Websites are like businesses. Even if you are not selling anything, you still have competition and a need to make the people who visit your site happy. Last time I left you with making your landing page great. Getting visitors to stick around and take full advantage of everything your website has to offer. Let’s jump in shall we?

Happy visitors, happy page view stats

As a website owner you want to make sure your visitors are happy. Happy visitors stay on your website longer. They come back for repeat visits. And of course they buy from your website. When it comes to a website’s structure, there are two elements that can make or break your user experience.

Quick load times

There’s nothing that squashes a visitor’s happiness faster than not being able to load a website page. If the page doesn’t come up quickly, your visitor is gone. We’ve grown accustomed to instant gratification online. If your web page takes longer than a few seconds to load, you may miss out on valuable prospects and visitors. They won’t be happy while they’re waiting for your pages to load.

So what can you do to ensure quick load times?

  • Reduce and minimize your graphics. Make sure a graphic takes up no more than 10k on any given page.
  • Don’t use flash. Many website designers still turn to flash to add interest. Don’t do it. It takes too long to load. If you do use it, make sure you give your visitors the opportunity to click through and skip the show.
  • Use plug-ins sparingly. There are a number of really useful plug-ins. However, they’re bulky and can slow down your load time. They can also distract from your webpage’s purpose and make it look cluttered. If you’re going to use a plug-in, make sure it supports your goals for that page. And make sure it enhances the visitor experience.
Easy navigation

The other thing that makes visitors happy is a website that’s easy to navigate. Straightforward and intuitive website navigation can be difficult to accomplish. The following tips can help you get the job done.

  • Eliminate clutter – Many times a web page has so much going on that the visitor isn’t sure what the page’s purpose is. Are they supposed to look at ads? Fill out a form? Read an article? Make sure your web pages have a purpose. Then make sure that page is designed to support that purpose. Everything from the formatting to the add-ons can add or detract from your page’s purpose.
  • Intuitive buttons – The buttons on your page are there to guide your reader deeper into your website. Therefore they must make sense to the visitor. One of the best ways to ensure your buttons are easy to understand is to make them keywords. Keywords are likely what drew your visitor to your website. They’re what the person is using to search for and find information. Create categories and subcategories with your keywords. That way your user is able to easily find the information they’re looking for.

When your visitors are able to navigate your website with ease, they’ll stay longer. If they’re able to find the information they’re looking for without struggle and frustration, they’ll return again and again.

When you combine a straightforward layout with quick loading times, you’re well on your way to giving visitors a very pleasant experience. Happy visitors turn into happy customers. Take a look at your website today. Does it make visitors happy?

Testing, one, two, three. Testing.

Testing is one of the most overlooked tasks. Whether or not you’re selling anything. Without testing, you cannot know what tactics and actions are most profitable. Testing tells you which headline works best. It tells you which ad delivers targeted traffic. Testing tells you what your prospect’s priorities are. It tells you where to place you most important information on your website. In fact, testing can tell you just about anything you want to know.

The great news is that there are some truly amazing tools and services. They enable you to test many things before you implement them. You can also test your competitors’ sites using these same tools. This means you can learn what they do well and where you can improve.

What to Test

There are more things to test than you have time for. However, when you create a system to test and track any new feature or idea you can be sure you’re making the most of your efforts. Make sure to test these areas:

  • Headline
  • Call to action
  • Opt-in form copy
  • Opt-in form location
  • Anchor text
  • Ad placement
  • Ad copy
  • Benefits, promise and proof
  • Opt-in offer
  • Bonus products
  • Pricing
  • Button elements like shape, font, and formatting
  • How people use your site (and why)
  • New designs
How to Test

Once you’ve made the commitment to test, the simplest way to test is called a split test. This can be used for many of the elements of a sales page, opt-in offer or advertisement. The strategy simply requires you to create two versions of the page. Only the element you’re testing will be different. If you’re testing a headline then you’ll create two identical pages. Each page will have a different headline. The headline with the most conversions or actions, wins.

If you’re testing for design elements or visitor use, then you can use more advanced technology to help. For example, 4Q by iPerception can help you figure out why people are using your site.

A new design can be tested with a service like Feedback Army or FiveSecondTest. You can also test your competitor’s sites with these tools. And you can test load times with a program like Keynote.com.

For real insight into your visitor behavior, consider a tool like UserTesting. You’re provided with a recording of people visiting your site.

When it comes to testing, you cannot test too much. Of course, don’t break the bank testing. However, do keep testing in mind whenever you implement a new feature or design element. Split testing is cost effective. Many times it’s completely free. Other testing can cost you money in the beginning. It can also save you money in the long run. Before you take any major action with your business website, consider what and how you can test it for success.

