12 Ways to Perk up Your Website

The internet is enormous. Don’t let your company’s website get lost out there!

12 Ways to Perk up Your Website

Writer Judy Kneiszel has operated her own small business for 20 years and is familiar with the many rewards and challenges of business ownership. Write to her with questions, comments or topic suggestions at thewordhouse@ameritech.net.

Aportable restroom business’ website is everything from a 24/7 customer support center to a sales and marketing tool. Websites make a company discoverable by a wide audience and give it credibility among its competition. A good website can put a small PRO on even footing with much bigger competitor. But just having a website for your company isn’t enough. Like any good business vehicle, a website needs an occasional tuneup. It needs to be refreshed regularly so it will continue to attract visitors and boost its search engine rankings.

I’ll admit, before I started doing research for this column, I assumed with little effort I would find a lot of terrible portable restroom rental company websites. I anticipated seeing sites created a decade ago and ignored for the past nine years. I was going to rant about cluttered layouts created on obviously free and now outdated templates with bad flash animation, rainbows of clashing bright colors, and again as many horrible fonts.

But, to be honest, I couldn’t find sites like that. I’m still writing this column, however, because what I did find were the opinions of many experts who agreed that keeping a website fresh is critical to its effectiveness. A website — even a great one — shouldn’t be viewed as a static thing like a billboard or brochure. To get the most out of a website, it must be maintained.

Your business isn’t web design, of course. You don’t have endless time to devote to updating your site nor are you big enough to hire someone to maintain your site full time. But having a never-changing website is like having a shiny new truck you never drive. Sure it looks great parked in front of your business and your company logo is on the side, making it an advertising platform, but that’s not its optimum use.

Same with a website. It’s a tool that can do so much more than simply look pretty and provide your phone number to anyone who happens to glance at it. So dedicate some time to it, and reap the rewards. Here are a few places to start:

1. If you haven’t already … dump the Flash. Sure it was all the rage at one time, but now most Adobe Flash animation is considered a distraction that slows loading times. If that’s not bad enough, Flash animation can also negatively affect search engine rankings. Fast-loading, content-rich websites get higher ratings than those with cutesy animation.

2. Make sure it is responsive. A responsive website is one that works on any platform. The goal should be easy scrolling and navigation on any screen from a massive desktop monitor to a laptop screen, tablet, or tiny smartphone screen. Be sure your site loads quickly and looks right whenever and wherever someone might call it up.

3. Make sure your site works on every possible browser. Look at your site using as many different browsers as you can, from Safari to Firefox to Internet Explorer and Chrome, or use an online tool like Browsershots, which tests your site for compatibility on a vast array of browsers and all the different versions of each browser people may be using.

4. Update photos/replace stock photos with originals. People want to see current, original photos of your business, staff, trucks, restrooms, etc. — not dated old shots or pretty stock photography. Sure, your kids were cute when you first created your website. But if the kid you’re holding by the hand in a website photo is now a head taller than you and driving the trucks himself, updating the photo will give your adult child and the website credibility. Also, if your website has pictures of retired equipment or staff members who have moved on, it’s time to shoot some new photos. The good news is you don’t necessarily have to pay big money for professional photography. You or someone on your staff with a digital camera or even a good smartphone and an eye for composition should be able to take pictures you can use on your website.

5. Check all links. This is an easy tweak that can be done any time you’ve got a few minutes to spare. Go to your website and click all links to make sure they still work and go where you want them to take you. If not, fix, replace, or delete them. If you don’t want to check them individually, use an online tool like Dead Link Checker.

6. Add or update testimonials. If you’ve had the same customer testimonials on your website for years, it’s time for some new ones. Praise for service received 10 years ago tells potential customers little about what your business offers today.

7. Update content. Search engines get bored. They love new content and will boost a site’s ranking when they detect it. Also, search engines keep humans guessing by constantly changing their analytics, so what was a ratings booster yesterday might not be tomorrow, which is another reason to add new content often. How do you come up with new content? First, make sure all content on the site is up-to-date and relevant. You may have added services offerings that aren’t mentioned on the website or perhaps you’ve dropped some services still listed. Maybe you’ve moved, changed or added a phone number, or gotten into social media but haven’t linked your Facebook page to your website. Also consider if there are any problems some new content could solve.

8. Blog regularly or drop it. Blogging regularly on a website can boost search engine ratings. I found, however, many people have good intentions of posting to their blog regularly and then don’t. I personally think it’s better to not have a blog at all than to have one with one or two 4-year-old posts. I found one website where the “blog” button took me to a page with the framework for creating a blog and the words “here you can add some text.” That one click made the whole site less credible.  

9. Link to social media by adding social sharing buttons. For maximum effectiveness of all your online marketing efforts, make them work together. Add buttons to your website that take users to your Facebook page, YouTube videos or Twitter feed in a single click. Conversely, make sure your social media pages link back to your website.

10. Add call-to-action buttons. Sometimes customers will come to your website just to find your phone number. Don’t make them scroll all the way to the bottom of your homepage for your contact information. Add a call-to-action button so with one click, users can get a quote, call your office, or take whatever action it is you want them to take.

11. Add video content. Video increases the amount of time visitors spend on the site, which is good for search engine rankings. In addition to improving that retention rate, video helps people remember your company. It can make you stand out from the competition.

12. Run some tests. If you’re not sure how your site is performing, you can test it. There are several free tools available that, for example, determine if you have a high bounce rate, which means visitors aren’t finding what they are looking for and “bounce” away from your homepage quickly. You can also test your page speed to see if your site is slow to load. There are tools that help analyze your search engine optimization rating and one that will show how your website compares with your competition’s website. Some tools to play with include SEO Report Card, Fetch as Google, and Website Grader.

STUDY OTHER WEBSITES

If you think your website is getting stale and could use refreshing but don’t know where to start, take some time to study other websites. Look at websites of other PROs. Think about other sites you visit often for business or fun. What brings you back to them again and again? Fresh content? Ease of use? Great images? To get you started, here are three PRO websites I found that made good use of some of the things mentioned above:

www.plumbersportabletoilets.com makes effective use of video and has up-to-date testimonials.

www.gottagorentals.com features useful and current blog posts and has clear call-to-action and social media buttons.

www.millerportableservices.com makes great use of original photos and has a useful map. Navigation on the site is easy, whether on a small smart screen or on a larger computer display.



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