The Ultimate Guide to Getting Customers With Your Website

When someone lands on your website, one of two things can happen:

Your visitor leaves instantly…

...or they hang around and become potential customers.

This guide contains time-tested strategies to make visitors stick to your website like super-glue.

Even if you aren’t tech savvy or are still planning your website, this guide will help you.

Let’s jump right in.

win-customers-online-1

Chapter 1

The Call To Action (CTA)

A lot of websites are losing customers because they’re missing one thing…

A powerful Call To Action (CTA).

Or simply put:

A section of your website that calls for a website visitor to take action.

Whether you have one or not, this chapter will help you write, design and test a CTA to win clients.

the-call-to-action-768x660

The Anatomy of a Successful CTA

If you're unsure what a CTA looks like here's a quick example:

CTA_Example

Unfortunately, you can’t just smack together a headline and a glowing button saying “Click Here!” and win customers instantly...

There are crucial features your CTA must have to convert website visitors into leads.

Every CTA should have the following (with rare exceptions):

anatomy-of-a-cta

1. A Benefit Driven Headline
A short headline that clearly shows a benefit to your service or product.

2. A Reassuring Subheadline
A subheadline that explains the main headline further, sometimes introduces a few extra benefits.

Subheadlines can also reassure visitors on questions they might have about the headline's benefit.

3. The Call To Action Button
Finally, there's an eye-catching button that calls out for an action to be taken by visitors.

(e.g. "Call Us Now")

This format is the most popular because it works well and has been test on thousands of websites.

But getting the format right is easy….

Let’s break down each part and build you a winning CTA step by step:

The Benefit Driven Headline

Here’s the deal:

Your overall CTA always needs to answer one thing for your visitor…

“What is this website offering me?”

Consider the main benefits of your service:

Will your service help them perform better at work, build muscle or reduce tech headache?

Or better yet...

Tie in your Unique Selling Point.

For example:

A design company that specialises in creating websites quickly could use...

“Get A Website In 3 Days”

A personal trainer who works with busy professionals could write…

“Transform Your Health In 30 Minutes A Day”

Pro Tip: Write out a list of the main benefits of your service, and write 10 different headlines for each benefit.

Not only is this a good brain storming exercise, but you will have plenty of headlines to A/B test later.

(If you don't know what that is or how to do it, read on)

Speak To Your Visitors As A Human

No one likes to customer service cyborgs…

So why talk like a robot on your website?

Your CTA headline should speak directly to your visitors as if you’re speaking to them in person.

For example:

cta-example-curatormule

Curator and Mule’s headline sounds like your cool buddy who always wore ray bans.

Who doesn’t trust the cool guy on fashion advice?

The CTA has a clear benefit, the CTA button is directly commanding it’s visitors and overall the CTA is fun.

cta-example-mailchimp

Even with a more formal company like Mailchimp,
their CTA headline is in plain english.

No one would misunderstand the benefit they’re
offering.

And while it's normally recommended to make sure your
headline also explains your service...

... Mailchimp dealt with the problem of having a complex
service with a longer subheadline below the CTA button.

write-like-a-human

Keep It Clear

Have you ever been on a website and wondered…

What am I even looking at?

Just like your business, a website needs to have a clear purpose.

Your CTA should say everything your service or product provides in one short headline...

It's difficult, but for local business, it's essential.

Pro Tip:

Take a picture of your website and crop out anything that isn’t your CTA...

Then show your CTA to to a few friends for only 5 seconds, and get them to answer two questions:

What service does the website with this CTA provide?

What benefit would I get from clicking that button?

If enough of them get it right, your CTA is a winner!

For example:

cta-example-moda-full

Even if the logo of Moda’s website were covered up, you’d know what they’re offering:

cta-example-moda-hiddenlogo

They’re offering a chance to go to a huge fashion event...

And clicking “Find Out More” will give you information on how you can be a part of this amazing trade show.

It should be very obvious!

Use Social Proof

“I want what she’s having…”

Recommendations and testimonials all show visitors they are in for an amazing service.

Combining your CTA with social proof may be a huge selling point for lot of visitors.

For example:

cta-example-dailymile-social-proof

Daily mile uses a clever real-time display of mileage it tracks by it’s users.

If dailymile is used by that many people, who wouldn’t trust their services?

But you don’t need to get this fancy to use social proof effectively…

Here are some ideas to get your started with Social Proof:

Use a customer quote as your headline...

 

“Facebook Promoters got me a 1000 likes on Social Media…” - Randy

We will  grow your social media presence with our
expert content curators.

(Make sure the customer quote clearly shows the service you provide and it’s benefits)

Show five star ratings from sites like Yelp, Google Reviews and Trust Pilot directly below or near your primary CTA button.

Show off your results:

90% Of Our Students Pass Their Driving Test On Their First Try

Our friendly and experienced instructors will
get you on the road fast

If you have an award winning or a very popular service, show it off:

Get Award Winning Designers To Create Your Brochure

With over 20 years of experience, we will design your print media
to wow customers and clients

Don't be modest!

