June 28, 2016

How To Evaluate Your Own Website

This is a guest post by Dan Morris, someone I have a lot of respect for.  Find out why at FreeWeeklyMastermind.com and LettersFromDan.com

Do It Yourself Website Review

I am so annoyed by nagging problems. Even little things like fixing the spindles on the porch railing at home. But that porch railing isn’t making me money (in fact I’m procrastinating because it costs me money to fix it). The worst nagging problems are things like website tweaks that you know would increase conversions, sales, and morale if only you had 20 minutes to focus on it.

So I say make that moment today. Here’s a quick breakdown on how to give yourself a site assessment.  I break them down into 7 sections right off the bat. I look at SEO, List Building, Monetization, Internal link structure, Voice, Funnel and Social Media integration.

Let’s start with SEO. First I got to Google and type in: site: http://yourwebsitename.com and see what pages are indexed. I then look at page names, permalink structure, and meta descriptions. What I want to know is how optimized are you. I also want to know what your page names are to see if you’re attracting newbies, buyers, experts or nobody. You can learn a lot about your own habits from this exercise.  Ideally your permalinks (url’s) are set-up so that your content “title’ appears right after the slash. For instance http://yourwebsitename.com/how-to-grow-avocados/

What you might find is that your urls are not that helpful. Sometimes I see the domain url trunk followed by /cat=69 or /2012/03/5464 or /state/county/city/public-works/contact-us  Think about this. . . in all those examples you could really boil it down to the domain and the extension. For instance http://yoursite.com/nashville-public-works-contact-information. With SEO, the overall goal is to prove relevance, so look for relevance in everything you can. (At this point, don’t change anything just start making the list of things you could be doing better).

You’d be remiss if you didn’t look at the Search Queries part of Google WebmasterTools. This is where Google tells you where every one of your keywords is ranked.  That’s where you get to celebrate and see what’s working. Here I like to scour the results looking for trends. I personally recommend you read them aloud. Reading a list of keywords 500 deep is not easy when you’re looking for trends. But reading them aloud and you’ll instantly recognize when you say the same word over and over again. When you find similar keywords popping up, you know Google is finding you somewhat relevant for those terms. And that can be a great thing!

Then take a look at your list building efforts. Where are your calls-to-action? Where is the email opt-in form? What’s the offer and does it look like that offer is being tested. Are you getting opt-ins during blog comments or not? (If they’re going to put their name and email in to leave a comment, you might as well ask if they’d like to be on the newsletter list).  Basically how does the whole thing work?

Then on to monetization. Are you using AdSense and is it optimized? Are there offers built into your site? And what part of that is visible above the fold, and what part is able to be engaged when you scroll down. Every site is different here. A law firm is likely going to monetize leads, not traffic. The question is can you tie money to site visitor entry points? Can you tie it to site activity? And if you can’t tie money to either activity, entry or contact form submission . . . why do you have a website?

Internal link structure goes back to both SEO and user experience. Are you using a related posts plugin correctly? Is your linking optimized for the search engines? Is your linking optimized for the reader who wants to get smarter in every blog post? There’s not much to say about that other than take a piece of paper and see if you can draw your site structure – not from memory but from going page to page drawing links.

Another critical area is voice. And that one is easy – does your site have any character to it? Or is it straight bland posts. Period.

It goes without saying I look at the complete sales funnel. How does it work today, tomorrow, seasonally and in tune with your audience’s changing level of sophistication.

Finally, but not least important is your social media integration. Does your audience believe you’re an influence? Do they identify you with your niche? Are you visible everywhere or just to your sphere of influence? And are you using your profile to bolster your plan? Go to Klout and see what Klout thinks you’re influential in. It’s just a computer algorithm, but it does have some relevance. If your niche isn’t in that list – you’re probably not using social media right. You can do the same thing with Twitter lists. What lists are people putting you in? Business or Football?

It’s not hard to do your own objective site review, but it does require that you step back and look with fresh eyes. Be critical. Do it 10 times and frame your questions in terms of where your audience came from. Look at all those things from the perspectives of your dad, your friend, your colleague, someone who doesn’t know you, someone who got there by accident and your loyal followers. Does your site appeal to all of them, or just a segment?

Most importantly know that EVERYTHING you do online is a sacrifice. If you choose to use Adsense you sacrifice opt-ins. If you choose to have a shopping cart you sacrifice affiliate income. If you choose to appeal to the masses, then your conversion rate will be acceptably tiny. Know what you’re sacrificing and own it because a good site makes sacrifices to serve an audience and a goal.

If you’d like to have me do a complete video site review for you, please contact me at dan@lettersfromdan.com . If you want to do it on your own, feel free to ask any follow up questions in our forum at http://FreeWeeklyMastermind.com

Linked and Loaded, Part 2. Building Business with LinkedIn

In Part 1, I talked about some of the more common places to build links to your website.  Inbound links help build search engine rankings as the search engines rely on the public's "votes" when developing their indexes for keywords and phrases.

