How to Easily (and Correctly) Create a Divi Child Theme

How to Easily (and Correctly) Create a Divi Child Theme

Before you begin, make sure you have a fresh new WordPress install – details here!

The Divi Theme for WordPress has had more updates than any other 2 premium WordPress themes combined since 2004.

I actually have no evidence to support that statement, I simply feel it to be true.

Whatever the case may be, I think we’ve known each long enough where we can be honest with each other: Divi has a TON of updates and that’s a good thing.

It seems like every time I log into one of my client’s websites, there is an update for Divi waiting for me.

While we’re being honest with each other, let me add this: I actually like seeing that update notification. It means Nick Roach and the team of developers over at Elegant Themes are working hard to make my life easier.

However, if you spend any amount of time browsing some of the Facebook groups related to WordPress themes (not just for the Divi theme), you’ll come across plenty of posts that dread updating their theme.

There is no shortage of horror stories about theme updates losing code, moving elements of the site around or straight up breaking sites.

There is a general hesitation, if not slight fear when it comes to updating a theme. The increased heart rate, holding your breath, waiting until you’re sure the update went smoothly.

I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be like that.

There is a better way.

Why Divi Needs a Child Theme

If you’re not currently using a child theme on your website it’s likely because:

You’re actively avoiding child themes because you’re not sure what to do with/how to use them
You’re new to WordPress
You enjoy a general sense of panic, fear or uncertainty in your life.

No matter the reason, I’m going to show you how to create a child theme for Divi (spoiler alert, it’s as simple as a folder with 2 files and 12 lines of code) AND I’m going to straight up give you a free Divi Child Theme you can use immediately.

Real quick, just so you know exactly what we’re doing, this is the description of a Child Theme, directly from the WordPress documentation:

A child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality and styling of another theme, called the parent theme. Child themes are the recommended way of modifying an existing theme.

What this means: a child theme is a way to customize a theme without the risk of having your changes being overwritten when you update your parent theme.

The best part is that you can add CSS to your child theme to customize Divi (or whatever your parent theme is) to ensure your changes stick around after each update. Here’s how to do it.

How to Create Your Own Divi Child Theme

First, from the root folder of your WordPress install, navigate to your themes folder. You can find this by going to your root folder > wp-content > themes.

In our example, we’re just going to create a folder called divi-child but you can name your folder whatever you’d like.

In order to make this a legitimate child theme, we only need 2 files in this folder:
style.css
functions.php

In the style.css file, write the following code at the very top of the file:

/*
Theme Name: Divi Child Theme
Description: A custom Divi child theme built by Green Tree Media.
Author: Green Tree Media, LLC
Author URI: https://greentreemediallc.com
Template: Divi
Version: 1.0.0
License: GNU General Public License v2 or later
License URI: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html
Tags: responsive-layout, one-column, two-columns, three-columns, four-columns, left-sidebar, right-sidebar, custom-background, custom-colors, featured-images, full-width-template, post-formats, rtl-language-support, theme-options\, translation-ready
Text Domain: divi-child-theme
*/

There are really only 2 lines that NEED to be in this section in order for the child theme to work correctly.

They are Theme Name and Template. You can completely omit the other lines if you’d like and the Child Theme should still function properly.

Theme name tells WordPress what the name of your theme is and this is what is displayed in the theme selector.

Template tells WordPress which theme is the parent theme. In this case, the parent is Divi.

Below this, you can write whatever custom CSS code you’d like to use to customize the Divi theme.

The Wrong Way

It’s important to note that there is an outdated way of creating a child theme that involved writing the following code in your style.css file:

/*
<pre>
@import url(../parent-theme/style.css);
</pre>
*/

In the above example, instead of ‘parent-theme’ you would write the name of the parent theme you were using.

This is an antiquated way of creating a child theme and should not be used as it could stop working in the future.

If you’re using a child theme which currently has that written in it’s style.css file, I recommend you remove that line. In the second (and final) file we’re going to create, we’ll correctly load in your parent theme’s style.

Create a file in your child theme folder called functions.php file. In this file paste the following:

/*
<pre>
<?php
function child_enqueue_styles() {
wp_enqueue_style( ‘parent-style’, get_template_directory_uri() . ‘/style.css’ );
wp_enqueue_style( ‘child-style’, get_stylesheet_directory_uri() . ‘/style.css’, array( parent-style ) );
}
add_action( ‘wp_enqueue_scripts’, child_enqueue_styles );
</pre>
*/

This will import your parent theme’s stylesheet into your child theme and then also import your custom style.css.