Persuade With Emotional Language

There’s a reason why sites like Buzzfeed gets so many clicks:

They feed the emotional desires their visitors crave.

But for businesses, giving a quiz on what Kardashian you’re most like isn’t helping anyone…

So here’s a good example of what to do instead:

cta-example-hipmunk

Hipmunk’s headline shows visitors they can solve an all too common problem of going crazy with planning your next family holiday.

Reading this headline sounds like you’re having a chat with a helpful friend…

While also creating a reassuring emotional response.

To write this sort of headline, think about the problems your visitors are facing…

What emotion would come with resolving this problem?

“Never struggle with Tech support again…” - Relief, no more worrying!

“Make your friends jealous this summer…” - Feeling triumphant with a good looking body

“Learn the ‘Secret Sauce’ of High Converting Websites…” - The satisfaction of being in the know, exclusivity is powerful!

Pro Tip:  Another way to stir up emotion in your visitor is to use emotional hook words:

Amazing, insane, powerful, unreal, shocking, incredible…

“80% Of Our Clients Lose An Incredible 30 Pounds Or More…”

“A Powerful Marketing Team In The Palm Of Your Hands”

“Warning: Our Services Produce Shockingly Effective Results”

The CTA Button - A Command For Sales

The CTA button has one purpose:

Give your audience clear instructions on what you want them to do.

For example:

Want to get visitors to subscribe to your email newsletter?

“Subscribe…”

“Download…”

Want to sell a set priced package or service directly?

“Buy…”

“Order…”

Want to talk on the phone with your customer to sell services?

“Find out how..”

“Speak with…”

“Call today…”

Quick Tip: When writing your CTA button text, try finish the sentence “I want to…”

For example:

I want to…. “Build A Website Fast”

I want to… “Request A Free Consultation”

I want to… “Make My Website Into A Sales Machine”

I want to… “Order Pizza And Binge Watch Stranger Things” (Don’t we all?)

Use The Power Of Free

Everyone loves free stuff…

Free ebooks, guides, consultations and resources are like internet crack to your visitor.

Clearly stating the word free is a powerful way to show the value you provide.

For example:

“Request A Free Consultation” - simple, but can be very effective.

“Get My Free Ebook”

“Start Your Free Trial”

There’s a reason these CTA’s are so common, they work!

Pro Tip:  Remember to use the “I want to…” trick even when giving away free stuff.

“Free Trial” is not as appealing as “Start My Free Trial”

Make it urgent

Everyone hates missing out…

So why not use this fact to get more customers like an evil genius?

Your CTA could use scarcity to get visitors to act.

For example:

Promoting an event?

“Only X Tickets Left! Grab A Ticket Now”

(Using verbs associated with doing something fast like “grab” and “catch” add to the urgency)

If you’re providing a discounted service for a limited time, you could use:

“30% off all our services for the first 50 customers,”
“Claim My Spot Now!”

Pro tip: Just adding the word “Now” can add to the sense of urgency…

Which sounds more urgent?

Register For Our Webinar

Or..

Register For Our Webinar Now

Push Visitors Over The Edge With A Subheadline

If you want your CTA to pack extra punch, a sub headline could be the answer.

But what should you write?

The Subheadline should pull your visitor in by clarifying what the headline offers, answering questions readers might have after reading the main headline, and mentioning extra benefits.

For example:

Build The Perfect Website Fast,
Get More Conversions

Even if you've never written a line of code, our software gives you the tools
to easily create custom designs and increase conversions

This CTA shows readers:

  • You can create a website without any experience - it's easy
  • You'll increase your conversions (a visitor performing a desirable action like buying something) even if you aren't a conversion guru

That’s a lot of benefit to show in just a few words!

cta-example-click-butler

Our CTA aims to show readers:

  • Clarifies that we are offer everything someone needs for a successful online presence.
  • Our service is cost-effective and affordable for small to medium businesses

Pro Tip:

When you've chosen a few headlines, write down questions you think your customers might have about what your headline offers.

Is it expensive? Is it easy to do? Is the business offering this service trustworthy?

Design For Attention

Your CTA (and especially your CTA button) should instantly grab the eye of your visitor.

To do this, use contrasting colours, different fonts and font styles, arrows and fancy graphics.

Here are some Pro tips for designing your CTA:

When using a background image behind your CTA, make sure you can read the CTA clearly.

A quick way of fixing clarity issues is to add a layer of transparent black (or a black to white gradient) on your background image.

For example:

cta-example-wedding-unclear-text-2
cta-example-wedding-clear-text

Use plenty of “white” space around your CTA button.

Not only does this make your CTA look more professional, it draws the eye to a clear target.

cta-example-no-whitespace-vs-good-whitespace

3. If you have two CTA buttons (which should be rarely needed), highlight only one of them.

For example:

With the common “Join Now” and “Sign In” options, highlighting one option gives a clear flow of action to your CTA...

