Five Ways to Improve Your Website -- Now
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Have you ever visited a website and closed it within a few seconds? There are many reasons why people do this. A guest may want exit your website if it:
- Takes too long to load
- Doesn't look like it relates to what they're searching for
- Doesn't load correctly
- Is too cluttered
- Is too empty
As a small-business owner, why would you invest thousands of dollars in building a site if visitors just tune out?
Solving click-off is one of the biggest challenges I discovered while building thousands of websites for clients as a website designer. If a visitor comes to your website and leaves within eight seconds, you need to fix something. Here are five fast ways that I've used that dramatically minimize click-off by improving your website's performance, speed, search engine results and relevance for users.
1. Speed up your website.
When your site doesn't immediately grab visitors' attention and inspire them to take action, you're wasting leads who could have become long-term customers.
One culprit for visitors quickly leaving your site may be a slow-to-load home page, and one of the biggest contributors to a slow-loading website is large, high-resolution images. Large animated Flash files can also weigh down a site's loading time.
To fix this issue, consider putting fewer images on your home page and no Flash at all. You can also ask your web designer or developer to optimize your current images by compressing them and lowering the resolution.
One easy way to test the speed of your website is to view it on a slow Internet connection. Don't have access to a slow connection? Search online for "website speed test" for free tools to test the speed of your site.
Another issue to consider is whether your web host is slowing you down. Before you pay for a host, research reputable companies known for fast, high-quality connections.
2. Bold keywords.
Search engines want to provide relevant results on websites with high-quality content. That makes it critical for you to provide the most relevant, high-quality information your target market will be searching for. One way to quickly connect visitors to that great information is to bold the most important keywords.
For example, if someone finds your site by searching "cycling in Perth," make sure your website has the keywords "cycling" and "Perth" in bold type. I'm not suggesting that you continually bold all your website keywords. Just bold one or two keywords close to the top of your web page.
3. Tag your graphics.
Another way to attract more traffic is to optimize your graphics so they become more visible to the search engines. Many entrepreneurs don't realize how much they can benefit from being listed in the Google Images database.
So how do people find you when they search for images? It's easy. When building your website, make sure your web designer includes the correct coding to hook your images with relevant keywords. Name your image files with relevant, descriptive words and include a title tag and an alt tag in your image code. These tags allow you to include more information and keywords related to your image. By including these elements, search engines will be able to understand the content of your images and it will make your site more accessible to visitors with visual disabilities.
Make sure you don't keyword-stuff that code, though. Search engines will know you're trying to cheat the system, and you'll run the risk of becoming banned from their listings. Just describe the images in natural language without repeating words.
4. Update your website dates.
When your website has the current date, it's basically telling visitors that this website is up to date. It's fresh and current. Search engines know this and take it into consideration. After all, search engines want to provide the best possible results.
If you visit a website and scroll to the bottom and see "Copyright 2005," you might think that was the last time the site was updated. Outdated information makes the site look neglected and unprofessional.
5. Comply with online quality standards.
In a nutshell, W3C compliance is an online standard, or set of rules, that, when followed, ensures your website adheres to a strict quality standard. (W3C is short for the World Wide Web Consortium, the main international standards organization for the Web.) When you create your site according to these standards, it tells the world you care about quality and taking good care of your site.
Some of the coding differences can seem miniscule and tedious -- for example, remembering to include a slash at the end of a line of code -- but my own experience as a web designer showed me that when I make the extra effort to follow these standards, my site earns better rankings. If you are not building your own site, make sure that your web developer is applying W3C compliance to all of your website work.
This article is an excerpt from the book How to Increase Your Website Traffic from Entrepreneur Press.