Getting a website to actively support, let alone expand your business through the acquisition of new customers is not easy. Frequently, its made more difficult by selection of inappropriate technologies as the platform, or inappropriate use or placement of those technologies in areas that would be best managed in a more intelligent way. Added to that initial misjudgement are sequential failures to address the basic “rules of engagement” in the interactions with your website visitors.
Splash Intro Animations
Using a “splash” or “intro” animation on a pseudo-Home page, followed by a redirect to the intended Home page, or “Enter” link severely impedes good search rankings. Invariably the page contains zero content other than the inane, slow to load, and utterly pointless graphics, and the “skip intro” link… The search engine spider encounters nothing it can use, no links to internal pages, and is then unceremoniously shunted to another page. Such clumsy redirects are expressly discouraged in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines… That 1st page is treated as the Home page, and because it has zero content, there is no reason for Google et al to reward you with rankings for anything on the Home page! The best thing you can do is delete the sorry thing, and promote the correct page into Home position.
Flash Animated Websites
Despite the volumes of warnings about incorrect use of Flash, I still see entire sites constructed with it. A 20-page animated Flash site can be a thing of beauty and a joy to behold. The problem is, its audience is severely constrained because Google will never send visitors to it on the basis of merit! Its entire content is completely and utterly invisible… To a search engine spider, the site consists of a blank home page, with perhaps a Title, Description and Keywords. That’s it! If the website is supposed to be the saviour of your business, and garnering new clients 24/7, you are in serious trouble!
Welcome to my website… Good grief! In pole position, Heading 1… If this is you, you’re dead in the water and drifting onto the rocks. The 1st thing that tells a 1st time visitor is that you have no idea what you are doing, and that they are unlikely to ever find what they are looking for beneath the warm fuzzies. That’s presuming anyone ever actually finds the site, of course. The 1st heading is the most important on-page content element, and it should do two things. First, it should clearly articulate to search engines what the page content encompasses. Second, it should immediately reassure a 1st time visitor that this page might have what they seek! The immediate reaction to “welcome to my website” is the mouse pointer streaking for the “Back” button!
Attaining Online Credibility
USP = Unique Selling Proposition
Related to credibility is the all important USP. The 1st time visitors don’t know you… Why not give them a hint as to why you are good at what you do? What sets you apart from the competition? Why not give them a valid and compelling reason to try out your services?
Call To Action Missing?
This is something that many website owners and designers fail to grasp… You may have a nice website, no overt problems, and you may think you have addressed the issues above. Yet, clients are declining to engage with you, and conversion rates are woefully low. Oddly enough, the site owner and the web designer are inclined to work from the opposite perspective of the potential purchaser. Too many sites are structured in a presumptuous fashion, where the visitor is forced to guess at what they need to do in order to achieve their desired goal.
Here’s a simple example. If you are a 1-man lawn-care service, do you want people to call your mobile phone, leave a message on your answering machine, call your office phone, send you a fax with job details, or send you an email? Spell it out! You might think your website is a brilliant example of design and simplicity personified. However, you need to clearly explain what your visitors should do in order to initiate a successful transaction. Make them guess, and they will be gone in less than 30 seconds!
Content is Still The King
1st time website owners often have no comprehension of the time and difficulty inherent in creating something from nothing. Nor do they understand the importance of depth of content, the need for originality and the value of addressing people’s real information needs. Many lack an appropriate budget and fail to wisely expend what they have…. If you set out to portray your products and services visually, using photographs, charts or graphics, you may partially satisfy human information needs. Unfortunately, Google will be unimpressed!
Without text that accurately articulates, explains and describes your products and services, you are unlikely to be rewarded by growing volumes of search engine traffic. If you find it difficult to write good content, paying someone else to do so is essential. Badly written content, peppered with spelling errors, grammatical glitches and inexplicable punctuation will deflate people’s opinions of you faster than a pin-pricked balloon.
Like the Crema on a Fresh Coffee
If you are the one who gets all of this right, you will automatically be espresso’d into prominence, floating in a thick, dominant layer of aromatic magnificence, up near the brim of the world wide web cup… Like a gobbet of rich cream on a vat of milk… a rare, sensual delight.