9 Good Habits For Website Owners

Categories
Small Business Digital Marketing

We are nearly a couple of decades past the point where having a website for your small business is necessary. However, I have observed that most website owners are not using their websites to their full potential. In most cases, it is because they simply do not understand it. This makes perfect sense as most business owners are not trained web developers. However, there are many tools that popular website building software like WordPress, Squarespace, and WIX have that are much simpler to use than they seem.  As a result, I want to discuss 10 simple habits that you, as a website owner, should have, to give you an instant edge.

#1 Track Your Website’s Traffic

Businesses that see the most success through their website review and analyze data surround visitor traffic. This is because the data can tell a story about their customers, their products, or the effectiveness of marketing.

For example, a woman might run a store online that sells handcrafted jewelry. She may have received a few orders through her website here and there, but is not having much luck. Why would this be? She knows people like the products because she gets referrals all the time through people she knows.

The reasoning could be many. Something could be broken on the website. Her website is not capturing attention organically. It is very hard to tell. 

Taking a look at the traffic data from the website can clear this up. This can be done through analytics features offered in most website builders.  Most of the data will provide simple information like what pages get the most traffic, and where visitors are coming from. It can even give an indication of a problem. Like a lack of traffic.

Women reviewing website's analytics.

How to View Website Traffic 

  • For WordPress: After logging in, access the dashboard and look for a “Stats by Jetpack” section of the page. Note* This may vary, depending on your version of WordPress and your theme.
  • For WIX: Access “Analytics” from the menu in the sidebar to access information like the number of visitors, bounce rate, and form submissions. There is a separate tab for blog posts.
  • For Squarespace: Access “Analytics” from the sidebar to see information ranging from the number of visitors to traffic sources.

Want to step it up even further? Connect your website to Google Analytics.

#2 Verify Your Website With Search Engines

When you attend a party, you should always greet the host. Think of the world wide web as the largest social event of all time. It actually is in a strange way. This is why you need to make sure the search engines who host the events know you are there. Otherwise, they may never get to you. Google, Bing, and the other major search engines all work in a similar way. You must verify your website with the search engines so it can get on the list to be crawled and indexed.  One this is done, you can begin collecting data and optimizing your website. It only takes a few minutes of your time.

How to Verify Your Website

Many website builders have an easy set up through their system, but for a bit more control, here are instructions for verifying your website with Google, Bing, and Pinterest if it is important to you:

#3 Include Alt Text on Images

Images have the power to show stories rather than tell them. You definitely should include relevant images throughout your website, but there is a feature to them with a lot of SEO value, with very little explanation: alternative text or alt text. This is a sentence that compliments images in the code, that explains the purpose and relevance of the image to the page. If your website works properly, you may never see this text on the live site. This makes it easy to forget. But not including this can create a poor user experience for some of your audience and less SEO value for all.

You not only have the ability but an obligation to add alt text to your images. This is one of many times you need to put yourselves in the shoes of your customers. Those who have visual impairments and slow internet speeds (dial-up internet is still used by many), will not see the image. There needs to be something that explains it or else the page becomes confusing. That is what alt text does. 

Providing a good user experience in this way also improves the search engine experience. Not only do search engines value a good visitor experience but your website can also benefit from ranking for keywords in your alt text. So, make sure you creatively include search terms in your alt text.

How to Add Alt Text

The instructions for adding alt text varies by the website builder. The instructions are included below, but it is important to follow best practices. Describe the image as if you can’t see it in just a few words. Include a keyword if possible. Write in a real sentence.

  • For WordPress: Upload an image to your media folder. Once uploaded, you can edit the image including adding alt text.
  • For WIX: Right-click on an image while in the editor and select “Settings”. Under Image Text, add a description of the image under “What’s in the image? Tell Google.”. This is the image’s alt text.
  • For Squarespace: The method of adding alt text varies depending on how the image is displayed here. Refer to these instructions.
An image with no alt text might as well be a blank painting to many.
An image with no alt text might as well be a blank painting to visually impaired and those with slow internet connections.

#4 Keep Page Content Simple

I love to show people this website as an example of what not to do. Don’t feel bad about going to it, the page was created for this purpose. There are many reasons why it is terrible, but they mostly roll up into one major issue: complexity. There is too much to read, too much to look at, and no real indication of what the page is supposed to be about. Now, I know most websites are not as exaggerated as this, but it makes a big point. Website owners who don’t know better, often try to do more on a page than they should.

This is why I recommend the following exercise: 

  1. Write out a list of every website on your website in a spreadsheet. Do not look at the pages they refer to. 
  2. In the next column, describe a person who you would expect to go to each page.
  3. In the column next to it, write what needs they have that in a perfect world, would bring them to you. Be as specific as possible, and cover a single need, not multiple.
  4. Column 4, what is the primary way you can respond to this need
  5. Column 5, What can this particular visitor do, to connect with you directly about this need, to learn more or initiate an interaction.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 for every page on the website.
  7. Audit your website. Look at each page from the perspective of the person you described. Is all content on the page 100% relevant to that person’s needs? Does it respond directly? Does the page conclude with an action to take that brings the visitor closer to you? 
  8. Adjust content accordingly.

A website that is tailored to its audience will have a much stronger appeal and if promoted right, will see more traffic.

