Saturday, February 28, 2015

How Do I Make My Important Information Stand Out?

Most websites hold a LOT of information. It's not always easy to separate what is most important with what is not. If you could only tell your web visitors one thing, what would it be? Do you know what that is?

And really it's not just one thing, but maybe two or three or more. But think about it for a minute: What is the most important thing you want your users to see?

For Fresh Look Web Design, it's really a combination of two things. We want our users to see our Website Portfolio, and we want them to contact us - either by call or our contact form.

There are lots of other things we want them to do also, but those two are the most important to us.

Once you know what's most important, we come to the title of this article. How do we make that important information stand out on our website?

We have 3 ways we like to do it.

1. In the regular navigation of the website

All your pages should be in the main navigation of your website. Put your important page where the rest of your pages are - usually in the menu across the top of the page. And your important page should not be a drop down item that appears underneath another category - it should be it's own category.

2. In a large graphic near the top of your home page

This large graphic is often referred to as a slider. Especially if it is part of a slideshow that "slides" back and forth between a couple different images.

Make sure that this graphic has a strong call-to-action statement that refers to your important page.

Also make sure that it links to a page that has the information that you want them to see.

3. Smaller buttons on the side or bottom of your website

A lot of websites will have a "rightmenu" or "leftmenu" on their website. On this side part of the website, you will often find some links, maybe the company's contact info, maybe a calendar or social media icons.

It also happens to be a great place to put a good call-to-action button which leads to your important information. Since it's on a side menu bar it should be a smaller than the slider image, but it's still important.

On the page you're on right now, you'll see the 3 ways users can get to our Portfolio page. We have a link in the top menu - "Portfolio", we have the large blue graphic across the top, and we have the yellow button on the right.

Remember, repetition is the key. You're not going to get in trouble for putting three links on your website that all go to the same information. You WANT your users to go there, so make sure they go there.

If you have any design questions about your website, ask us! We will be happy to lend you our expertise. Check out some of our articles to get more great ideas for your business website.

Friday, February 27, 2015

How to Write a Great Meta Description

If you don't know what a meta description is, here is a basic non-technical definition:

The meta description tag is a brief, one or two sentence introduction to each individual webpage on a website. Web users won't see it when looking at the website, but it appears on the search engine results page.

Example - I went to Google and searched "how to write great website content" (a search phrase that one of my articles happens to be ranked #1 for):

Great meta description

As you can see, the highlighted part is the meta description. It's what users see under each link in the search engine results page.

We also talked about the meta description briefly in our article, Easy SEO Checklist.

How many meta description tags should I have?

You should have one unique meta description tag for every page on your website. Because each page is different, Google expects to see different meta descriptions for each page.

You can use the same verbiage for all your pages, however to keep Google and your users happy, we recommend tailoring each tag for each different page so that they're unique to that page.

What should I put in my meta description tag?

A good meta description sounds like a sales pitch. Not corny or over the top, but it entices the reader to click on the link. It needs to be very readable, short, and to the point.

You also want your meta description to stand out from the rest. Put a good call to action statement, or say something to make your users curious. Use punctuation or even limited ALL CAPS to draw the users eye.

How long should it be?

It should be around 155 characters long. Any more than that and Google may cut it off. If you want to get technical, Google actually measures how long your description is in pixels not characters. But you're going to want to keep it fairly short anyway, so 155 characters is a good number to shoot for.

Here's a good tool to check to see if your meta description is the right length - www.seomofo.com/snippet-optimizer.html

Does the meta description actually help my Google rank?

Not directly. Google has said that the meta description is not factored into their algorithms. However, if users are clicking on your page because you have a great meta description, then Google will take notice of that. So it does help, just indirectly.

How do I actually add meta tags to my website?

Your web developer can easily help you with this, but if you're editing your own website with Joomla or WordPress or something similar, there are a lot of great plugins that you can download to your site. Here are a couple:

Joomla:

WordPress:
What about keywords?

