In honor of November being the month of Thanksgiving (and the fact that I am a Dave Letterman fan) I chose to focus on the top 10 things you should be thankful for…on your website that is.
Having been in the Search Engine Marketing/Optimization world and a Client Strategist at MoreVisibility just shy of 7 years, I have worked alongside a Campaign Manager to effectively market hundreds upon hundreds of websites. Being that MoreVisibility does not cater to a specific industry or industries; I've had the unique opportunity to work with a variety of websites in all different shapes and sizes. From real estate, to wedding bands, to law firms, to hotels, to plastic surgeons and the list goes on. Some sites are flashy and full of bells and whistles, others are quite basic and then there are those that barely load properly (No offense to anyone reading this who is having site load issues). In other words, while I am certainly not a Web Designer, nor do I claim to be, I have become pretty well versed in identifying a website that has what it takes, versus one that, well, does not.
The following "top 10 list" includes components that every website ought to have, yet very few do. While some of these items will certainly incur a cost, none will break the bank and most can be implemented in a relatively simple manner. I‘d also like to add that this list definitely does not include all of the elements your website should possess. You are, however, in a good place if you have all of them covered. Plus, at least in my opinion, you get some bragging rights!
Without further ado, drum roll please…
The Top 10 components on your website that you're thankful for… P.S. If your website does not have all of these components, be thankful you still have the opportunity to implement them!
Number 10 – Easy Navigation. It is crucial that visitors can easily view all of the links on your website. There are few things more frustrating than a site that does not allow you to get to where you want/need to go. Surprisingly, this is a component that is often times overlooked. Plus, no matter what page your visitors are on, they should have the ability to click back to the home page, as well as access any other page(s) on the site. Remember to test your links regularly to ensure that all are functional; a dead link is never a good thing and will no doubt annoy visitors. An annoyed visitor will not likely come back.
Number 9 – Contact Us Page. How can your visitors reach you if they have a question? This page should include your mailing address, phone/fax number and email address. I highly recommend using a professional email address, which appears much more credible, rather than a personal one like AOL, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc. For example, we use [email protected]. If you have a brick and mortar location, show a picture of your office building, so visitors can see that you're a real company. A form that can be filled out is also a helpful tool; just make sure a thank you page is displayed after the form is filled out.
Number 8 – A Blog. It continues to baffle me how many websites still lack a blog. Blogs have fresh and regular content on them. Search Engines love crawling fresh content, therefore you are gaining SEO benefits, as well. Your blog can share news and information relating to your business or industry. A blog can be a wonderful asset to your website and provide you with the opportunity to engage with your site visitors and them with you.
Number 7 – About Us Page. This is another important page that frequently gets forgotten. This page should be geared more toward who you are, rather than what you do. Visitors want to know what you're about, how and why you got started, etc. An about us page humanizes your website in a way that no other page can, especially if you include photos and bios of your employees, which you should. Keep in mind that you don't want to overload visitors; you want to keep it clear and concise.
Number 6 – Multiple Calls to Action. Don't you hate it when you get to a site and don't know what to do? Avoid this common mistake by offering assorted calls to action above the fold of your page. Here are a few examples: Download our latest whitepaper, sign up for our newsletter, Follow us on Twitter, Request a free quote, Chat now with a representative, click here for a special offer, etc. Remember, this is your website and you can control what your visitors will do by offering clear options. A site with no options will likely result in high bounce rates.
Number 5 – Content. When it comes to content on your website, not just any will do. The content should be thoughtfully written, keyword rich and easy to read. It is important from both a user perspective and an SEO perspective that the most relevant keywords are on the most relevant pages. Your content should also be fresh, which will keep visitors coming and will also allow for the search engine spiders to have new content to crawl.
Number 4 – Social Media Channels. If you've been smart enough to embrace social media (and I hope that you have) be sure to showcase that fact on your website. Offer visitors the ability to engage with you on your channels by promoting the icons on every page of your site.
Number 3 – Site Map (HTML & XML). Having an HTML site map is essentially like offering a roadmap for all visitors to see what you have to offer. It will help people to navigate through your site and allows the search engines to index and rank your pages. Check out our site map as an example. Furthermore, an HTML sitemap should be accompanied by XML site maps, which will facilitate easier and faster crawling by the search engines, as well as spider new pages once they are added. It can also help identify bad links or page errors throughout.
Number 2 – An Analytics Tool. This is incredibly paramount. Whether you are engaging in a pay per click initiative or relying on other means of traffic (i.e. organic, direct, referring, etc.) you want and need to know what your visitors are doing once they arrive on your site. Are they completing a desired action item? (See number 6) If so, you will want to know about it. Knowledge is power. Having knowledge about your web traffic will afford you the ability to make intelligent, informed decisions with respect to your online advertising budget and overall strategy.
Number 1 – A Remarketing Strategy. How great would it be if you could reach out to the visitors who did not convert into a customer or lead? You can and it is called Remarketing! It is no coincidence that you just visited Jet Blue to check rates and now keep seeing Jet Blue banners every time you're surfing the net. You are being remarketed to and it is one of the newer (and smarter) techniques website owners are utilizing to stay in front of their potential customers.
This concludes the Top 10 things on your website that you ought to be thankful for. If you cannot be thankful for each and every one mentioned, you better get busy! If all are currently in place, good job (for now). Given the dynamic nature of the internet, your website will always be a work in progress. Hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving!