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Turn Your WordPress Website into a Traffic Driving Machine

Presented at WordCamp Grand Rapids in August of 2014

Did you build it and no one came? If your website isn't bringing in visitors like it should, browse through the slides of my educational session full of action items. In this presentation I walk through the ten top changes you can make to your WordPress website to begin driving traffic and converting visitors.

Turn Your WordPress Website into a Traffic Driving Machine

  1. 1. !  I have high hopes on you being the savior of my web dreams. !  I need your complete honesty on how old this website appears. We will hopefully have a new site designed. !  I don’t know what I need for e-commerce functionality, but I was hoping you could tell me. !  My budget is $300 and I hope to have something with functionality similar to Twitter or Facebook. !  I want to build an online store and Facebook type of website with membership/registration, add to cart, and chat/video chat features. My budget is $400.
  2. 2. ü  Professional Logo – If possible, hire a professional designer to create a logo for you. It will be the basis of many other branding elements. ü  Color – Make sure your website’s color scheme matches and accentuates your logo’s color palette. If you purchase a stock website template, spend the time or money to create a custom color scheme. ü  Typography – Make sure your website matches the particular style and size of the fonts (or typography) within your logo. Create branding standards to keep you focused. ü  Images and Videos – Select the right images and videos and not just any stock image you can locate. Use images that best represent your brand, product or service, and your industry.
  3. 3. ü  Favicons - A favicon is a 16 x 16 pixel image that is also known as a shortcut icon. Favicons help provide branding for the website and support ease of use while reviewing bookmarks for a particular website or link. ü  Tone of Voice – Each company or individual has a unique tone of voice. Make sure this is adequately represented in the website verbiage and information presented to visitors. ü  About Us Page – This page should tell website visitors who you are and what you do, while also aligning with the overall style of the website or blog. It can include a basic overview, as well as historical information, testimonials, or success stories.
  4. 4. ü  Consistent Website Formatting – Use a consistent template format for navigation, headers, text, typography and hyperlinks. This makes it easy for visitors to navigate through your website or blog and digest your content. ü  Focused Layout - Use the layout of your site to highlight the most important content. Place critical content above the fold and allow less important content to follow. ü  Organize Content - Make sure content flows from one block to another without overwhelming the visitor. Give users a clear and consistent structure they can follow.
  5. 5. ü  Use White Space – Make sure you provide enough white space throughout the design. White space not only helps reduce the cognitive load of visitors, it makes it much easier for users to segment and digest the information presented. ü  Control the Bling – Many website owners want their website to “pop” or “sparkle” at the cost of the user experience. Unless your name is Candy and you are a dancer, limit bling. ü  Bigger is Not Always Better – Don’t ask your web designer to make your logo bigger even if you desperately want it to leap off the page at visitors. Your focus should be your content and your message, not a logo that is so large it could leap off the page and eat me.
  6. 6. ü  Stay Away From Family – Your uncle’s brother-in-law’s son is not going to deliver solid coding. I promise! He’ll be cheap, but having a high school student code your site will present endless issues. ü  Use a Solid WordPress Theme – Purchase a theme from a reputable source. Avoid fly night theme shops or stolen themes. ü  Skip Themes With Tons of Options - Avoid bloated themes with oodles and oodles of options. It’s rough on performance and makes customizations painful. ü  Use HTML5 and Schema – HTML5 is the new coding standard for websites, while schema helps search engines better understand your website. Ensure your website supports and uses both of these and it will enhance your website’s overall all SEO value.
  7. 7. ü  Use Headers and Subheaders Properly – Make sure your website properly uses H1 headers and H2-H6 subheaders. Limit H1 headers to one per page. ü  Avoid Frames - Frames present a variety of problems including support for older browsers, user navigation, and the search engines ability to crawl the page successfully. ü  Optimize for Performance – Speed matters to users and search engines. Make sure your code is light, images minimized, and cache is used where feasible. ü  Use a Sitemap.xml File – XML sitemaps make it easier for search engines to discover new or updated pages and posts on your website. Keep your XML sitemap dynamic.
  8. 8. ü  Layout Meets Best Practices - Every website should include sections dedicated to a header, content, and footer. Include sidebars, or sections to the right or left of content, when appropriate. ü  Keep Sidebars Simple – Don’t overload sidebars with so much “stuff” that they distract from the actual page content. ü  Navigation Used Appropriately - Every website should include navigation in the header and should list the important pages. Navigation options should be no more than three levels deep. ü  Content is Free of Spelling and Grammatical Errors – Make sure website content is free of spelling errors, properly edited and written in the author’s native language.
