Six Ways to Optimize Your Website design for success
When I was giving my Squarespace for Beginners workshop, I was asked what are some of the best ways to optimize your Squarespace website. That can be a loaded question that can sometimes overwhelm beginners creating their first site. I wanted to break down the top six ways that you can optimize your site, and some tips on how to do that effectively.
Six ways to optimize your website:
1. KEEP IT MOBILE
One of the first ways to optimize your website is to make sure that it is mobile friendly. I don't know about you, but over 50% of my visitors are viewing my website one some sort of mobile device. This means that you have to keep in mind how things are going to look on smaller screens when designing. All of Squarespace's templates are responsive, but keep these things in mind when putting things together:
When making style tweaks in your style editor, make sure to scroll to the bottom and do some tweaking of the mobile settings. To view your website in mobile view, click the down arrow at the very top of your screen and select either the phone or tablet view. (I base my mobile tweaks off of the phone view since the tablet view is pretty similar to the desktop view).
Watch the size of your fonts (this gets me every time!) Don't make them too big while in desktop view, because they'll overtake everything on mobile.
Watch where your images land when switching between the modes. For example, if you have images that correspond to a block of text, sometimes putting the image to the right of the text block in desktop view will move the image to the top of the text block in mobile view. This can cause some comprehension and flow problems (this gets me all of the time too)
Be wary of using a lot of pop ups. Google is cracking down on certain types of pop-ups, so use them sparingly.
2. LET THOSE SEARCH ENGINE BOTS IN:
Another major way to optimize your site is make sure that your SEO strategy, search engine optimization, is on point. Now if you don’t know what SEO is, I have a great indepth article for you to check out or pin to read later, and I’m also going to touch on it really quick here:
Search Engine Optimization is essentially optimizing your website for the search engines to crawl and index on their search results. This is what happens: search engine robots are crawling websites looking to place them in relevant categories so they can easily be displayed when someone searches for a particular keyword. The robots gather the sites description, meta data, ALT tags, and more to try to figure out the purpose or topic of that page. They then take their findings and place them into the correct categories. That’s why you search “chocolate chip cookies” and Betty Crocker shows up instead of a website reselling iPhones.
Having a strong SEO strategy in place is a great way to increase your rankings; Remember: the name of the game is showing up on the first few pages of search engines for the right keywords. I talk more about SEO and keywords in this post: SEO Basics: The Who, What, and Where.
So to optimize your website for the search engine bots, there are a few key places that you should start:
SEARCH ENGINE DESCRIPTION
IN SQUARESPACE: Settings > SEO
This description is what’s seen on Google and other search engines when keywords that are found on your website are searched for.
BEST PRACTICES: Keep this between 150 to 160 characters.
IN SQUARESPACE: Settings > Basic Information
This is where you’ll place a brief description of your site. Make sure to fill this description with long tailed keywords related to your niche/industry.
BEST PRACTICES: Make this the same text as what you placed in your Search Engine Description.
PAGE / META DESCRIPTION
IN SQUARESPACE: Click the Cog Wheel Next To Any Page
Every page that is being accessed by visitors needs to have a site description. This allows search engines to index these page and makes it easier for your site to be found.
BEST PRACTICE: Keep it between 150 - 160 characters. Make sure that it’s unique for every page.
In Squarespace: Click the Cog wheel next to any page.
The page title is what shows up in browser windows and tabs. Take advantage of this space by placing your top keyword here. Try to keep this under 60 characters.
OPTIMAL FORMAT: Primary Keyword - Brand Name
IN SQUARESPACE: Box Appears when a image block is used.
FILL THIS IN FOR EVERY MEANINGFUL IMAGE ON YOUR SITE.
Use this space to put a meaningful description of the image with keywords included. This is the description that will show up when that image is pinned to Pinterest so make sure that it's short, sweet, and gives a enticing summary of what the page is about (especially if it's a blog post).
Other than SEO optimization, is there anything else?
3. Quick and Easy Announcements:
Using an announcement bar that is a constant throughout the top of your site is perfect for alerting anyone that visits your site of your recent releases, specials, sales, courses, etc. If you’re using Squarespace, this feature is already built in, and for all of my non Squarespace users, you can use HelloBar.
I've seen creatives use their announcement bar to announce their changes in their booking schedules, rates, new freebies they're promoting, encouraging visitors to sign up for a new webinar, and many other ways.
Keep this short, sweet, and use a contrasting color so it can be seen immediately when your website is loaded up.
4. Down Below:
Footers aren’t just for listing your social media icons and business email. Optimize your footer by adding a newsletter opt - in, Instagram blocks, places that you’ve been featured, links to privacy & legal pages, terms and conditions page links, FAQs etc. You can get creative with your footer, just remember that it will be visible on every single page of your website: so make it clean and to the point. If you're promoting a new course, workshop, or webinar, try putting a button and a little enticing blurb here to really drive it home.
5. DON'T FORGET THE SIDES:
Sidebars are GREAT places to put a whole host of information about your site and your biz, so take advantage of your sidebar if you choose to utilize one. Just like footers, they can show up on every page, so make sure they up to date with the most important information that you want your readers to know. Add buttons to your course landing pages, resource library sign up pages, a summary carousel block of your best and/or recent posts, Instagram blocks, Twitter feeds, newsletter sign up form and more.
6. START THEIR JOURNEY OFF RIGHT:
I’m a sucker for a beautifully designed start here page. If you don’t know, start here pages are perfect for bloggers that want visitors that are new to their website and their brand to start in one central place so they can be guided into finding the information that is most important to them immediately. Most start here pages give some information as to who that blogger is, what they do, and features their most popular posts in different categories so that new visitor can see what they blog about primarily and what their best post are. This allows those visitors to get straight to exactly what they want to read.
Overall, the two main things to remember when designing your site is this: keep it clean and to the point. People are jumping around from site to site trying to find the information that they're looking for, and you want them to stay on your site and remember to come back. Keeping your site optimized for mobile and using the space that you do have intentionally and purposefully will help you stand out from the crowd.