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Simple changes can increase your website traffic and expose avoid common errors

Site Review: How a Few Simple Changes Can Make A BIG Difference for Your Website

by Erin Emmerson

As promised, here is the first of the site reviews for the three winners of our recent contest. We chose to review Derek S's site, http://www.electricgenesis.com in part because some of the mistakes on his site came up on a lot of the other entries. So chances are good that the advice we give to Derek is going to help you, too.

Derek offers a computer upgrading service that can save people money by taking their current computers and making them state of the art.

When he entered, Derek told us his site "has come under heavy fire for its lack of cosmetic features." So let's look at the appearance of Derek's site first...

electricgenesis site review

1. Make it easy on the eyes and more people will read it

Derek, the first thing that struck us about your site was the white text on a black background. Studies have shown over and over again that website copy is easiest to read with black text against a white background.

Right now, your white-on-black scheme makes it tough for your visitors to read your copy and understand what your site is about. And your red and blue scheme for the navigation is even harder on the eyes.

The first rule of web design is make everything easy. People searching the Web for information are brutally efficient. The second they run into an obstacle, they're gone.

Compare side by side and see which one is easier to read -- black text on a white background, or the opposite, white text on a black background?
Compare side by side and see which one is easier to read -- black text on a white background, or the opposite, white text on a black background?

It's natural to try to make your site look exciting, but test after test shows that boring -- i.e., easy to read -- is what people actually want on a website.

Derek, you also told us that "... this website is also designed to have accessibility options and any cosmetic adjustments cannot interfere with that."

Your accessibility options allow visitors to choose a different color scheme -- black text against a lilac, yellow, or peach background -- but, again, dyslexia experts recommend sticking to classic black-on- white.

2. Keep your copy in the ideal margins

Here's another tip to make your site easier for your visitors to read: Make sure the main copy section of your site is no more than 600 pixels max.

Studies show that the human eye can only scan from left to right so far before eyestrain sets in. On the Web, people scan down the page, with very little horizontal reading, as this "heatmap" shows. They'd far rather scroll down to read a longer page with narrow margins than move their eyes across a wide page.

With your copy stretching all the way across the browser window, readers are missing most of what you want them to see. You would be doing them a huge favor if you narrowed the copy section of your site to 600 pixels max.

And if you make it easier for your visitors to read your words, you make it easier for them to sign up for your service... which is doing yourself a huge favor, too.

3. Simple navigation means more sales

Remember that with every click you make people take to accomplish something, you'll end up losing a third of your visitors -- so you don't want to give them too many options. Confuse them... and you lose them!

One of the biggest issues we ran into among the contest entries was too many web pages. With 12 pages of navigation, Derek, you're not alone. We recommend a maximum of eight navigation links at the top or left-hand column of your site. It should be easy for you to compress your 12 navigation options into eight... or even fewer.

You could combine your "Pricing" and "Offers" material on one page so if people are looking into what you offer, it's all there. It would also make sense to incorporate any relevant information from the "Legal" page here, and eliminate that page altogether.

We also recommend eliminating your "Charity" and "Survey" pages.

Because your homepage makes it clear that your main service is computer repairs and upgrades, everything on your site should be focused on achieving one goal: to get people to sign up for that specific service. You don't want to distract them with a donation request for your favorite charity, or a survey that only applies to pre-existing customers, for example. Those could be better handled by email.

The "book an appointment" opt-in form is now on its own page. It should be on every page so people don't have to click to it when they've decided they want to contact you. One more obstacle removed! We'll suggest some effective wording for it in a minute.

Now let's focus on your site's content, which could use a few tweaks to target your audience more effectively.

4. Keep your niche NARROW

To succeed online, your site needs to appeal to a targeted group of people who are searching for a solution to the same problem. At first glance, we thought your site did a good job of that. Your homepage speaks directly to the needs of people in the Toronto area who want to save money by upgrading their existing computer system instead of investing in an entirely new one.

Then we clicked on your "store" link at the top of your site... and were surprised to discover you're also selling products ranging from computer performance-enhancing tools to software for card collectors to CDs on pain management!

Each of these products appeals to a very different group. People who are going online to find someone to fix their computer are not looking for pain management CDs, and people who suffer from chronic pain aren't very likely to be interested in software that will help them manage their card collections.

If you want to keep marketing all these diverse products, you should strongly consider selling each one on its own separate site. You will find it far easier to appeal to the different niches you're targeting that way.

