A website on its own will not bring customers in droves.
A poorly built website is, frankly, just a waste of money.
Unless you build a website that has the components it needs to actually convert browsers into buyers, a website won’t do much for your clients.
In my 16 (really 20, but let’s not get into that) years of building websites, the key pieces that make a website go from present to great haven’t really changed a whole lot.
While yes, technology and some best practices have and will continue to change, the focus with each of these components is making the journey for the customer as easy as possible from first search impression through their entire experience throughout your website. And after all, these simple strategies don’t care what you build the website in – so these components apply whether you’re building in WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, Webflow, and everything else in between.
So what components do you need to create a website that actually converts and can work as a marketing machine? Let’s dive in to my top 10.
1. Meta Data
Before your browsers even land on your website, they’ll see the meta title and description on search engines. Write these to give an action and reason to click through and visit your client’s website.
What should you include in your meta title? For each page, you’ll want to focus your title on the key search factors browsers will be looking for, using some key phrases/keywords to grab their attention. In short, that title should reflect what that page is about and include your top target keyword or key phrase.
With your descriptions, you can get in more key phrases, but most importantly, introduce a solution in the description. This website has the answers they’re looking for! You also want to include a simple call to action like “Discover more,” “Read how,” or “See how we can help” type of idea. Enticing someone to click in that description is simple, but can do a lot for your clickthrough rate.
2. Clear Navigation
Don’t make browsers think. They should understand exactly what they’re clicking on when they see your links and the navigation should be easy to find. TIP: Your navigation is not the spot to get super creative.
I’ve had to talk many a client off the ledge here, where they want to show their uniqueness in their navigation and the naming of their pages. Look, the navigation is the last place to do that. Searchers have only just landed on the website and they’re literally going to make a split-second decision in whether or not they’re going to dig deeper and give your client more time, or go back to Google and see if someone else has a better answer. Don’t bury navigation links in “creativity” because honestly, no one gives a shit about your creativity.
3. Problem-Solving Headlines
The first headline of the website’s homepage should grab the target audience’s attention with how your customer solves their problem. Not what your client does, but how they and their business are a benefit to their customers.
Many of us, myself included, get really caught up in the features of what we do. We do alllll the things! But honestly, what does the target audience care about? They care about how someone helps them. They have a problem and they want to know it can be solved. They don’t even really care how. They just want it fixed.
A good headline can mean the difference between jumping off the website and scrolling down the page. This doesn’t just apply to the main home page headline either. It applies to all the H1’s throughout the website and most of the sections. Focus on what the customer cares about (and chances are that will include some valuable keywords, too).
Guide your browsers into the business’s main services easily right on the home page.
You want to make the main services easy to find because it clearly tells the customer, even further, how you help. You can do this by creating funnels or blocks that highlight the main 2-4 services in the second or third block of the homepage. These should link through to their respective pages and should focus on how your client helps their target audience and solves their problems with their services.
5. Make Text Skimmable
How can you make your copy skimmable? Break copy up into short sections with headlines, use bullet points and styled lists, and bold important segments for easy reading.
6. Point Images In
Guide your users’ eye by pointing images on your page into the copy.
Points 5 and 6 really go together, so I’m going to cover them together.
Your copy is much like a college text book – no one is going to read every word.
(Side note: I had a roommate in college who was horrified to hear that we all skimmed our books…and 3 of us were English majors. So I guess the random super-nerd does read every word.)
I digress. “No one” is going to read every word of your website, even if you’re an excellent copywriter. Their eyes will immediately look for the main points they want to pick up, so highlight those! Breaking your text up with simple tricks like sections, shorter paragraphs, bullet points, and even bolded sections will make your text skimmable and get your message across without needing to read every word.
Directing your users’ eyes to the content with your images helps to keep that eye moving the way you want it to. You’ll notice throughout my website and in my images that I try to have the eye-line and body language, even the direction of inanimate objects (and my dog) face in towards the block of text. Don’t direct users off-screen, but instead towards what you want them to read.
7. Make Calls to Action Clear
What does your client want browsers to do when they’ve read the copy and decided they’d like more information or to work with them? Tell them exactly what you want them to do!
If, after reading your awesome, skimmable copy, you want browsers to make a purchase, tell them! If you want them to call your client to discuss further (as is the case with more complex, high-ticket items), tell them!
The best thing to do is to ensure that buttons are noticeable and you very clearly tell the user exactly what the next step is. Don’t make them guess, whether it’s a simple purchase or a complex sales funnel.
8. Use a Lead Capture to Get Emails
Capture those not-so-sure people with a free offer in exchange for their email. A simple checklist, video, or even mini-course can be a great way to provide free value and get interested leads into your client’s sales funnel.
Look, I certainly wasn’t building complex funnels 16 years ago, but as email marketing has risen a simple lead capture on a website is one of the easiest ways to capture people that aren’t quite ready yet, but they’re interested. The lead capture offering should have value, especially to the target audience. After all, they’re giving over their email in exchange for information and the understanding that your client is probably going to be emailing them later.
In my case, I offer a free on-page SEO checklist and walkthrough video. It’s a simple offering, but it attracts those who are maybe looking at their own websites wondering just how well they work. The offer doesn’t have to be massively intricate. Just focus on giving something valuable.
9. Clear Contact Information
Don’t make browsers wonder how to get in touch! Make phone numbers and email easy to find.
Not everyone wants to go through an automated process. Give them a chance to connect with your client as a human and get that personalized customer service. I include all the contact information in the footer of pretty much every website I build, where frankly browsers have gotten used to finding it. Every phone number I put on any website I build is also click-to-call, to further remove a barrier for those already using their phones.
If you’re a local business where a location matters, make sure your physical address is also in the footer. I even link my local business clients’ addresses directly to their Google My Business/Google Maps listing. That way the searcher can get directions immediately.
10. Easy Links to Social Media
Giving customers more ways to connect with your client is key to keep selling after they leave the website.
This is another one that’s newer than 16 years ago, but it’s a simple one that many people forget. Whatever their goal in connecting with your client’s social media, remove a barrier for the browsers to finding out more about your client. So many of us are doing a ton of research into who we work with these days, and social media is imperative to discovering that human behind the brand.
Make Your Website Fool-Proof
Most of these boil down to one thing: make the websites you build easy to use! Don’t make users hunt for the information they need to make the decision-making process as easy as it can be. Small changes can make a huge difference in how a website performs.
And if you want to dive more into making websites that are true marketing machines, I’ll be opening the doors to my exclusive Building a Marketing Machine Website mini course in September.
In this course, we’ll cover:
- The On-Boarding Questions to Ask at the Start of Every Project
- Creating the Sitemap & Navigation
- Writing Copy that Sells & Improves SEO
- Components Every Homepage Needs
- Digging in to On-Page SEO & Digital Accessibility
- How to Test & Review with Analytics
- BONUS #1 – Grab my Launch Checklist for the Smoothest Launches
- BONUS #2 – My Development Process for Faster Website Builds
Sign up now to be notified when enrollment opens and you’ll get $100 off the sign up fee when we do!