By Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media
Some website changes are expensive. They take time and money, designers and programmers. But a lot of website changes take very little time and cost nothing. They are simple content changes, done through the content management system.
And these are often the changes that can make the biggest difference.
So let’s take a look at three of the fastest, simplest changes that you can make to your website without getting an invoice in the mail. Sound good?
Change #1: Setting Up Search Friendly Navigation
Although it’s a fundamental part of the site, navigation changes are usually easy. Your website navigation is probably text-based links, rather than image-based buttons. So it a few strokes on your keyboard is all it takes to change the labels in your menus.
Those little labels can make a big difference in search. Why? Because they indicate the relevance of the pages they link to.
Here are some example:
- Solutions …this doesn’t indicate relevance for anything in particular, so it doesn’t let a search engine know what you do. It’s vague and it’s not search friendly.
- Marketing Services …this tells search engines and visitors what business your in. Much better. But it still isn’t a phrase that your audience is likely to search for. It’s very general.
- Branding and Messaging Services …this is much more specific. This is going to let visitors know what they’re going to get if they click, and it tells a search engine precisely what the page is about.
So ask yourself: Is your website navigation generic? Is it common to millions of other websites? Or it is specific and descriptive?
For more tips on improving your menus, read our website navigation best practices.
Change #2: Make Pages For Each Service You Offer
Now you’re on you way to creating search-friendly navigation and better yet, an entirely search friendly sitemap. The goal is to have lots of pages that are relevant for lots of phrases!
It’s great to have a general page with a list of everything you do, but make sure it also links to a page for each specific thing you do. This way, each page has the chance to rank for the specific phrase. After all, Google doesn’t rank websites. Google ranks web pages.
Here’s what your sitemap may look like eventually…
Change #3: Format Your Pages for Scanners
Ever landed on a page and hit a wall of text? With huge paragraphs? And a small typeface? It’s a common problem and it’s easy to fix.
What most marketers don’t realize is that huge blocky paragraphs are also bad for SEO. It’s for an indirect reason related to “user interaction signals.” Here’s how it works.
Someone searches for something, they see one of your pages ranking high in search results and they click on it. The land on a page with big, dense blocks of text …and they hit the back button after just a few seconds.
If they spent just a short amount of time on the page and then hit the back button, that’s called the “short click” and it’s a bad signal to send to Google.
But if they spend a long time on the page before hitting the back button, that’s called the “long click” and it sends a very good signal to Google.
And if the visitor sees a ton of text, no images, nothing of visual interest, they are more likely to hit the back button. So formatting affects user interaction signals which affect search rankings.
And beyond SEO concerns, big chunky blocks of text are bad for you visitors and your conversion rate. So make sure to include lots of formatting in your content. Here’s a short list of great ways to make your content more scannable…
- Multiple images
- Short paragraphs
- Bolding and italics
- Internal links
- Bullet lists and numbered lists
For examples of each of these, just scroll up and look at this post. We’ve included all of them.
Great pages are easy to scan.
Done, Done and Done
It may be tempting to redesign your homepage. It may be tempting to hire a developer to build a fancy new feature. But the return on investments for these efforts will be far lower that the simple actions we’ve outlined here. The actions here have an extremely low investment. They’ll take a little time, but there is no cost.
Fast, simple changes that lead to durable marketing advantages. That’s great digital marketing.