» 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Website for 2014

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is a member of the National Speakers Association, an author, and founder of The Wedding Industry Leaders Conference, an organization dedicated to the educating and consulting of highly motivated individuals and businesses. Learn more at http://alanberg.com/.

As we approach the end of another year, it’s a great time to reflect on what went well, what didn’t and what you can do to make next year your best year ever. In my recent educational webinar, “4 C’s of an Engaging Website,” I touched on the factors of an engaging website and went through some real website examples with my suggestions. I’ve since received a lot of questions from Pros eager to learn more on the topic of websites.

Below I’ve outlined 7 things you can do to improve your website for a fantastic year. Some of these may seem obvious, but that doesn’t mean your site is doing them well, or at all. Most will take little time and very little, if any, money.

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Website for 20141. Read the text on your site to make sure it’s up to date.

Many of us haven’t read the text on our websites since they launched. How long has it been? Read the pages out loud to make sure it sounds like you. Every person and every business has a “voice.” Make sure your website uses that same voice, as they’ll likely get to “hear” your site before they get to hear you. Do this one page at a time – you don’t have to tackle your whole site all at once. Check your tracking report (Google Analytics or whatever you use) and see which are the most visited pages. Start with those, as they’ll have the biggest impact.

2. Speak to them, about them, not about you.

While you’re reading the text on your site, make sure you’re using the words “you” and “your” more than you do words like “I,” “we,” “our,” etc. It’s not what you do that matters. It’s why what you do makes you the best solution for them.

3. Optimize the text for the people who visit first, then for the search engines.

In the latest search algorithms (geek-speak for the formula that a search engine uses to figure out which are the best results), search engines are looking for keywords and phrases with context. The days are gone where you could fool the search engines by stuffing keywords into every nook and cranny. You’ll actually get penalized for doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that way. Simply write to your visitor in a conversational way. Then, go back and fill in keywords to sentences where you implied them, but didn’t say them. For example, if your DJ site says “Well make all of the announcements, introductions and coordinate the cake cutting,” you could instead say, As your wedding DJ and Master of Ceremonies, well make all of the announcements, introduce you and your bridal party, and help coordinate the special wedding moments, such as your cake cutting.”

4. Change the photos on your website.

When should you change the photos on your website? There’s an easy answer: When you have better ones to use. Find the weakest links and replace any old, out of date, non-professional, blurry or poorly lit images. Your site is only as good as the weakest elements.

5. Update the photos in your photo gallery.

While there’s no magic number of photos you should have in your photo gallery, think about the purpose/goal of your website. It’s not to have them view all of your photos; it’s for them to contact you so you can do business with them. How many photos do you need to accomplish that? For some it’s very few, while for others it will be more.

Having a dozen fantastic images is much better than having that dozen amongst 50 or 100 other images. If they have to sift through the weak ones to see the good ones, many will just leave. You can give someone too many choices and then the easiest choice becomes not deciding at all. How many photos would you want to look through on someone else’s site if you were the customer? Refer to #4 and remove any poor quality images. Try to think of your site as a limited space (rather than the virtually unlimited space it really is). When you come across a new, better photo, take one of the old ones down.

6. Use testimonials as content, not an afterthought.

Reviews and testimonials support what you’re saying about yourself. None of us can write copy (text) for our websites that’s better than the wonderful things our past customers say about us. So, instead of bragging about what you’ve done, use testimonials to punctuate that what you’re saying is true. For instance, when you’re talking about your wonderful customer service, follow that with a testimonial or review that raves about your customer service. For an SEO boost put the customer’s name, city and state with it (you don’t have to use last names and only use dates if you update these all the time). That way you get to list lots of other cities and states on your site in a natural way.

7. Put real, relevant calls to action on every page of your website.

Website reviews are one of the most popular of my consulting services, so I get to see a lot of websites every year… a lot! One of the most common (and easiest to fix) mistakes is when you say something like, “We look forward to speaking with you about your wedding,” but you give them no way to act upon that, right there, where they’re reading. The easy fix is to say “We look forward to speaking with you about your wedding. Call or contact us today to get started, 732.555.1212” with the words “contact us” as a link to your contact page, form or an email. Just read the text on your site and think about the next, logical action they should take. Then, make it easy for them to take that action. Yes, it’s really that easy, and it works!

Well, there you have it, 7 easy ways to improve your website for 2014. Don’t try to tackle them all at once, but do get to as many as you can, before the New Year rush of newly engaged couples. Each of these will have an incremental impact on your site’s effectiveness and conversion. I look forward to hearing your success stories!