Read headline, then sub-headline, then select the option I want.

cta-example-two-options

Test, Test and Test Again

While all the above advice is solid…

...It may not be enough to create a CTA and leave it.

The kind of visitors you attract are specific to you, and your CTA needs to work for your unique audience.

And that’s where A/B testing comes in…

A/B testing simply is comparing the results of one version of your CTA to another with your web visitors.

Testing can be incredibly time consuming and requires some knowledge of marketing data…

But if you can, A/B testing can transform your business.

If you’re using WordPress, here are our favourite solutions ranging from free to paid:

(Note: The links provided are NOT affiliate links)

Title Experiments Free

title-experiments-ab-testing-plugin

Simple but useful, title experiments lets you try out different headlines for pages and posts completely for free.

There is also a cheap premium version called WP Experiments Pro for around £25 per year.

However, it is lacking in a lot of features, but is good for those on a budget.

Get Title Experiments from the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Simple Page Tester

simple-page-tester-ab-testing-plugin

Coming in both free and paid flavours, Simple Page Tester is an SEO friendly solution that is fantastic for basic testing of headlines and pages.

The premium version (costing £50) is a good deal, coming with PHP template tags, javascript snippets and more statistics to optimise your site for conversions.

In English:

Bits of code you can place around your website to track positive actions you want your visitors to take.

Get Simple Page Tester From The WordPress Plugin Directory

Nelio A/B Testing

nelio-ab-testing-plugin

If you’re wanting to get nerdy, Nelio is by far our favourite solution.

You can test almost anything:

From titles to images, product descriptions to themes and landing pages.

It’s also compatible with plugins such as Gravity Forms and Contact Form 7.

Plans range from £25 to £220 a month, which is a good price for those with a marketing budget.

But please be aware this tool is not for those without some knowledge of testing, marketing analytics and wordpress.

Get Nelio A/B Testing From The WordPress Plugin Directory

Chapter 2

Website Design & Usability

In the web design world, there are two kinds of designers:

Those who make boundary pushing artwork…

...and those who make professional websites that convert visitors into customers.

And if you’re reading this post, you’re wanting the latter.

But if you’re a not a conversion guru, how can you tell the difference?

Look for the following techniques that you should see used in your web design…

 

web-usability-and-design-1

Design Your Website For Zombies

In his bestselling book, Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug lays down the laws for making your website user friendly.

And his number one law for website usability is:

Don’t make your website visitor have to think.

Navigating your website should be so easy a zombie could use it.

Test your website with 3 to 4 people who haven’t used it before…

...can they get through every page and be able to answer the
following questions?

  • Do I know how to get back to where I was?
  • Do I know where I am?
  • Can I continue to where I want to go?
  • Do I know how to get help?

Ask them to perform certain actions and get to certain
pages…

…can they accomplish these actions with ease?

 

design-your-website-for-zombies

Make Your Pages Into Secret Agents

Every page on your website should have a clear mission:

Preferably have only one primary mission for each page.

For example:

“My home page’s primary mission is to get visitors to click my CTA button.”

Depending on your business, this could vary...

A one-person business may want visitors to quickly call them after landing on their website.

Larger companies may want to define the company’s identity and purpose.

A business with set-price products and services may want to promote their latest deals and offers.

This clear mission can be defined with anything like using contrasting colours for your CTA button...

… or it could be literally the only action (other than navigation) that you can take on the page.

make-your-pages-into-secret-agents

The Inverse Pyramid Rule

Every page should be structured using the inverse pyramid rule:

Start with the most important information, end on the least important.

inverse-pyramid-rule

The CTA should in most cases come first.

But when writing the rest of the page, answer the following:

If you’re offering services, what features (and the benefits they bring) are most important to your customers?

My clients mostly ask about our website design services, getting higher in Google search results (SEO), and how and what they have to do with web hosting.

So, we added “web design for sales”, “SEO” and “hands off hosting” as the first three features on our home page.

top-benefits-and-features-first

Pro Tip: Your About page is the perfect place to use the inverted pyramid rule…

What does your visitor want to find out with your about page?

Normally, it includes the following:

  • What does this business do?
  • Do they have trust signals and transactional assurances? (look at next tip if you’re not sure what this means)
  • Why choose this specific business for this service? Why not a competitor?
  • Who is running this business? (Especially important for local businesses)

Answering these questions with your about page in order is a good template for an about page.

While every site is different, this is the general format that resonates well.

Also don’t forget to have and test a CTA even on your about page.

Those who are on your about page are engaged and interested.

It’s the perfect time to give them the option to contact you once you’ve convinced them of your of value.

 

Trust me, I'm the real deal...

Imagine this:

You’re walking in the middle of the high street and a random man comes along and says:

“Hey have you seen our latest line of novelty mugs? You should buy one now! Only £5.99!”

Would you hand over your money?

