What makes a Great Website in 2021?
Imagine writing an article for your company. You write a blog post on a quiet Sunday evening perhaps. It’s an article about an aspect your business, product or service. It’s really not for you, it’s for potential clients. You nervously upload it to your website. The excitement is palpable. You’re on track towards having the perfect website in your field for 2021.
The article may not be directly about your product but rather an idea loosely related to your industry.
In the article you wrote honestly.
You revealed something about yourself and how you see the world through your business. You highlighted the particular way you like to do business. You spoke (anonymously) about an interesting customer you met during the week. Maybe you waxed lyrical about why you are working in this particular industry.
You find writing enjoyable. Meditative. Relaxing. Plus you have so much to say.
It’s not me either. I’d like it to be me, but it’s – just not.
Am I right when I say:
Writing must be the most difficult job in the world.
When people visit your website, within about 2 seconds, they judge it. Then they judge your business. Then they judge you.
You are your Website
Content, Website Design, Maintenance, SEO and User-experience. It’s all you.
Your users’ thoughts go something like this . . .
- How pretty is it?
- How professional is it?
- How easy is it to find stuff?
- How much is stuff?
- When was it last updated?
- Can this person spell?
- Are there any interesting comments?
- How do they deal with negative nancy comments?
All the things you do on your website reflect upon who you are and how you do business.
The above list translated reads as . . .
- Do these people care about how they look?
- How do they deal with potential customers and naysayers in comments?
- How organised are they?
- Are their prices reasonable?
- Do they tidy up after themselves?
- Are they literate? And do they need to be?
- What do other people think? Are they allowed to leaave notes? Do they delete bad press?
- How do they react to irate customers? Do they please everyone?
Ten steps to a perfect website?
Ok, ok …
1. Website Comments. Keep those switched ON!
How important are people’s comments?
One way to get people talking is to include a blog with a comment section on your website.
If you don’t do this, your competitors will. They might even hire me to keep ahead of the game. If you don’t add articles, news, special announcements or useful information, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. How will you ever know what people are thinking about you or your service?
Allow others to respond to a new article by switching comments to ON. You need to hear what others think about what you have to say – especially if they are talking right there on your site. It’s actually a bit exciting. Aside from the huge SEO boost that comes with adding content to your site, even if only 2 or 3 people (including Mum & Dad) actually read the article, it’s a big plus.
Actively seek out similar web-based conversations to yours.
Leave comments on other people’s blogs, news or article posts.
For business reasons, link back to your own website where you can (say in your signature), but don’t get obsessed by this practice. SEO is a fine art and too much linking (or a poor knowledge of that) can be dangerous. People will find you if they need to with a imple signature.
On your site, followers can comment on specific aspects of a topic or hone in on a general debate. Your aim here is not to garner quality back-links for SEO – it’s really just to enliven a debate (any business-relevant debate) you feel passionate about.
2. Be Helpful
An article should aim to inform rather than make a sale
One week goes by and it’s time to write again. Your traffic hasn’t snuck up the charts much. Oh well. You’re in this for the long game.
The kids are playing up, there’s a shelf to erect and other chores to finish. But you really want to give this article writing slash blog thing a red hot go.
When finally everyone is in bed, you arc up the computer, log into the backend of your website (we build website by the way) and open up a new blog or news page.
You re-read the last article and decide to write something completely different. You want to write a helpful article. A tip or industry trick that not many people know about. You infuse your writing with your many years of industry experience, adding sprinkles of sage advice where appropriate. You aim to help a future customer (no – scratch that) you offer help without the aim of bringing in new custom or selling your product. Genuine philanthropy is your aim. You are sure you’re making the world (and perhaps your industry) a better place. Even if it’s just one article.
It’s a relatively short piece, but you enjoy writing it and now fancy yourself as a bit of a writer.
Maybe you’ll write a novel one day.
3. Reveal A Secret
In week three, you decide to write something revealing. You’re a little bit hesitant. This is a bit like revealing your secret herbs and spices. You gingerly let others in on a secret or two about your industry.
Hang on. What? Why am I doing this?
This writing lark is ultimately about attracting a following for your business, but you enjoy the process. You can always sell products later. Not every single bit of writing is an opportunity to sell.
