Okay, you have a website. Sweet. Now, the question you should be asking yourself: is your website working for you?
This article is all about giving you actionable steps towards making your website up to snuff for 2020 and beyond.
Jump Down to a Section:
- My Website is a Ferrari
- On a Phone, Who ‘Dis
- Let’s Talk About Action
- Simple, Easy, and Clean
- Traffic, Please & Thank You
- Where’s Waldo? What’s he doing?
- Your No. 1 Pick for the Team
Here’s why you should listen to what I have to say: I’ve had the pleasure of working on and creating many successful websites over the last 5 years.
An important thing to note is success looks different for different people and different brands. Someone might want more traffic while another wants people to sign up for their email list. The list goes on and on.
So, realize when I am saying I’ve worked on successful websites, I mean I have achieved a variety of real life successes for many different clients in many different industries.
The first thing you should do before touching your website is know what it is you are working to achieve. Write down what success looks for you!
Regardless of what goals you are aiming to hit this year, there are some fundamentals behind what makes a website great. There are also some easy pitfalls that unfortunately too many sites fall in and, in response, lag success. (Fewer contacts, less traffic, and too many days staring at a phone that just isn’t ringing.)
Below is my personal Checklist of the 7 Clear Signs that your website is up to snuff.
Okay, here we go:
1. It’s Freakin’ Fast (on Mobile)!
If you haven’t noticed, people’s attention span is at an all time low. According to a study by Microsoft, the average human being now has an attention span of 8 seconds.
Attention spans are lower when someone’s experience of website is lower. Here’s an easy way to improve attention spans of your followers: provide a stellar experience on mobile.
Your site should load in under 4 Seconds on mobile. HOLY MOTHER OF PEARL THAT IS FAST!
Here are some reliable tools to test site speed on Mobile:
- GTmetrix: https://gtmetrix.com/ (Sign up for free; it’s worth it!)
- Google’s Page Speed Insights: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
What you need to pay attention to is “First Paint” and “First Contentful Paint”. First Paint is simply the first time images appear on the screen while loading your website.
Don’t go chasing A’s and 100’s only to realize that it takes forever for your site to initially load. The real benefit in site speed is perceived load times. People don’t need to know the whole site is loaded to feel satisfied. First Paint is the definition of perceived load times.
Why is site speed important on mobile?
Faster sites rank better on Google, provide a better experience for viewers, and convert better than slower sites. Period.
Neil Patel has a great article called How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line. Read it.
Want to be better than your competition?
Here’s a trick that I figured out to turn any Geo Metro speed website into a Ferrari:
- Lower the Number of DNS requests to the smallest number possible. (Less is more. Cha-cha-cha Charmin.)
- Have a ridiculously small (I mean Kilobyte) site. Shoot for under 1MB minimum.
Using the above techniques, I have been able to consistently create websites that load at ~1.5 second for First Paint and ~3 seconds for Full Load on Mobile! Here’s a test I ran on GTmetrix for Mumarkt.
The tricky thing is mobile websites speed up using different techniques than desktop websites speeds. Brian Dean has an amazing study where he Analyzed 5.2 Million Webpages to see the difference between load times on Desktop & Mobile.
Here’s my advice for you: everything is going mobile. So, be part of the progressive side of the web, and start focusing on Mobile first.
2. It’s Mobile-First, not Mobile-Second!
Everyone is building websites on a desktop (ever try to build a website on a phone…fuck, not worth the time). Here’s the catch, in 2018, 58% of site visits were from mobile devices.
Now, do you think that number has gone up or down in the last year? Up, right!
Also, you are rewarded by Google for having a mobile-first site. That’s because Google ranks your websites primarily by it’s mobile design. They’ve been doing this for years and cracking down even more every year. (They call this Mobile-first indexing. 😉)
Is your audience on Instagram? When’s the last time someone used Instagram on their desktop? I think you are following me. Pun intended. 🤜 💥 🤛
Here’s how you beat out your competition!
Design your websites for a phone, even though you are building it on a laptop. Be like Nike, and JUST DO IT!
Here’s a simple method: have your phone with your website loaded. Update your website on your desktop, and then refresh your phone.
Want the more tech savvy approach? Start using Chrome DevTools or Firefox Developer Tools. These are built in tools on each respective browser that allow you to emulate mobile devices while viewing a website.