Most people wouldn’t.

For a lot of internet users, landing on someone’s website for the first time is surprisingly similar to this scenario.

You already know a customer needs to trust a business before they can open their wallets.

So why not use your website to establish trust?

Here are some ways to get started:

Use Testimonials and Case studies

Pro Tip: Use testimonials that allow customers to self identify by adding the following:

1. Use pictures of your client’s faces where possible.

2. If your product or service is aimed to certain industry professionals, mention the career of the testimonial giver so they can see you work with people like them.

 

Jane Doe

SEO Manager

If you are looking for some awesome, knowledgeable people in the SEO industry, these are the guys I highly recommend. Their friendliness and result-driven approach is what I love about them.

3. Use testimonials that show your service brought exceptional results.

4. Use testimonials that show your service helped a customer overcome a common problem your target customer faces.

John Bloggs

Driving Instructor

We gained over 30 clients after only two months of working with [Company]. Simply incredible results, I'd highly recommend their services.

Janet Jones

Electrician

Coming up with content ideas for our blog every week was incredibly difficult. With [company]'s services, we can focus on our trade and customers while they produce content that our website visitors love.

5. Use testimonials that show how a specific feature of your service or product helped them achieve their goals.

Donnie Doe

Restaurant Owner

We've been struggling to grow our social media presence ever since the start of our business. [Company] guided us with their customer focused content curation service to triple our Facebook and Twitter followings and increase engagement.

6. Use testimonials that inspire an emotional response by being rich in detail.

Mark

I’m so glad I booked these guys. They were quick, friendly and professional. They arrived on time, brought all equipment needed and were very respectful of my home and furniture. The furniture was assembled and fitted perfectly. Thank you so much! I've never been happier with a service.

7. Using logos of companies you have worked for or places you have been featured online shows you are an industry professional.

(And they look fantastic on your home and about page.)

Write For Scanners

Your website’s content shouldn’t make your visitor’s head explode…

With so much information available, your visitors want to get straight to the point, and quickly.

Here are some tips for when you’re writing:

  • Start with the main point or conclusion first (the inverse pyramid rule applies to each paragraph of text too!)
  • Use text formatting (bold, italics etc.) to highlight the most key points of your article or benefits of your offer
  • Make use of whitespace for clarity.
  • Use colour to separate groups of information.
  • The introduction to each paragraph should be compelling and benefit driven
  • Using bulleted or numbered lists to organise key information

Looks Matter

If anyone says the following to you:

“The looks of your website don’t matter, just the content...”

You’ve either time travelled to the early 1990’s or you’re talking with someone who hasn’t been on the internet before.

Looks are playing a bigger and bigger role in lead generating websites.

With so much competition online, websites that look bland or are still defiantely sticking to web 2.0 graphics are slowly dying.

The more internet users see the level of professionalism with website design…

...the more a badly designed website is going to look untrustworthy and put off customers.

Stay ahead of the curve with these design tips:

Your Website Has An Aura...

So the village psychic may be telling fibs when they said they can see your aura…

But if they were talking about your website, they might be onto something.

A good website has a personality and tells a story.

It shows your business’ mission and aspirations in both it's content and it's design.

Take a look at some examples:

design-example-spallian

Spallian makes you feel like you’re in the future...

With isometric designs (commonly associated with gaming and “being digital”), 80’s futurism colour schemes and a blue background giving a sense a vast openness, this business has a winning design for a technology company.

Think about what is commonly associated with your industry and integrate it into your your website's design.

design-example-polaroid

Polaroid Originals creates a sense of nostalgia with retro colour schemes, using pictures of family and friends, and treating images with higher contrast to give them a retro feel.

Every element on your website has to have a purpose and work together.

design-example-mellow-mushroom

Mellow mushroom combines modern flat design with the "hip side" of 60's drug culture to create a unique take on what otherwise might be a normal pizza restaurant.

A website experience should be memorable.

So pick a unique feature of your business to display on your website and integrate it into your design!

Design For Your Industry

Depending on your industry and target audience, you need to align your website design with current industry design trends.

design-example-leadpages

There’s not really anything too unique about Leadpage’s design, but it works well for their client base who are primarily business professionals and marketers.

Similarly Unbounce does the same:

design-example-unbounce

Again, there’s nothing incredibly unique, but for the target audience, these websites get the job done.

However, a restaurant may want to go a bit more flashy and have more personality:

design-example-bibiri-restaurantpng

Look at websites in your industry that look professional.

Take note of what is working and what isn’t.

Overall, you need to tick the following boxes with your website:

Effective - Is it designed and set up to convert visitors into customers and not just look good?

Desirable - Does the content and design show clearly what your service offers?

Memorable - Do your visitors have a unique experience with your website that makes it  memorable?

Useful - Does your website fulfill the need the visitors have and explain complicated features clearly?

Learnable - Is your website easy to use and navigate?

Efficient - How quickly can the user get what they want? Is the contentbloated or the navigation excessive?