That’s all there is to it. Once you activate this theme, your custom styles should be active and you can add new additional styles to your child theme style.css file without worrying that an update will override custom code.

 

Download Free Divi Child Theme

To make things even easier, I’ve put together a free Divi child theme that’s ready to be installed on any website that’s already running the Divi theme.

To download the child theme, click the link here.

 

Alex Brinkman is the founder of Green Tree Media and prefers his coffee black. He can frequently be found hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop, hunting down reliable wifi connections like an urban Bear Grylls. When he isn’t coding up WordPress plugins to make the web a better place or completing client work, he enjoys competing in 5k obstacle course races. He also has a twin brother that looks nothing like him so you’ll likely never get them confused. Alex is also a sucker for a good motivational quote so feel free to send him your best quote via Twitter at @alexwbrinkman

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Monthly WordPress Website Maintenance Checklist

Monthly WordPress Website Maintenance Checklist

I always say that having a website for your small business is like having another employee. If you hire a living, breathing person to work for you, you have to “maintain” them. In other words, you have to keep up with them, communicate with them, analyze their performance, give them resources and tips to improve their performance, and fill them in on new things happening with your business. Without consistent communication with your employee, they won’t turn out to be very helpful.

A website is the same thing.

You have to maintain your website, not only to make sure it performs well but to make sure it’s healthy and safe from hacks.

Here’s a list of items you can perform on a monthly basis to keep your WordPress website well maintained. No one has time to be working on their website each and every day, so maybe set one afternoon aside each month to perform these tasks.

Update Plugins

If you have a WordPress website, you have plugins. When you log into your site, you probably see a number in a red circle beside the word “Plugins”, indicating your plugins are out of date. All you have to do to update them is go to your Plugins page, find the highlighted plugins, and click the link prompting you to update them. Done! In almost all cases, you won’t have to do any further work to update your plugins.

Update WordPress

WordPress itself comes out with new versions all the time. Each version is an improvement on the one before. Many WordPress installs will update automatically. But you can always check for a new update by going to Dashboard > Updates after you log in to your WordPress site. If there is a new update for WordPress available, this page will prompt you to click the blue Update button.

Update Your Theme

Whether you have a free or Premium WordPress theme, you will need to update them in the same way as you updated WordPress. Again, sometimes they will update on their own but usually not. Go to Dashboard > Updates and check the Themes area of that pages. Sometimes you may see that a theme you aren’t using needs to be updated. Go ahead and update that theme. even if it’s inactive, it’s still coded on your host that is out of date and can be a point of weakness that a hacker would love.

Updating plugins, WordPress, and your theme is very easy. But if you want to make it even easier, I suggest ManageWp, where you can update ALL these things with a single click, all from one Dashboard. And it’s totally free!

Test Contact Forms

If you have any contact or inquiry forms on your site of any kind, it’s a good idea to test them once a month to make sure they are functioning properly. You’d hate to lose leads due to a form that isn’t working right or is sending submissions to the wrong email address. Simply send a quick test form to yourself and make sure you get it!

Update Promos and Deals

Chances are, you offer promotions and discounts sometimes to bring in new business. If you don’t, maybe consider it! A website is a great place to showcase any promos or sales you have going on. Many companies rely on a monthly rotation of promos so things are constantly changing and new offers are constantly being released.

Publish a Blog Post

If SEO is a focus for you, even if you just want to build some brand trust between you and potential buyers, blog posts are a great method. For SEO purposes, I personally suggest a post a week. But a post a month is fine if you’re busy or don’t feel like you have much to say. Your monthly website maintenance check is a great time to reflect on the past month and maybe answer a question you’ve been hearing a lot in a blog post. If you’re curious about how to write good posts, read this one about how to use content to build your brand.

Run a Malware Scan

Check with your hosting provider to see if they offer any malware scanning tools that find malicious code that could bring down your site. Siteground, for instance, has a daily tool that searches for errant code in your site, as does ManageWP as I mentioned earlier. If you run monthly scans starting in January, for example, if you find something amiss in April, you know that everything up until March was fine and you can know to go back to a backup from before April. Which leads me to…

Take a Backup

Both ManageWP and Siteground offer amazing backup tools. I prefer the one on ManageWP. You can choose monthly manual backups or pay for daily ones. If sometimes happens to your site, you only have to pick a date and press Restore. The program takes care of restoring the site to a healthy version for you. Daily is best, but you’re taking backups at least monthly, you’ll be able to restore your site if something goes wrong.