In the short term, you treat prospective customers as you would like to be treated.
Over time you let loose more trade secrets. Not too many (your competitors might be reading this. Perhaps you hang on to your price list). But over the weeks, you consider some of the following ;
- How can you help people?
- How can you illuminate a bug in your industry?
- What advice can you give away for free?
- What do you really care about?
- What new thing do you have to sell?
- Go back to 1
You’ve written four articles now, but there’s not a single comment. You check your web site traffic report. The numbers are going up, but only marginally. Maybe a 10% rise at best. No more sales.
Your bounce rate is a lot better (that’s the rate at which people come to your site and then leave in a hurry). The figures aren’t impressive, but people are staying on specific site pages for up to 2 minutes instead of the usual 30 seconds.
Five weeks have passed. You are building the perfect website. Slowly.
4. Leave the Lights On
There’s someone at home
In the morning you get an email. Someone has written “Thanks for this [your name]. I wasn’t aware of [this thing] in [your industry]. You’ve saved me so much shoe leather. Great job. I’ll be back.”
A fan! She didn’t sound particularly committed, but – it’s . . . something.
Inside you are over the moon. Who is this stranger? You don’t really care. This is all just business right?
Somebody has read your post! That’s great.
Your site is now up to date (at least since you started adding new posts). And you have a community of two people. You and . . . whoever this person is.
5. Incy-wincy Googlebot
“Googlebot” is Google’s web-crawler
Google bot is a bit like Father Christmas. People who have been good are rewarded with a good position in search while really naughty bloggers drop in search (on Search Engine Results Pages) over time. In short: Good people update their webite regularly. Bad people leave websites to grow mould and die.
The Google spider comes crawling along. Her job :) is to crawl the web and take note of everything written on it. This includes your image title and alt tags, but mostly . . .
Your Content (Text)
Aching from the weight of stockholder pressure but steadfastly resolute and determined to present the best search results for web surfers, Googlebot is without bias. She’s a little piece of software, and like Pinnocchio, she longs to be human and do the best human-like job possible. She’s under a lot of pressure to hoist big companies to the top, but has no particular allegiances.
Every week this spider is told (by an XML script sitting on your site – part of what we do when we do a basic SEO Makeover for sites) that your site has been updated.
So. Monday morning, just before breakfast, little Googlebot trudges over to your site to check out the new content that you wrote the night before (Or not. You did write something right?). Googlebot then goes off looking for similar useful tid-bits like yours. She collates all the content, but is most impressed with your article because you have written a great and useful article for humans. Not for search engine spiders like herself. She hates writers sucking up to her. And she features your article in a search for that subject.
You’ve been published! (more like syndicated – but it’s good!). You see a little spike in traffic.
You now find yourself looking forward to each Sunday writing session. You’re in the groove. It’s kind of like meditation.
Googlebot adds your site to Google’s huge index so that others may benefit from your knowledge and solid advice. But you don’t disappear into a black hole. Because you’ve written such a beautiful and genuine blog entry, Googlebot ranks your site high in search.
Google wants other people in your industry to find information such as yours very easily. That’s her job.
People may not want to buy your product right now, but they are keen and subscribe to your blog. Some people writing about similar subjects link to your blog post from their own. You garner another micro-boost in rankings.
The pen is mightier than the sword
Luckily, your article turns out to be the very thing many people were looking for. People tell all their social networks about your article. They might buy something from you later, but that’s not important to you right now. You seek loftier heights. After all, now you are a writer. With an audience. Selling wasn’t even really your aim.
You are simply happy to have added your 2c to the great wealth of knowledge that is out there. Sure, people have subscribed to your site and will receive your new article every week, but that wasn’t your foremost intention.
6. Multimedia & Learning Styles
Cater for different types of content consumer
Not everybody learns the same way. Some people don’t like to read.
“I like to watch”
Chance the Gardener in “Being There”
- Some like to watch.
- Others like to listen.
- Reading is the obvious way
- A Combination of ALL THREE is best.
And that often equates to using various types of media. Multimedia. Multimedia Evokes Trust.
You decide, along with weekly articles, that you might do a monthly podcast. Some people don’t like to read much when they are surfing the web and you did get that voice recorder (the one you haven’t used) on special.
