If you are running a small home based business then your website is the most important tool in your business arsenal. But is it good enough?
Your website should be delivering in 3 or 4 areas for you:
- Trust and credibility – it should make you look good
- Lead generation – it should be getting you plenty of good enquiries
- You should be taking payments for sales/bookings
- Automation – it should be saving you some time and money
Many factors combine to make your website effective. Here’s a list of 37 things for you to check. If you can’t answer yes to most of them, then you may be leaving money on the table and it may be time to make some changes.
There happen to be
37 38 questions here – random I know. I am sure there are many more.
- Have you built your site to reach your goals?
A no-brainer. You do have goals, right? Proper planning is vital to success.
- Does your site speak to your target audience rather than your ego?
Talk about how you help people rather than how great you are and what your dog’s name is.
- Have you included social proof in the form of testimonials?
Have you included photos, links, videos and case studies for maximum effect?
- Do you add fresh content regularly so people (and Google) know you’re not dead?
There are many ways to do that – blogging, latest news, events, videos. New, recent, fresh – all good. So is refreshed, repurposed content.
- Is your site the best answer to the questions your visitors ask Google?
Do some keyword research to find those questions and produce useful information. You need to use the same language and keywords as your potential clients.
- Can visitors read your text easily?
Even when you squint at the page? Good typography satisfies readers and demonstrates you care, which all boosts your credibility.
- Is it easy to scan your content?
You need to use short paragraphs, lists and break up your text using colour and imagery. People don’t read web pages, they scan. Make it easy for them
- Is your text written in clear simple English and free from typos and grammatical errors?
No one has lost a client because they spelled things correctly! Try Hemingway or Grammarly.
- Have you got friendly permalinks?
Permalinks are the URLS for your posts and pages. The default in WordPress is www.myblog.com/?p=123 but it’s much better to change these to your postname (look in the address bar at the top of this page to see what I mean). Do it in the WordPress dashboard>Settings>permalinks page.
- Do you have clear calls to action to encourage users to the next step?
Every page on your site should have a purpose and a call to action.
- Is it easy to navigate around your site in a logical manner?
Give your visitors and search crawlers an easy path through your site.
- Have you got a good FAQ page?
It’s useful for your users, a resource for others to link to and it can reduce the email queries you have to answer.
- Do you have a clear and easy to use contact form?
Don’t ask too many questions and make sure it is working
- Have you got many inbound links from other sites?
Links are the life-blood of the internet and the more you can get coming to you from other good sites, the better. But never buy links; earn them with good content.
- Have you got useful outbound links?
Help your visitors with links to other great resources. Links should be relevant and in context.
Not so good: ‘to read a great story click here’.
Better: ‘read this great story’
- Is your site connected to your social profiles?
Help the internet to connect the dots about who you are. It’s easy to add your social media details in the settings of your WordPress SEO plugin.
- Are you using your header tags (h1, h2 etc) correctly?
Header tags are not for aesthetics, they are for structure. You should only have one h1 tag, usually the title, per page and the rest nested below.
- Have you added title tags and meta descriptions to your posts? These are important to ensure your listings in the search engines are useful. Use a plugin like Yoast to add meta titles and descriptions in WordPress.
- Is it attractive, professional looking and reflective of you and your business?
You are aiming for credibility so you can’t get away with something that looks like your nephew built it in 2008. If you really know your audience, you’ll have a better idea of the type of design that may work for them.
- Is it mobile friendly?
It must, must be responsive nowadays. If your site doesn’t look good on a phone or is slow and clunky to use, then kill it. Kill it dead and start again with a new site that does. More than half your visitors are probably on a phone and Google does not like mobile unfriendliness
- Is it accessible?
Test your site and make improvements to help more people. Think wheelchair ramps for websites.
- Have you added alt tags to all your images?
Ensure all your images can be ‘read’ by search spiders and screen readers. It helps search engines and users to understand your site better. Good filenames, titles and captions help too
- Have you compressed your images so they load quickly?
Fast loading photos mean a faster loading page which helps users and is favoured by Google.
The last 2 points above are well covered in this article about image optimisation
- Are all your photos and graphics free of copyright restrictions?
Don’t risk it! If you ‘steal’ photos from another website it could cost you dearly. The best option is to use your own, original photos but only if they are good enough. If you really can’t afford a professional there a mountain of Stock photo sites – many for free.
- Does the site work across all browsers and devices?
Have you ever seen a site with a logo that takes up the whole screen? Or a drop-down navigation menu that doesn’t work? It’s likely the site wasn’t checked in different browsers. It’s well worth checking.
- Does it load in under 3 seconds?
If your competitor’s site is faster than yours, it might rank higher as a result. You can check your site speed here. If it is slow then the best place to start is by compressing your images and talking to your host.
- Is it running a green padlock with https?
Most good hosts offer free SSL certificates and will install them for you so there is no excuse not to have one! You do not need to pay for an SSL certificate anymore even though some hosts continue to sell them.
- Have you set the site up in search console and added your sitemap?
Google search console helps you improve SEO and fix things like broken links. Find out more in this article by Yoast SEO.
- Have you set up a custom 404 error page?
Most WordPress themes have these built in now but do check what your visitors see if they mistype the URL. It should help them with their visit to your site.
- Has Google indexed your site? A quick way is to enter site:yourwebsite.co.uk into the Google search box to see all your sites indexed pages. If you’re not indexed – ouch! In WordPress check the dashboard>settings>reading page and make sure you have not left the ‘discourage search engines from indexing this site’ box ticked!
- Are you measuring goals on your site with Google analytics?
Using GA to know how many people visit your site is one thing. But it isn’t as useful as knowing how many of them submitted your enquiry form. Setting goals is important so you can measure and improve how things are working.
- Have you added yourself to Google My Business so you show up better for local searches?
Get found by people in your area.
- Are you making good use of your site with automations to save you time and work?
An obvious example is to add a service like Calendly or 10to8 to your site so visitors can book appointments or phone calls. It will cut phone call interruptions and the unnecessary email conversations you now have arranging times.
- Do you comply with legal obligations (GDPR)?
I’ll say no more.
- Is the site backed up regularly?
Your web host will be making backups but you should also keep backups away from your host (eg in Dropbox or Google Drive).
- Are your WordPress plugins and themes all up to date?
Old plugins are a common way for baddies to install all sorts of malware and nastiness. It’s important to maintain a site properly for best performance.
- Is it scanned for malware regularly?
A good host is the first line of defence when it comes to security but you can check your site using an online tool like Sucuri
- Do you know what to do if there is a problem?
What would you do if you went to your site one day and found the dreaded ‘White Screen of Death’ (WSOD)? Sometimes your host won’t help because it is your website causing the problem and not their hosting. Hmm – maybe you need support on hand.
Do you want some help answering yes to these questions? If so I’d love to hear from you.