Are you wondering whether your website gets you any business? Is it hard to use on a mobile device? Does it look outdated? There are so many reasons that companies and organizations choose to undertake a website redesign. With technology and design trends changing so quickly, you should probably plan for (and budget for) a website redesign every two to three years. Yup – you heard me right! Think of it this way – your website should undergo a redesign about as frequently as you replace your smartphone. If you don’t your site won’t work well on newer browsers and mobile devices and your visitor to lead/customer conversions will suffer as a result.
If you’re planning on undertaking a website redesign this year, here are 10 crucial elements to consider.
1. Relevance & Context
Let’s face it, you can’t pull a fast one on Google. Google is smarter than you and don’t you forget it!
In this day and age, content is king and the search engine giant recognizes that. Google is moving closer to analyzing a site’s topics and context, not just the keywords. This shift is making it more difficult to “game” the search engines or to rank using traditional SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing and tagging. Google can understand the written word and how words on a page are related to one another. The more relevant your on-page content, the more Google will reward you with higher rankings.
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What does this mean for you? Focus less on your keywords and more on developing content (both on your site pages and in your blog) that helps your readers by answering their questions and solving their problems.
2. Length of Content
The top ranking sites on Google have 900+ words of content per page. This may seem like a lot, especially when you consider that rich content with images, video and infographics is more effective than pure text on a webpage. Nonetheless, the data shows that sites with more copy simply rank higher.
This doesn’t mean you should fill add copy for the sake of building a longer page. It does mean that more detail and in depth information that is educational in nature is ranked higher by search engines. A great way to satisfy the search engines’ thirst for more content is through a blog.
From an SEO perspective, the ideal blog post is between 2,000 and 2,450 words long. By contrast, readers prefers blogs to be right around 1,600 words long. So, which length is best for you? Strike a balance. As an old professor of mine used to tell his students, “Make it as long as a mini-skirt…long enough to cover the point, but short enough to keep it interesting.”
3. Images & Video
Google will not recognize an image unless it is at least 32 x 32 pixels. Small images are also hard for the average person to see, particularly if they are older or have impaired vision. Instead, your visitors want to see big, bold graphics that attract their attention and tell a story. The good news is that it is easy to find these types of images on stock photography sites, and many of them are available for as little as one dollar!
I recommend investing in an account on a site like 123rf.com (that’s what we use for our stock images). You can obtain legal, high quality images for a fairly inexpensive price and you won’t be risking a copyright infringement lawsuit!
There is plenty of data to indicate that images and video are effective at engaging website visitors. Users like multimedia content and Google recognizes that. Pages in the top rankings have, on average, seven images. This could seem like an excess, but really think about it. If you simply add in one fresh image per heading on a blog post, you will be there in no time.
4. Spelling & Grammar
I’ll admit it, I am one of the biggest offenders I know when it comes to spelling. Just ask my second grade teacher! It’s never been one of my strong suits (kind of like my math skills), but the reality is that search engines like Google do care about spelling and grammar and do reward sites that get it right (and penalize those that get it wrong). In addition to hurting your search engine rankings, spelling and grammar mistakes just make you look bad. Not only will ALL of the major search engines lower your rankings, but 42.5% of customers are completely turned off by poor spelling and grammar.
Do yourself a favor and read your copy at least twice before publishing it. Better yet, have at least two colleagues look over your work before putting it out there to the public. If you are really stressed, hire an editor (Pro Tip: Use an online service like Fiverr to quickly find an editor at a low cost). It will cost you less than losing a potential customer.
Here’s an interesting statistic. Did you know that 79% of website visitors only scan a web page? This means that the vast majority of your site visitors aren’t reading all that valuable content that you spent so much time developing and instead are looking at your headlines, images, etc. It’s king of like reading the newspaper and reading the headlines and looking at the pictures.
This doesn’t mean you should skimp on copy. Don’t forget about the point we made in section 2, above. Having a substantial amount of on-page copy is still important in order to rank with search engines – but once you’ve ranked and your visitor comes to their site, they want to quickly and easily find what they are looking for.
Instead of cutting down on the amount of copy, break it up. Use H1 and H2 tags, numbered lists and bullet points to make your text easier for readers to digest. By keeping content short and digestible, you make it easy for your visitors to quickly find the information they need – and this leads to fewer bounces and more lead conversions.
It’s all about content! I don’t know how many different ways I can say it.
Stop focusing on quantity and start to really hone in on quality. If you’re an expert in your field, flaunt it. The more credible you are, the more Google will reward you. Be authoritative and direct and avoid using buzzwords and jargon. When you share what you know and do it in a way that is honest and likeable, you build trust with your potential customers.
Don’t forget that it’s not all about you. You can easily demonstrate expertise by crafting detail rich, well-researched posts that link to other articles and reference real-world situations. Everyone loves a case story.
8. Social Media Shares
Having a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or Twitter account today is just as relevant as it was in 2012. Make it easy for readers to share your content by directly asking them to do so. Calls-to-action come in all shapes and sizes, and its easy to forget that simply asking your visitor to share something they’ve read is a great CTA that will help to promote your brand.
The more popular your content is, the easier it is for people to access. Content that has been extensively shared can cut out index time by roughly 50% and increase your search rankings.
Do you have an internal link architecture strategy?
The highest ranking Google search results have an intricate web of internal links. If you are under utilizing this super easy win, get to it! When you create your internal links, be sure to have your body copy (the “anchor text” in SEO terms) relevant to the link, otherwise Google may penalize you.
Don’t be afraid to use external links as well. As long as you are sending readers to a valuable resource that is relevant to your own on-page content, navigating off of your site can be extremely valuable. Be sure to have any external links open in a new tab, or a new window.
To say that blogging is important would be the understatement of the decade. Not only does blogging help increase your ranking in search engine results (it does this by adding new, keyword rich pages to your website), it is also a great way to boost audience engagement.
Blogging can generate quality discussion among potential customers and is an effective way to showcase your expertise. When a post generates a high number of comments, Google perceives it as higher quality. Just make sure you are monitoring and responding to your comments. There’s nothing worse than having a potential client comment or post a question in response to your blog only to have it go unanswered. In addition, blog comments are an easy target for spammers, and if not regulated, an overwhelming amount of spam comments will hurt your rankings and look unprofessional in the eyes of your customers. Quality, thoughtful comments are engaging and Google will reward you for them. Delete all the others.
Are you considering a website redesign in 2015? If an overhaul is on your radar, I would suggest taking an audit of your current site, page by page. Compare the on-page content with this list and note areas that need improvement.