create a positive user experience, especially if you are in a very competitive landscape. If you still have a website that has a web page on a background, it is definitely time for an update.
- Responsive design. If your website looks like a tiny version of your website on a mobile device, you can be assured of one thing – your visitors are taking their things and leaving before the site is even done loading because, Dud City.
- CTA (Call To Action). What is the primary thing your customers need from you? If you do not have a direct call to action that provides instant gratification for your potential customer, they will be immediately aggravated. What if you went to a bar, in search of a cold beer, and the bartender asked if you’d like to look at the camper he’s got sitting in the parking lot? You’d be annoyed, right? If you want your site to be the life of the party, give the people what they want on THEIR timeline!
- Content isn’t just king anymore, it is supreme ruler of all galaxies…or at least websites. You need solid content that incorporates relevant keywords on your homepage so Google knows what you’re about and knows how to rank your site. The art of website content is delivering what your client needs and wants, exactly when they need and want it, and still playing nice with Google’s rules. We all know if Google ain’t happy – ain’t nobody happy. And then your site falls squarely into the “dud” column (because no one can find you online!).
- Load time. If someone took five minutes to tell you a one minute joke, you probably would lose interest and think the joke is the opposite of funny. The person delivering the joke would definitely not be the life of the party. The same applies for websites. If you’ve got a site that loads slower than a mud turtle sunning itself on a rock, your site is Dudtastic.
- Information architecture. Nothing is more frustrating than having to hunt and peck through pages and pages of navigation to find the service you need on a website. Balance is key. Fifty pages of navigation will make the end user roll their eyes. Too little navigation will make Google roll its eyes. Step inside the shoes of your potential customers and provide exactly what they are looking for – no more, no less.
- Messaging. Does your messaging align with your branding and your buyer personas? If so, visitors will come in, grab some champagne, and stay a while. If not, visitors will furrow their brow, leave, and go to the neighbor’s house where the messaging is on point.
- Blogging. Like it or hate it, blogging has become a necessary evil for rock star websites. That is because it combines the two things we mentioned in the beginning of this BLOG – user experience and SEO. Your potential customers can learn something from you and your blogs, and blogs show Google that you’re a player in the ranking game. Consistency is key. Whatever your blogging schedule is – do it routinely. Once a week, once a month, whatever it is, stick to your routine. If you blog dump six blogs in a week and then step away for four months, Google will think you’re a rookie.
- Website Nirvana. If you really want your website to show all other websites who’s boss, you need to combine research, art, and science. First Call Web serves all industries, but this sample site (http://plumbingniche.wpengine.com/) is an example of us combining user experience, story, and industry research to deliver a “life of the party” website. Notice how the CTA immediately jumps in to help people by giving a phone number, a plug for emergency services, and a contact form. Talk about being a good host! Since contractors have to immediately build trust with their customers, the next section tells a story, and is balanced with reviews (social proof). Now that the potential customer trusts Mike, it’s time to move onto his services and features. And in case anyone is wondering if Mike is one of those guys that disappears in the middle of the night with the home owner’s check, Mike’s site talks about the community groups he’s a part of so people feel secure knowing he’s not going anywhere.
As you may have guessed by now, if you answered “no” to three or more of the above questions, your website is – sorry to be so harsh – a dud. We’re talking if a slug and a sloth had a kid, it would be your website. If you want a “life of the party” website, it may be time to consult with a professional to get your website to a place of “oooooo” and “ahhhhh” instead of just “ewwww.”