Several studies have been done online with both small and big Web business, which indicate a) how much websites mean to their companies, b) how well their visitors are treated when they arrive, and c) how well the websites convert. The stats are rather interesting. There are some small tweaks you can make to your own Web business, be it big or small, that will not only improve your visitors’ experience, but your search standings, as well.
Since mid-2010 when the Google Caffeine update hit, SEOs have had to be concerned about page load speed. Of course, any good designer worried about visitors’ wait times, too, but Google’s update really brought the idea that your pages need to load FAST to the forefront.
Have you checked your homepage at least? You can do it through Google or through Pingdom.com, my personal fave, and figure out what things are holding your site back from a quick load.
But let's get back to your visitor, all SEO aside. Did you know that an eConsultancy study found that if your page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, your visitor will click away? THREE seconds! That's just slow!
Even worse, a Mobile Joomla study says that at 4 seconds, your bounce rate jumps to 100%. Can you see why your pages should be loading almost instantly?
Compressing images is usually a big deal when you're talking about making a site load faster. If you're taking images directly from your smartphone or scanner and popping them up on the Web, guess what? They're HUGE! Resize them, you lazy, silly person, you.
Or if you're on a WordPress site, use the WP Smush.it plugin. If you have another type site, you can upload images to Yahoo’s Smush.it website. I will admit that the Smush.it plugin won't play nice with every theme, but if you can get it to work, it will go a long way toward getting those image sizes down, bruthas and sistahs. Can I get an amen? If you have a ton of images, like I do, it will bulk smush, too. Pretty sweet!
Another thing you must consider now, too, is mobile. If you don't have a mobile-friendly version of your site available to smartphone and tablet users, you're frustrating people. Think about it. If you go to a site and have to scroll up and down, right and left just to see the page - it sucks! I won't visit those sites again until I'm on my full-size desktop and by then, I'll probably forget.
Having a mobile version of your Web business is easy, if you're on WordPress. Even e-commerce stores show up, which surprised me, but I just built a site and tested the mobile version for purchasing and it's pretty darned good!
Know how I did it?
Jetpack for WordPress. I love this plugin and it works great for mobile and many other things, like social bookmarks and sharing, adding image widgets and much more! All you have to do is turn it on. The drawback? It may tend to slow your site load time, which you don’t want. So, if you’re going to use JetPack, get rid of unnecessary plugins and let JetPack do most of the work.
But you need a mobile version of your site, no matter how it’s done! You can also obtain a responsive theme for your site, meaning that the theme determines the browser size and then adjusts the size of your site accordingly. I just can't stress the importance enough, and the cool thing about using a responsive theme is that you only need ONE site.
It's best to have the mobile version of your site on the same domain (no m.whatever) because visitors rarely remember that you have m.whatever version of your site. Those days may be waning.
Tactic #3: Use Your Website for Intel
Marketing Sherpa also came out with a surprising stat: Only 44% of CMOs utilize their website for market research. That's nuts! Having a survey or even a one-question poll on your website will increase your knowledge of the audience you're marketing to. But use your site to build a list.
Number 1: You can market to those people forever, or until they unsubscribe.
Number 2: There is no better marketing strategy than asking your potential customers what they want, and then giving it to them.
And yet, Go-Globe says that only 20% of websites have a sign-up form. Yikes! I can't understand why web business owners don't believe that this is IMPORTANT! Build that list!
Tactic #4: Get Your Content “Above the Fold”
Did you know that of the Fortune 500 websites, 63% have content above the fold? That's huge! Search engines are especially cognizant of this, and if you're using a slider, you may not be getting the SEO benefit from it that you want. (“Above the fold” is a newspaper term, meaning that the text appears before the fold in the newspaper. For a website, “above the fold” means before people need to scroll down.)
Also above the fold should be your Call to Action button – Subscribe Now! Buy Here! Etc. People should see this immediately when they arrive at your site, especially if you’re running an e-Commerce site. But Go-Globe reported in its Homepage design infographic that only 47% of websites do!
Tactic #5: Think Like Your Visitor
How about this one: eConsultancy says that nearly 95% of companies online are concerned with user experience. But saying and doing are two separate things. I've seen train-wreck sites where there is no clear navigation, no appropriate calls to action, and a mish-mash mess! And yet, the site owners say they want people to love their sites. Nobody loves a site they can't navigate and buy from easily. Nobody.
A website shouldn’t be a static entity, and should change as the climate of the Web and search changes. That said, any of these tactics can make your website better. How many of them are you using? Let me know in your comments below.
Pat Marcello is President and SEO Manager of www.MagnaSites.com, a full-service digital marketing company. Marcello was recently named as one of the Top 30 Women in Social Media in the World for 2013 by Social Apps HQ.