It's good to put a couple keywords in the meta description if possible. Let's look at our example again:


Great meta description
I typed "how to write great website content" into Google and this is what showed up. Notice how the actual words that I typed into Google is bolded in the highlighted meta description. That helps it stand out a little more. This is why I suggest that if you can, include a couple keywords in your meta description.

Don't stuff your meta description with too many keywords. Writing for users should be your main focus. But a couple keywords in the meta description may encourage users that your page is relevant to what they are looking for.

Google isn't using my meta description

Get this - Google may or may not choose to use your meta description. They may pick out verbiage from the main page content that they think is more relevant to the users search. Unfortunately there's nothing you can do about it, other than make sure you follow our guidelines to writing a good meta description.

Being on the first page of Google is a great accomplishment. But writing a solid, readable, well crafted meta description will actually encourage users to click on your link. Take the time to create a good meta description and watch your website traffic increase.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

How Many Pages Should My Website Have?

One common question we hear from clients is "how many pages should my website have?". While there is no simple answer, here are some tips we give to small business owners and nonprofits regarding how much content to have on their website.

The Two Audiences

Before we get into the details, we first have to understand that your website has two very different audiences that you're writing for.

1. Human visitors (potential customers, etc)
2. Search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc)

Both audiences are important. Human visitors are more important, but the search engines should not be ignored. We will look at each audience, and then compile a sample site map of what pages you might have on your website.

Human visitors like it simple

For human visitors we want to keep the website simple, uncluttered, and easy to use. So to a certain extent, less is more. Say what you need to say, and put the information in easy to read lists, headlines, short paragraphs.

Sample pages that we often recommend are:
  • Home
  • About Us
  • Services (or Products, whichever applies)
  • Events
  • Photo Gallery
  • Get Involved (for nonprofits usually, with things like Donate and Volunteer listed)
  • Testimonials
  • Our History (sometimes About Us is more of an Our History page, sometimes both are needed)
  • Contact Us
There are obviously lots more pages that could be included depending on the organization and what it offers. These are just some of the more common ones.

But this list is IDEALLY much smaller than what you should put on your website. Because of search engines.

Search engines want as much content as possible

Do you want your website to rank well with Google and other search engines? Give them lots of content. 5 or 6 pages usually isn't enough to make Google take notice, and 1 or 2 paragraphs per page is only the bare minimum.

In addition to the core pages for your human users mentioned above, we recommend the following pages
  • Make sub-categories for your Services page. Instead of just having a Home Remodeling page, add a Kitchen Remodeling, Bathroom Remodeling, Sunrooms, etc.
  • Why Choose Us?
  • Who We Serve 
  • Articles/Blog
The Article/Blog section is very helpful. We cover it in depth in our article The Importance of Article Writing. In a nutshell, if you want Google to really take notice, you have to consistently add lots of good content to your website. A blog or article section is one of the best and easiest ways to do that.

Of course, we're adding lots of good keywords to these pages, which is the whole point. These pages are created specifically for search engines. If a human visitor visits it, that's fine but not the goal.

Organizing Your Pages

We have compiled a fairly long list of pages by now. To make things easy for your human visitors, these pages need to be organized in a hover menu. A hover menu is an intuitive way to help your visitors find what they're looking for. You've probably seen them before when you browse the internet:

Hovermenu

Sample Site Map

So after looking at both human and search engine visitors and what they are looking for, here is just a sample site map of what your website might have. Obviously this will vary heavily depending on what your business is, but these are the generic pages we suggest.

  • Home
  • About Us
    • Our History
    • Staff
    • Why Choose Us
    • Who We Serve
    • Testimonials
  • Services
    • Service 1 (with keyword)
    • Service 2 (with keyword)
    • Service 3 (with keyword)
  • Events
  • Photo Gallery
  • Get Involved
    • Volunteer
    • Donate
    • Join Our Team
  • Our Blog
    • List of lots of articles
  • Contact Us
    • Directions
    • Sign up for our Newsletter
Modify this to fit your business, but this is a great start if you're unsure what to put on your website or how many pages you need. Good luck and don't forget to contact us if you need a free consultation.