Creating a website can be a big undertaking, but it's a necessity for any online business. However, that doesn't mean it's a chore you should rush through.
If you've built your website without paying much thought to the user experience or keeping it updated, you won't be seeing the results you want. You'll also be missing out on the many benefits a high quality website has for attracting customers and growing your business.
Whether your website's already up and running or you're still in the design stage, follow these 10 tips to create a website that converts.
1. Know what your website is for
Are you just creating a website because you've been told you should have one, or have you got a more concrete plan?
Depending on the type of business you have and what you want to achieve with your online platform, a website can:
- increase brand awareness
- build your authority in the industry
- generate more leads
- increase sales and conversions
You should also put yourself in your customers' shoes and think about what they want from your website, whether it's to:
- find information about your business, products or services
- have their questions answered
- make a purchase or sign up
- contact you
You should keep your goal and your target audience in mind when creating every page of your website. Different pages may have different goals.
2. Offer valuable content
Long gone are the days when you could stuff a page with keywords and shoot to the top of search engines. Google's algorithms have become increasingly complex in an effort to provide the best quality results to searchers, so you need to make sure your website is competitive.
Employing your own in-house writing team or using professional contractors who keep up to date with the latest SEO trends will improve the chances of people finding your pages and sticking around when they arrive.
To write quality content that search engines and customers will love, you should:
- create personas for each target audience you want to reach and tailor your content to these personas
- research keywords and incorporate these naturally into every page (see section 4)
- write in-depth informational content that answers your audiences' questions
- proofread every page for spelling, grammar and other errors that could make you look unprofessional
- see what your competitors and other successful companies are doing, but don't plagiarize
3. Include calls to action
Don't let customer journeys reach a dead end. Every page on your website should have a clear purpose and instruct visitors on what to do next though a clear call to action (CTA).
Depending on the purpose of the page, this instruction could be to:
- place an order
- get a quote
- download a file
- join your website or mailing list
- visit another page to find out more
- get in touch
A longer page might have multiple calls to action giving users different options, but these should be limited to what's most helpful and necessary.
A call to action can be as simple as a text link or phone number at the end of the page, but you can improve conversion rates by making it larger and harder to miss, such as a contact form, banner or CTA button.
4. Improve SEO
SEO (search engine optimization) is all the techniques you can use to improve your website's ranking on Google and other search engines. Nearly all features on a page can be optimized for SEO, from the text itself to images and metadata.
Whether you choose to handle SEO yourself or to use a specialist, it's important to test and revise your pages on a regular basis, as Google periodically changes its algorithms to favor different factors and search habits continue to evolve.
To rank in search engines, your pages need to provide what people are searching for. Carrying out keyword research will show you what phrases your target audiences are using, which you should aim to target with relevant pages. If your website's already up and running, analyze your traffic to see what terms people are using to find you.
Keywords can be used in many places on a web page, including:
- body copy
- headings (H1, H2 and H3)
- image file names, captions and alt text (see next section)
Keywords should be used naturally and conversationally. Keyword stuffing won't help your pages to rank and is more likely to get you penalized by search engines. Other factors can affect SEO beyond keywords, such as your website's structure and internal and external links.
5. Use high quality images
Images make your pages more enticing, but they need to be chosen with care. While there's no shortage of stock photos out there, unique photos and imagery will help to make your website stand out and to build your brand's personality.
As well as being original, these images should also be relevant to the page and meet the high standard today's internet users expect. Blurry or stretched photos look terrible on HD screens and will make your company look unprofessional.
As mentioned earlier, images can be optimized as part of your SEO strategy. You can do this by including keywords or descriptive text in the image file name, in a caption added below the image and in the image alt text when editing in HTML. Keep in mind that, just like when writing copy, keyword stuffing isn't tolerated when it comes to images either.
6. Optimize page speed
However attractive and engaging your pages are, you're going to lose traffic if they take too long to load. The bounce rate of a website is the number of people who leave after visiting just one page, and this rate has been found to increase by more than 20% for every five seconds users have to wait.
With loading times being integral to the user experience, Google takes account of loading times when ranking your site. You can check your loading time on Google by running a LightHouse audit to identify any issues that need to be addressed.
If your pages are being slowed down by large images, you can use a tool such as compressor.io or image editing software to reduce file sizes without a noticeable compromise in quality.
7. Make it easy on the eye
How your website looks can be just as important as its content, especially for making a good first impression. To prioritize the user experience, keep your design relatively simple and limit your color palette and typefaces to just a few options that complement each other nicely and suit your brand.
User-friendly websites also use plenty of white (or empty) space to break up the content and make it easier to read and digest. This helps to guide readers through the page and to draw their attention where you want it.
8. Make sure it's mobile-friendly
With more than half of web traffic worldwide now coming from mobile phones, having a mobile responsive website is no longer optional, but essential. Google has also been prioritizing mobile-friendly websites in search results since 2016, making it important for SEO too.
However, many businesses still have websites that are not optimized for mobile users, which can be frustrating to use and cause users to look elsewhere. This is especially the case for older websites that haven't been updated or sites built on older platforms.
If you already have a website, you can use Google's mobile-friendly test to check whether your site is already optimized or if you need to contact your web designer to make improvements.
If you're creating a new website, a responsive theme will make sure your website loads just as well on all devices.
9. Keep your branding consistent
Your website represents your business, so it needs to be coherent with your established brand style. This doesn't only mean using your brand colors and logo, but also maintaining a consistent tone of voice and staying true to your brand values.
If you haven't already, creating a set of brand guidelines will help you and your content creators to maintain consistency when creating your website, blog posts and even social media updates. Brand consistency helps to establish your brand's personality and improves recognition, helping you to stand out from the crowd.
10. Update regularly
Once your website goes live, it shouldn't be ignored. As well as making sure the content remains up to date, you should also work on growing your website, as more pages and fresh content help to improve SEO and will keep people coming back.
The easiest way to grow your website is to publish a blog, although writing content on a regular basis takes time and dedication. The more posts you make to your business blog, the more your traffic will grow, so it can be worth researching topics, checking out what other companies are doing and planning a blogging schedule to make sure you don't fall behind.
For more tips about how to create a website and grow your online business, follow the Limecube blog.