There is also a huge benefit to having people find about about you and your website on other sites and blogs.  It might simply result in traffic to your website, but it might also be an opportunity to build your brand and demonstrate expertise or product reliability.  Here's how.

There are many successful marketers who ONLY market by answering questions online.  Some of the most popular sites to do this are Answers.com and Yahoo Answers.  Forums pertaining to a niche topic or business challenges are great places to

Viveka-red-small Another great site to demonstrate your expertise is LinkedIn, the popular professional networking site.  I'm not sure most people even realize that LinkedIn members can benefit from asking or answering questions in Groups on the site – it's worth checking out!  And the price is right; free!

Whether you're promoting yourself or your company, products or services, answering questions on LinkedIn can be a low-cost/high-return activity that can result in a substantial ROI.

LinkedIn expert Viveka von Rosen blogs about all things LinkedIn at LinkedInExpert.com.  She recently posted tips on leveraging LinkedIn Groups.  I encourage you to read her entire article, but here are some highlights:

  • Do share your knowledge.
  • Do help people out
  • Do express your true opinions
  • Do take time to answer and respond in a considerate manner
  • Do re-purpose content you might already have that answers and adds
    to a group discussion
  • Do start your own discussions

Now more than ever it is important, if you want to utilize Linked in
effectively, to become active in some key groups.  These are the types
of groups I recommend my clients join:

  1. Your own industry groups – find out what is going on in your
    industry, find strategic partners and JV’s, find a job
  2. Your ideal client’s industry groups – impress potential clients with
    your knowledge, build relationships, generate interest in your product
    or service (but NOT by sending out sales messages)
  3. Big groups – you don’t know who you don’t know – it makes sense to
    join some big groups just to be able to access some key folks – I
    recommend LinkedHR
  4. Alumni group s – because we love to help each other out.

Once you join some groups (you can join up to 50) do a bit of lurking
to find out what people are talking about, who is doing the talking,
what the “feel” of the group is.  Once you get a feel, dive in and begin
to participate in an interactive and helpful way.

Great advice from @LinkedInExpert!  Many of her recommendations apply to using forum and blog comments in your marketing mix.

You can answer questions on blogs too.  Got any?

Linked and Loaded

LinksToSite2 Links Build Search Engine Rankings & Traffic

The best way to build traffic to your website and generate ROI is to build outside links to your site. There are two advantages of inbound links: 1) The search engines often use the number of links as a proxy for site popularity and 2) links found on other websites might attract humans who click on those links and land on your site.

Popularity is the key word here.  The search engines gauge your site by counting the number of other sites that link to it as part of their algorithm that renders the site ranking and people may be exposed to you or your brand on a favorite website, blog, fan page, blog comment or tweet.

Before we look at places to link to your site, it is useful to determine exactly how many incoming links to your site exist today.  There are many search engines and applications that will provide you with this information, some for more than one search engine at a time.  Yahoo is very reliable and suitable for most SMBs. 

Yahoo will tell you how many pages of your site have been indexed, as well as the number of inlinks.  Google provides similar information, but different results.

In the Yahoo search box, type in "link:www.yourdomain.com"

Yahoo Site Explorer (http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com) allows you to manage several websites.

Here is a brief discussion of some of the more popular and effective places to link to your site:

SERPs: The Search Engine Results Pages don't actually link to your site unless someone searchers keywords that your site ranks for, but they are an indication of where pages on your site rank for various keywords.  If your site fails to show up on the first or second page of the SERPs, you should consider optimizing your pages for higher rankings.

Association Links: Links from chambers of commerce or associations are more effective than just any old link because of they are considered "authority links." Chambers are all about business and there is the local aspect, especially if your service area is local.  Associations are authorities and the content of authority sites is keyword-rich for your niche.

Social Media: More and more Social Media content is being indexed by search engines and these links, while sometimes short-lived, can help build inbound links.  Blogs especially can be sources of evergreen links that are keyword-rich.  The importance of Social Media links will increase as more relationships between search engines and Web 2.0 applications are developed.

Article Sites: There are many free article sites where you can post an article and have links back to your website, usually from your resource box at the end of the article.  One benefit of these sites is that anyone can use the articles you post as content of their own sites, but they must include the entire article without edits.  That includes the link in the resource box back to your site.  The sites that post your articles may not be as big an authority site as a chamber of commerce, for example, but the number of inbound links and the possibility of people finding your article (and your site) where your article is posted is well worth the time to write and distribute articles.

Blog & Forum Comments: The strategies for blog and forum commenting are similar; find something (often a question) that people are talking about in your niche and post a comment/answer.  You should concentrate on blogs and forums that allow you to put your site URL in your signature, otherwise you fail to get much link juice.

Social Media Associations & Communities: Web 2.0 professional associations like LinkedIn and Naymz are a great way to network, but the links from those sites can be invaluable for boosting rankings in search engines as are online conversations with members of those sites. (Meet someone on LinkedIn and have them re-tweet something or you comment on their blog post.)   You may also find benefits in membership on sites powered by Ning.

In part 2, we'll take a closer look at an effective LinkedIn strategy.