It’s 2014. Did You Update Your Website Today?
If you have a storefront, office, or even a place to live, do you leave everything the same there each day? Probably not. At home you have dishes, laundry and probably need to replace the toilet paper or you’ll find yourself in a terrible situation. At your office, mail comes in, paperwork is done each day, and you probably need to replace the toilet paper there too. A storefront? If you have inventory and have any business at all, you’ll need to restock, sweep, vacuum and otherwise keep the top sellers (and most profitable items) in prime locations for people to buy, or people who wander in will wander back out since nothing seems new. And don’t forget to restock your toilet paper.
All joking aside, the fact is that your website, social media and email have to be updated, refreshed, and paid attention to at least weekly.
No More “Set It And Go.”
In 1997-2006 (and even a little further into 2008), you could get away with the Set-It-And-Go mentality. After all, your website was an online catalog, brochure, or something to just give you credibility with an official domain name and home on the internet.
Today you’ve got about three seconds to grab someone’s attention, although this number varies depending on the user’s system. For example, someone using an older system may be used to pages loading in 5-10 seconds, so they will wait that long. On the average, however, the quicker the better.
Each person is searching for something to solve a problem they have. Whether it’s to find the best price on a flat screen TV, how to get past a spot in Battlefield 4, or how to earn $1 Million dollars by selling eBooks. And if you don’t have that answer for them they will ‘bounce’ and look for that information somewhere else.
Here are some things to do and NOT do as often as you can to make sure your site reflects the best aspects of your business.
Top Five Things NOT to Do On Your Website
- “Welcome” of any kind. While it may be a common practice in physical locations to welcome a guest coming through your doors, it simply wastes the user’s time and takes up the first crucial 1-3 seconds of time they are making a decision about your site.
- Talk about yourself. Make no mistake, while it is very important to build your credibility, share testimonials, and otherwise explain why you and your company are the best answer to their prayers, you simply must resist the urge to tell them right away. A website visitor who has found the right place will most assuredly keep reading and searching your site for more information.
- Cram it all ‘above the fold.’ While it is true that nearly 80% of website visitors DON’T scroll down on a landing page or home page, the number you don’t often hear is that the people that DO scroll are probably the ones most interested in buying. So make sure you’ve got a ‘payoff’ for those that are truly interested. Remember the ol’ 80/20 rule: 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients (of course this statistic is used for work, effort and more).
- Give too many choices. This is a key idea. Limit yourself to a maximum of THREE CHOICES or solutions to a visitors problem. To do more is confusing and leads to decision paralysis. Our example is ourselves: Online Presence with Pride.™ While we showcase some work and ideas, we give three options: Get Started, Learn More, and Just News. If a potential client is looking to enhance their website “Online Presence” is a key term. Same with Social Media, email marketing, SEO and content. IF the 20% keep scrolling, we have plenty to share…and we do.
- Have more than a couple of ads. Nearly all ads, especially affiliate ads, tend to give you the code to embed on your website. It usually involves that a website visitor hits your home page, which then triggers the code to go and fetch the affiliate advertiser’s graphics and any other scripts they have you using. This slows the load time as well as distracts from your primary service. You could lose the visitor to your affiliate. And while that might be profitable, they may not return.
Things you SHOULD Do to Ensure a Healthy Website
- One overriding message. This is also known as a USP or Unique Sales Proposition. If you sell widgets, say, “We Sell Widgets to Make Your Life Better. Click Here to Buy.” If you know people come to you for one or more problems, address that right away. An example: “Air Conditioning on the fritz? Contact us today and Chill Out.” People need to know you can solve their problem. A great book called Don’t Make Me Think is all about simplifying the buying process and in your communications.
- Be assumptive. Ask for the close. Here’s where you don’t want to waste their time. If you have what they need, make it easy for them to buy or take action. Remember there are three states of buyers: Ready Now, Maybe Later, and Just Browsing. Your site should close the “Ready Now” buyers and begin building trust with the “Maybe Later” buyers.
- Update weekly. This is a stumbling block for nearly everyone. But it is imperative to update your website and work on engaging your visitors. An hour or two one weekend can yield 2-3 articles that can be scheduled to post the entire month. You can also get guests to write for your website. They can be professionals, friends or even clients who feel compelled to write and help promote your business.
- Test your forms (and functionality) once a week. With regular security updates being made on your site through a hosting company can render some things inoperable. Most updates are scheduled and you should get some notification that it is being done. At that point, definitely take a few moments to review your site and test the forms. It may seem a bit annoying, but having your website hacked is much worse and costly.
- Share your website. Most people are stuck in the ‘set-it-and-go’ mode. Or the Field of Dreams thought of “If you build it, they will come.” Neither are correct. Share your website with everyone. Share your blog posts (which point to your site). And ask for others to share your site. Worried about bothering people? Be funny or helpful AND share at the same time.
There are more specific strategies for all the steps above, but these steps will help you in Search Engines and for humans looking for what you have to help them most.
And, please, don’t forget to refill the toilet paper.
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