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by Ali Moghadam on 20th May 2014
If your website was a person, would it be saying this to your customers? “You never visit me anymore. We used to be great together. You’d fill my basket page with products and I’d get them out to you as fast as the postal service could carry them. What happened to us?! Did I get old? Is it a case of out of sight, out of mind? IS THERE SOMEONE ELSE?! I used to be NUMBER ONE!”
This is a website in a serious funk; in desperate need of love. Like a wilting houseplant on the brink of death. Sad and lonely. But like said houseplant, a little love from its owner can see the buds of success blossom once again. But enough of the clichés, similes and metaphors – let’s have some analogy! What’s the digital equivalent of plant food? Can an old site become a spritely young whippersnapper once again?
It’s true what they say – it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Your content is really where it’s at, so before you do anything else, freshen up your copy. If you wrote that Home page in 2010, chances are the text is a little keyword stuffed. Keyword anchor text links run wild and free. Key phrases are inexplicably bolded out. Your city or town is tagged on to the end of keywords with no regard for grammar.
So carry out an on-site content audit – make sure all of it is unique to your site, naturally written and isn’t using keyword anchor text links, keyword bolding or keyword hiding tactics. Your copy (and content as a whole) will be your saving grace. Make it exceptional – write for the people. Do some soul searching – what is the site really about, at the very core? Make it centre around that theme like never before.
Remember that text can look good. Some of the nicest looking sites around don’t rely on images; they just creatively make text look good enough to eat. With your eyes that is. Check out The Verge for inspiration – just spacing text with colour and formatting can make a website beautiful.
If content is the soul of a website, then code and build are its body. Cut no corners – get the very best, most concise and well-built back end you can. With the sheer number of plugins and its insane versatility, WordPress is not just a contender, but the prime candidate for pretty much any website. Need a clean, simple solution to a web problem? WordPress has a plugin for that.
With designers, marketing and developers working together, from concepts to the site going live, you’ll have an unstoppable combination on your hands.
After the soul search is over and your site is at one with its copy, it’s time to bring sexy back. Looking good online in 2014 is a very different challenge to even just a couple of years ago. Flat, minimalist design is the new style of choice – and not just because it’s a trend. It makes things clear and gets stuff done. That’s why even the biggest, least agile corporations are taking notice and applying simpler designs:
Make the site look good – be fresh and adventurous but make your intentions perfectly clear. Make navigation easy, and crucially, make it easy for you to be contacted. Put name, address and phone number on every page, have social buttons clearly visible and use a combination of contact forms and email addresses. Style everything to suit your new look. Make the website a brand ambassador, conveying the message far and wide – in a tailored three piece suit (or ripped jeans and a tank top if that’s your vibe!).
Titles and Meta are a big part of getting out there – make them look GREAT. Keywords are important here – but business ones, not ones you’d liked to have had a crack at circa 2006 when it was all fair game…or not, but that debate is for another time!
Forget about stuffing the title tag with every keyword you can find. Check out the Google result mocked up with SEOmofo’s extremely useful Google SERP Snippet Optimization Tool.
Here’s our scenario. Page one for the term “Digital SLR Camera” – great! But a glance at the Search Query report in Webmaster Tools shows a Click through Rate (CTR) nobody would be proud of and Google Analytics shows a majorly embarrassing bounce rate.
As it turns out there isn’t all that much to do with digital SLR cameras on the Home page and the navigation isn’t telling users how to get that information. And even worse, nobody wants a generic “digital camera”. Trends are dropping. They want models, brands and a feature set.
At this stage, that (hypothetical!) page one listing is pretty pointless. Win the click, not the ranking position. If all of your competitors are doing the same thing with their titles, subvert it. Make that search result stand the hell out!
What’s more likely to get the click: the stuffed and bloated result or the specific, tailored, branded result – with a keen description of why you should be clicking?
The key aim here is to make the whole experience from search to checkout a standout, memorable, pleasant one. Get it right and they’ll be back. Get it wrong – and you can use your data to find out where it’s going wrong. All is never lost!
Your website looks good. It feels good (all that healthy, up-to-date code and copy). Confidence is restored with all that lovely Meta. It’s time to rule the scene. If your site’s old and out of touch, there’s no better way to get back in touch than social media.
But don’t screw it up! There’s more to Social than begging for likes and retweets. MUCH more. If you’ve got nothing to say, then don’t say anything at all. This will of course lead to a black hole of loneliness and deserted business profiles. So how can you fill the void?
Start. Blogging. Now.
If you’ve looked for the ultimate resource on industry X, but all you can find is some PDFs buried on a corporate website that nobody could bear reading through, then make it yourself. If you need content to share, but just can’t find the right meme that says “we’re the cool kids of industry X” then make it yourself. If there are no cat pictures online specific to your industry – then you know what you need to do.
A site can be rescued from obscurity with regularly updated content that hits home with the target audience. Find out who’s watching your space and fill it with what they want to see. Research your current audience and the ones you’d like to extend your audience into. Make the content that fits.
If you want to survive, you’ve got to evolve. A refresh is to a website what water and sunlight is to a flower. To nurture your site and dust off the cobwebs is the best thing you can do for it. If nothing else, just take some time to take stock. What are you getting? What works? What doesn’t work? Take the leap.
For more information on getting your site up-to-speed and creating the most up-to-date and relevant content, get in touch today.