Thursday, March 24, 2016

10 Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring... A time for renewal. A time for new flowers, leaves, grass. A time for... yes, cleaning. Not your house or garage - well, maybe they need it too, but I'm talking about your website. Doing some 'Spring cleaning' on your website is not only a good idea, it is critical to search engine optimization and customer retention. Here are 10 tips to help you get started with your website Spring cleaning.

1) Clean up, optimize, and change images. It is important to keep images fresh. New images can rejuvenate a site – make it look new and different. Images grab attention and with new images you can grab the attention of even regular visitors to your site. Also, pictures can become dated – hair styles, cars, and furniture can show the age of an old site. And old images may give the impression of neglect.

Images should also be optimized to reduce load time – something that can really effect how fast your pages load.

While you are reviewing images, you should also work with your developer to review the 'alt' and 'title' tags used with each image. The values used with these tags can effect search engine results.

2) Figure out which pages are performing well and which are not. Using analytics, check to see which pages are getting the most hits per month and which are getting the least. Are those least visited pages necessary? Can they be re-purposed? If they are important, maybe reworking them (images and copy) will help to boost their visits. This can create a better user experience and boost your ratings with search engines.

If pages like your 'contact' page are not getting hits, try adding call-to-action buttons to other pages that encourage visitors to request more information.

3) Check for broken links. Broken links have a big negative effect on your search engine rankings. And they are really annoying to your human visitors. Pages may have been added or deleted from your site. Are you sure that all the navigation and reference links throughout your site were updated?

It's also important to check the links to external web pages. Are the links still good? And if the links do go somewhere, are you sure those pages are still relevant?

4) Have your developer check for old code. In the past few years there have been many changes to code that can speed up website loading and response times. Studies show that users begin to lose interest in about 13 seconds. Ask your developer if any of the code can be “minified.” (He / She should know what that means).

Images can slow down a site dramatically. In most cases, there is no need to have images load below the viewable area in the browser. There are a few new methods that will load the images only as the page is scrolled and they are needed.

5) Refresh the description for products and services. Your products and services may not have changed. But, the words and phrases people use to search for them may have. Review the descriptions you use for your products/services. Make sure they include the most used search words and phrases (those keyword and phrases you're always hearing about).

6) Evaluate your product offerings. Are there products or services that just don't sell online? You may consider removing them from the site to help streamline the website as a whole. Or you may consider reordering things on catalog listing pages, moving your best selling products to the top. Or highlighting the best selling services on your home page.

If these poor performing projects/services are your highest margin offerings and you would really like to push them, can changes to their descriptions and images make them more appealing? Consider special offers and call-to-action buttons on other areas of your site to highlight these products/services.

7) Can you improve navigation. As mentioned before, visitors begin to lose interest in about 13 seconds. If they can't find what they are looking for easily, they will quickly lose interest and leave. Your navigation system should be smartly thought out. Your most important links should be in the main menu (usually at the top of the page). If you have more links than can fit nicely in the main menu, consider a secondary menu in a sidebar or in the footer – both common areas to find larger menus.

Also, if you decide to use drop-down or popup menus off the main menu, pay attention to the number of items and their order. The most visited pages should be listed at the top. Likewise, list your best selling products or services in the most prominent places in your navigation system.

8) Review links to your social media pages. Marketing through social media content is more important than ever. Internet users are much more likely to follow you on social media than to visit your site. Make sure that visitors to your site know you have a presence on their favorite social media site(s). Place social media icons in an easy to find area of each page. Make sure the links are valid. Social media sites often change their APIs. Make sure your “like” and “share” links for those sites work correctly.

9) Review your “About Us,” FAQ, and “Contact Us” pages. Does your “About Us” page include the latest information about your staff and your company? Are all the questions and answers on your FAQ page still relevant? How about the information on your “Contact Us” page?

Making your business more personable is a proven way to impress and win over clients. Put some thought into what you say about your business and your staff on your “About Us” page. Replace 'cold facts and history' with a story-like presentation. Show friendly pictures of your staff at work.

Don't let the FAQ page become bloated. This slows down performance and makes it more difficult for users to find the information they need. Remove all Q and A's that are no longer relevant. If your list is still long, try some different presentation methods and search options to make it easier for the user to find what they are looking for.

Does your “Contact Us” page have the latest information on how to contact you? Are contact forms streamline and do they work? Are all the fields relevant? Visitors are more likely to use your form if it is short and does not ask for too much personal information.

10) Streamline checkout. If your site uses a shopping cart checkout or if you allow clients to pay online, make sure this process is as streamline and simple as possible. For example, if you ask for a fax number, remove it. In 2016, it's just not needed any more. If you have separate areas for billing and shipping addresses, there should be a simple way to auto-fill one after the information is entered in the other. If you already have a button or checkbox for this, make sure it works.

When making a purchase, users expect to have to provide more information. But, this process should be as easy and quick as possible. Your visitors may put things in their shopping cart and intent to purchase. But if your checkout process is frustrating or too long, they are likely to leave. Online users have come to expect 'easy and quick.' If your process is to frustrating and long, they will go to your competitors.

A few small changes, some review time, and some quick checks can revitalize your website and your visitors experience. It's worth a little 'spring cleaning' time!

If you have questions about any of these (or other) items, please feel free to comment here, contact us on Facebook, or visit our website - which might need a little Spring cleaning too!

And if you are looking for a fresh new website this Spring, check out our March WordPress Specials!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

March Specials

I've fallen behind on my blogs.  With all the absences (both planned and unplanned) in the office and the equipment upgrades we've been doing, there just hasn't been time for the "luxury" of social media and blogging.

But, things seem to be getting back to normal, so I'll be getting back to blogging this month!

I did want to post the March WordPress Specials here - we are only halfway through March.  So, there is still time to take advantage of these great deals!  For more information and to see demos, click here.