  9. 9. ü  Easy to Read and Digest Content - Longer articles or large blocks of text should be broken out by the appropriate use of sections or subheaders. It is also advisable to use a mix of paragraphs and bullets. ü  Watch Your Readability Level - Content should not require a masters degree to read. Make it simple enough so the majority of your target audience can understand it. If a user cannot digest the content, they will not stay on the website. ü  Check Browser Rendering – Does your browser perform well across all major browsers and operating systems? A cross browser check is worth the time, as many browsers do render website differently. There is a reason so many developers hate IE. Even if you don’t use it, someone somewhere still does.
  10. 10. ü  Create a Clear Path for Visitors – Think through your desired visitor path and present clear call to actions to guide uses through the website. ü  Align the CTA’s to Your Sitemap – Try and define call to actions early in the development process so they can closely align with visitor personas and your content. ü  Professional Design is Important – CTA plugins are easy to use, but it doesn’t mean bright neon buttons work well for your visitor. Make sure the CTA adheres to your overall branding and it is designed in a non-obstructive manner. ü  Offer a Clear Value Proposition - People will only click on a CTA if they know what they will receive once they click. Make sure your CTA clearly tells users what they’re getting in exchange for their much valued click.
  11. 11. ü  Keep Forms Simple – Don’t require visitors to provide unnecessary information. Ask for key information only and know the more data you require a user to provide, the less submissions you’ll receive. ü  Give Social Proof – Offer testimonials or reviews so that visitors can validate your offer. Be honest with visitors and don’t oversell with empty promises. ü  Focus on One Task – Don’t confuse visitors by having multiple tasks on one landing page. Focus on one and one only. ü  Have a Snappy Headline – Make your headline unique, directly related to the offer, and creative enough interest to grab someone’s attention. ü  Keep Text Limited – Include only text that is relevant to the offer. Make it easy to read and easy to scan.
  12. 12. ü  Use Appropriately Targeted Keywords - Consider the words that a real user might search for to locate a web page or post on your website. Validate this list of possible keywords to actual search volumes. ü  Mix in the Long Tail - A mix of regular keywords (one or two word phrases) and long tail keywords (longer phrases) will provide the best mix of search traffic and results. ü  Use No More Than One or Two Keywords Per Page or Post - With the increasingly competitive nature of organic SEO and website optimization, best practices for keyword selection and implementation is to focus on one keyword per web page. In cases where the keywords are long-tail keywords or keywords are of lesser competitive nature, it is possible to target two similar keywords or phrases on one page if they are similar in nature. Home   About   Services   Store   Item  1   Items  2   News  
  13. 13. ü  Spend Time Mapping Keywords to Individual Pages and Posts – Plan your website pages and posts by mapping your preferred keywords and phrases to actual content. Use a WordPress plugin like WordPress SEO from Yoast to help track the keywords and keep you focused. ü  Pick and Chose Your Keyword Battles – I pick and chose battles with my children and I do this with keywords as well. I don’t try and focus on every possible combination of a keyword phrase, because I know it is difficult to rank and maintain overtime. Pick a solid set of keywords and focus on this growth. Home   About   Services   Store   Item  1   Items  2   News  
  14. 14. ü  Quality – Make sure your content is of high quality with substantial depth to make it worth reading. ü  Become an Expert - Do research and use facts to support your words. Showcase your knowledge and position yourself as an expert. ü  Teach and Educate – The soft sell approach of education will win over visitors. A sales pitch never converts. ü  Relevant – Cover topics that are relevant to your website, your industry or niche, and your target market. Remember to write for humans and not the search engines. ü  Engaging – Use a light tone that will bring in readers, captivate them, and encourage them to discuss and share content in social media. ü  Fresh – Freshness matters to search engines and users. Websites that add new pages and posts earn a higher freshness score than sites that add content less frequently.
  15. 15. ü  Consistent - Online marketing requires regular publishing of content that is consistent in nature. If you allow readers to expect new content, they will return frequently. The best way to do this is to set publishing goals and execute them. ü  Keep a List of Ideas – Don’t expect yourself to generate amazing content ideas exactly when needed. When you think of a good topic, write it down. ü  Make it Personal – If you want people to truly connect with you, then you have to give a little of yourself in your writing process. ü  Avoid the “Bait” – Avoid anything that is designed to attract huge volumes of traffic. It just doesn’t work. Write good content and you won’t need bait.