The Law Of Contrast

There is a law that is broken by a lot of websites because it seems simple, but is hard to get right.

Simply put:

The Law Of Contrast - If you highlight everything, nothing is highlighted.

Take a look at these Calls to Action:

cta-example-no-contrast-1
cta-example-good-contrast
cta-example-too-much-contrast-1

Which one looks the most clear and readable?

These might be extreme examples, but chances are you might have seen a CTA or spammy ad like the final example.

And a lot of the time, CTA’s like the first one go unnoticed.

The third Call To Action highlights everything, and as a result visitors will be put off as it doesn't guide the eye to any one particular place.

The second CTA however, uses balance and contrast to look professional and clean.

Visitors will instinctively distrust designs that highlight everything and look cluttered.

Less Is More

One thing an amazing website design does is use very little to do a lot.

Clutter makes websites both difficult to navigate and causes visitors to get anxious.

Pro Tip: Write out your web page, then try reduce down the number of words to get your point across, then repeat the process two more times.

The bare essential message will be all that’s left, and that’s all you need.

Avoid Stock Photography

When there are articles dedicated to naming and shaming the most overused stock photos…

dont-use-bad-stock-photography

...it’s time to stop paying massive fees for corny imagery.

Where you can, use your own graphics:

Nothing says professional more than a genuine photo and custom illustration

But remember:

Make sure these graphics are unique to you and professionally designed.

Here’s an example of a good graphic:

good-illustration-example-hubspot

Photo Source: Hubspot

Again, there’s nothing incredibly unique, but for the target audience, these websites get the job done.

However, a restaurant may want to go a bit more flashy and have more personality:

bad-illustration-example

(And yes I found this on a business website I shall not name…)

Avoid stock photos, but if you must use them, have a professional designer find good photos that fit your website and work for your audience.

 

Reduce Friction

We all love things that are quick and easy:

Ready meals, fast food, crisps… (can you tell I’m hungry?)

And your customers love the easy life too.

So here are some quick tips let your visitors buy from you effortlessly:

1. Keep your navigation the same on every page

Nothing is more confusing that having your navigation change up every few clicks.

A visitor should know how to navigate all throughout your site at all times.


2. Make your Forms simple

A form with a lot of fields to fill out is going to push a lot of customers away.

Design your forms for the absolute bare minimum of details needed.

Big forms are sometimes necessary depending on what you’re providing and your client base, but the faster you make filling out your form, the better.


Pro Tip:
Always include a small notice at the bottom of a form saying you will not share this email address with third parties or send spam.

The difference in sign ups before and after this change can be staggering!

 

3. Provide as many payment options as possible

Make use of services such as Paypal, Stripe, braintree and more payment gateways if you’re selling products or services directly from your website.

Pro Tip:

Visually emphasise only one option (Paypal as it is the most popular) so visitors are not overwhelmed, but can find their preferred option if needed.

visually-emphasise-one-option

4. Make your Logo a clickable link to home

This is a web standard that almost all websites on the internet abide by.

Internet users are so used to clickable logos that they can be put off when the logo doesn’t go back to the home page.

5. Make sure all navigation is clickable

All navigation items, even the top level links with a drop down menu, must be clickable.

If one item doesn’t link to somewhere, it makes your website look like it’s broken and insecure.

6. Beat your competition

Go onto a competitor’s website, and note down what you like and dislike about going through their website.

Steal what works, improve what doesn’t.

 

7. Make it easy to share the love

If you’ve created an amazing bit of content, your users will want to share it.

Make it effortless for them with floating socials and sharing buttons.

 

8. Have Google Maps on your Contact page

Your visitors and Google will love you for making your location easy to find if you have a home base for your business.

Add a Map marker to you website or if you use wordpress, try this handy widget.

Use Persuasion Psychology

1. Anchoring

You’re given two options:
To buy a £3000 painting or a £500 one, which do you go for?

If offered side by side, you more likely to make a purchase and buy the £500 painting simply because the first price you saw was £3000.

This tactic is known as Anchoring.

Anchoring is the principle that we compare all future information to the first bit of information we’re given.

And there are so many useful ways to use this concept on your website…

When offering a set-price product or service, have it close by to expensive products, or even put the expensive product or service first.

For example:

£1000 for Premium, £500 for Pro, £300 for Basic etc.

Or use crossed out prices to emphasise how much of deal a visitor is getting…

£1000
£500 for today only!

Pro Tip: Check  out the Wikipedia page on Anchoring - it give some useful details on this persuasion tactic

 

2. Reciprocity

Have you ever met a Hare Krishna?

In his best-selling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini talks about how Hare Krishna’s use the power of reciprocity to receive donations.

Hare Krishnas give flowers to passers by, and instinctually a lot of us will give something back because we feel we owe something.

