So, you just got a new website – woohoo! We know this is an exciting time for you and your business. Whether or not you used us for your new site, we want to make sure you have all the tools you need to keep your website optimized and running smoothly. We came up with our top list of need-to-knows for keeping your website 100.
Image optimization is essentially making sure all your images are high quality, high resolution, in the right format, and sized properly. Appropriately labelling your images is also a part of optimization. It allows search engines to properly read your image titles when crawling your site. Site speed is huge when it comes to maintaining a strong quality website. Large, unoptimized images can make your site slow and feel disjointed. Optimizing your site’s images helps create a better user experience for your audience, and improves your image ranking in Google image searches. Optimized images are also important for your website’s overall SEO (search engine optimization) ranking. Site and page speed play a large role in Google’s search algorithm, so keeping a quick site speed will help improve your overall ranking.
Write good content
Similarly to image optimization, strong, well-written content is highly beneficial for user experience and your website’s SEO. Well-written content that is free of spelling and grammatical errors provides credibility for your organization in the eyes of your audience. On the flip side, poorly written content can lead to a lack of credibility and trust. It’s important to write using the right voice and tone that accurately portrays your brand so your audience gets the right impression of who you are. Writing with conversational language will help establish a connection with your audience and will also improve your site’s Google ranking.
Don’t use too many plugins
Plugins are great – as long as you aren’t using too many. Too many plugins can cause a variety of issues for your site, such as potential security breaches, poor performance and loading speeds, site crashes, etc. Make sure you are only using the plugins you need to have a successful website, and remove any that you no longer find useful. Update your plugins regularly to protect your site’s security. On the topic of security, we recommended only installing plugins from reputable developers that are regularly maintained to avoid potential breaches. Also, keep those plugins and WordPress versions up to date!
Install Google Analytics
The best way to understand your site’s performance is to track it. Google Analytics is an excellent tool for determining what’s working and what could use improvement. By better understanding your audience’s behaviour on your website, you can make well-informed decisions on how to adjust and improve to better resonate with viewers. This will help lower your bounce rate, improve site traffic, provide targeted information for marketing campaigns, etc. One of the best parts about Google Analytics? It’s free!
Make clear calls to action
Your site’s call(s) to action is the star of the show! It lets the user know what to do next, which is how things like product sales and contact calls/emails come to be. In a nutshell, people enjoy it when their lives are made easier. A clear call to action creates a smooth and easy sales funnel that allows your audience to find the information they are looking for without jumping through hoops. On the other hand, users often lose interest and leave a website when it becomes difficult to navigate or understand.
Sometimes, less is more
A highly functional website should evoke a sense of intrigue and interest without becoming overwhelming or chaotic. Having too much on your website can cause your audience to struggle to absorb and digest information. It’s important to have a clear sense of hierarchy on your website that allows the eyes of users to flow effortlessly and naturally. An overly-packed website may also slow down your loading speed, which can negatively impact your search engine ranking. We recommended reserving your main pages for the most important information and creating inner pages to expand on ideas when necessary.
Don’t overcomplicate your navigation
Remember what we said in #5 about making your audience’s lives easier? That applies to your navigation, too. Overly complicated navigations can leave your audience feeling overwhelmed and at a loss when it comes to finding the right information. At its worst, an overly complicated nav can lead to audience frustration and an increased bounce rate. We recommend keeping only your site essentials in the main navigation and reserving less important pages for secondary navigation or as inner pages. Usually, the “less is more” rule applies here. Bloated navigation will confuse users and make your design look less tidy.
Use root URLs effectively – don’t bury the pages you want to rank
Root URLs are the main pages of your website. They are the larger-topic parent pages that often branch out into smaller, more specific child pages to keep your information well-organized and easy to find. Google uses root URLs as part of its algorithm when determining your site’s search ranking. If you want a specific page to rank higher on a Google search, don’t bury it by making it a child page with an ineffective URL. Instead, utilize it as a root URL with specific keywords that will be easily recognized by Google. Including your targeted location and product/service are often key elements for a strong root URL.
Flashy doesn’t necessarily help the cause
Having the most revolutionary and experimental user experience might sound intriguing, but it may result in a loss of conversion and –ironically– lower your user experience. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a great-looking, modern website. It just means it’s important to use elements such as animation or scrolling effects sparingly and appropriately. Just because it exists doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for your website. People are (usually) coming to your website to find information. When the information becomes too difficult to find, your site isn’t fulfilling its main purpose. Remember – if the interface is too in-your-face, it’s best to take a step back and simplify using good old fashion design.
Themes are ‘ok’, but make sure you find a fast one
A WordPress theme is essentially a pre-made template to help your website look and function a particular way without being fully customizable. Not everyone is a web specialist, and sometimes there isn’t a budget for a custom site. Themes tend to work well if you are looking for an easy-to-implement, aesthetically pleasing website and don’t have specific functionality or branding requirements. When choosing a theme, make sure you choose one that is performance-optimized to ensure you have a fast page-load time. Like we mentioned earlier, site speed is critical for user experience and SEO.
Note: Themes usually require the user have enough know-how to make updates and troubleshoot issues as they arise. Unfortunately, themes often have vulnerabilities that may need to be patched. Taking the theme route doesn’t necessarily mean you will cut costs in the long run. Oftentimes, theme-based websites result in a higher long-term cost as they require more frequent redesigns and support from professionals over time.
Bonus: Or don’t use a theme at all and work with Sonder
We’re big fans of custom sites when it comes to best representing your brand and getting the most out of your site. Having specialists create a custom website for your business will ensure there is no extra bloat from unnecessary features, a tailored editing experience that makes sense for your business, and a focused design process that will allow for something truly unique. Thankfully, creating beautiful, well-designed and highly functional websites is what we do. If you want to get the most ROI (return on investment) through higher ranking websites, faster-loading speeds, and enhanced user experience, we recommend working with us to create a custom website that is designed specifically for your organization and its audience. (Trust us.)
Leave the design, branding, development, writing, and support to us – we’re experts in our fields so you can focus on being an expert in yours. Check out our full range of services or contact us to chat.