  16. 16. ü  Closely Match Page Titles to Content - Each website page should have a clear and concise title that communicates the topic of the page's content. ü  Use H1 Headers - Titles should be represented with an H1 header that is keyword rich. ü  Keyword in Page URL - URLs with keywords that are relevant to your page content make the pages rank higher. Shorter URLs will also make it easier for real users to remember them. ü  Use Keywords in the Content - Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context. In doing so, skip the urge to stuff content with massive amounts of keywords. Keyword   Meta   Title   Meta   Descrip>on  
  17. 17. ü  Use Solid Meta Descriptions - A good meta description will begin with the page's target keyword while also providing compelling text. They should be unique to each page/post and be less than 155 characters. ü  Create Strong Meta Titles - Meta titles should be keyword rich, but without keyword stuffing. They should be less than 55 characters and have the main keyword word or keyword phrase at the beginning of the title (far left). ü  Use WordPress SEO by Yoast – This is worth repeating again. This plugin does the best job of helping our clients stay on track with SEO. I install it on every client build and we use it internally. Keyword   Meta   Title   Meta   Descrip>on  
  18. 18. ü  Mobile Responsive for Smaller Websites - Responsive web design keeps your desktop and mobile content on a single URL. This makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content. It is also recommended by search engines. ü  Dedicated Mobile Sites for Larger Websites – Larger and more complex websites can struggle with the responsive approach. In these scenarios it is best to have a segregated website or app that is specifically designed for mobile devices. ü  Check Device Rendering – Does your website look good across tablets and smartphones? Spend time to test prior to launch. ü  Consider Image Usage Carefully –If you plan to use text within your graphics, consider a vertical approach over large horizontal layouts. ü  Avoid Flash - Flash is difficult for search engines to digest and index. It is also rarely supported on mobile devices such as the iPhone or iPad.
  19. 19. ü  Integrate Social Media in Your Website – Make it very easy for people to locate your social profiles. Your website should have easily identifiable social icons that link to your social accounts and these should be placed above the fold if possible. ü  Use Sharing Icons on Posts - Use caution when creating whimsical sharing icons as users might lose sight of their purpose. Having easily identifiable sharing buttons on posts is vital to building your social presence and increasing your share volume. ü  Use the Proper Social Accounts – We have a lot of choices when it comes to social media platforms. Make sure you are using the right type of profile (business or personal) and the right network for your audience. I like to use: SEO -> Google+ and YouTube Business to Business -> LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora Business to Consumer -> Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram
  20. 20. ü  Be Active and Engaged – Social media is about interaction, which means you must actively connect with others. Engagement is about sharing other people’s content, and communicating via tweets, likes, comments, and +1s. ü  Be Real - No one likes a social diva, so be genuine and nice. ü  Maintain a Solid Reputation - Manage your online reputation and promptly address negative interactions. The worst thing you can do is to ignore a negative comment. ü  Social Shares – Social activity drives web traffic and it influences organic search. Share your own content regularly and encourage others to do so as well. Just don’t be cheesy about it. What? Isn’t sharing your own content just basic? Yes, but you’d be surprised at how many people and companies forget to share their own content when it goes live.
  21. 21. ü  Duplicate Content - Search engines want to provide unique content and they avoid presenting searchers with multiple versions of the same content. As such, search engines will filter out content they deem to be similar or nearly duplicate of existing indexed content. Duplicate content degrades your website in the eyes of the search engines and the actual website user. ü  Thin Content – Thin content refers to websites who create low quality pages with little or no unique content. It degrades the user experience and opens websites up to a manual penalty from Google. ü  Stolen or Scraped Content – Scraped content includes the reuse of content from another source in an effort to increase page volume and influence search results. It also opens the website up to a penalty. It is similar to duplicate content but on a much larger scale.
  22. 22. ü  Cloaking – Cloaking refers to a website displaying different content to search engines and searchers. Use of cloaking may get a website banned from a search engine. ü  Link Farms – Link farms are groups of websites that establish links with the purpose or distorting search engine results. This is a direct violation of Google’s policies and penalties will result. ü  Paid Links - Buying or selling links in an effort to distort search results. This includes, but is not limited to, exchanging money for links or posts that contain links. ü  Excessive Ads – Websites that have large amounts of ads displayed before actual content are downgraded in search because they create a poor user experience. It also makes it very difficult for a website visitor to focus on the content. Ads can be great for blogs, but they need to be used correctly.
  23. 23. I love the Muppets, although I like Animal and Beaker much more than the Swedish Chef. I am a wife and mother of two children, one dog, three cats, and an endless amount of fish. I’m the founder of Web Savvy Marketing and I am an accidental entrepreneur. Learn more about me at: Twitter: @rebeccagill Website: Download this presentation at: