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.

Friday, November 7, 2014

5 Things You Must Have on Your Website

A lot of times we spend our time and energy building a website, but we forget the most important things. These 5 things are basic, but they are extremely important to have on your small business or non-profit website.

1. Call to Action

Tell your website visitors what you want them to do. Don't let them come to your website, admire it, and leave without really doing anything. Some options are:
  • Click here to get started
  • See our portfolio
  • Sign up for our newsletter
  • Call now!
  • See how we can help you
  • Buy now!
A lot of times it's a button that they click to go to a new page. Other times it's phone number with "Call Now For a Free Consultation" or something similar. But either way, you want to clearly tell your users what to do.

2. Contact Information

Make sure every page has either an email address, phone number, or both. An address is really helpful as well if it is applicable.

Put it at the top of the page if you can...if not then put it as high up as possible. ESPECIALLY for mobile websites - users are looking for a phone number or address, so make it as easy on them as possible.

We really like to combine #1 and #2 by putting "Call us at 555-5555!" at the top of every page.

3. Words

Seems like a no-brainer right? It's not. A LOT of websites do not have enough words on each page for Google to take notice. Short and sweet is good for your human visitors, but search engines like Google and Yahoo want to see words, and lots of words.

Make sure that you aren't being too brief in your website content. You want to have 3 or 4 paragraphs at least on the majority of your pages, and you want to have more than just 5 or 6 pages. If you're having trouble thinking of what to put on your website, check out How Many Pages Should My Website Have?

4. Whitespace

What is whitespace? It's what people mean when they say that a website is clean and uncluttered. The things on your website - logo, phone number, navigation, headers, slideshows, etc. should not be too close together. There should be padding, or room in between each item.

Check out the image below of USA Construction for a good idea of how much whitespace you need (and it also has a nice call to action statement with phone number at the top)

Click to zoom

5 Things to Put on Website

5. Contact Form

Whether it's a lead form on every page, or just on your Contact Us page, it's a good idea to include a form on your website.

You don't want to have a lot of required fields if you can help it, or people may not want to fill it out. Ideally, just a name and email address would be required, with a couple other fields available such as Phone Number and a space for the user to write a question.

Please let us know if you have any questions about how to improve your website!


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

5 Ways to Save Your Company Money

Here are 5 simple ways to make a dollar last longer and save your company money:

1. Hire an unpaid intern from a local university

Using an intern can be a fantastic way to save both time and money. It may take some time to find a good relationship with a university and to train the intern, but in the long run it will definitely be worth it.

Many universities are looking for local businesses who will offer internships to their students. The student really benefits because they gain real world experience and build a contact with a local business in their field. The business benefits because they get some much needed help with the day-to-day operations.

Fresh Look has greatly benefited from many different interns over the years. We have a partnership with ECPI University, located in Newport News and Virginia Beach Virginia, and we highly recommend the same for any business.

2. Update Your Website Yourself

Updating your website does require strong computer skills as well as time and patience. However it can save a lot of money for your business. Not all websites can be updated by an "amateur", so talk to your web designer to find out how you can update your website. It also helps if they can train you on how to make those updates. Click here to contact Fresh Look Web Design about how you can edit your website.

3. Don't waste money on Yellow page ads

Unless you have strong convictions that this is helping your company, don't spend money on Yellow page ads. They are outdated and it's just not how people search for businesses anymore.

4. Buy your domain through GoDaddy.com

There are a few reasons GoDaddy.com is a good choice for your domain name:

Cost - they're generally pretty cheap. Network Solutions domain names can cost $35, while GoDaddy's are usually closer to $20.

Reputation - despite what you may think about their commercials, when it comes to actual services GoDaddy has a good reputation for customer service. I've always had good experiences, and if something goes wrong, they fix it.

English - GoDaddy's technical support team is easy to work with. No language barrier to make things difficult.

Coupons - there are a lot of promotion codes you can use for GoDaddy's services. Check out http://www.fatwallet.com/GoDaddy-coupons/ or http://www.retailmenot.com/view/godaddy.com to knock a couple more dollars off your domain name.

Cancellation policy - if you renew your domain for multiple years, GoDaddy reduces the price, thus saving you money. If you decide to cancel the domain name before it expires, they refund your money back for the amount of time you didn't use it! So there's no risk in paying for multiple years at once, and it saves you a few bucks.

5. Encourage customers to not use their credit card

You have to be careful with this one, because whatever is most convenient for the customer is typically what you want to do. Credit cards are a great way to get paid because it's immediate and doesn't give the customer time to change their mind. It's important to close the sale, and credit cards make that happen right away.

However if you can do it right, encouraging customers to use other means of payment can really add up your savings, especially on large sales. You don't want to risk losing the customer of course, but a lot of people (especially other small business owners) can really relate to the "evil" credit card fee, and are willing to help you avoid it.

Do you have any good ideas about how to save a small business money? Let us know at info@freshlookwebdesign.com.