Redesigning the Website Homepage can result in greatly improved conversions when done well. The first trick is finding a website designer who understands inbound marketing. The process should begin with an evaluation of your existing online marketing campaign as well as your website to ensure that all components work together in an effective and coordinated way.
What, you don’t have an online marketing strategy?
The parts of an online campaign are critical to assuring your ongoing brand development and business success. Not only is your website the foundation, it is also the most important asset because it is the one online asset that you have almost complete control over. Unlike any social networking channel online, the website content is added or changed under your own direction. Other than the search engine, such as Google, introducing new algorithms, your website is the mainstay of your online marketing program. Even with those changes, if you are following Google Best Practices, you will never be hurt by an algorithm change.
What’s wrong with the website?
If you don’t know how your website is performing, you won’t know how to fix it. Without any analytics, you are operating in the dark. Having a track record to improve gives you a benchmark. If you don’t know what is going on with your site, if you have no clue how many visits you have on a monthly, daily, weekly basis, how will you know if your site is performing? One fundamental mistake many web designers make is to look only at the aesthetics of the site without understanding whether it is effective.
If you don’t know anything about the types of visits you have, how many there are, what your bounce rate is or why your visitors are leaving, you should absolutely install tracking to assure that you have this information. Tracking can be done using Google Analytics, which is a wonderful (and free) tool, or can be accomplished by installing one of a number of software solutions including Moz (formerly SEOmoz), Hubspot, Raventools, etc.
Why Change The HOME Page Of Your Website?
The goal of a website redesign should be to improve your conversions. That is the to improve the website in such a way as to appeal more appropriately to the audience who is interested in your services. To do this, you will need to be able to be found, by the right prospects or potential customers for the right reasons.
Improving the design of your HOME page goes beyond the “look and feel” of the website. It’s making the HOME page the doorway to the information that your customers are seeking.
Some companies decide to “redesign due organizational change”. In the case of an aquisition or merger, redesign may be necessary to re-brand the “new” emerging entity. The HUGE mistake that is typically made is to hire a web development company to do a new website, and in the process they are blowing up both the pre-existing sites and starting from scratch. The new site has no authority, no credibility and no inbound links. The old URLs which may have been out there for years are sometimes discarded, and are then available to be picked up by a offshore scavenger who will build a site to take advantage of whatever SEO juice is left, and then re-direct those visitors, potentially to your competition! Why not salvage the domain, the goodwill, the existing “SEO juice”, to redirect to the newly branded website? Apparently there are “web designers” or “website developers” who do not have a clue what destruction they have done by creating the new, beautiful website, and as the business owner, you are relying upon their expertise.
Don’t make these mistakes. Before moving to a new website design, be sure your web developer is following these best practices by avoiding these 8 website design or website redesign mistakes. :
- Indexable content. Having a beautiful website with complex graphic design may make the CEO very happy. Unfortunately, many of the beautiful website designs are not created with SEO in mind. If you see pictures that include words, this is not the same as a search engine sees it. In fact, you can read ‘content’ that is a picture. Search engines cannot. I had one client who did not understand why her website was not ranking for her most important keyword until I pointed out to her that most of the instances of her keyword were in a graphic form. Another new client came to me with a recently re-designed website that has zero authority. The company had been around for over ten years, but in creating the new design, the principals had decided to use an acronym as the new URL. Unfortunately, no one realized to redirect the old URL and no mention of the old company name was even on the page! This certainly does not help clients find the website, but also, it just threw away all of the old sites authority. The bottom line, make sure your website is indexible and that your keywords are content, not images.
- Keywords. One of the most critical things that I work with for my clients are discovering the best keywords for their product or service. By keywords, it’s important to forgo the jargon and figure out what words your customers and prospects use to find you. Believe it or not, while it’s noble to assume that you can educate an audience to discovering what you mean when you have created or coined a new phrase… you probably do not have enough money in your marketing budget to make that make sense. It makes marketing so much easier and organic to use the phrases your customer’s use to refer to what you do. Also, ask your sales team what is imporatnt to your customers. If you can address what a prospect is searching, you are more likely to show up in that prospect’s search results. Ditch that jargon!
- Load time. Beautiful images are nice, but if the file is too large, the site load time is longer. Not only does Google penalize long load times, your customer is unlikely to hang out and wait to see the magnificence that your web designer has created. Nope. In this day and age of instant everything, we (your audience) want to see what we want to see when we want to see it. We are not waiting. If your site takes too long to load because its too graphic heavy, we are on to your competitor’s site. Don’t expect loyalty from a web search.
- Clean message. By clean message, what I mean is that your HOME page is not cluttered and confusing. It should be clean. In print advertising we used to refer to the ‘clean’ness as “white space”. There is no need to create multiple images that fight for a viewer’s attention. To the contrary, the site should have a clear idea before its created as to where the viewers eye should travel and what makes sense for that visual message. If your site is too busy and disorganized, you are not sharing a clean message.
- Clear message. Now that we have discussed the visual path, let’s make sure that the message that a visitor to our website can absorb. Don’t make the message obtuse or too clever – if you do, your visitor will hop away to the next website just as quickly. I worked with one client who insisted that they wanted their website to look like a whiteboard and they spent a lot of time and money to have the visual elements designed for that theme. What was missing was the message of what they actually do. They are a printing company, and if you dig, you can find that out. Of course, that was a huge challenge to overcome by optimizing the content. The message ideally should be obvious when someone lands on your site as to what you offer and what you do. If it’s not, go back to the drawing board and rethink your concept. Don’t try to be overly cute. It just doesn’t work.
- Contact info. One of the biggest mistakes I see is when contact information is buried in a website on the contact page. Sure, it’s a great place to have your contact information, but why not feature a good way to contact you on every page of your website. One of the most effective websites I have worked on has a contact us box on everypage that is coded to indicate what page the lead came from. This website has hundreds of leads on an ongoing basis. Understanding that you should not make someone work through multiple clicks to get in touch is critical to conversions.
- Clear Call To Action. So now your website can be discovered, you have a remarkable design that is indexible for the righ keywords, and traffic is through the roof! You are still not done. High traffic to your website does not necessarily correlate into business in your cash register. You must build a clear, call-to-action that suggests what the next steps should be for your prospect.
- Branding. Above all, keep in mind that every piece of your marketing campaign including your website should reflect appropriate branding messages. Whether your brand is identifiable by color, font, graphic identity, cutting humor, be sure to be consistent across all platforms, including and especially your website. If you have inconsistent collateral, you are wasting an opportunity to share and reinforce your branding identity. By having all the pieces of the puzzle work in unison, you are reinforcing the message and increasing the potential for your message to be identified easily. Use the same font, logo, colors and messaging across all social media platforms as well as your website, print collateral and any brochures or advertising that you do. Keep the tone of all the collateral consistent as well and your marketing dollars will work harder for you.
M. Evans says
One thing that I’ve noticed is that some websites do not have social media links. This is important now more than ever. It’s not enough to just create a site, it has to have option to share it to various social networking sites. It’s one way to reach audiences quickly. The things you discussed here are spot on! There seems to be a difficulty in merging website design and message. Some web designers get it, some don’t. Good stuff, Jody.
Jody Raines says
Engagement is the name of the new game, M. Evans. All things being equal, if you are not engaging with your audience, responding and questioning and being part of the discussion, then you are wasting much of your efforts to optimize your site.