8 simple things you can do to optimize your website
When I first started The Social Skinny I remember talking with someone in the industry who warned me against ever diversifying the content on my blog. He maintained that once you start writing about things other than your core topic area, you invite doom to your blog, to your life and all those who you’ve ever met. Well, maybe that’s exaggerating his warning slightly, but the advice has stuck with me over the past couple of years, and I’ve stuck to writing about social media – often ignoring the urge to write general rants about people on public transport, the state of politics or why my cat must always wait for when I’m on the most important conference calls to jump on my computer and meow in my face.
But over those two years my career has developed past social media and into the ecommerce space, which means I’ve become somewhat of an expert (self-proclaimed, as usual) on website optimization, conversion, SEO etc. For a long time I’ve wanted to write about these topics, because I think (like social media) they are also relevant to a pretty high percentage of businesses out there – big and small.
I know I have a lot of loyal readers out there and because I (vaguely) care about what you think I was a little apprehensive of how website optimization content might be received on a site that has previously been pretty much solely dedicated to social media. So what to do? Use my very clearly demonstrated social media strategic abilities and apply them to my situation. Ask my Facebook Page fans! And that’s what I did. If you haven’t liked my page, you wouldn’t have known, and as a result you didn’t have a say. So my advice to you would be – and this could be the most important thing you do in your life – like my page. Anyway as you probably gathered by the title of this article, the overwhelming response by my Facebook community was yes please, let’s see what you’ve got for us in this new topic area. So here’s my first ‘diversified’ article on some simple and very actionable tips you can implement straight away to your site to improve your customer experience and increase conversion.
And now, without further self-aggrandizing and rambling crap, here are the aforementioned tips for you, Social Skinny style:
…Oh wait, one more thing. I haven’t focused on SEO or cart optimization in the tips below because I’ll post articles on these two subjects soon.
1. Update your ‘about page’. Such a simple thing to do (and so hypocritical of me to say), but if you want people to buy from you and trust you as a business, you need to make sure your ‘about’ page is up to date, clear, has no spelling/grammatical errors and speaks to your audience. Provide all the information you think your visitors might want to know about your business, but also put in some nice humanistic stuff too – if you’re a family business let them know, profile some of the key personnel, and let your potential customers know what your values are as a company. You want to gain not only their trust, but also their preference, so make them like you (as well as get what you’re all about).
2. Have clear, prominent key benefit claims. Why should they choose your business over your competitors? Free shipping? Free returns? Awesome customer service? Tailored Product? Free quote? Figure out what sets you apart and make it prominent on the site.
3. Assess the hierarchy of your page. What do you want people to do when they arrive on your homepage? Where should they be clicking? What draws the most attention? Design is important, but what is more important (that a lot of graphic designers don’t necessarily understand) is the user experience. Your site might look GREAT, but if it’s not intuitive and easy to navigate – if your visitors don’t know what they should be doing next – you’ve got a problem.
4. Do you have a clear call to action? Are there too many calls to action? When someone lands on your page, what is the main thing you want them to do? Is it to sign up to your newsletter, buy your product or simply view your gallery? Is it to call you for more information or to book/buy? Whatever your key objective is from your website, make sure you have a big fat call to action (CTA) for your visitors to do just that. BUY NOW, CALL FOR A QUOTE, SIGN UP – whatever you want your customers to do the most, make sure that’s what stands out on your page. This CTA must be the most prominent element on your page. Don’t make your visitors work to figure out what to do next. You can have more than one call to action on your page, but make sure you take hierarchy (see point 3 above) into account and make the most important CTA the most prominent.
5. Concise and relevant site navigation – can people find what they are looking for? Do you have a ‘home’ link in your navigation (this is a pet hate of mine if I can’t easily get back to home)? Do you have too many links in your navigation, which is likely overwhelming your customers? Think about whether you could consolidate your navigation links. For example you may have links to ‘staff’, ‘about’, ‘company values’ and ‘history’ – this could all be put under ‘about’. How do your customers navigate your website? Are they looking via product category (in which case you could have the product categories as links in your nav)? Do you have clear customer segments like male/female (eg. Clothing retailer) or Student, Business, Consumer? If so, you might want to have these segment links in your navigation. Think about how people use your site and make sure you have the most relevant links here. And do not have too many.
6. Language – are you speaking to your customer using the terms they would be using? Is it clear and concise? Don’t overdo it, you might have a lot to say but a lot of text is going to turn people off. If you need to have more, links to pages with more information can work. At the same time, you need to make sure you have the information your visitors are looking for. The most important thing here – make sure you’re talking in a language that your customers understand – don’t assume they know industry acronyms or jargon. If newspapers write for an audience of 12 year olds, it might not be a bad place for you to start too.
7. Reassure your customers at every step – security messaging, testimonials, reviews, free returns, guarantees, trials. Don’t give them a reason not to buy from you – give them ten thousand reasons to buy from you.
8. Move the most important links and info above the fold – putting information, links and CTA buttons on your website is not a ‘tick-the-box’ exercise. It doesn’t count if you just make sure you have it on there, somewhere. This feeds into point 3 about hierarchy a little – make sure that the most important information and calls to action are above the fold. What does this mean? It means when you view your site on an ordinary laptop (not a huge monitor) the most important information is visible on the screen without having to scroll down. Anything that requires scrolling to see is going to be seen by a lot less people. People hate scrolling, because people are lazy. So keep the important stuff as high on the page as you can, and don’t waste your prime real estate with pretty pictures and large navigation.
Those are just eight ways that you can help optimize your site to help boost conversion, but there are plenty more. If you’ve got any other tips put them in the comments below, or if you’re too lazy you can just wait for my next article…
So that was it – my first diversified website conversion article – what do you think? Helpful or crap? Let me know what you think, because remember, I vaguely care
PS. yes I’ve started speaking in American English with the whole ‘optimize’… but that’s because looking at my visitation data I get more US visitors than AU… so I’m sorry Australia. You see we have the worldly knowledge to know that optimize is another way to spell optimise, but those Americans… well they assume it’s a spelling error. So please forgive me!