1. Is Your Website Optimized For Search Engines AND People?
If no one is visiting your website, then your site isn’t doing its job. So how should you set up your site so that it appeals to both search engines and people?
That’s where a combination of strategy and empathy really comes in. My recommendation for making SEO a part of your website and blogging routine is to write with the reader in mind. Then once you have your first draft, find out what keywords people might use to find the information you’re sharing.
Use Google’s Keyword Tool to see if the words you chose are being searched for, and then go back and optimize your article for the chosen word. That might just mean adding the word somewhere in a header, or closing off the post with the keyword one more time.
There are tons of places to learn the basics of WordPress SEO, but the point here is to apply SEO only after you’ve taken care of your real audience: your readers.
2. Could You Increase Email Subscriber Rates By Improving Your Opt-Ins?
When is the last time you looked at your email opt-in conversion rates? Are your visitors turning into subscribers and fans, or just leaving your site never to return? It’s time to find out, and turn that trend around for the better.
The first step is to ensure that you’re tracking these numbers using Google Analytics to track conversion rates.
Once you have numbers to look at, you can come up with ways to improve those numbers. You can take advantage of Google Analytics’ “Content Experiments” which allow you to pit two different pages up against one another, and compare conversions.
For example, have one page with Headline 1 for your email subscription form, and one with Headline 2. After a few weeks, you’ll be able to see which of the two leads to more subscribers. It’s recommended that you only test one variable at a time, otherwise it might skew your results.
3. Is Your Navigation Straightforward, And Your Site Clean?
You might think that your navigation is clear, but that’s because you came up with it. The ideal way to test your web site is to ask someone to click through it, while you’re standing silently behind them watching. Yes, I just asked you to get someone in your own town to look at your website, it’s not as scary as it sounds!
If you don’t have anyone who can browse through your site live, then the next best thing is to look at data from your Google Analytics account. Here you’ll want to look at Content->In-Page Analytics.
This data will show you which pages get clicked the most, and which ones are ignored. So if you have a clever navigation bar item like “Get Clicky” that no one understands, you’ll know right away when no one is clicking your “clicky” link.
In terms of aesthetics, everyone has a different opinion. The most important thing to focus on for cleanliness and clarity is that your fonts are readable, and that there’s enough white space between the items on your site.
4. Does Your Website Lend Itself To Social Sharing Easily?
We’re social creatures, and when we find something that we enjoy we naturally want to share it with others we think will benefit from it. Do you make it easy for people to share your work?
One of my favorite WordPress plugins to add sharing buttons is the “Digg Digg” bar, because it floats to the side of blog posts. It’s also mobile-friendly, and will slide into the main content area if the size of the screen gets too small.
Beyond social media plugins, you also want to think about your calls to action within your content. If your goal is to have people share a piece of your writing, ask them to share it within the last few lines of your post. If you don’t ask, you lower your chances of receiving.
5. Is Your About Page Optimized To Guide People To The Next Step?
If there’s one page that gets the most attention on your website, it’s definitely your about page. And maybe you know this already, but how often do you go back to your about page and make updates?
If you’re anything like me or my clients, it’s easy to focus on adding new content and never going back to refresh this one uber important page.
Take a few minutes right now to re-read your about page, make any editorial changes or additions, and decide on what you want people to do on that page.
Most of the time you’ll want to guide people to opt-in to your email list, or get them to check our your services or products.
6. Do You Offer Products and Services That Match Your Content?
Speaking of products and services, are you creating the right kind of content to sell?
Here’s the deal: your free content is meant to be a sample platter for your readers, to help them decide if they want to go in for the buffet or not. This means that your free content can’t be something you just dashed together for the sake of having something up on your site.
Think about your services and products, and how best to lead people into wanting them. That’s what reverse engineering a blog post or video is all about. You do it for marketing copy, why not think about the things that will help people get to the level where they are willing to invest in your goods?
7. Can People Find What They’re Looking For, And Are You Leading Them To Your Best Stuff?
If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you probably have a ton of content buried on your site. Now the tricky bit is organizing it and presenting it to people so that even someone who is brand new to your work can grasp it and learn from it.
If you have a lot of videos on your site, use a plugin like TubePress that allows you to display all your YouTube videos on one page. It also allows people to choose which videos they want to start with, and which ones are most popular.
You’ll also want to curate your best content into specific categories, and highlight your most useful posts in one place. There are many different ways to do this, from creating landing pages, adding a widget to your sidebar, or in my case having a Free Training page.