Whether it’s Tinder dates or website design, beauty is only skin deep.
You just got a new website. It’s gorgeous.
It’s only a matter of time before the new visitors (and the moola) start rolling in. You sit back and wait for the boom in your business.
But it never comes.
What happened? Was it your website design? Was it not pretty enough? Did you use too many stock photos? Probably not.
Odds are, your website is fine.
It’s just not enough.
Website Design is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
Website design is important. But a slew of other factors are needed to create a successful website.
Focusing solely on web design is like showing up to your next first date with flawless makeup…but nothing to say.
A website is like a Tinder date: you want to be as attractive as possible, but that can’t be the only thing going for you.
Website design is just the tip of the iceberg. Sadly, too many business owners (and web designers) put zero effort into the behind-the-scenes stuff that makes a website successful. The “Web Guy” is just doing what you told him to do…and no more.
A Web Expert, on the other hand, won’t just focus on the tip of the iceberg; they’ll dive down in the water and look at the whole thing. Sure, those extra tasks aren’t as “shiny” and noticeable as logos or color choice, but they make up the majority of what makes a website work.
So put a pot of coffee on, because we’re about to dive deep and take a closer look at the hidden—but necessary—parts of successful website design.
– On-Site SEO –
There are two ways that people get to your site: directly or organically.
While “marketing” aims to get more direct visitors (by typing your URL into their browser), “SEO” focuses on people who stumble into your site organically through a search engine (such as Google).
All of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an attempt to increase your traffic through search engines.
On-Site SEO involves all the stuff you do to your own website to increase traffic, such as…
Your website is useless if you don’t use it to say anything. That’s why Clarity puts such a strong emphasis on content when we talk about your web presence.
All the latest Google algorithms have been updated to value well-written, helpful, informative content above anything else (even stunning design). Whether your web company writes it for you or you write it yourself, make sure that your new website design includes well-written, fully optimized content.
On your first visit to Disney World, did you try to navigate it without a map? How long would it have taken you to find Thunder Mountain without someone telling you where it was?
Search engine web crawlers are like little theme park tourists. Except they have to travel the entire internet reporting back on what they find. Without a map telling them where to go, how long do you think it will take them to wander onto your website?
Enter: the sitemap.
A sitemap is just what it sounds like: a map showing search engine crawlers what’s on your site and where to find it. And part of building a beautiful
theme park website involves making and distributing the maps.
If your web designer doesn’t submit a sitemap to Google, Bing, or Yahoo! (a lot of them don’t), it’s gonna take forever for those crawlers to 1) find your site and 2) sift through all the information.
If you’re a faithful reader, you might remember us talking about the importance of analyzing and evaluating the success of your website.
It sounds tedious and unnecessary, but it isn’t.
The big companies test everything. They gather data on how the public reacts to a certain color. They taste test new menu items before rolling them out nationwide. They focus group commercials before airing them during the Superbowl.
At Clarity, we perform A/B testing on certain pages to see if changing a button color, headline, or website layout will bring in more paying customers. If Page B gets better reactions than Page A, then Page B is the winner. It doesn’t matter how much any of us prefer Page A.
– Off-Site SEO –
If On-Site SEO is what you do to your own site, Off-Site SEO is everything you do throughout the internet to bring people to your site.
Off-Site SEO asks “How authoritative is your site? How much do other people trust you?”
With Off-Site SEO, you can march into other people’s playing fields and ask them to follow you back to where you live.
A Web Guy who plugs away at your site without concerning himself with anything else might technically be doing his job, but he won’t be getting you the results you wanted. A Web Expert, on the other hand, can give you things like…
One of the most successful types of Off-Site SEO is the Pay-Per-Click campaign (PPC). You may have noticed little ads that pop up in Google or Facebook that are eerily relevant to something you were recently searching.
That wasn’t a coincidence.
Using your search history, Google and other websites can match you to ads that you might be interested in. The business doing the advertising pays Google every time someone clicks on the ad (hence “pay-per-click”).
We love PPCs because they are strategic about who they’re advertising to. Rather than just blasting the entire internet with ads for your beachside taco bar, you’re only talking to the people who are located in your area and interested in tacos. It’s a much better return on your investment.