Test Links

Things happen as you make changes to your site. Especially f you have more than one person who alters and edits content, mistakes can happen. Once a month, it’s a good idea to simply click through your site and make sure that all the links you have on the site go to the proper places. Or, you can simply use a free plugin! I recommend Broken Link Checker, which does exactly as the name suggests. It scans your pages, posts, comments, and custom fields and finds any links that don’t work, images that are missing that may have gotten deleted, and redirects that are not functioning properly.

Test Site Speed

There are lots of different factors that can affect site speed. You typically want your site to load in 3 seconds or under. It’s not enough to just visit your site and see how fast it loads. Because you visit your site more often than most visitors, you browser saves information about eth website to load it faster to you. The experience of new visitors may be different. My favorite tool for testing site speed accurately is called Pingdom. The Pingdom Website Speed Test is so easy to use; you just type in the URL of your site (you have the option to test from different places in the world) and hit Start Test. The tester will show you exactly how long it takes your site to load, as well as other, more detailed information about what exactly is causing your site to slow down.

5 Things to Have Before Starting a Small Business Website

5 Things to Have Before Starting a Small Business Website

Website Hosting

Hosting the service you have to purchase before setting up a website. (At least, before setting up a self-hosted WordPress website.) Companies like Siteground or GoDaddy supply affordable hosting services for small businesses. If you’re approaching a web designer/developer about a new website, you should already have hosting purchased or be ready to get recommendations from them and make a purchase.

Typically, you’ll want what’s called a CPanel. Having a CPanel gives you complete and utter control over your site, from the domain, subdomain and site files themselves. SOme hosting accounts offer an all-in-one website builder tool which may sound like a no-brainer to get, but they are often more complicated and harder fa or developer to work with if something goes wrong. I myself don’t work with projects that are not self-hosted on a CPanel account.

(If you need some more guidance on exactly what hosting is, why you need it, and how to get it, check out my page on hosting and maintenance.)

Mission Statement

This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many businesses approach me for a site and when I ask them to describe succinctly what they do and why they can’t tell me. A good mission statement is a brief paragraph that tells the reader exactly who you are as a business, what you provide, who you serve, and what your values are.

A mission statement is useful for a website because a website is like a visual mission statement. A good website should communicate everything your mission statement does. They should be seamlessly connected. You may even want to include language from your mission statement on your homepage or about page.

Check out my free Business Bible Template which has a section on how to write a successful mission statement.

Product Photography

If your website is for an online shop, or even a brick and mortar store, and you’re selling physical items through the site, you should already have the photos ready for your designer. It helps to check with the designer to see what size photos are best or what format they prefer. But have your photography session done and delivered before signing a contract with a web designer.

This goes for regular photography as well. If you want to have photos of your employees or of your office, they should be ready to go before you start eh web design process. One of the biggest productivity killers when it comes to a web design process is waiting on content to be ready. If the designer can see all of your written and visual content before beginning the design, everything will be much more cohesive.

3 Blog Posts

If you intend on having a blog on your site, it’s best to have some content already written. I recommend to my clients that you launch the site with 3 blog posts already posted and backdated. (Meaning the date on the post is set to before the launch.) If you intend on having a really robust blog with multiple categories, I suggest at least 1 post per category to launch with. This means that on launch day when you’re sending tons of visitors to the site, there is actually a decent amount of content for them to engage with.

A Logo and Branding Document

This is less of a requirement and more of a suggestion. If you already have a logo from a professional designer and they supplied you with a branding document of some kind, this can help your web designer more than you know. A branding document will include all the colors, fonts, and other visuals that are required to keep your brand consistent. If I have someone hire me for a logo and a website, I always do the logo design first. A good logo is a condensed and succinct representation of what your business is all about. Think about interior design: they say you should always pick your favorite, statement piece, and design around that. A logo is like your statement piece. You should design everything else around it so that your entire online branding identity is completely consistent.

 

5 Clauses Your Web Design Contract Is Missing

5 Clauses Your Web Design Contract Is Missing

So far in my web design business, the contract has been one of the most important tools I have. Mine has grown and expanded and shifted with each new client I get. It allows me to ensure that the client and I are starting on the same foot. It also helps me create mental walls, barriers and guideposts in mine and the client’s minds. No matter what happens, I can refer to my contract to cover my butt or explain away a problem. It’s by no means foolproof, but it has come in handy at least once in each project in the last year.

There are some clauses I find more helpful than others. Some I didn’t think of right away but have arisen out of necessity. They are useful when I need to protect my money, my time, and my sanity. Here are 6 clauses your web design contract is missing and how to fill in those gaps.

