Strategically Digital Ltd
Some advice to all DIY website builders!
“I’ve done my own website”.
Five words to strike terror into any professional working in web design, or indeed any online marketing. I should at this point mention that I’ve plumbed in several radiators and wired a couple of lights. I suspect I have electricians and plumbers holding their head in their hands for the same reason!
I’ve heard them all over the years.
“I just used a template”.
“My brother is quite good with computers”.
“I’ve got an eye for design”.
The list is endless but there is one thing that I can always guarantee when I hear these words and that is that a key piece of the digital puzzle will be missing.
So, in this document I will share with you the process a reputable agency will go through each step of the way and what typically catches out the casual website builder and DIY online marketing expert.
Ready to go? Great! First up you’ve chosen your company name. Brilliant! Did you research whether you could buy the .co.uk domain as well as the .com domain? Probably not. The first time you’ll realise this may be when a cyber squatter threatens to put a porn site up on the .com site taking traffic from your .co.uk site selling cuddly toys for kids. It’s OK though he’ll probably only want a couple of thousand pounds to sell you the domain.
Still, now you own both domains and luckily you called your business something unique so you are not going head to head with other businesses on the same company name. Also, you picked something that, whilst unique was not going to be mis-spelt by customers right? Excellent you’re off the starting line.
Next up, you’ve decided to use Wordpress because, well, just because someone down the pub mentioned it was ideal. And they also told you about buying a template so you are on it. You’ve picked this one because it looked quite easy to use and had eight good reviews on this website you found. Perfect, it might not matter that the template is bundled with a dozen plugins, some of which are unsupported or have known security vulnerabilities that haven’t been patched for five years, leaving your website open to attack and slow to load because of the code heavy pages which haven’t been optimised using the latest web technologies.
Did you check that your hosting company has given you a complete solution for disaster recovery including back up of your website and allow you to roll it back to a previous version if you have a hardware failure or some similar problem? And have you kept a second copy backed up somewhere remotely in case your host has a major outage and you need to get your site back online quickly with another provider? Is any data you collect secure and stored in compliance with European and UK law?
Great, we are ready to build. What do you need? “Nothing much, an about us page, a contact us page and a home page.” Does it matter that many About Us pages are only visited by tiny percentage of your visitors and you have yours placed prominently as the first item on the menu (standard for most templates)? Quite surprisingly, most people who come to buy your services don’t to want read your life story, or that you are married with three kids, two dogs, a cat and a goldfish called Fred. Or that you count cooking with Trappist monks as an interest. Shame you weren’t speaking to an expert who could have told you this and made the first page something that was going to grow your business with great sales messages and relevant call to actions but never mind.
With the About Us page done and dusted you crack on with the contact us page. Except you don’t want to put your full home address where you run your business from on the website and the template with the map now shows your business in the middle of the Atlantic. Good job you know how to program in PHP so you can apply a fix in the code. Only a two minute job…..if you know what you are doing.
You finally get to the front page and start typing, and typing, and typing, and, well, typing because you have to get everything you do down in a body of text that would rival the Encyclopaedia Britannia for word count.
It’s a good job that you know that the average customer will spend 15 seconds on your site before clicking away if they haven’t found the link or information they need. That great funky menu that came with the template is brilliant though! It comes up on the side when you mouse goes over it, except it takes most people 30 seconds to find it and all your content. That might be why the bounce rate is so high. A what rate? Bounce, look it up.
You might have had the menu at the top but you wanted a big logo so everyone knows who you are even though they’ve already found you and the logo has now pushed all your interesting content off the bottom of the screen. So they are left looking at a big logo but wondering what goods and services you sell.
Still on the bright side, that template you bought is responsive right? That means it resizes all the images and words so they can be read on any device and any browser. No? Don’t worry only about half of your visitors will be viewing you on a mobile device. Shame they can’t read your site!
Now this is where the planning right back at the start really kicks in with the keywords you were going to advertise on and you’ve put the right amount of these keywords on the page to ensure you get a high placing on Google. Also, it was worth finding out that if you go over a 10% saturation rate you know that the Google algorithms will penalise you and your website will not figure as highly as one with the correct content. Did the build your own website book you bought tell you that a 2000 word page is great for google and all your H1 tags and metadata need to be set correctly to support your campaigns?
Next up, you need to pick some images, you’ve thought about colour scheme (of course you’ve taken a look at Paletton, you understand layout, how these images resize for mobile views as you've used bootstrap but wait the text can’t be seen now because it’s the same colour as the image. No problem, you can change this using that PHP you learnt earlier.
Done? Except on this mobile device it goes off the edge of the image and is unreadable and as for viewing it on your iPhone, it’s so tiny you need a microscope to read it.
You also factored in the cost of the licences for the pictures you want to use as well didn’t you? And you are handy with Photoshop so you can put some effects on these to make them really stand out from the crowd.
Website done? Reward yourself with a large bar of chocolate, coffee or something stronger, you’ve got the complicated stuff to do now. You fire up Google, type in your business and there you are on page one. Wait a minute you’re not? Did you list yourself on the key online UK directories? You know which ones are important out of the 500 in existence? Which ones carry weight with Google and will give you good backlinks? Just pick the ones with good Google PR (page rankings). How do you find that out? Well I can actually help you there if you get stuck as I indexed the top 66 recently on a blog (incidentally the click through to my website in that week went up 500% because of the way I promoted it without spending a penny on adwords). Good job you put that blog page on your site when you were planning the content, eh?
Well, why not ensure people see your business by having a presence in other places on the web? You know that you should be on Google My Business and you’ve done Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Did you do the most important one? No, not Pinterest. It’s Google+. Now you’ve hit another problem, you registered for Google My Business but because you don’t have your address visible now you have another map on the front page of Google showing you in the middle of the Pacific. Which address will they find you at the one in this ocean or the one on the site in the Atlantic? It’s a bit more complicated than you first thought. If only that guy down the pub had suggested a “virtual office” address when you were planning this you might not have this problem.
More good news, when you build the website and designed the logos and banners you were mindful of the social media pages you wanted to brand using the same imagery and you know all the sizes to produce these banners in so they look great. You also want to take advantage of the new video banner in Facebook where you can put a promotional video in rather than a static banner image. Maybe you should have taken that expert up on his offer to produce a 1 minute video for your business for £100? He said it would use stock imagery but some of the stuff he had done was really very good and at £100 was a total snip. Not only that if you had that video on your front page you would now be finding out that on average website with video's generate 35% more revenue than those without.
You're looking 10 years older than when you started but you're nearly there. Just a couple of things to do. Next up advertising. So where are you going to spend your money to get the most from your money? Google AdWords? Facebook? Yell? You know all about A/B testing, so you constantly improve the quality of the adverts that are shown, don’t you?
Shame no one told you about how much work was involved setting up multiple adverts for each service you offer so that customers searching for each area of your business gets an advert to read that speaks to them rather than a generic advert that is impersonal and often ignored.
Deep breath now…..and start all over again, because online markets move quickly and you have to be constantly adding content, revising advertising, keywords, posting blogs and changing images and messaging so keep it up!
When you’ve done all of these things and fully understand the people you are selling to, the best way to convert them from people searching online, to website visitors and then to paying customers then it will be time for all of us working in the digital sector to retire, but in the meantime, a relatively modest outlay with a good quality digital marketing company should pay dividends many times over.