7 tips to make your website shine in the New Year
Do you set New Year’s resolutions? According to a U.S. News and World Report blog post, nearly 80 percent of all New Year’s resolutions fail. Let that sink in.
Not setting a personal New Year’s resolution this year doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set one for your business. Let’s make a resolution to take better care of your website this year.
When it comes to setting yourself up for website success all year long, here are a few New Year’s resolutions you should stick to:
1. Trim the fat.
This one’s tough. I’ll admit it…I’m a file hoarder. You never know when you’ll need PresentationFinal1.pdf, PresentationFinal2.pdf, PresentationFinal3.pdf, PresentationFinal4.pdf, etc. Take a look at the files on your website and get rid of old versions of PDFs, images you’re no longer using. This will make it easier on yourself when you are linking content for your website visitors.
While you’re at it, take a look at the pages on your site and the content you’ve written. Is it still applicable? If not, get rid of it. You can always add it at a later date if you decide you need it. Make sure your files exist on your server or computer—your website shouldn’t be used for file storage.
2. Plan your content.
One of the keys to making sure your website shows up higher in search results is to make sure you update your website frequently AND have good content. So what is good content, you ask. Good content is useful, timely and to-the-point. A simple way to start planning your content is to take a look at a calendar and brainstorm topics for each month of the year. What things happen each February that pertain to your business or services you offer? Create a plan and stick to it.
Add the content to your site as pages or blog posts—it’s up to you—just make sure you think of your audience’s needs above your own.
3. Look at the data.
We have so much data available to us as marketers that it can be overwhelming to think about. If you’re only going to look at two sets of data, make it your Google Analytics paired with keyword research. When you launched your website you likely looked at your Google Analytics to see where your traffic was going on your site, where they dropped off and where they stayed the longest.
Make it a point to check out your analytics monthly to see if there are any problem areas, or any pages that people keep coming back to (so you know what they like and can provide them more of what they want). In your Google Analytics account, you can see what keywords people are searching for to get to your site, as well as what keywords they are searching using your in-site search function. You can also use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner to find out what keywords have high search volumes. In the end, the goal of looking at and acting on the data is to make the experience better for your website visitors.
4. Schedule regular exams and cleanings.
Just like you schedule regular eye exams and dental cleanings to stay healthy—and to catch tooth decay before it turns into a cavity—it’s important to schedule quarterly, or better yet monthy, website exams. Check all of your links and make sure they all go where they are supposed to (there’s nothing more frustrating than clicking a link and getting an error page), add content based on frequent questions you receive via phone call or email and swap out photos by season (if applicable) or at least twice a year to give your site a fresh look.
While it may be tempting to skip your appointment with your website, it’s important to show-up to this meeting because having fresh content and updated links, helps your site show up in Google searches.
5. Get chunky.
Wait, what? On the heels of New Year’s resolution season—with one of the top resolutions each year to lose weight or exercise—this one may seem counter-intuitive. To write content for the web that’s easy to read, you’ll need to throw out most of what you’ve been taught. Content on your website should consist of paragraphs that are one sentence long—three at the max.
Make sure you “chunk” your content into sections and use headers and subheaders to break the content up and make it easier for your website visitors to skim. If you have a lot of content you need to present on one page, you can also try to break it up using bulleted or numbered lists.
6. Be consistent.
Now that you are setting a schedule to regularly update your website, it is important to also be consistent with your text formatting. If you want something to stand out and people to read it DON’T PUT IT IN ALL CAPS, don’t highlight it and definitely don’t make it a hard to read color. That just annoys the reader (sorry!) and makes them want to skip over it.
Remember, you want your website visitors to like you and come back, so make sure your content is easy to see. It’s OK to use a different colored text than just black on a white background, but make sure there is enough contrast so your website visitors don’t have to strain to read it.
7. Make accessibility a priority.
According to the World Health Organization, 285 million people are blind—that’s 4 percent of the people in the world. Not sure if your website is accessible to people using screen readers? The American Foundation for the Blind recommends labeling all images with alt text (alternative text that displays/is read by a screen reader in the place of an image) that describes the function of the image.
Make sure you have a proper structure to your site—H1s (headers), followed by H2s (subheaders) and so on—helps guide the screen reader through your site. As a bonus, this structure is also favored by search engines in ranking your website in search results. You can also make your links easier to access by replacing all of your “click here” links with links that are descriptive, such as, “read more about making your website accessible at the AFB.”
Want help planning and writing your content? Check out our website writing services.
Kayde Kempen has a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and previously worked at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh as an associate marketing manager where she served as a marketing project manager, writer, social media manager and web content specialist. During her five years at UWO, Kempen led nearly 90 website redesign projects. She has a Higher Education Experts certificate in Web Analytics for Higher Ed, and received a 2016 Platinum Hermes Creative Award for Integrated Marketing Campaign, a 2014 Platinum Hermes Creative Award for Overall Website in an Educational Institute and a 2012 Hermes Creative Gold Award for a microsite.