As the snow thaws and the spring flowers start to reappear, why not give your website a thorough ‘Spring Clean’!
Never create a website and just forget about it. For most small businesses, your website is your ‘shop window’. Your website is the primary way that clients can see your products, the services you offer and get to know you. It is certainly where they end up if they want ‘more information’.
So, how is it looking? Honestly, how is it?
Here are my tips for giving your website a thorough going over and a good update.
Take some time to give every page the ‘once over’, with a really critical eye.
Read the text out loud. Does it make sense and is it clear and explanatory.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is the copy easy to read? (consider the colour and size of the text on different devices, as well as the sense of the words themselves)
- Is the copy written in plain English? Have you explained exactly what you offer?
- Are the sentences short and to the point?
- Have you included headings and subheadings? Should you/can you hyperlink these to other relevant pages?
- Is all of the essential information there?
Do you still have Christmas offers, January sales, Valentine’s suggestions or any other outdated information lurking on your website?
Do you need to add a Spring offer or items ready for promoting Easter?
Then, consider the more ‘mundane’, elements of information. For example:
- Are your opening hours correct?
- What about your contact information? Importantly, does your contact form go to the right inbox?
- Are all of your current products and/or services listed? Should some be removed or marked as ‘out of stock/unavailable’ if only temporary?
- Could any descriptions be updated?
- Are frequently asked questions by clients being answered? (It’ll save you answering the same enquiries again and again!)
Also think about the development of your business. Do you have a pricing strategy? If not, you should! At least once a year, you should be considering your prices and if these are listed on your website, then update them and ensure they are consistent across all of your platforms. I’ll save a discussion on this for a whole other post, but remember it is realty bad practice to advertise one price and charge another.
Consider keywords and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The main concern with any website’s copy is to make sure it is clear, concise and well-written. Quality is always more important than ‘over worked’, rammed copy simply for SEO. However, there is no harm having a little think about keywords and keyword strings for your business and industry. Then, consider if you have used them. If not, can you add them in a ‘natural way’. If not, don’t force it.
One quick win I often suggest, is to ensure you have your local town/county included quite prominently, for example on the home, about and contact pages. Many businesses rely on local clients and many clients search using locations local to them, i.e. ‘Hairdresser in Overton’; ‘Plumber in Hampshire’.
If you want to learn more about SEO, click here.
Search engine bots do LOVE new content – so give them lots to love. Can you update the images (remembering to include good quality alt text and metadata)?
Do you write a blog? Regular blog posts are a great way to offer new content and keep your website fresh, as well as sharing your expertise.
If used to write a blog and the posts are over 18 months old, I would consider how publicly you display them. Perhaps ‘archive’ them for now, until you start blogging regularly again. The problem with blog posts is that they are clearly ‘date stamped’. Therefore, I think having a blog post older than 18 months showing prominently, gives the impression that this was the last time you updated your website.
Importantly, can you revive your blog writing days? Take a look at my ‘Hurdles to blogging‘ series, hopefully it will help.
Before you finish your ‘Spring Clean’, think about user experience and ease of navigation.
Be really strict with yourself and imagine you are a first-time visitor to your website. Pick a product or service and imagine trying to find it. Think about the following:
- How many ‘clicks’ does it take?
- Is it obvious which page or heading you needed to go to, especially if you are not a ‘subject specialist’?
- Could more signposting or hyperlinks help?
Website visitors are impatient, disloyal and in a rush – if they can’t find what they are looking for, or find a ‘hook’ within seconds, then they will go back to the next search engine result…and ultimately choose your competitor.
Unlike a physical shop, you don’t get the chance to personally ‘jump out’ and ask, “how can I help today? What are you looking for?” – therefore, your website has to do that job for you, in an accessible and logical way.
First-time visitors often want to contact you or find out where you are, if you do have a physical premise. Firstly, consider what it is the most crucial contact information for your business. For some businesses, i.e. a cafe, a location map or address is probably the most important piece of information, so that people know where you based. For a hairdresser, it may be a contact telephone number, so that people can make an appointment. Ensure this information is prominent and obvious.
Love your website
Don’t just create your website and forget about it! If you have paid a website designer to create your site, ensure they show you how to make updates, ideally using a simple content management system. At the very least, agree terms that mean making small edits and changes at any time is free or very low cost. Keeping an up-to-date website, with regular changes and updates is so important. You also want a site you are proud of; a site you can promote regularly on social media; a site you can direct anyone with queries towards and a site that you proudly give the address of on business cards, in email signatures and print media.
If you want any help with a ‘Spring Clean’, some suggested edits, or simply someone to be that ‘first-time visitor’ and test out your site, then get in touch.
(updated post from Feb 2017)