Turn On, Tune-Up, Break Out

Ways to spark up your website

Is your website feeling stagnant? Do you feel like no one cares that it’s even there? Well, there’s plenty that you can do to get your customers going to your site and even coming back again and again. Give your website the kick that it needs with these 10 simple tips.


1. Don’t get caught picking your nose.


You get one chance at a first impression. Considering your website, that first impression is always visual. Take some time and a bit of money to make it a good one. Find a decent web designer or web developer that can give your site a visual overhaul, if needed. It’s possible that you may only need a few changes to take it to the next level.


2. Don’t be an invalid.


Valid HTML is important for users and search engines alike. What does that mean though? Validated HTML means that your website code conforms to the standard, which makes sure that all web browsers can see your website the way you mean for them to see it. The World Wide Web Foundation has a site that you can punch your web address into to see if your code is valid. If something is broken it’ll even tell you what needs to be fixed. Visit http://validator.w3.org/.


3. Check your vitals.


As a small business, users searching for your website usually just want to know where you’re located, when you’re open and whether or not you take credit cards. Make sure this information is prominently displayed on each of your pages. The added benefit to displaying your address on all pages of your site is that it helps to make sure you get found online locally by search engines. They have a specific way that they find local businesses. You don’t want to be left out when your competition is included.


4. Get fresh with ‘em.


No one wants to visit a website with outdated content. If someone on your website sees your hours of operations, then proceeds to read the “Latest News” about how you finally got rid of that pesky hangnail that’s been plaguing you, they are going to have serious doubts about the validity of the information they are reading. Constantly updating with things that would matter to them like specials, product updates, community events, among other things gives customers the incentive they need to return to your website.


5. Turn yourself into a super sleuth.


It’s extremely important to track the performance of your website using some kind of analytics. You can learn what content and which promos are doing well, where traffic is coming from, what keywords people are using to get to your site most often, how long they’re staying on your site and many other things about what and how they’re browsing. You can take the answers to these questions and make decisions on where to put more effort into the site. You’ll use hard facts to make the decisions for your online efforts. Google Analytics is one of the favorites out there.


6. Interact with your audience.


Whenever I go to a wedding, I have a much better time when the DJ is interacting with the guests. The same goes for when I head to a networking event. The more social people are with me, the more I enjoy myself and have more to say. This increases the likelihood that I’ll return to the venue. You should implement that concept with your target audience as well. At the very least you should have a contact form, consider a blog or just head to the social networks and integrate Twitter and/or Facebook directly into your website. Engage them so that they’ll want to keep coming back to you.


7. A flat personality can lead to a flat website response.


Offering some solid value on your website is definitely important but there’s something to be said for that other kind of value: Entertainment value. Add some personality so that people can more easily relate to you. You are human after all and so are they! People are naturally attracted to small businesses because they can relate to the owners. They like to know they are not alone. You may consider adding personality across your entire website or just want to have a single section that can showcase who you are and some of the fun things you occasionally come across.


8. Put the pedal to the metal.


Nothing aggravates users more than a slow loading website, other than pop-up windows and spam advertisements. Speed up your website by validating your HTML, reducing the amount of images you have to load and avoid large background images. If your website was built ages ago and is entirely in flash, or has a flash introduction, it is time to invest in an upgrade. These are the elements that bog down a users experience. We’re living in an instant gratification society, so when your user can’t get to what they want right away it definitely takes away from their experience.


9. Watch their mouths.


Don’t let people use bad words like dead-ends, broken links or outdated content when they talk about your business’s website. A missing page or a broken link is frustrating. Go through your site and make sure everything points to where it’s supposed to. Fix or remove the things that are broken. Definitely don’t tell a user that they’re going to get something only for them to get a “page not found” error.


10. Prepare to be searched.


Make sure that when you write the copy for your website that you mention all of the areas you serve, the products and services you offer and use any of the keywords that someone might be searching with to find your business. Submit your website to search directories to increase the chances you’re found across the board.


Sometimes just having an online presence isn’t good enough. Think of a business with a physical storefront. If they don’t have anything worth buying then noone has a reason to walk through their door. That works the same for your website. If you don’t give people a reason to, they have no reason to go to your website. It’s time you give your website the kick in the pants it needs to help bring an added layer of success to your business.


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