Seven Keyword Development Questions to Ask and Answer

As we already covered, keywords are an important aspect of website success. Choose them wisely. Research them carefully. Position them strategically. When you’ve taken the steps to plan and implement a keyword development strategy, you’re on your way to a website that sells. Here are questions to ask yourself as you’re creating and implementing your plan.

What keywords and keyword phrases does your target audience use to find information?

You know that your audience and prospects are looking for your information. Your job is to determine what keywords they’re using to look for you. Once you’ve uncovered the low supply high demand keywords, you can position them strategically in your content and on your website.

What keywords and keyword phrases does your competition target?

Finding low supply, high demand keywords is just the beginning. You also want to know what keywords your competition are using to target prospects. You can then use this information to further develop your keyword strategy.

What strategies will you use to research keywords and keyword phrases?

Here is a quick reminder of just a few options to consider:

  • Test and track activity on your website
  • Use keyword research tools
  • Research what your competition is using
  • Ask your audience, customers and/or website visitors
  • Follow your intuition
  • Look at trends
  • Pay attention to popular terms on social networking sites
What keyword research tools will you use to research and develop your keywords and keyword phrases?

Do you remember the ways I’ve mentioned before to help you do this? Here are a few more to consider:

What keyword tools will you use to analyze and research your competitors’ keywords?

This one is just as important as finding keywords for yourself. Someone has already done some legwork for you, why not use their expertise? Here are a few tools to consider:

How will you track keyword trends and popular search terms?

Here are some useful trend research tools to consider:

Where do you/will you use your keywords?

Do you remember where we talked about placing these before?

  • In your URL
  • Above your logo
  • In your subheadings
  • In your headlines
  • Within your content
  • In anchor text
  • In your image/alt tags

How did you do at remembering?

Once you have your keyword research completed, it’s important to create a plan and a system to keep it organized. It’s also important to review your plan on a regular basis and update it. Keywords change and customers evolve. Keyword development isn’t a “set it and forget it” tactic. You’ll want to continue researching and planning on a regular basis.

Make sure your keyword research and development system is easy to plan from. Make it an important part of your traffic generation strategy. Create a plan to research and develop on a consistent basis. On a quarterly basis, review your existing keywords. Research your analytics. Look for new and trending keywords. Create a plan to take advantage of that audience.

Keywords and keyword phrases are part of website success, no matter the reason the website exists. They boost search engines, enhance navigation, attract eyeballs and motivate conversions. Keyword research and development is important to your success. Make sure to take every advantage.

Five Questions to Ask about Your Competition

Understanding your competition is important. When you understand them, you can position your business to stand apart. You can create an effective SEO and keyword development strategy. You can maximize your competition. And finally, you can position your products and services to sell.

When you created your business plan, you likely did a competitive analysis. If you didn’t, then now is the time. Once you have a solid competitive analysis, the work’s not done. The world changes and so too does your competition. It’s important to stay abreast of their change. While it’s not a good idea to stress about your competition, it is important to review them semi-annually or quarterly.

How well do you know your competition? Here are five questions to get you thinking about your competition. Answer these questions, take action, and achieve better profits and a website that sells.

  1. Do you know who your competition is? Do you have a competitive analysis? It’s difficult to differentiate your business if you don’t know who your competition is. Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition), is often created with your competition in mind. You need to know what you do better or differently so you can offer value and benefit to your audience.
  2. How often do you presently analyze and evaluate your competition? Again, it’s not wise to obsess about your competition. However, it is wise to create an analysis strategy. Semi-annually, annually or quarterly are common periods to review your competition and update your analysis.
  3. What are your competitions’ primary keywords? What are their Alexa stats? How do you compare? It’s important to know not only where your competition stands, but also where you stand in comparison. Create a chart or system to track this information.
  4. Do you follow your competition on social networking sites? Receive alerts when they publish new content? Subscribe to their blog or newsletter? Simple strategies can help you stay abreast of your competition. You can collect the information and review it when appropriate. Or you can review it as you learn about it. Often, your competition’s actions and content can be helpful to you. Their actions might inspire a new content idea, product or service.
  5. Does your competitive analysis and strategy include:
    • Keyword analysis
    • Linking analysis
    • Products/services analysis
    • Content analysis
    • Advertising analysis
    • SEO page ranking

Rest assured your competition is watching you. You might return the favor. Take advantage of automated technology to track their activities. Create a plan to assess your competition and reassess your strategies and tactics. There’s a lot to learn from the people that challenge you. Your competition may be the motivating force you need to take your business and website to the next level.

Go out and put these strategies to work and see what you learn from them. Let us know what you’ve discovered or any advice and tips of your own you have used successfully.

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