Looking for inspiration for great mobile design? Open up your mobile apps and see what they do to provide an amazing experience. Mobile apps are ahead of web design in their usability and mobile first approach to pleasing customers.
3. It has Incredibly Clear & Actionable Call to Actions (CTA’s)!
This one is simple, yet sadly forgotten. Let’s say you have the traffic. You have loyal followers. You have it all. And no one is contacting you…
No one is doing what you want them to do once they reach your site. 😥 And, why would they, because, let’s face it, your followers are hopelessly lost on your site.
Tell your viewers what you want them to do. A website should be a CTA-Badass Machine, patent pending, that brings in clients, contacts, opportunities, and sales.
Everything on your site should drive your website viewers to do the actions you want them to take.
Pro tip for snagging more leads over time.
Have three different lead breakdowns:
- Cold Leads: Free resources that they trade their email to be a part of your Email Marketing where you deliver Free Resources that benefit them.
- Medium Leads: Knowledge and Find Out more links and resources. These people want to know more about you and your brand.
- Hot Leads: Prompt these amigos to call you, email you, and buy from you. You want sales, so stop fluttering around that. Be a business and sell.
I would recommend digesting Rachel Bell’s material on Instagram: @rachelbell for Call To Action tips and tricks. She is a queen of content development and worth the follow!
4. It’s stupidly easy to know what you are about! (You as in your Website.😝)
When people land on your site, do they understand what your site is about? Honestly though, look over your site as a stranger, heck, grab a stranger at a bar, someone walking down the street, SOMEONE WHO SIMPLY DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS, and ask them what the heck your website is about?
The clearer you can be about what it is that you are doing, selling, and building, the happier someone will be on the other end of their device, which, as we covered before, is most-likely a phone. 😋
Okay, people know what your about, and you are ready to hit the next level!
They know who you are. They know what you want. They know how you CAN HELP THEM! But, here’s the catch, there is no one on your site. Your traffic on your website is 2.3 visitors a day, and 2.1 of those are you… Queue in tumbleweed rolling across your screen. Or, maybe, you have a decent traffic amount, and you are looking to grow it!
It’s time to know where you potential clients are, and be in front of them.
5. It’s find-able, and you have traffic!
Okay. Here’s where things get tricky. Do you have website traffic? If so, are you having the right people getting to your site.
Traffic is lovely and all (and quite easy to get), but targeted traffic is far better, albeit harder to achieve.
Targeted Traffic consists of preselected visitors arriving at a website who have already expressed an interest in the site’s subject.
Here’s a breakdown of traffic you can get for free with time investment:
- Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on Google mostly
- Organic Social Media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Medium, etc.)
- Email List (MailChimp, Drip, Get Response)
- Referral (either through a website link or from a friend. Thanks Mom! 💙)
Here’s a breakdown of traffic you can get quickly, but it will cost you $$$:
- Google Ads (commonly referred to as Google AdWords or PPC)
- Bing Ads (rocking 5.27% of the search market as of Oct. 2019)
- Display Ads (Facebook, Instagram, Google Display Network, Pinterest, Basically Any Website that has a Big Amount of Traffic)
- YouTube (time to roll out your camera)
Honestly, the list goes on and on for both of these. If you can imagine it, you can do it. These are the channels of traffic I am most familiar with and have massive amounts of people on them each day.
None of these traffic sources are good or bad, and each of them have a place. A good rule of thumb is to spread a wide net. You will always have one main channel, that’s to be expected, but the more you diversify, the better supported your brand will be in the long run.
That’s personally why I love websites. They can easily become a hub for all of your endeavors on the internet. And, if you do things right, you own it out right!
(If you are Mark Zuckerberg, I guess you own Facebook. So, Mark, if you are reading this, you can probably stick with FB. Although, I see you sliding into that Instagram Splash Screen. 😉)
Pro tip for getting more targeted traffic!
Write out, on a piece of paper, your ideal client. Give them a name and a persona.
Pull from real clients you already have or have had and take the best things from each of them. What made you enjoy working with them? What do they do? What speaks to them as a person?
This should be a fun exercise!
