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Luke Jordan, Co-Founder, DesignForest
Oh Google, how you toy with our hearts, our minds, and our pocket books. You lead us down the rabbit trail of never-ending algorithm changes and obscure settings that most business owners can’t figure out. So how do we master some of the more consistent design things you love?
Since Google can’t physically talk, let me help y’all out a little.
Google has one mission in life – you may think it’s to make money (which it’s great at), but it’s actually to deliver the best available option for the user end in their most frantic, desperately in need of a solution, moment. We depend on search engines to help us make our most critical decisions in life. Areas in our lives such as “what to name your baby”, “who’s your doppelganger”, and “how to lose 150 lbs. in 24 hours”. Okay, those are bad examples. How about REAL important searches such as finding a “qualified QuickBooks ProAdvisor” or a “local payroll solutions expert”? I’m sure most of you have dealt with dozens of small business owners who don’t have the first clue where to start. So where do they turn? Google. And, your website. The age of Yellow book and newspaper advertising has come to an end. The future of your success lies in the quality of your website and its ability for Google to believe that it’s the bee’s knees.
So, with that said. How many of you read Part 1 of this two part series? I put an awesome challenge out there for you to really get a 30,000 foot view of your website. To put aside your beliefs of what you like or don’t like about your website, and get the real truth from those around you. An unbiased, honest, and constructive review of your website from other business owners or friends is a great way to set the stage for what to do differently in 2014. For most of you, your websites are probably overdue for a design change. More importantly, they’re due for a page structure change. This can come in the form of reorganizing your homepage, deleting outdated and stuffy information on your site, or correctly internally linking pages throughout your website. All three of these we are going to cover briefly. In all of this process, just know that what you’ve accomplished online is amazing up to this point. For many of you, your website is your own creation. You’ve spent countless hours adding and formatting information. Nothing will ever take that away! I’m here to encourage you to move into a different stage of your online website experience in life. Where market research is put into action. One of our more recent clients mentioned to me, “You know, it’s funny, sometimes I forget that my website is there to convert new customers, not myself.” It can be difficult to step back and let others explain what they’re seeing in your site.
With that said, let’s chat for a moment about 3 areas of website structure that can help drive traffic and also help navigate customers through your site faster, thus leading to more conversions.
The first area is page flow and internal linking. Your homepage is arguably your most important page. That seems like a no brainer, right? Probably not for the reasons you’re thinking though. Yes, it’s the first page that folks see. It’s also the page that Google crawls and identifies clear cut lines throughout the site. Those in turn create what are called site links. These are the display links that appear just below your title of your website in the Google search results. Internal links throughout your site allow Google to navigate and then identify if a site is worthy of ranking. Don’t use a lot, just a couple throughout each page. Sometimes I’ll see 4 words in the same sentence linked. Bad idea. You end up losing the user. These can also be in the form of buttons you’ve created.
Many folks we talk to have websites where they crammed a plethora of information onto the homepage. Cleanliness on your website is another critical component. Stuffy content can ruin a user experience. Information overkill can make finding those internal links difficult and also leave the user confused. The last thing you want to have happen is to have a user on the site who leaves because they got lost in data and couldn’t find what they were looking for. That’s an easy lead right out the window.
The last piece is finding those silly broken links throughout the site. Google has a hard time crawling your website if it keeps hitting a brick wall. Check all of your internal links and pages you’ve created to see if you get any 404 errors.
This is a great start for most of you and can be done absolutely free through your CMS which we talked a bit about in the last article. At DesignForest, we try our hardest to educate our customers on areas they can accomplish success without spending a dime (although we build websites for a living because starving is the pits). So stay tuned for our next fun filled blog and share this with your friends!
Luke Jordon is the Co-founder & Chief Design Officer for DesignForest // a leading national web design & custom programming firm. The DesignForest team has been designing web based applications and visual environments since 2000. Their specialties include business designs, eCommerce designs, and Fishbowl Inventory programming and database setup. Luke graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Regional Economic Development and also holds an MBA in Strategic Planning from the University of Phoenix.