You can use this principle on your website in several ways:

  • Giving away a free ebook.
  • Creating amazing content available for free (that doesn’t pitch your product or services)
  • Giving free talks, training sessions or consultations.
  • Giving a free, surprise gift with every order from your ecommerce store

There is so much value you can give to stand out as a business and win customer loyalty.

 

3. Build your personal brand

Having a faceless business is a surefire way to never grow a loyal customer base.

Whether you’re a solopreneur, local business or a company with a bigger team, having your personality shine through your website will increase sales.

If you’re a one man business, having a picture of you on your front page helps visitors get to know and trust you.

You are your brand when you’re selling personal, face to face services (such as driving instruction, massage services etc.) so make sure your website shows it!

For small to medium business, having a clear mission statement and a small biography of key team members can help your visitors feel more connected to your business, and trust you.


Pro Tip:  
While having a personal front is important, being personal to the point of sharing what you had for dinner while watching X Factor the other night is too far.

Remember:

Customers don’t necessarily want to know about you on a very personal level.

If you’re in services, they care about how your personal assets, character and unique brand can help solve their problems.

Chapter 3

Website Optimisation and SEO

This chapter is the non-nerd friendly guide to fixing common website issues and seo mistakes that can literally make or break a company's online presence.

It might not be as fun as making your website look snazzy or testing CTA’s…

… but without these issues fixed, your online presence could be at serious risk.

There is obviously a lot more to Optimisation and SEO that we couldn't fit in, but this chapter is a fantastic way to start.

website-optimisation-and-seo-1

Tools Of The Trade

Whenever we do an SEO review of a website, we ALWAYS install these five (free) tools:

Google Analytics

Why?

Google Analytics is the most popular analytics tool and even it’s free version is a powerful toolkit.

You can track important stats such as:

  • Website traffic
  • Your most visited pages and top content (great for determining where to put a CTA and what your audience enjoys)
  • The “bounce rate” (how many people leave once going onto your website. This can affect search engine rankings.)
  • Where your visitors are located (obvious for locally based business but sometimes useful to see who you’re targeting)
  • Keywords that bring visitors to your website.
  • What visitors are searching for on your website.
  • And much more...

How to set it up:

Check out the official guide from Google

 

Bing Webmaster Tools

Why?

While Bing is Google’s very small, often disliked brother, it’s still has a very valuable tool suite for website owners.

It has a lot of nifty features such as an SEO suggestions section to help you identify SEO problems, Malware reporting and a few diagnostic tools.

Even if you aren’t trying to rank on Bing (the UK searches on bing are very low) these extra tools can be handy.

 

How to set it up:

Check the official guide from Bing

 

Google Search Console

Why?

This is like Google Analytic’s best buddy.

They team up well, with Google Search Console showing you how to fix website errors, submit sitemaps, and see what devices visitors are using to see your website.


How to set it up:

Check out the official Google guide to Search Console

 

Yoast SEO plugin

Why?

If you use a WordPress website, Yoast SEO makes on-site SEO easier:

Create sitemaps, see how search engines are seeing your links in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and much more…

(Note: If you have the budget, it’s also worth getting the premium version. We give it free in our Local and Growing Business plans!)


How:

Yoast has a fantastic SEO guide for a basic set up

 

Screaming Frog

Why?

If your site has broken links or “crawl” errors, search engines will find it hard to index and drive traffic to your content and pages.

This is where Screaming Frog can save the day:

The free version of the tool will crawl your website and find errors, duplicate pages, broken links and redirects.

It’s part of the SEO swiss army knife you won’t want to miss out on!

How?

Check out the Screaming Frog user guide

Set Up Meta Tags

Meta tags are small descriptors in your website’s code that show certain details about your website.

There are four major tags that you need to know about:

1 Meta Keywords  

The most popular and most misunderstood tag is the Meta Keywords tag.

The idea behind these tags was to have keywords in the code of your website to help identify the purpose and target of your web page.

But it all changed in 2009 when Google announced they don’t consider Meta keywords in their algorithm to determine website rankings anymore.

SEO “experts” were using the meta keywords tag to stuff as many keywords as possible, making meta keyword tags look like this:

This tactic (called Keyword Stuffing) was used in the hope of getting websites high up in as many search engine results pages as possible.

But Google and other search engines quickly realised what was happening and removed any relevance of meta keywords.

So if you’re SEO “expert” is recommending to even bother with these tags (or worse stuff it with as many keywords as you can think of), you might want to consider finding another expert.

Some plugins and website builders add these in as a default, but don’t worry it won’t hurt or help your website rankings.

2 Title

The title tag doesn’t start with “meta” but it is very important for SEO.

You should have a unique Title tag on each page of your website that is descriptive of the page.

If your title tag contained “Your Title Shows Here” in your code:

<head>

<title>Your Title Shows Here</title>

</head>

It would show up like this in search engines:

A good format for your title tag would be the following:

Keep your title tags between 50 - 60 characters.

There is no exact character length because of the amount of different screen and font sizes, but generally anything below 60 characters or (less than 600 pixels in width) will show in full.