Once you have that, I would encourage you to ask any client that you already love working with, how they found you. Chances are, you might have lucked out and snagged a client or a series of customers through a repeatable process.
Once you have a few personas, craft a marketing strategy around how each of those personas work on the internet. 💪
Now, here’s the important thing: START TRYING IT OUT AND ADAPT.
Don’t stick with something that isn’t working, but, if it is, it might be a good idea to double down on it!
6. Speaking of Traffic; it has behavior tracking set up!
Sure, Instagram and Facebook have Insights; Websites have a far stronger tracking tool: Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. The cool thing about Google Analytics is that it is completely free. 💯
Here’s how to install Google Analytics on a WordPress website.
Here’s how to install Google Analytics on a Squarespace website.
And, here’s my personal guide to installing Google Analytics on a Wix Website:
- Delete Your Wix Website
- Cry for a few hours for making poor life choices.
- Cry out of Happiness from leaving a toxic relationship.
- Consider dating other CMS’s such as WordPress or Squarespace.
- Live a richer life knowing you are making good life choices on the internet. 😊
Pro Tips to Better Understand Traffic coming to your website, and leverage for better conversions.
I personally like to know which page people are coming in on my websites as well as how likely they are to complete my Call to Actions. I then setup Goal Tracking for each of my CTA’s. Here’s how you setup Goal Tracking on Google Analytics.
It’s also a good thing to understand which online channels people are coming through (ie. Instagram, Facebook, Google Organic, Google Ads, etc.)
Once you have Google Analytics installed, I would recommend you look through the Analytics Dashboard on the Google Analytics site. My personal favorite tabs are “Acquisition” and “Behavior”.
You can get lost looking at data. I have done it, and so many others have before me. I would like to remind you that behind the numbers and the data are actual people. 💙🙏
Remember it is your job to create an amazing experience to each of your visitors, and that larger numbers will come with time as long as you are providing a great product and putting it in front of the right people.
7. It’s part of your team, not a time suck!
When it comes down to it, your website should be a benefit to you and your brand; your website should not be a time suck. Too often I have seen entrepreneurs and businesses bleed time, money, and hard work into their website with little to no yield in the real world.
This is because of two main factors:
- They are scared to put themselves out there, so if they continue to work on their website and “tweak it” then they don’t have to chase down new clients. (Don’t worry, I’ve been there myself. I feel for you. 🤗)
- They don’t know what they are doing, and they aren’t getting the success they want. So, in an effort to make change (ie. get more clients or traffic), they “tweak” their website more and more.
Your website should be one of your strongest team members, period.
Here’s the pro tip breakdown:
If you have a lot of traffic coming to your website, and no one is taking the actions you want, then you either have a conversion rate issue (CTA’s are poorly set up) or you are getting the wrong people to your site.
If it is a conversion rate issue, start AB testing. I recommend Google Optimize: https://optimize.google.com/optimize/ (It’s free and pretty damn easy to use.) You will need about 100 visits/month to whatever page you want to AB test for it to be effective. Only make one or two changes at a time on the AB test!
If it is a “wrong people to your site” issue, start looking at your CTA’s (Call to Actions) and traffic. Look through Google Analytics and see where and how people are getting to your site. Work on getting in front of the right people for your brand. I would recommend researching more about your ideal client, and where you would find them on the internet.
Make yourself and your website even more trustworthy. A combination of endorsements and testimonials is a potent mix. 💪
Get endorsements from brands and people in the same field that believe in you. Ask them if they’d be willing to endorse you. Be kind, and return the favor.
If you’ve already had some success stories, reach out to those people, and ask them to share the story. Make sure it is okay with them if you put it on your website. People trust people, not companies.
You don’t have to be alone on this. Find your tribe and ask for help.
This is the hardest thing to do: once you have things going, stop looking at Analytics and Insights every 3 minutes. At the end of the day people will come to your site or they will not. Continually checking rankings, metrics, insights, and analytics is the fastest way to kill productivity and take the fun out of your website.
Schedule time, twice a month to look at your metrics. Spend your time connecting with clients, creating killer content, and providing immense value to those who view your online presence. 😃
Now, What Do You Think?
Now that you have learned all about taking your website to the next level, I would love to hear what you think creates a successful website.
Specifically, I’d like to know:
What’s the #1 thing that you focus on while working on your website?