#5 Organize Your Blog Posts With Categories and Tags

If you consistently update your web content with a blog, then congratulations, you already are spearheading a lot of the work needed to drive content. However tagging and categorizing your blog is important. It provides a sense of organization to your website. This helps you, the user, and the search engine understand your content better.

There are two ways to organize your blog posts: categories and tags. There is a lot of confusion surrounding how they work and the difference between the two. Once again, this is due to a lack of a clear explanation, but using them correctly could help your website.

The Difference Between Categories and Tags

The difference between categories and tags is as simple as explaining their intended use. Categories are used to associate content together in groups. For example, let’s examine the blog for AXUM Coffee, a popular coffee shop located in Winter Garden, FL.

Categories are organized on the page.

You can see on this page that the blog is sorted into categories explicitly displayed on the page. If you open a post, the category is labeled above the title. The category suggests what kind of content to expect. A story, an event, a recipe. Each category is a logical grouping of the content in a hierarchy. There can even be sub-categories that group content even further. This is helpful for navigation purposes and setting the content up to be found and shared easily. 

However a tag is much more granular. It organizes content in a way that is less focused on a hierarchical logic and more focused on looser connections . For example, on a website for outdoor enthusiasts, an instruction guide for building a bird feeder may have a similar tag as a blog post about mourning doves because they are both associated with the word “bird”. However, it would not make sense to group them as the content provides different value to the user. Tags are a much more helpful teacher in terms of the search function on a website.

#6 Use Heading Tags Properly

There are two ways heading tags are often used on a website: for structuring the content on a page and for styling / sizing words on the page. The former is the intended use, the latter can cause problems for you. First let me explain headings:

Headings are the hierarchical breakdown of content on a page. This breakdown allows the main topics to be scanned quickly and provides a visual indication of how each section of a page relates to another. Proper headings also provide context of each section, and work as an extension of organization beyond the URL in the browser bar.

Headings are often used incorrectly to style or size regular text as a part of the page design. This is not the right way to do this. First it is generally limiting to restrict styling your content to the sizes provided in the heading, but it will likely be misread by search engines. Instead, use the built-in text editing functions within the website builder, that operate similar to those in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. If you are a more advanced web user, an even better option would be to assign a class to the text you want to edit and style through CSS.

#7 Check Website On A Phone And Tablet

It is not exactly a secret to anybody that phones and tablets are now commonplace for web browsing now. However, there are many websites that look great on a computer, but begin to break down in useability on smaller screens. This is why it is important to design for devices of all sizes. Fortunately, website builders now account for this. There are options to preview (and on WIX.com, even edit) for different devices. Most web designs are made more responsibly but there are some ways websites are coded that just do not translate well.

Additionally, search engines also crawl the mobile versions of websites. This means that if a website is not translating correctly on mobile devices, it will hurt in ranks.

Having a mobile-friendly website is helpful to everyone.

The Magic of “Inspect Element”

If you do not have a phone or tablet to test your website on all different devices. There is a hidden feature on most browsers that allow you to simulate different screen sizes that developers use. Here’s something to try right now.

In your current browser, (unless it is a very old version of Internet Explorer, this should work) right click somewhere in the window. You should see an option that says “Inspect Element” A panel will pop up and you should see an icon in the toolbar displaying a small rectangle in front of a larger one (like a phone and tablet). On Microsoft Edge, you will need to look for the “Emulation” menu option. Activating these allows you to experiment with different screen sizes and see how your website reacts.

The Magic of “Inspect Element”

If you do not have a phone or tablet to test your website on all different devices. There is a hidden feature on most browsers that allow you to simulate different screen sizes that developers use. Here’s something to try right now.

In your current browser, (unless it is a very old version of Internet Explorer, this should work) right click somewhere in the window. You should see an option that says “Inspect Element” A panel will pop up and you should see an icon in the toolbar displaying a small rectangle in front of a larger one (like a phone and tablet). On Microsoft Edge, you will need to look for the “Emulation” menu option. Activating these allows you to experiment with different screen sizes and see how your website reacts.

#8 Add Page Titles and Descriptions

Page titles and page descriptions are another valuable feature that often go underused. This is because the information doesn’t normally appear anywhere on the page while editing. But if you want there to be a higher chance of a visit to your page, I highly suggest following best practice and filling these out.

This content shows up in search engines and often in social media posts as well. In these contexts, what do you think would be most beneficial to include here? The desired goal is for your visitor to click your result in search or on the link in the social media post, so, use this content as an opportunity to make clicking the link irresistible. Give them good reason to see what your page has to offer as a response to their search. Think of it as a teaser that leaves a potential customer wanting to know more.

#9 Link Relevant Pages to Each Other

Here is another secret, the longer you keep a visitor on your website, the more likely they are to trust your brand. This is why you should take any opportunity to connect relevant pages to each other. It will keep the visitor exploring your website as long as you can engage them with more and more relevant content.

Similar to tags, this practice also helps organize your content in the eyes of the search engine. When pages on a website are linked to each other, it signals to the search engine to seek context. Usually in the text that is linked and its relevance to the page it leads to. So make sure your internal links are truly relevant to each other.

These Tips Are Just The Beginning

This guide is intended to help website owners take comfort knowing they are taking the basic actions required to make sure you are providing some value to visitors. They do not guarantee and increase in traffic. But these tips should hopefully provide some direction on how to make your website the most useful to your target audience. I encourage you to explore more information that BACE Digital has to offer.