For example:

<head>

<title>Web Design for Local Business | Click Butler</title>

</head>

3 Meta Description

Put simply, the meta description describes what a page is about on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) to searchers.

So if your code looks like this:

<head>
<meta name="description" content="This meta description will show up in search   engine results pages.">

<title>Web Design for Local Business | Click Butler</title>

</head>

Your website would show up in search engines like this:

The meta description no longer factors in google’s search engine rankings (again to avoid Keyword Stuffing) but it’s still important for one reason:

Your CTR (Click Through Rate).

When users see your website listing on a search engine results page, they may read the description to see if your website is what they’re looking for.

And if they click and stay on your page (increasing your Click Through Rate), search engines like Google will take this as a positive sign your website has value for their searchers, and it will contribute towards higher search engine rankings

So what does this mean for you?

Write your meta descriptions as if pitching what your service and website is offering.

Don’t stuff it with keywords, it will only put off potential customers.

For example, use meta descriptions like this:

Not this:

4 Meta Viewport

This tag tells mobile devices not to show your page at the width of a desktop screen while visitors are using their smartphones to view your website.

If your website is responsive and configured correctly, it typically will look like this:

<meta name=viewport content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">

The best guide to setting up your meta viewport tag is by Google.

However, if you’re not web development savvy, make sure your web designer does this for you.

Optimising Your Images

Images play an important role in on-site SEO.

They should be optimised for your website in several ways:

  • Use a descriptive filename 
  • Make sure it loads quickly in browsers by reducing file size (see the next section to learn how to do this) 
  • Don’t re-scale large images to be smaller on your website. Browsers will have to request the full image and rescale it, slowing down your website. Make sure your original image is exactly the same size as it is shown on the web page. 
  • Use responsive images (a different image is loaded depending on the size of the screen the website is on). See our Local Business Resources to learn how to do this. 
  • If you’re using captions, make sure they are descriptive and explain their associated image well. Only add captions if they make sense e.g. An article with an image can show a caption, but not your logo. 
  • Alt tags and text only show when a user can’t see the images on your website because of visual impairment or technical reasons. However, alt tags still is an SEO factor, so use keywords in your alt text but more importantly make sure the alt text is descriptive of the image. 
  • Title tags on images aren’t an SEO factor, however they are shown when you hover over an image in browsers such as  Google Chrome. So you can just copy the alt text or preferably write something that gives the image context.

The Need For Speed... with your Website

Speeding up your website is vital for your search engine rankings and customer satisfaction.

And here’s why:

Having a slow website can dramatically increase “bounce rate”.

Or in English:

Having a slow website will increase the rate at which people leave your website after viewing only one of your website’s pages.

And with Google making “dwell time” (how long a visitor stays on your website) a big ranking factor, a fast loading time is crucial.

Speed optimisation gets quite nerdy and complicated…

But to keep things simple, here are a few of the easiest ways to increase page speed:

 1. Check Your Current Page Speed

The first step is to see where you website needs improvement using all 4 of these tools:

Google’s PageSpeed Insights

This is the most beginner friendly of the bunch, and gives you suggestions on what to fix in plain english.

YSlow

An open source extension for several browsers and even your mobile with a bookmarklet.

Their website also has a good list of best pagespeed practices that is worth checking out.

Pingdom

Another beginner friendly tool, giving a useful grade and also tracks your website speed history so you can see if your hard work is paying off.

GTmetrix

A very popular tool but a bit more advanced.

The grading system however is easy to read and some of the suggestions for page speed improvements may be within your skill level.

 

2. Improve your Hosting Plan

This is the most important factor for page speed.

If you’re using a cheap shared hosting plan or any site builders like Wix, Weebly or Squarespace...

….you’re putting yourself at a serious disadvantage.

While it may be low cost and easy to use, you pay the price in SEO and page speed.

With shared hosting and site builders, you are put in a large pool of users who are battling for server resources.

If one website gets a huge amount of traffic, the rest suffer with slower load times.

The much better option is to use managed hosting, VPS (virtual private server) or dedicated hosting.

VPS is great for individuals, small and medium businesses as server resources can be increased easily. (However, it requires expertise to set up and maintain correctly.)

Dedicated hosting is the priciest but perfect for very large companies with the budget and expertise.

3. Make your images internet-friendly

Image file size can drag down your page speed significantly.

So the goal is to have lightweight but high quality images.

There are manual ways of doing this:

(Preferably, do all of the following with a professional graphics editing program such as Adobe Photoshop or GIMP)

  • Cropping the picture

But doing all of this manually for every image on your website is time consuming...

A quicker solution for WordPress users, is to use plugins that do the job automatically:

Be Mobile Ready

 There’s no soft way to put this:

If your website is not mobile ready, you are seriously hurting your business presence online.

