Your website is a reflection of your brand and we know how important this step is when starting a wedding planning business. We also know it can be a little overwhelming on where to start so we brought in our expert website designer, The Editor's Touch to shed some light.
Websites and the way people use them have come a long way ... there is so much information out there and so many ways to 'get to' that information that I find myself constantly wondering 'where' it was I found someone or saw something that I loved ... I have been designing websites using Squarespace since 2007 and have learned many things about creating success online. Today I will discuss 4 of them ... starting with:
These days, more than ever, people are BUSY ... because there is so much information being thrown at us from every direction we have learned to be very selective and very QUICK to judge what we see. That applies to your website. You will usually have 5 seconds from the time someone 'clicks in' to your website to impress them.
It used to be that when people entered your company website they typically came in through the front door: your homepage ... they would see your .com listed in an ad in the newspaper or in a magazine and they'd physically type it into their browser. Those days are DONE-ZO. Now, with things like Pinterest, Twitter, and Google a visitor can pop in from anywhere to any page on your site and that 'click in' may be their first impression of your company! Terrifying!!
Is your website up to snuff?? Do you have a gorgeous homepage because you know that is where visitors will spend most of their time and then your other pages are 'just ok'? Is your blog a jungle is mismatched sized images and flashing GIFs that doesn't match the rest of your brand? Does your contact us page have a bunch of weird 'spam' filter boxes on it?? What happens if the first thing your visitor sees are one of your 'less than par' pages?? Will they stick around??
Here are a few things that your website needs to keep people who bounce into those 'other pages' around:
- A clearly defined navigation bar with current and brand supportive fonts that will give obvious and 'necessary' choices for your visitor to click on.
- A beautiful homepage that is well branded and clean.
- Image selection on each and every page of your website that is top notch for the main landing pages of your website: such as the contact page, about, portfolio, etc.
- Is there more?? Yes ;)
Do a little bit of clicking around your website today! Notice the pages that are 'not appealing' and note WHY they are 'not so great' ... or look at your analytics and see what pages are being looked at the most! This is a HUGE tell ... and then of course ... moving onto our next tip:
USER EXPERIENCE OPTIMIZATION (UEO)
Most of the people who inquire about working with me are so caught up with SEO (search engine optimization) ... but what everyone needs to know is that the 'thing' that fuels SEO is something called UEO.
I have never depended on SEO for anything … even during the Style Unveiled days of running a national wedding blog. I’m all about having a holistic approach and making sure that you have all the right support systems for ‘eyes to the prize’ << your work and your website. With social media, networking, Pinterest, search engines, word of mouth, being featured, and advertising there are so many ways you can be found! SEO is being replaced, that’s for sure … and the new guy goes by UEO - User Experience Optimization.
When my clients come to me for a website design the first thing I do is create a strategy that supports UEO. Google now cares very deeply (even for them!) that when people come to your website they are ENJOYING themselves … since Google can’t see your facial expressions they use a different gauge: how many times you click! To Google a click is a ‘Yay, I love this! Give me more!’ and so it’s vital to create page views for each visitor on your website.
Here are a few tips that will create a friendly visit on your website and give Google the ‘green light’ that people are loving the online experience you are giving them:
Mobile Friendliness: Google now requires that your website is mobile optimized and that means more to them then just ‘being able to see it on a phone or ipad’ … they actually have a test that you need to pass for them to agree that your website is mobile friendly: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
Creating Page Views: Work with your website designer to entice visitors to click on buttons to bring them to new pages. The more page views you get per visitor the more important Google will believe your website to be and thus: up your ranking for searches.
Clear Focus: Make sure the focus of what your website is about is clear! Be unique and make sure that each time you blog or post a photo you are creating content that is supportive of that focus.
Current and Clean Design: Nothing will ruin your ranking more than a high bounce rate. If your website isn’t current and on trend then the chances that people will ‘click out’ upon their arrival are high. Make sure your website reflects the style that your target market likes to see! Keep the momentum going - and the bar is set by the types of blogs your target market client is frequenting.
Blog Using ‘Smart Links’: If you are blogging about one topic then lead them somewhere else at the end or in the middle. Create ‘calls to action’ when you blog and increase your SEO at the same time with ‘smart links’ … for instance: if you are blogging about a wedding you photographed then lead them to the engagement session of that couple with: you may also love seeing their engagement session at Laguna Beach << and then link engagement session at Laguna Beach to the older post.
It’s important to know that UEO is the support for SEO now. They work together. Remember that it’s not just about ‘robots’ - it’s about real visitors and their unique experiences on your website. Ok, moving on to tip #3:
I talked above about how Google doesn't have 'eyes' (at least not yet ...) so it's vital that you tell the people out there who are searching EXACTLY WHAT IT IS YOU DO. One of the ways I do that for my clients is through image optimization. During the 8 years of running my national wedding blog, Style Unveiled, I devised a great formula for what to inject images with that will help create success and the 'right kind of traffic' to come to your website.
When you are working with your website designer make sure you discuss 'image optimization' and whether or not they can help you with that. The more 'dialed in' you can make the key words you use, the better ... ok, moving into my last tip:
I know I touched on this topic above, but I feel that it deserves its own section, because it's THAT IMPORTANT. If you are like me, your phone has just become a new appendage ... I have actually gotten really good at doing things with one hand that usually require two because my phone doesn't leave my hand ... ever.
I think people misunderstand the meaning of MOBILE FRIENDLY ... it doesn't just mean: your website will load on a phone ... it means that Google approves it on a phone. So, when you are finished here, make sure you scroll back up to the link I shared with the mobile friendly 'test' and TEST YOUR WEBSITE. Consider that over HALF of your website traffic will be from a mobile device of some sort ... more than that if you have a lot of Instagram followers ;) So be ready for them!
TAKING THE 4 TIPS AND APPLYING THEM
I recently worked with Karen of Blissfully Styled who was a graduate of LVL Academy ... Karen, who I absolutely adore, knew that she had learned SO MUCH that she was excited to showcase to her clients and bring with her to events ... and that she needed an online support system (her website) to secure that success even more!
Karen hired me for semi-custom website design and chose THE CLASSIC. I made sure that EVERY page had visual appeal and image selected VERY CAREFULLY for Karen's target market:
Using visual buttons and 'call to action' clickables I create the perfect UEO strategy for Blissfully Styled and I just logged into Karen't website and see that her page views are AMAZING when compared to her visitors ... not only do her website visitors love what they see, they are clicking around A LOT to see more, more, more ... and that is what creates SUCCESS for search engine optimization ;) YAY!
Karen' has a beautiful and 'click worthy' portfolio page and every gallery is filled with photos that have image optimization dialed in to be exactly what she would want people to find her for ... here is Karen's portfolio page on an ipad:
Looking at Karen's Squarespace analytics today I saw that 53% of her web traffic was via a mobile device ;) and that will just keep growing!!!
In closing, if you are curious as to whether your website is working for you, I invite you to ask yourself the following questions:
- Has your website gone over 3 years without being touched?
- Are you getting clicks from your advertising outlets that rarely lead to hires?
- Do you go to your website and immediately wish it looked different?
- Are there new companies launching in your area that you fear will start to take business away from you?
- Does your website break or work strangely on mobile devices?
Thank you, LVL Academy, for having me as a guest on your amazing blog!! I loved working with you on your website and I love everything you ladies do for business owners!
XO~ Heather, The Editor's Touch