What to do in case… 

Of harassment and disrespect

The grand majority of my clients are incredibly sweet, polite and professional. But every once and a while you get someone who is downright nasty. You may have run into one or two of them in your experience. They might be incredibly disrespectful and rude – either to you personally or to your time in general. They may be overly sensitive and get angry at the smallest things. Or they may be stubborn and not take no for an answer.

It’s useful to have something in your contract that basically says:

The Project Manager reserves the right to terminate the project in writing if the client expresses physical, verbal, emotional or mental abuse in any way toward the Project Manager. 

I like this wording because it is just vague enough that any general mistreatment that I think crosses the line is covered. But it is specific enough that the client sees that I will take action if I feel I’m being disrespected.

What to do in case… 

Your client vanishes on you

When working with people virtually, I’ve found that some clients have a hard time appreciating that I exist in the flesh. Despite my best efforts, they kind of see me as a face-less entity that they can approach as they please with no follow-through or follow-up. I’ve had more than one client, in the middle of a project, just vanish. For weeks, months, or forever. Either they get too busy, their priorities shift, they have an emergency in their personal lives, etc.

I’ve also had tons of clients who freeze when it’s time to supply content. It’s one of the most popular problems among web designers: how to get content from your clients in a timely manner. I’ve had clients who got so intimidated by submitting content, they disappear for a while to buy themselves more time.

It’s my strong belief that in running a business, it’s important to touch base with the people you’re working with, even if it’s just to say, “Hey, I need to put this project on hold for a few days!” or “Can I have another week to work on this content?” A ghosted client means you may not get paid, you’ve started work you can’t finish, you’ve wasted resources, you’ve wasted time, and you don’t know whether you can clear that time in your schedule moving forward. And it’s just plain rude.

To prevent ghosting, I have a line in my contract like this:

The Project Manager reserves the right to suspend work on the project in writing if the client is unresponsive (by phone and/or email) for 3 or more business days without prior warning or the client is more than 10 business days late in supplying content, revisions, or any other task requested in the scope of the project.

I like this wording because it gives tangible numbers of days that the client has (notice I specify business days!). I also say that this rule goes into effect if the client has not given prior warning. Feel free to remove this, but I like to communicate that extensions are fine, as long as we communicate.

 

 

What to do in case… 

The client expects more work than you got paid for

This is more affectionately known as scope creep. You’re hired for certain services and the client starts tacking on more and more little things here and there until you’re overrun and doing twice as much work as you’re getting paid. It’s hard to avoid, especially if you have a genuinely nice client and would like to help them out. It’s easily avoided in your contract with a bulleted list of specific items/services the client can expect.

For example:

Project Manager will design and build a custom website with the client’s advisement, containing:

  • X number of pages
  • X number of landing pages
  • E-commerce integration with WooCommerce
  • Setting up, integrating and testing X number of products
  • Setting up Google Analytics
  • Setting up a photo gallery of up to 50 photos
  • Optimizing each page for on-page SEO
  • Integrating 2 MailChimp forms
  • Installing an SSL certificate

Having a list like this, not only on your proposal but in the contract itself, allows you to refer the client to the list whenever they ask for new services. So when scope creep rears it’s ugly head, you can say that the requested service is outside the scope of the contracted items, but you would be happy to quote them on it after the current items have been completed. Saying “no” is never fun, so giving them an alternative that both gets you paid and gets them the requested feature is a good compromise.

What to do in case… 

Something bad happens to you

A previous client actually brought this up to me and suggested I added it to my contracts. What happens to the project in case you are seriously injured, physically unable to work, or (no one likes thinking about this) dead? It seems like jumping to extremes, but it’s always best to be prepared for the worst. And it shows a level of professionalism and commitment to your client; you’ve made plans to complete their project even if the worst happens. It’s called a contingency plan and it may seem like overkill, but if you ever need it, you’ll be glad you had it.

The first step toward building a contingency plan is finding a contact person who the client can contact. I chose a web designer friend of mine who is familiar with the technology I use. I asked her to do this for me in exchange for me being her contingency person. She graciously accepted.

My contract clause looks something like this:

In case of disability, death, or any other instance that physically prevents the Project Manager from completing work on this project, the client can contact X.

