Post updated, April 2023.
Some of us love a DIY website, they’re so easy to build, so cheap and fuss-free…
…says no one who has tried to build one.
Excellent work if your website is really nice. Props to you if it uses the best keywords, has a top copywriter and web designer on the job—well bloody done!
Ironically, a lot of copywriters and web designers have terrible websites, like tradespeople with dilapidated homes—too busy sorting everyone else out, silly sods.
Right, back to your crappy DIY website. You might not realise just how crappy it is.
Maybe you think any online real estate is enough, regardless of quality—damn, gurl, you crazy! A shoddy site can do more harm than good. Imagine this: a smashed, boarded-up shop front, piled high with dog shit… that’s your terrible DIY website that is.
Can users find what they need or does it take them an absolute age to get to the thing they want? Are they like Lucy, blindly walking through the wardrobe only to find another land, a fawn and the start of a holy war, when all she wanted was a downloadable PDF?
Here’s how we make your DIY website better:
1. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
If you don’t know anything about SEO—hold off building a website. If you can’t be arsed to learn even the basics, hire a professional. See, without SEO your DIY website is invisible. Everything this blog talks about, impacts how well you rank on search engines.
Here are a handful of SEO things to think about:
User experience (UX).
This is always your priority. If your website is like a significant portion of the UK’s inland waterways—unnavigable, it won’t matter how pretty your branding is, you’ve made your site inaccessible. Just keep in mind poor Lucy, wondering hapless through a dark wardrobe.
These are the broad terms and detailed phrases you want your DIY website to be found for. Each page on your site should be looking at a different focus keyword/phrase. If you want to find out more about that, click here.
Regular long-form content will increase web traffic. Content SEO is big news when it comes to attracting your people. It has huge benefits to your website as well as your business—too many to mention now but If you want to delve deeper into blogging, click here for all my posts on the subject.
Meta titles and descriptions.
These are the page snippets that show up on Google. If you leave these blank, search engines will pull up whatever content it feels is relevant to that page. Google ultimately chooses the meta info to show but give it a hand and create meta titles and descriptions for all your pages and blog posts.
Internal links are clickable text and buttons that point to other, relevant content on your website. Adding links will alert the bots (and the users) to other brilliant stuff. Outbound links point to reputable sources that back up any claims you make. Those babies build trust, and trust is big news for SEO. Backlinks (or inbound links) are links from decent, non-spammy (fingers crossed) websites that refer back to your content. They are highly prized, especially if those other sites have high levels of quality (and appropriate) traffic.
A permalink is the permanent web address for each page you create. Pay close attention to the way your blog permalinks are set up. Make sure each blog post has a title that is searchable, otherwise there isn’t much point writing a lovely blog if no one can find it.
2. First impressions.
I try to make a good first impression. Then I slowly reveal my true, hideous self.
First impressions can be deceiving but that’s the last thing you want your website to be. You need users to be filled with good thoughts and positive feelings when they land. If your homepage screams ‘really fucking busy’ visitors will sod off. The plan is to get them to linger a while, long enough to do summat. And if they don’t, at that first visit, make some kinda move, you must give them a reason to return.
PSA: you do not need 27 pop-ups.
3. Website content.
The only thing worse than a shitty-looking website is a badly written one. I will never understand why people pay top dollar to have a flashy-looking site, only to write the copy themselves. Why would anyone do that? Because they don’t realise how important business copy really is.
What’s it all about (Alfie)? If you have no clue—if you thought a website would be a great idea, because, in your ill-informed mind, every business should have a website, then forget it. The amount of time you need to invest in a DIY website is akin to you burning wads of cash. Make the objective easy to grasp. Don’t hide the point of why your website exists. Get clear on the fundamental purpose.
FYI: You don’t need to have a website to run a business.
What’s that, you don’t have one? Yeah you do. You may not think you have a brand voice—a tone that comes off but prospects get a vibe, your job is to make sure it’s the right one. Are you selling high-end jewellery, are you in the finance sector or are you a hobbyist baker who reads about murder in your spare time? Whatever you sound like, keep it consistent throughout each page. But also: you don’t have to sound like a thing just because you sell a thing. What am I talking about? In short, your industry does not have to dictate the tone.
Who are these people that you want to lure to your online area? What treats can you tempt them with to make your place seem irresistible? Bottom line is this: you must know them. When you do, you can speak to them directly. So don’t write for every Tom, Dick and Tina. The idea is to know your target audience well enough to speak their lingo. And please STOP talking about how great you are. No one cares. Humans are selfish, even your About page should reference your audience. (What self-centred bastards we are!)
PSA: for the love of Christ, cease and desist talking in the third person.
We’re quite happy to read huge chunks of text in books, we expect it but we’re not so keen when it comes to websites. Format the content so it’s easy to digest. Break it up with bullet points and use smaller paragraphs. And be economic with language. If you can explain what you offer in fewer words, do that. Be a ruthless editor.
Call To Action (CTA).
When you’ve attracted the right visits, those folks will want to know what to do next. It’s your duty to show them. Guide them through your lovingly crafted words and nudge them towards a CTA. That’s usually a link to another page on your site, a download, or a newsletter sign up.
The best design marries beauty with functionality. Some of the best sites are simple, elegant and, most importantly, user-friendly. You can invest a lot of money in something really sexy but it won’t generate more traffic. Because the only thing that does that is accessibility. If every aspect of the design makes the journey through your site an absolute joy, you’ve cracked it.
I ain’t no designer but I know what I like, here are some things I would consider:
You will be spoilt for choice and to help you, your website provider will allow you to search using categories. For example, WordPress themes have templates for bloggers, photographers and podcasters. But you can tailor any theme to your requirements.
Again, I like simple and uncomplicated. Branding is no different. I appreciate a brand palette that is made up of a few colours that work well together. Certain shades can be hard to read, make sure there’s enough contrast between the background and the text. If your colour choice is hard on the eye, people will feel uncomfortable, you don’t want that.
If you’d like to read more about website building, click here.
But what do I know?
I have built all my websites. My first one was really bad, I’m talking about the early days of CMS (Content Management System) sites when they were clunky and horrible to look at. My first Google site was no exception. I’m always making improvements, checking to see if it’s still doing what I need it to. A website is never finished, things change and SEO never sleeps.
Want to know how I can help with your content? “Yes, Sarah, I do!” Ok then, hit the button.
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