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What makes a good website?

My website needs a little facelift – can you help me? I hear that question every day. Usually, it means that the website needs major reconstructive surgery. Why’s that?

Maybe because it appears easy to create your own website. Wix, Squarespace, WordPress etc. promise that creating a website is ever so easy. And it is easy if you consider the layout part only – and if know what you are doing!

However, what the adverts are not telling you is how much blood, sweat and tears you have to invest in your content even before you start creating your website. If you want your website to stand out, there are a few things you need to sort out before you even start. I’ll walk you through the main points…

The Why, How, and What

All those who have watched Simon Sinek’s TED talk, know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t watched it – I recommend that you do!

Click here to watch the TED talk!

In a nutshell – if you don’t know why you (and your business) exist and what you do for your customers (and who your clients are) – how should anyone else know or even care? If you can’t express the passion for what you are doing – how can your clients be inspired by you and want what you are selling?

So, before you even start writing the copy for your website, get the basic stuff sorted out. And it is important that you are clear on:

  • Your brand
    • Brand colours
    • Images/ visuals
    • Your voice (your written style)
    • USP (unique selling proposition)
    • Value proposition
    • Positioning

As well as on what goes on in your industry or niche:

  • Competitors
  • Your strengths and weaknesses
  • Trends

And – your clients! Who are they and where do they hang out?

If you are clear on these points then you’ve done your major homework. So let’s get on and move on to your website pages.

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Which pages do I need?

That depends on your business. However, stick to the rule that less is more. You don’t want your audience get lost or confused.

Your website structure is important. Sketch the structure out on a piece of paper or in a mind map and make sure that you don’t have more than three layers. Better only two.

Imagine that you are a tour guide and that you are taking your audience on a tour through your website with a purchase as the final destination. You can navigate your audience through your website with links and buttons. Take advantage of that!

As a minimum that would be a homepage and/or landing page, an about me page, a services/products page and a contact page.

Think about what other pages are essential to your business and add them sparsely. You might want an FAQ page, a blog/news page, or a media or resources page.

If you want to build a subscribers list, then you should definitely think about a landing page with an attractive lead magnet. Give your audience an ebook, a white paper or anything else of value to download in exchange for their email address.

But – if a page does not serve a particular purpose – leave it out.

Pay attention to what’s going on behind the scene

I guess that you want to be on page one on Google? Then you need to know what pushes you to the top. You can either work with a digital marketing company who sets everything up for you and even manages ad campaigns for you – or you could spend a bit of time to learn about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and the likes yourself.

I have a WordPress website and like the way that you can use plugins to take care of a lot of that backend stuff. Yoast is one of my favourite plugins that helps with:

  • SEO
  • Readability
  • Links
  • Alt text
  • Statistics etc.

The Yoast plugin has a dashboard that works with some sort of traffic light system that gives advice on what you can do to improve your web page. It’s really powerful stuff and gets your basics covered.

Do I have to blog?

As a true believer in content marketing, I’d say YES! The best thing to find out if content marketing is important for your business – here are my favourite websites for content marketing:

https://www.copyblogger.com/

http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/

There are so many resources on these websites that don’t only help with content marketing, but also with your business in general. I can get lost there for hours. Have a look and decide for yourself!

Do I need social media?

There are so many – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Snapchat…  Again, it depends on your business, your type of customer and very much on where your customers hang out. If they hang out on Facebook, then go there – but don’t spread yourself too thin. Before you know it, you spend most of your time posting on different channels.

You need to select what works for you and then concentrate on that. If you need help, then contact a social media experts, who can help you find the right channels and who can teach you how to run your campaigns.

If you do go social, make sure that you place social media icons on your website.

How to lead your audience towards a purchase

If you want your audience to take an action, then you need to tell them explicitly what to do on your website. For that, you need CTAs (Call to Action).

“Let’s chat!” – “Buy here!” – “Contact me!” “Find out more!” etc. – insert CTA buttons on each of your pages and bear in mind that each CTA should bring your audience closer to a purchase.

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Hands typing on laptop

Will my audience read what I write?

Will my audience actually read what I write? That depends. Make your content interesting through:

  • Headlines (& subheaders)
  • Images/ visuals
  • Your writing
  • Embedded media (videos, audio files)

Research shows that you have 3-4 seconds to capture attention and get your audience to start reading your content. But that’s not the whole game.

Your headline is there to get people to open your email or start reading your post or webpage. The first sentence needs to build tension to read the first paragraph. The first paragraph…

You’ll see the pattern? And don’t forget to add subheaders so that “scanners” know what your content is about by only reading the headlines.

Related visuals are another way of making your audience stay with you. Visuals are processed 60.000 times faster than writing!

Why you need proof – testimonials are worth more than you think

Yes, I know that some people create their own false testimonials. But you can spot those rather quickly. Much better: get some real ones from lots of clients. The best way is to get recommendations through Linkedin.

A Linkedin recommendation makes your profile stronger AND you can cut and paste the testimonial (with permission) to your website and double the impact.

Great testimonials create trust, credibility and position you as an expert.

Another way to show how awesome you are, are case studies. It’s great to have them, but honestly, why do most people stop with displaying the client logo? I suggest adding some depth to the case study and write a couple of sentences about the challenges and your solution.

More writing on website content:

http://www.theworddistiller.com/writing-killer-homepage/

http://www.theworddistiller.com/turn-page-irresistible-read/

http://www.theworddistiller.com/copy/

http://www.theworddistiller.com/muriwai_monster/

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