Building a website is no joke. It takes a colossal amount of effort, zeal and patience. Having a website that is user-friendly and liked by Google wins at doing great businesses. Issac Feeney, the man behind East Gosford Websites talks about the elements that make a website rank in search engines.
1. What inspired you to start East Gosford Websites? Tell us the story.
East Gosford Websites was our guinea pig. It was our local SEO project. Marketing and business opportunities had always fascinated me and the wish to launch new products and try new marketing tactics inspired my business partner and me. If we recommend something to our clients now, it is because we have tested and proven it on our own website first. Our agency caters to the need of businesses that are operating in a local area.
2. Many small offline businesses are enthusiastic about going online. What tools do you recommend for these businesses that are looking to create a DIY budget website?
There are three main parts to getting online:
1. Domain Name
2. Website Hosting
If a business owner wants a DIY solution, then do the hours of building your website yourself. But don’t skimp on the above three services!
The tool I recommend is WordPress. It is a free software, with paid themes and hosting. Domain, hosting and emails cost around $200-$400 per year and if you plan to grow, then start on the right foot.
3. What design measures must small businesses take to provide a stellar UX?
Think about your website from the mind of someone who has no idea about your business, but is looking to hire someone like you (or buy a product like yours). What question(s) are they asking?
For a local business, here’s what customers want to know:
1. Do they provide the service I am looking for?
2. Do they work in my local area?
3. What are their opening hours?
4. What is their phone number?
5. How do I get there?
Answer those five things at the top of your website for a great start to your User Experience (UX). Next, I always recommend the following for a simple UX checklist:
- Provide a Clickable phone number (for calling directly from a smartphone).
- Ensure fast loading pages (remove large images that don’t help your customers, load any videos from YouTube
instead of on the page itself, and so on).
- Get rid of captcha fields on contact forms. (There are other methods of filtering bots that don’t require your customers to be inconvenienced).
- Make certain your site is mobile friendly.
4. Why is website responsiveness an absolute must for all websites? How can it help small businesses build a seamless online brand experience?
In our website design agency, we have noticed a shift from desktop to mobile. The workflow used to be: ‘get it right on the desktop, then polish for mobile’. But we have been forced to change our thinking to mobile and desktop at the same time.
Make certain you check the usage of viewer devices on your website. For B2B I still find a higher percentage of hits are from the desktop than in other industries. So it is not only about mobile-friendly design, but about building for all different device sizes.
5. When it comes to a DIY style of website creation, could you give us an overview of what startups and small businesses must keep in mind before they kick-start their website creation process?
Think on paper. Hand sketching is a powerful way to think through any creative process. And time spent planning saves significant time spent building. Even with an online project like building a website, I cannot exaggerate the power of writing and rewrite your website on paper first.
Then get your list together of everything you will need. A quick checklist to have on hand:
- Logo files
- The hex values of the colours your brand uses
- Images you have available (staff headshots, portfolio pictures, and so on)
- Approved words. (What can you say/not say about your business and its results? Do you need a bio about each
staff member? How do your customers refer to your services?)
- Social media links
- Industry body links (if applicable)
- Relevant PDF downloads or information sheets (if applicable)
- Customer testimonials. (If you’re a new business and don’t have any – make that your top priority, to get a customer, treat them like royalty, and obtain a positive review.)
Now find other websites in similar industries and choose clear ones to model yours off, using your collected content. Even an hour spent thinking in this way will dramatically improve your end result.
6. Could you share some light on how SEO and web design can go hand in hand? How can small businesses master the craft of ranking and SEO?
Forget about your logo or a big image filling the screen at the top. As far as website design and SEO, they really come together “above the fold”. It is the first thing people see without scrolling – and Google values that space. Don’t fill it with a big logo or with an image slider that doesn’t say much about anything. Focus on designing words, not beautiful pictures “above the fold”. Your SEO will thank you for it.
Words matter. Words are always left to the end of a web design project. A text-only website would likely outrank one with a fancy design if they were equal in every other way. Google needs words, and words load QUICKLY!
Use a keyword tool to determine what phrases users are typing into Google for your services. Pick your target phrases based on the numbers. And bake those words into the website design!]
Doing this process at the start means you can put strategic phrases into:
1. Page Titles
2. Page URLs
3. Image filenames
Now, you have just performed web design AND on-page SEO all in one process!
Entrepreneur and Owner of East Gosford Websites
Also published on Medium.