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Is your website working for you? A 12-step self-assessment

Deciding to make a fundamental change to your website is no easy proposition. There are a lot of risks, unknowns and considerations. Here are 12 simple questions you can ask yourself to determine whether your website is in need of serious strategic support or just a simple facelift.

  1. Is your website properly optimized for search engines, with unique meta tags for every page and a proper URL structure that includes important keywords?

    You need to include keywords on your page that are relevant to your product or service and that people are actually searching for. For example, if you sell red cotton shirts but the product description only says “Lightweight, made in Canada” how will search engines ever know your page is about shirts? Keyword research can reveal what search terms are best to optimize on your site.

    Google doesn’t like duplicate content, so it’s important your descriptions are different for each page so the search bots can tell each one is unique. Include keywords in your description tags to help Google know what your page is about.

    Including keywords in the URL is another clue that tells Google what your page is about. A URL that’s just a meaningless string of letters and numbers doesn’t tell Google anything.

  2. Is it on a Content Management System (CMS), meaning you can modify the content yourself?

    Without a CMS, you’re dependent on your web developer to make changes to your site unless you know HTML and other codes. A CMS allows you to easily make changes and keep your site up-to-date. This is especially important for SEO because Google gives more weight to new content, and with a CMS you are able to make regular updates easily and on your own.

  3. Are there two sitemaps, one HTML sitemap for visitors and one XML sitemap for search engines?

    The HTML sitemap enables your visitors to quickly and easily find content they’re looking for, which means they’ll stay on your site rather than leaving because they didn’t find what they wanted. Not only is this helpful for your visitors, it improves your SEO because Google gives higher rankings to sites people visit more often and stay on longer.

    Your XML sitemap doesn’t actually appear on your site. It’s a file designed specifically for search engines, telling them every page that is on your site so the search bots know what to index and don’t miss anything.

  4. Does your website have a strong call to action on every page?

    A call to action is an instruction, telling your visitor to do something – Call us for a quote! Email for an estimate! Fill out this form for more info! Visit the product page for details! Don’t assume your customer knows what to do next – make it easy for them. Simply by asking or telling your visitor to do something, you catch their interest and dramatically increase the likelihood that they’ll do what you want them to.

  5. Is every page within 3 clicks of the homepage?

    The longer it takes your visitor to find the information they’re looking for, the more likely it is they’ll give up and leave. Simplify the hierarchy of your site to reduce the number of levels customers must go through to find products or information. This also helps Google bots to crawl your site more easily and index it without missing anything.

  6. Is it optimized for mobile devices?

    Studies place mobile at between 15% and 25% of all web traffic this year, and it’s growing at an astonishing rate. Sites that aren’t optimized for mobile lose out on this traffic to competitors who do have mobile sites. Create a separate mobile page or use responsive design to ensure your site is visible on any size screen, and take mobile use into account by reducing the amount of text and ensuring your layout works well on touchscreens.

  7. Is every element of your site consistent with your brand image?

    Consistent colours, fonts, formatting, and logo present a familiar image to your visitors that they are comfortable with. A cohesive brand image tells your customers your company is professional and credible, and also portrays your brand personality which helps customers to develop a relationship with you.

  8. Can visitors ‘buy’ – even if it’s a digital ebook or webinar?

    Provide your visitors with useful, valuable content (read 5 Digital Marketing Trends for 2014 on the importance of content marketing in 2014) they can take away from your site – even if it’s free! Whitepapers, ebooks, webinars, and other materials help educate buyers about your product or service and allow you to demonstrate your expertise.

    Additionally, making the commitment to ‘buy’ from you establishes a psychological connection between you and your customer which helps to build your relationship with them.

    You can also capture your visitor’s contact information when they download or register, enabling you to nurture the lead until your customer is ready to buy.

  9. Is it set up to track conversions?

    If you aren’t tracking your sales, downloads, registrations, and other conversions, how do you know if your website is meeting your goals? By tracking which conversions are successful, what pages and content led customers through those conversions, and what content wasn’t successful you can determine what your customers are looking for and refine your site to better provide it to them.

  10. Does your site content provide the information your users are looking for during the information gathering or planning stage?

    Different types of content serve different purposes, and what satisfies the needs of an engaged customer who is about to buy is very different from what a new visitor is looking for who has never heard of your company before.

    Provide introductory materials like tip sheets or educational videos to visitors who are just getting acquainted with your company. Once they’ve decided they are more interested, case studies or product webinars can give them the additional details they are looking for. When they’re ready to make a buying decision, a free trial or coupon can help close the deal.

    Make sure to provide content for visitors in all stages of the buying cycle to keep leads engaged with your site.

  11. Is it updated at least twice a week?

    As mentioned above, Google gives more weight to new content than old. By adding new content to your site several times a week – whether it’s in the form of blog posts, product updates, new promotions, new feature products, downloads, photos, or anything else – lets Google know your site is current and active with fresh information.

    New content is also great for bringing visitors back to your site, since there will always be something different for them to look at. If everything on your site stays the same, even the most interested visitor will eventually grow tired of it and stop visiting.

  12. Does it have social media (Twitter feeds, sharing buttons, etc) integrated?

    Google weighs social media interactions in its SEO rankings, so being active on the major social platforms and linking them to your website can help boost your search standings.

    Social media is also a great way to interact with your customers and share your content, so include sharing buttons and links to make it as easy as possible for visitors to connect with you.

How did you do? If you answered “Yes” to all or almost all of these questions, your site is in great shape! If you answered "No" to three or more, it’s time to make some major changes. Call your current web developer, or contact our team. It's time to talk strategy.