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10 things to do to your website right now

Dell Small Business
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10 things to do to your website right now
© Artur Szczybylo | Dreamstime.com

For all you small business owners out there, you know how essential it is to have a website that operates at peak performance. More than that, your website has to draw in visitor traffic and keep them there long enough to get your point across.

Shoppers and potential consumers are ultra-sensitive these days. Anything from slow loading speeds to misplaced links and even boring images can have them hitting the back button faster than you can say, 'Conversion Rate.' Don't worry, we'll cover business jargon as well.

Thanks to our sponsor, Dell, here are 10 tips for you to improve your website and its performance.

1. Remove social media icons above the fold

Why would you want to send your audience off your site? You don't make money on social media, so there's no reason to re-route users to another page. While Social media traffic is welcomed, it's only a benefit if it helps bring audiences to you, not the other way around.

In today's market, you have only a short window of time to impress potential customers with the service or product you're promoting. Letting visitors leave your site by way of social media certainly doesn’t help your cause, and once they're gone, it's doubtful that they will come back.

So, what can you do? For starters, instead of placing social media icons at the top (header) of your website, you may consider putting them at the bottom (footer) of your website.

Try altering the color of the icons so they are not as visually prominent. Finally, be sure that your links are connected to live social networks that are currently active and up to date with your latest content and interactions.

2. Do away with dead-end thank you and 404 pages

No page on your website should be a dead end, it should keep visitors moving. Think of it as an open forum, constantly flowing with ideas and information.

By having blank or bland thank you pages, you're simply wishing your audience farewell without giving them an incentive to return, sign-up, or perhaps delve even deeper. If you've piqued their interest, it's important that you conclude with something significant.

Try this. First, locate and fix every dead end that may exist on your website. No page is better than a blank page.

Then, incorporate some kind of next step or action for your visitor to take with them. Whether it's answering questions to a survey, or simply getting people to subscribe to a newsletter, your thank you page should motivate users to take some kind of action before they leave.

3. Avoid packing your site with PDFs or any kind of downloadable attachments.

Now, this one may come as a bit of a surprise to most of you, but keep an open mind and consider what's best for you. PDF files are meant to preserve the format of a print document, and while they're easy to develop and upload, their format is not entirely acceptable for your website.

Why? PDFs are the true enemy of usability. That flow we mentioned earlier is interrupted when visitors have to wait for the PDF reader to load.

In addition to that, they can't be easily measured for analytics, shared, updated, or connected to a content management system, (CMS). PDFs don't consider how users actually use the web. What's the alternative?

If your website contains PDF files, they should be used as a secondary option for printing and downloading information. Aside from that, every bit of content on your site needs to be in HTML format. HTML is accessible, easy to learn/use, and supported by every browser.

4. Don't ask for too much information in fill forms

Think of personal information as the main currency of the internet. The higher someone is in the sales chain, the less information they are willing to provide. If getting them to subscribe to a newsletter is all you want them to do is subscribe to your newsletter, they shouldn't have to answer questions on a form as long as their arm.

Sure, you have to be persistent in order to create business or conversions, but you have to be tactful as well. Not everyone is so quick to give out their information these days, and with so many scams out there, they have a right to be vigilant.

It's important that you make them feel as confident and relaxed as possible. So, start by asking for basics, like contact information, or just the bare minimum needed to direct and respond to the lead. When it comes time to circle back around for a follow-up, ask any additional questions either over the phone or via email.

5. Keyword stuffing

Although keyword stuffing has 2010 written all over it, people are still doing it in 2019. Keyword stuffing is the practice of inserting a large number of keywords into web content in an attempt to artificially increase a page's ranking in search results and drive more traffic to the site.

Overloading pages on your website with keywords or numbers can result in a negative experience for visitors and ultimately harm your site's overall ranking online. It's considered a form of spamming, and search engines have condemned and penalized websites that have taken part in it.

Instead, focus on providing visitors with useful, information-rich content that uses proper keywords and fits with the overall context of your website. As you write, use your target keyword throughout the site, but try not to go overboard with them, and only place a specific term where you feel it's natural and most relevant.

Keep your keyword density below 2% as well, to stay within bounds of the best SEO practices.

6. Quit using lame stock photos

The problem with using stock images on your website is they have become too generic, almost to the point of being noticeable. When building your website, it's important you only choose components that will have a positive impact on the overall objective of the site. This goes for the images/visual aids you choose to put on your website as well.

The two must work hand in hand to deliver the message you're trying to sell. Stock photos may be more convenient for you, but they may not capture the true essence of what your website is trying to communicate to the audience.

Studies have shown users are more impressed by amateur pictures that look somewhat candid or true to life. If you're going to continue using stock photos, you may want to choose images that are more unique and relevant to your websites' specific subject matter.

Don't just use images that tell 'a' story, choose images that tell 'your' story. Audiences appreciate fresh, authentic, and innovative.

7. Stop using photos that you don't have permission to use.

Using stock images is one thing, stealing stock images that you have no permissions/rights to use is another. And it's not like you're getting anything great in return. All you're doing is infringing on someone's copyright, for an image that's lame anyway. So, the juice isn't really worth the squeeze, so to speak. At least not in this case.

The bottom line is, you can't use images unless you have explicit permission, which means the owner states you may use the image for specific purposes. Always check to see if there are requirements for editorial licensing.

If you absolutely, positively have to have a specific image and wish to avoid any unnecessary legal troubles, it's recommended that you secure permission from the owner. If the creator(s) consents to your usage of their images, you're in the clear.

8. Remove auto-playing videos and audio.

Why remove auto-playing videos? For starters, they slow down your page loading time, which will have people leaving your website just as fast as they clicked on it.

Also, Google tends to favor websites that load faster, and if yours is dragging because of video and audio files, that's hurting your SEO. Nearly half of the visitors and potential consumers who visit your website expect a page to load in two seconds or less. Don't risk losing traffic because of speed.

This is even more true for those who surf on mobile devices. By embedding a video on your website, you're adding yet another piece of code to your page. For every new piece of code you include, search engines and internet service providers have to work in order to load your snippet. So, if you do the math, having too many code snippets leads to slower overall loading time.

9. Don't speak in jargon without explaining industry terms.

A strong majority of readers can't stand, and often despise, jargon and forms of business-speak because it makes them feel foolish, uneducated or both.

If they can’t navigate through your website without referring to their dictionary, that's exactly how they will feel. You're not trying to outsmart or confuse, you're trying to inform, educate, and promote. You can only reach that goal if you present information in words any audience can understand.

If your website promotes an industry, product or service that contains complicated terms or highly technical language, be sure to elaborate/expand on each point, and bring the language down to a more universal level, that anyone/everyone can understand.

10. Avoid making every call to action a sales pitch.

If you're having trouble getting visitors to follow through, it could be your call to action, or your ads are a bit too pushy. You have to understand that while you may be eager to sell, everyone who visits your website may not be ready to buy.

Give them the chance to go deeper and obtain more information, subscribe to your newsletters, ask questions, sign up for a demo, etc. A call to action is an opportunity to motivate, not over-sell.

Assuming everyone is a motivated buyer will only hurt you in the long run. Try not to be overzealous with your ads, and don't make them so they take away from the primary focus of what you are communicating.

Also, be sure that users are able to close ads just as easily as they were opened. Lastly, your ads shouldn't be interfering with any texts or preventing audiences from moving around your site.

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