Spring is just around the corner (unless you are in Australia like me, of course). And it is the perfect time to declutter your website and get it ready to receive visitors. Why declutter, you ask? Well, allow me to explain.
Talk to any small business owner or a service professional and they will complain about how hard it is to build their email list. On further prodding, they might reveal that although they are spending time in Facebook groups, promoting their content on social media in the hopes of driving traffic to their website and spending money on ads – the traffic they are getting is not sticking.
Meaning, their conversions are low. And their bounce rates are high. Now, there could be number of reasons for this scenario. It might be that their content is not top-notch or their numbers are low in the first place. Maybe they are not calling out their audience, maybe they are being ranked on Google for something that has nothing to do with what they have to sell.
But for a second, let’s assume that their traffic is targeted. Then why is that their website is not converting these people into subscribers? Because their website is not ready to receive visitors, let alone convert them.
Think about it for a second, you will not throw a party without cleaning your house, ordering or preparing food and making sure there is enough space for people to be, right It’s entirely possible that your house is not visitor-ready, yet. In other words, you get ready to throw a party.
Same is the case with your website.
But here’s the difference between your house and your website. Your house doesn’t exist to entertain. While you have people over sometimes, the primary function of it is to make a home for yourself and your family. On the other hand, your website exists to receive visitors and the number one goal of a website is to convert visitors into subscribers.
So your website should be ready at all times. But you are human – I get it. It’s possible that you are new at business, or that you are evolving. In any case, your website isn’t a true reflection of you anymore. Solution? Give your website a makeover.
Look at from fresh eyes. Declutter everything. Hire a conversion expert if you have to. Can’t do that? No worries, I am going to walk you through the process in this blog post.
#1 Look professional
First things first, get yourself a premium theme if you can’t afford to hire a website designer.
Secondly, pay attention to your header to instantly connect with your audience. If you are a service professional and the face of your brand, you should get some professional headshots for your header.
Get rid of any music that plays instantly, flashing ads or annoying pop-ups.
#2 Pass the 3-question test
This might be hard for you to do by yourself but if you haven’t really looked at your website in a while, it may still work. Ideally, get enlist someone else to do this test.
Imagine landing on your website for the first time (and this is why it makes it hard). Can you answer these three questions within 3-5 seconds, preferably without having to scroll down?
- What is this site about?
- How does it help me (visitor) exactly? And
- What makes it different to the hundred other sites just like it?
#3 Get your tagline right
You can’t change the name of your business but there are ways to make it clearer what is it that you offer. Consider adding or tweaking a tagline or slogan. Coupled with the title of your website, the goal is to answer the three questions your first time visitor is asking. So make sure you make it really clear. While clever is nice, it can potentially confuse people and you don’t want that.
Your job is to make it uber clear how you help your readers.
#4 Say what makes you different
It’s not enough to say how you help people, you have to have some hook on your website that grabs their attention. This could be a compelling story, a unique angle on the topic or just some aspect of your personality.
This could also be design aspect of your website or something else that makes you stand apart from your competition. Spend some time honing your USP (Unique selling proposition).
#5 Add a feature box
You probably don’t have a feature box on your website (the box that sits just under your header and asks people for their email address).
While you do need someone to code it for you, it is totally worth it. This way there is no way people can complain you didn’t remind them to subscribe. And they don’t even have to scroll down for it.
#6 Don’t hide
Tell me something, when somebody visits your website can they tell who the owner of the business is?
Some people will not even put up a picture of themselves. If you are that person, kindly fix it. People want to know who you are, they want to connect with you and you are getting in the way by choosing not to display a smiling picture.
#7 Spend time on your about page
This is another area to which most people don’t pay enough attention to. There is something about writing about yourself in a glowing manner – it’s not easy, but you have to do it. I am not saying become a narcissist, but do tell people who story and what makes you qualified to help them. And don’t forget to add an opt-in box on this page.
#8 Pay attention to design
Are you still stuck in 2009? Well, in case you haven’t noticed we are in 2015. Look at the design trends. Which colours are in? How about exploring a flat, parallax style look?
Make sure your website design is mobile responsive so people checking you out on your smart phones and tablets can have a great experience. Pay attention to user experience design which just means being mindful of as ease of use, utility, pleasure and emotional experience.