5. Emphasize benefits in your headline

Here's your headline right now:

salescopy writing tips

Great work! This headline does a good job of relating to your market and establishing exactly what your site is about. That puts you way ahead of about 80% of the websites out there.

Now let's see what happens if we emphasize the benefits of your service a bit more, like so:

If Your Computer is Less than Five Years Old,
You Can Save Hundreds of Dollars

Turn Your Clunky, Slow Computer into a Fast, Powerful Machine
For 1/10th of the Price of a Whole New System!

This way, not only are you relating to your visitors' problems (a clunky, slow computer) and advertising your services, you are also emphasizing the fact that you can help them save a LOT of money -- which has a lot of appeal in today's economy for sure!

(Note: Avoid using ALL-CAPS in your headline. It's hard to read and often comes off as "shouting." It's usually better to just capitalize the first letter of every word.)

6. Write copy that strategically leads your visitors to your call to action

After your headline, your copy should speak directly to your visitors, relating to their needs and presenting you as the logical person to provide a solution. Right now, your copy consists of an introductory paragraph that repeats itself too much and includes a call to action buried at the end. That's followed by a long list of questions and a testimonial that doesn't really address the specific needs of your visitors.

Here's how we would change it:

Dear Toronto-area Computer Owner,

Are you sick of having your computer freeze up on you right in the middle of working on an important project? Or waiting forever for your web browser to load a simple website?

When you see the latest Dell or Mac commercials, are you green with envy at the idea of owning a computer that can run a dozen high-powered applications at once without ever crashing or going all "buggy" on you?

Even the best computer systems can go buggy after a while. Maybe you've unknowingly downloaded some adware or spyware or a computer virus... or maybe your inner circuitry is starting to short out because there's too much dust on your motherboard.

Whatever the problem is, I can help you fix it -- and save you $100s in the process!

If your computer is less than five years old, chances are extremely good that I can perform a simple upgrade that will fix your system and have it operating as fast and efficiently as the latest models currently being sold for hundreds of dollars at your local Future Shop.

How do I know this?

I'll admit it: I am a professional computer geek. In the ten years I have worked as a professional computer programmer and software designer, I have experienced every kind of computer mishap imaginable, and have figured out how to solve these problems with minimum fuss and bother. I can build computer systems from scratch and take apart existing ones and immediately out how to make them work better and faster.

So if you want to turn your clunky "Edsel" of a computer into a top-of-the-line Ferrari, I'm your man!

Here's what some of my satisfied customers say about me:

[Here you should include some testimonials from clients who can specifically talk about how you fixed their computer or upgraded their systems and saved them lots of money in the process. If you don't have any testimonials like these then we strongly suggest you email your clients and ask for them or do some computer repair/upgrade work for your friends and get them to provide testimonials to this effect.]

To discover how I can turn your bug-infested computer into a web-surfing, data-crunching powerhouse, call me at: (your phone number) or sign up for a free consultation now. Guaranteed response within 24 hours!

[Here you should include your opt-in form where people can enter their name and email address. This contact information and form should be on every page of your site.]

... Do you see how this sample copy relates to people by identifying with their problems and then building up your credibility before presenting them with your call to action?

Derek, if you revamp your site according to our recommendations and then start a Google AdWords campaign that targets phrases like "computer repair" or "cheap computer upgrades" and geotargets the Toronto area only, we guarantee you will drive more qualified visitors to your site and see a serious improvement in your conversions.

Thanks for letting us "look under the hood," Derek. We hope you find this guidance helpful, and we'd love to hear what results you get once you've incorporated our suggestions!

For our other readers, take a moment to give your site a quick checkup with these questions:
  1. Do I use black text against a white background and limit the width of my copy to 600 pixels max so that it's as easy as possible for my visitors to read?

  2. Does my site content target a specific niche and is it focused on one purpose only? (Such as getting the members of that niche to buy your product or service.)

  3. Does my headline do a good job of stating the benefits of using my product or service?

  4. Does my copy relate to my customers' problems, emphasize the benefits of my product or service, establish my credibility, then lead people logically to my call to action?
If your answer to any of these questions is no, then we suggest you consider making some changes to your website right away so you can get it in prime condition and start off the New Year right!

1 comment:

janysek said...

The real work is undertaken to meet the high quality links to authoritative sites. These can be made reciprocal link (with caution), or simply find a way to send a link to the website.

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