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15 Fixes For A Failing Website

by Rick Sloboda

If your website's not performing, here's what you can do to improve search engine rankings, engage visitors and convert more sales.

1. Align the site with your objectives

Have your business objectives and goals changed since you launched your website? If so, then you need to revisit your website's content to ensure it supports your current business needs.

2. Remove useless items

Every item on your website competes for your visitors' attention, reducing the impact of your key message. Is that welcome message necessary? Are some of those buttons redundant? Scrutinize every element to help deliver a strong message and eliminate distractions.

3. Update your information

Keep time-sensitive information on your website up to date. If you don't have adequate resources, keep time-sensitive information to a minimum.

4. Edit your web copy for consistency

Businesses often have different people adding web copy at different times, which leads to inconsistencies. Review your copy from start to finish with a keen eye on spelling, format, style, narration, tense, flow and so on.

5. Split text blocks into scannable chunks

Massive blocks of text discourage visitors from exploring your website. Break up web copy with relevant headlines, subheads, bullet points and short, one-topic paragraphs. Your visitors will thank you by spending more time on your site.

6. Review fonts

Check your fonts to ensure consistent size, style and spacing. Consider using a style sheet. Fonts optimal for the Web include Arial, Courier, Georgia, Time New Roman and Verdana.

7. Add new web copy

Add relevant web copy frequently to satisfy visitors and search engines alike. Improve search engine rankings and give your visitors a reason to keep coming back.

8. Refresh your graphics

Renew your image with new graphics, charts and photos. Many are royalty free. Type in terms like "clip art," "graphics," and "free photos" into your favourite search engine and you're on your way.

9. Make your graphics search engine friendly

Give your images tags with keywords to help improve search engine rankings.

10. Consider your colour theme

Go over your colours to ensure they are a part of or at least complement your logo and brand. Dump backgrounds that make it difficult to read web copy.

11. Extinguish flashing content

Flashing content irritates visitors and turns them away. It's one step away from announcing, "Congratulations! You're the 1,000,000th visitor! Click here to claim prize!" If you want it to make a point, do so with compelling web copy, placement, font size or colour.

12. Speed it up

Your pages should load fast. Don't make your visitors wait 30 seconds or so just to watch your logo spin around. How many times have you retreated from a site while waiting for its intro to load? Relevant web copy is much more likely to grab the attention of a potential client.

13. Re-evaluate PDFs

Are you guilty of throwing PDFs onto your website to save time? PDFs are designed for print, not the Web. Unless it's an e-book or a form, offer the information as a webpage and give your visitor the option of viewing it as a PDF.

14. Leave music to the DJs

Don't blast music at your visitors. It slows access to your site and can cheapen your presentation. If music is required, hand over the controls to your visitor by making it optional.

15. Repair or delete broken links

Check all your links and be quick to repair or delete any that bring your visitors to the '404 file not found' message. If a section is under construction, take it offline.

Thursday, Feb 15th, 2007