#9 Choose between homepage or blog
Some people are forever toying with the idea of switching to a home page with the service options if they have a blog, or vice versa.
This is what I recommend – If you are a content-focused business, meaning you primarily rely on content marketing to build your list, consider displaying your blog as the homepage. If not, go the home page route. The choice is entirely up to you.
#10 Simplify your navigation options
While I am all for infusing your personality on your website, your navigation bar is not the place to do it.
What may look cute or interesting or out of the box to you might totally confuse people. For example what does ‘pearls of wisdom’ or ‘borrow my brain’ mean? Call it resources or services. Think about whether you really need dropdowns. Usually they are fiddly and most people don’t like them. Clean up your meta data and links for SEO benefits.
#11 Clean up the sidebar
I bet your sidebar could use some decluttering.
First of all, I highly recommend adding an author bio on your sidebar. You can use a WordPress plugin to do this easily. Great for humanizing your website instantly.
Secondly, there is no need for you to add stuff just for the heck of it. You can easily take off your archives, search box, tag cloud, link to the categories, and your latest tweets. These just make it hard to know where to look.
#12 Get rids of all links competing for attention
When somebody comes to your site for the first time, you don’t want them to click on any link that would take them away from it.
The goal is to keep them there, long enough for them to browse your content and get on your list. Think very long and hard about adding social media profile links above the fold. Don’t display ads for other people’s products or services they make you serious cash.
#13 Add a sign-box box at the top
Even if you have a feature box somewhere around your header area, adding an opt-in box on top of your sidebar is super important. This converts very well. People are used to seeing them there and by doing this you are putting your prime real estate to the best possible use.
#14 Test your freebie
I am assuming you already have a free opt-in offer in place. If not, consider it your next job to create it. If you have one, how is it performing? Did you know that you could offer more than one freebie? Did you know you can test your new freebie by writing a blog post or running an ad to see if there is any interest?
#15 Create a squeeze page
Create a squeeze or a lead capture page if you don’t already have one. The beauty of this page is that you can promote it on its own and when you do guest posting, you get far better results if you link to this page instead of the homepage.
Already have one? Maybe you can improve it? Create a better headline? Improve the benefits and call to action? Every single tweak counts.
#16 Showcase your best content
When was the last time you updated your blog? Better yet, go have a look at your latest blog post. Is it your best one? I suggest curating your best content on your blog for easy access. This way every time new peeps come over, they can get a taste of what you have to offer.
You can create a ‘start here’ page or resource boxes and strut your stuff easily.
#17 Add a sign-up box after every blog post
Most people don’t add a sign-up box after every blog post but it is a really good idea. This means the people who sign up through these boxes are the ones who actually read your content. These are the ‘warmest’ leads you can find, the most interested subscribers.
Sometimes people find a blog post through social media and get sucked into it without giving attention to anything else. These people are more likely to subscribe via these forms.
#18 Sprinkle social proof
When I visit a website or a blog for the first time and if I see evidence of lots of other people liking it, I form a positive impression without even realizing it. This is the power of social proof.
Show off your social media counts and comments. This gives people confidence that they are in a safe place where others hang out as well.
#19 Add credibility building elements
Don’t forget to add or edit credibility building elements.
If you have been recently featured on different websites, appeared on podcasts, published on leading blogs and received raves and testimonials, put them in strategic places so new visitors can spot them easily. All of these elements go a long way in building credibility and trust so don’t skip it.
#20 Consider adding a pop-up
I know, you probably hate pop-ups, don’t you? I certainly do. At least the ones that spring up as soon as I hit a website. However, you can’t deny that they do work so it is entirely up to you if you want to install one. If you do, make it look nice and inviting and use a time delay feature so you don’t end up annoying most people.
This is the checklist I use after every six months to revamp my own website. If I see my weekly subscriber numbers drop, I look at my analytics to see if I can get an idea of what’s causing that.
And I also teach my clients to follow this checklist from day 1. Especially in the beginning when you don’t have enough data to draw conclusions from, you should do everything right from your perspective.
When you are done checking items of this, do a test. Ask a few people to visit your website and see if it is crystal clear what you do, who you help and how you do it. Ask them if it is easy to find all the information they are looking for and if they would subscribe – and if not, ask them why. (Choose people from your ideal target audience so you are not getting rejected for the wrong reason.)
All the best and share with us in the comments below how you are “spring cleaning” your website!