Your social media profile cannot replace a good website. But neither can a website replace social media.
Your customers are already there—on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snap Chat, whatever—so by posting your awesome product videos, food pictures, tutorials, and infographics, you can create the irresistible desire that can only be satisfied by your product or service.
You can also interact with your fans: keep them informed, keep them excited, and keep the conversation going.
If you only hired a Web Guy, you’re stuck doing all this yourself.
Backlinks are a “you scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours” arrangement, and they work great.
With a backlink, the owner of one website creates a link to an article (from a different website) and posts it within one of their own pages or blog posts. (I did it several times in this article alone.)
Backlinks tell the search engines: “That website over there ‘swiped right’ on this website. If they trust them, so should we!” The more websites that link to your site (and the more influential those websites are), the higher Google rates your site.
Part of a rock-solid SEO campaign involves collaborating with influential websites (ones related to your business, but not direct competitors) so that both of you can grow. We’re all in this together.
Google might be King, but Yelp and Angie’s List have some royal titles of their own. (Prince and Duchess, maybe?)
Not to mention, your competitors are already there. They already have reviews. They already have clout.
If you stay away from online directories, thinking that your Facebook account and your website are the only things you need, you’re sadly mistaken.
Clarity can create listings on the main ones (and some niche ones) and make sure those listings are all accurate and consistent. Web Guy ain’t gonna do that.
– Website Management –
Being able to provide customized, web-based solutions for your unique business is where a full-service web developer really shines.
Web Guy can build you a nice site, sure. But a Web Expert can also give you advice and show you how to use that website to its full potential.
You’d never buy a motorcycle without learning how to drive one first. Why should your website be any different?
Too many Web Guys try to intimidate their customers by keeping them in the dark. The less you know about how to manage your website, the more they can nickle and dime you.
At Clarity, we believe you should be behind the steering wheel of your website. You should know how to write a blog post, update your events page, and change your slider images if you have to.
If you’re using a Gmail address for your business, please stop. (Great for personal use, but your business deserves better.)
We don’t know how so many Web Guys get away with ignoring this step; email setup is a fundamental part of building a website.
As well as giving you an email address with your own domain (for instance, firstname.lastname@example.org vs. email@example.com), a Web Expert can help you with email marketing and let you know when it’s time to upgrade your email service.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m gonna mention an important point one more time: It’s crucial to evaluate the success of your website in order to know whether it’s paying for itself.
And, in order to do that, your website needs to have Analytics installed.
Google Analytics is our favorite; it constantly runs in the background of your site, tracking data and compiling it in reports for you. Want to know how many people visited your site? Which pages they looked at? How many? How long they stayed on those pages?
Believe it or not, some web designers don’t bother with this, which means you’re basically flying blind. (Not to mention, you have no way of knowing whether they did a good job or not. See what I mean about keeping you in the dark?)
Web Experts love data. Seriously. The more, the better.
Data can be used to see which strategies are working, where your website needs to improve, what things you’re doing well, and even where to take your business in the future.
This is really a no-brainer.
Knowing what your competitors are doing well is something that your average Web Guy files under “N” for “Not My Job.”
Just think about that for a second.
You’re a small business, trying to break through into an industry that is already dominated by one or more key players in your service area. They managed to claw their way to the top. Why wouldn’t you try to see what they’re doing?
A Web Expert wants to know everything about your competitors: what keywords they’re ranking for, their backlinks, what they’re doing to rank so well, how their website is organized. They can then use that information for your benefit.
Having an active social media account and a Yelp listing are only half the battle. In order to see any benefit from that, someone has to review you!
A Web Expert can set up an automated program that sends an email to your customers asking them to give feedback on their recent experience with you. If they give bad feedback, you can use that to find out how to do your job better. If they give good feedback, the program follows up with them (again, automatically) asking them to post a review on Facebook or Yelp.
As the positive reviews pile in, so do the customers.
Website design does matter, but—as with people—there’s more to a website than how it looks.
When you’re looking for a web company, do plenty of research to make sure you’re finding someone who can grow with you. A Web Guy can only give you what you ask for (and sometimes not even that), but a Web Expert can provide you with so much more.
Clarity Creative Group is a digital marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. We’re always interested in tacos, no matter where we’re located.