10 Overnight Website Improvements
The Internet doesn’t shutdown for holidays, late nights or lunch breaks. This means that Internet professionals have very little downtime, with most of their days and nights being spent working to fix technical bugs, address customer issues and scour performance metrics.
Spending all day looking at a screen, however, can actually lead to a lack of production, as it can be difficult to focus on just one task without getting distracted. When this happens, Internet professionals are left spending their nights thinking about overlooked projects and ways to improve their site’s performance both in the short and long-term. Luckily, Website Magazine has compiled a list of 10 improvements that Web professionals can implement in as little as one night to make their sites perform better tomorrow and in the months to come.
1. Check page speed.
Slow sites push visitors away, not to mention that slow speeds can make sites rank lower in the search results. To keep your site up-to-speed, try Pingdom's Website Speed Test or Google’s Page Speed Insights tool to conduct a quick audit of your site. The tool provides suggestions and tips that site owners can implement to optimize their site’s performance.
Although most testing initiatives will take longer than just one night, there are a few platforms that can test site elements in an hour or less. Take fivesecondtest.com for example. The platform enables users to fine tune landing pages and calls-to-action by finding out what a person recalls about a site’s design in just five seconds. Conversely, UserTesting.com offers testing results in just an hour. With UserTesting, site owners have more flexibility for the types of tests they can run. In fact, site owners simply need to specify the tasks they want users to perform and can even create tests for smartphones, tablets and desktops.
3. Revamp forms.
Are your email subscription forms turning customers away? If they are asking too many questions, the answer is likely yes. Take some time to analyze subscription forms and remove any unnecessary fields that could be impacting completion rates. Keep in mind that the longer the form, the less likely customers are to complete it. Plus, the only information that's truly needed to add a subscriber to an email list is a name and email address, as more detailed information can be collected at a later time.
For further reading, you may want to check out SiteTuners CEO Tim Ash's article on improving online forms. It's a real eye-opener.
Content marketing is one of the most popular ways to generate brand awareness nowadays. So much so, that 58 percent of business owners plan to increase their content marketing strategies in 2014 according to the Content Marketing Institute. Luckily, improving your content initiatives just takes a little time to brainstorm some topic ideas. Focus on ideas that are relevant to both your audience and your industry. If writer’s block has got the best of you, consider leveraging Portent’s Title Maker or the Prompts app to spark some inspiration.
5. Produce a video.
Get ready for your close-up! One way to increase time-on-site and engagement metrics is by adding videos to your site. Before hitting record, however, it is important to make a plan. For example, are you making an instructional, informative or humorous video? Once that question is answered, a script can be created and the record button can be pressed. Once the video is edited, you can upload it to YouTube, as well as other hosting platforms like Vimeo or Vzaar, before uploading it to your site and distributing it to your audience.
For further reading, check out "Ways to Use Video in Content Marketing [Infographic]."
6. Focus on link building.
Link building is an ongoing process, which means website owners need to set some time aside to work on this SEO strategy. While there are many ways to build links, one of the most popular ways has been with contributor blog posts. Although Google recently said this practice has become too spammy, it can still be effective when done correctly. For example, you can reach out to some of the authoritative figures in your industry to ask if they would like to be featured as a guest blogger on your site. A pet store, for instance, could ask a veterinarian to write an article about the benefits of grain-free food. When published, the veterinarian is likely to link back to the article on his or her own site, as well as promote it in social channels. It should be noted that guest blogging content should be high quality in order to avoid being punished by Google. This can be subjective, however, so make sure to listen to your gut, ask around or generally do some research before featuring guest content on your site or becoming a guest blogger for another site. For more link building ideas, check out Website Magazine’s Big List of Link Building Strategies.
7. Dress up your logo.
If you’re just looking for a quick way to add some “fun” to your site, consider dressing up your logo for an upcoming holiday or season. 99designs offers a feature called Swiftly, which is a service for small and quick graphic design tasks. In addition to adding holiday cheer to logos, the platform can be leveraged to alter a logo’s color, retouch images, resize icons and more.
8. Add user-generated images to your site.
Incorporate user-generated photo galleries on your site to drive deeper connections with your audience base. The Chute Media Gallery app from Echo enables brands to feature user-generated images from Twitter and Instagram in real-time. Aside from Echo, there are a variety of WordPress plugins that can be leveraged to incorporate user-generated Instagram images to your site, including Instagrab and Instagrate Pro.
9. Promote popular content.
Promote your best-performing content on your site with a recommended content bar. Facebook, for example, offers a Recommendations Feed plugin, which can be leveraged to display the most "liked" content on your site. Conversely, AddThis offers a similar Trending Content tool, which can be leveraged to recommend popular content, thus boosting traffic recirculation, time-on-site and page views.
10. Analyze analytics.
Last, but certainly not least, Web professionals should dive into their analytics. We aren't talking about a quick glance here, rather, a deep look into the performance of your site. Get a pad and paper and jot down areas where your site could use some improvement and use that as a starting point for your next big optimization project. If you're unsure about what to look at, review "9 Success Metrics for Every Business."