Heres just some of the reason why…

  1. The number of Mobile users overtook desktop users back in 2016
  1. UK mobile users spent 66 hours online with their phones, compared to only 29 on their desktops or laptops.
  1. 4G and mobile internet usage has doubled from 25% to 45% in the last year


The list goes on but you get the point…

The days of designing a simple website for massive TFT monitors is over.

But here’s the deal:

You also need your website to be mobile responsive, not just mobile-dedicated.

Or put in plain English:

Your website needs to dynamically resize depending on the screen you’re using…

...not have a separate version of your website, with a separate domain name, only for mobile.

And here’s why:

  1. Google prefers mobile responsive websites because it avoids SEO issues.
  1. Your search engine results are partly determined by “backlinks” or links referring to your website. With a separate mobile website, you have to build backlinks for both sites and this will hurt your rankings in search engines.
  1. With a mobile-dedicated website, you will constantly be having to play catch up with new screen sizes and devices as it won’t dynamically resize to fit any screen.

So if you want to have your website redesigned, make sure you know what you’re getting.

wp-smushimage-optimisation-plugin

WP Smush by wpmudev

We give and set up the premium version of this plugin to all our clients and for good reason….

  • It has bulk optimisation options
  • Lossless (no quality is lost) compression
  •  A huge 32mb limit
  •  a “super-smash” option which can cut file size in half with very little quality loss.
  • Whenever you upload an image yourself, it can optimise on the go.

Even despite the limits, the free version however is still incredible and worth downloading.

This option is perfect for businesses of any size.

kranken-image-optimisation-plugin

Kraken.io Image Optimizer

Another great option, but requires some setup and manual work.

For a monthly fee you get:

  •  A wordpress plugin and a pretty web interface to upload images
  • Preservation of EXIF metadata (metadata embedded by digital cameras)
  • An option to set a maximum optimisation cap when doing image optimisation in bulk (as there is a limit depending on your pricing plan.)

This is a good option for those with lots of images being uploaded every month and those who have the time to nerd out on image compression settings.

optimus-image-optimisation-plugin

Optimus.io

Possibly our least favourite but it has a simpler user interface than Kraken.

This is handy for those who want a set-it and forget-it option like WP Smush.

However, the free version has a mixmum file size of only 100kb which is too small to really be usable…

And the paid options still ahve a cap of 5mb (but it’s cheap starting at about £15 per year)

There are other available options out there but not one we’ve tried.

Let us know in the comments of your own recommendations!

 

4 Honey I shrunk the Scripts.

Compressing (referred to as Minifying) your JS and CSS files is a commonly missed step on websites.

(Run your website through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if this is a problem)

Here are four easy ways to do this:

  1. Use Better WordPress Minify (WordPress Only)

        This plugin let’s you combine and minify your CSS and Javascript files

  1. Use W3 Total Cache (WordPress Only)

        A whole performance suite which is good to learn if you have the time.

  1. Use CSS Minifer / Javascript Minifier

Copy your CSS and JS code into these two website, copy the result and save.

  1. Will Peavy Minifier

Minify it all in one, just copy and paste your code (similarly to above) and save the results.

        

5 Get some Cache

To make your site faster, web pages temporarily store or “cache” HTML documents, images and other files so that visitors can view your pages faster without the web server having to be asked to retrieve each file every time.

If you have wordpress it can be pretty simple to set up:

  1. W3 Total Cache

Useful for so many things, this is a must have plugin. (However it does require some

know how to use.)

  1. WP Super Cache

        A regularly updated, simpler option.

If you don’t use wordpress, caching gets a bit more complicated.

You can find some helpful tutorials on caching for non-Wordpress websites on our Local Business Resources page.

 

6 Put Your Website On A Diet

Like in the house, a lot of things can build up on our website that we don’t need anymore, including:

  1. Accumulated Code from “quick fixes” you’ve done yourself or has been done by a sloppy service (unfortunately all too common!)
  1. Backups stored on the server itself, hogging up space.
  1. An over bloated Database (common with eCommerce sites with lots of orders)
  1. Unused images
  1. PDF’s and other downloadable files
  1. Self-hosted videos (Please don’t do this! See our Local Business Resources for alternatives)
  1. For WordPress users, unused themes, badly optimised plugins and preserved older installations of WordPress.
  1. Excessive Spammy comments

There are a lot of solutions for each of these problems (mostly requiring some expertise), but here are a few tips you can use now:

  1. Store media files and downloadable files in cloud services such as Amazon S3
  1. Use external video hosting (check our Resources page)
  1. Store backups of your site externally using cloud hosting
  1. Use plugins like WP-Optimize for your database optimisation needs.
  1. Only use wordpress plugins you need

It’s worth every couple of months checking your website for excess baggage and having a clean out.

Conclusion

Ready to win more customers with your website?

After reading this guide, you’ve probably realised:

There is a lot more a business website can do to win customers for your business.

Now it’s over to you:

What are you going to implement first?

A redesign? Your website hosting? Your SEO? 

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below.

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