As a webmaster or site owner, you can put together a website designed and conceptualized based on your outlook of what a good site should look like but by the time you are done adding the necessary features, incorporating the content, putting together the pieces and band aiding the glitches, the site can go completely off course. When this happens, it helps to get out of your own head and revisit the very reason why the website is up in the first place. At the end of the day, you want a website to convey the right message using the right media to the right people.
Recalibrating the Focus of Your Website
When you have a website, you want it to look good but at the same time, you want to think about its usability, search engine optimization and conversion. It’s unwise to become so consumed with growing a website, making it look good and adapting the features that you lose focus of what’s really important and why the website is there to begin with.
In recent years, search engines have evolved into smart bounty hunters. Thanks to increasingly complex algorithms, search engines can now view your site, understand its theme, take in the internal link structure and assess the value of the content on it, all in three jiffies and a cha-cha. The key is to remember that in addition to ensuring a good user experience for your potential customers, your website should also be designed with the search engines in mind. After all, the search engines will crawl the website too and it should make sense to them.
Think like a Potential Visitor
When you design the user experience of your website, it is helpful to remember that your visitors will most probably not be familiar with the acronyms that you use internally to refer to what you do or what you sell. It’s not enough that your website makes sense to you and the search engines, it should also make sense to your potential visitors and customers. Get out of your head and get in theirs. Acronyms and in-house slangs are not appropriate for use on a website. The bots may understand you, your human visitors for sure won’t.
With your potential visitors in mind, when it comes to the layout of your site, it is also a good idea to put the most important things in focus. This is because many people who land on your website might be doing so for the first time and you want them to see the most important information. For instance, if you have several local stores, you want “Our Stores” to be in the website’s main navigation as well as on the other pages as a call to action.
The Navigation is Important
As a visitor, there is nothing more frustrating than getting lost digitally. This makes it important for you to make sure that your website’s main navigation clearly defines what you offer.
Indeed, from the search engine results, it can happen that visitors get directed to an internal page of your website instead of the homepage where everything is pretty and well-organized. Your website should be structured in such a way that within seconds, the visitor is able to re-orientate. Do not use breadcrumb navigation. Always remember that people will not always land on your homepage first and the same is true for the search engines.
Customize Your 404-Error Page
When you have a website that’s rapidly growing, it can happen that you forget about redirects and 404 pages appear. It happens. You are human. However, 404 pages are not good because they reflect badly on you. It’s like turning up on a date with a big nasty stain on your perfectly cut linen blazer. It’s an unpleasant experience for users and of course, the search engines.
When this happens, the least you can do is have a custom 404 page that’s apologetic. This page can include the main navigation, links to the most important pages of your site or maybe a link to your lead-capture page.
If you are a website owner, in addition to being dedicated to making your site look good, you should also focus on its user experience. You want the website to make sense to your visitors and also to the search engines. You work hard to drive traffic to your site, make it worth your while.