Each time you put something up, try less and less to sell your product. Take your ego (and desire to sell) out of the equation.
This proves difficult, because, over time, more and more people are subscribing to your website. You want to make the world a better place and, even though you could move a few more widgets off that back shelf, you now genuinely want to help people. Your aim is true.
7. Reap What You Sow
Karma on the web
One day, one of your articles appears in the number one position of a Google search.
You’ve written golden, useful content. And now this is your reward. You didn’t intend it to be THE number one article. 300 complementary (non-competitors) industry websites decide to point to your article because what you are saying needed to be said.
You’ve single-handedly filled the communication gap between your industry and potential buyers. Your industry brothers and sisters become familiar with your regular posts and look forward to reading them nearly as much as you look forward to writing them.
8. Competitors are not Rivals
We’re all in this together
You get a call. A large competitor has too many requests for an item or service and wonders if you can help out?
Industry competitors are often seen as rivals.
What would happen if you saw them as possible business partners? After all, because of your regular updates, peers already regard you with respect – indeed as a leader in the field (BTW: That’s kinda the whole point of this article). Some people even take your sage advice and consider you a great teacher.
9. Leveraging Peer Power
Six degrees of separation
Your perfect website popularity is positively affecting your bottom line.
Not only are people coming to your site (your statistics peak every Tuesday morning when followers read your blog) but someone has ordered two dozen widgets from you. You don’t really know why, because when you ask, they say they haven’t read your article. They did, but they also read other articles that day and forgot about yours. They just didn’t notice reading it because it was so good. Your ideas wnet straight into their hypothalamus.
They didn’t buy because your sales pitch was great (you didn’t use one, but you now fancy yourself somewhat as a copywriter). A friend recommended your services to them. It turns out that a not-too-distant friend of yours regularly and secretly reads your article. But they don’t tell you.
While many people are nosey and will check you out on the web, not many people will let you know that they read your stuff. Some write. Regularly. Perhaps they are shy, or like you, a little ginger about revealing their poor grammar and spelling. Often they’ve just forgotten where they read stuff.
For every one person who leaves a comment, there are 25 who wanted to say the same thing.
10. Your website future looks bright
You’d better wear shades
Even though your product pages are aging, there are now hundreds (if not thousands) of warm bums sitting on seats, regularly ogling your website, waiting with baited-breath for each Monday post. They are happy to buy your stuff, but they want to listen to you.
Some ride their bicycles while listening to your informative podcasts.
Others share your monthly 2 minute videos with friends (the ones that don’t read much).
Old Schoolers read your gritty industry articles on the train in to work.
These strangers trust you – possibly because you didn’t break their backs with “a hard sell.” Others others trust you because they love the freshness and authenticity that your articles exude. Some don’t quite have the cash to buy your widget. But hey frequently talk to people who do. They recommend you in a heart beat.
Your site is now close to becoming the best website in your industry for 2021.
- It wasn’t the design.
- It wasn’t technical wizardry.
- It was you.
- And your content.
Sure you sell widgets and you need to move widgets. We all do (*sigh*). But your regular visitors enjoy reading and consuming your thoughts. You have their undivided attention for at least five minutes every week.
& Build the perfect website
It takes commitment to give someone a great website experience.
It’s not hard to do.
It takes time.
Selling your product doesn’t have to be the first thing on your mind. If people know you are a plumber, that’s probably all they need to know. You could hard-sell them a tap, but why do that? Helping them fix their own tap with a step-by-step article is a worthy enough objective. They will buy something soon enough.
You’re at home. The lights are on. And you sound like a really nice person.
In fact, if your product is the perfect product, then you are probably already building the perfect website. Maybe all this comes naturally to you.
It’s in your nature
Other places & opinions
More articles about how to build a really good website
- The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Website (Jammy Digital)
- 8 Essential Tips for the Perfect Website (Just Creative)
Edwin wrote his first (Harrier Jump Jet) text adventure computer program in 1982 during the Falklands War conflict. He now builds websites with best practice, future-proof web development, Ad marketing & SEO. He taught at Curtin Uni and OUA and in 2007 was voted 5th best lecturer (out of 2,500) across all disciplines taught in Australia. He loves sharing what he knows.