  • X can be contacted if the Project Manager is unresponsive for a total of 7 days.
  • X will do all they can to complete and close out the project in a clean, fair manner.
  • Contact information for X: (phone) or (email)
  • They will facilitate any terminations, cancellations, or refunds. This client agrees to also release all necessary credentials to X

I like this wording because it includes the exact circumstances in which to contact her, what you can expect from her, her contact information, and a clause releasing all credentials to her. Which brings me to my next point…

What to do in case… 

You need sensitive passwords and credentials

So far it’s never happened to me personally, but I’ve heard horror stories about web design clients whose sites or accounts got hacked after a project launched. They turned to the web designer, who had easy access to all those sensitive credentials. I don’t ever want to be in that position. Especially when it comes to e-commerce sites when I may have PayPal accounts or credit card information on file. If a client texts me a password and my phone gets lost or stolen, I can’t be responsible for that information now potentially becoming public knowledge.

It’s important to cover your butt when it comes to information like this. Assuring your clients that the information will be kept safe and secure is helpful, but I recommend having a way to do that. I use 1Password, which allows me to store client credentials all in one place, organized by project. You can also use LastPass or a similar password sharing system. The client can go in and add or remove credentials as they see fit.

My contract section on this is a bit lengthy, but it basically says:

All passwords and credentials both given from the client to the Project Manager and vice versa are not to be shared over phone, email, text, or any other messaging service.  All credentials will be stored in a designated Vault set up by the Project Manager on 1Password.com. By signing this contract, the Client is agreeing to send and receive all passwords and credentials in this manner and in the period of time specified.  In the event of a website hack or other instance of compromised credentials, the Project Manager bears no responsibility unless it can be proven that the comprising event was the direct result of negligence on the part of the Project Manager. Unless there is more work to be done on the website, the Project Manager agrees to release ownership and records of all website, hosting, and payment credentials 14 days after launch.

I can refer a client to this section whenever they have questions about sending passwords. They also can feel secure knowing I’ve agreed to delete the passwords from my records after 14 days. Even if you don’t store your passwords in this way, it’s helpful to have a clause that explains your responsibility to the client when it comes to sensitive information and the best ways to protect that information.

Let me know in the comments below what clauses I may have missed or if you’ll be adding any of these to your contract template! Interested in viewing my full contract, as well as a ton of other resources? Check out my Freelancers Resource Bundle, now available on Etsy for $20!

10 Important E-Commerce On-Page SEO Factors

10 Important E-Commerce On-Page SEO Factors

Okay, so your e-commerce website is up and running, appealing, easy for potential customers to explore, and locked and loaded with products (and attractive prices as well!). But something is missing: customers. Your perfectly designed Shopify or WooCommerce store is pointless if you aren’t getting traffic.

These days, when people want to buy something online, their first stop is Google. If you want an endless source of free traffic, you need to make sure that your website comes up among the first sites on search engines – this is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.

Search engine optimization is the best practice to organically improve the ranking of your website, so when people search for something that is related to what you provide, your online store lands at the front of the line.

Below are some important e-commerce on-page SEO factors to consider to ensure that your site is more visible on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Perform Keyword Research

Keyword search is the most important and valuable activity in search engine optimization that is directly related to the success of your website or its downfall. Paying more attention to the keywords searched by customers in your market category will help you improve SEO and know more about your customers too.

The most effective keywords have been found to be the ones that are a bit longer, as this makes it more specific, which in turn minimizes competition and has a high conversion rate. For example, the customer who is searching for “Modest Mouse graphic t-shirts” has much more buyer intent than someone just Googling “graphic t-shirts”.

When creating keywords for your site, it is important to consider these four factors:

  • Volume – the higher the keyword the more traffic potential.
  • Competition – longer keywords tend to be less competitive.
  • Relevancy – keywords that match what your products provide.
  • Intent – keywords that people who are ready to buy are using.

Permanently 301 Redirect Expired Products URLs

After the expiration of your products, it is better to use a 301 redirect than have customers land on a 404 not found page. Why? Because assuming that the expired product has a high traffic, “404 not found” will only make your current customers (and potential ones too) think something is wrong and they need to run. Why would you want to waste such a hard-earned traffic when there is a better way to make it more useful?

With a 301 redirect, you get to still hold on to all those your customers and the SEO that you have worked hard for. And to make it more efficient, customize a message explaining why they are been redirected and make sure that it takes them to a relevant page (or parent category better still). This way they get something important related to you. Just make sure that your site is not clustered by too many 301 redirects, as this will render it inefficient.

Optimize Category Pages for SEO

The category page on your website is the most important page, even more important than all the product pages. And, when properly managed, it will be the first page to appear on a search engine result.

Tweaking and optimizing category pages ensures that all other individual pages don’t compete with each other. For example, if your site sells designer men’s shoes and you optimize all your product pages with the same keyword, you have just successfully rendered it ineffective.

But when you optimize the category page to be “designer men’s shoes” and all other pages are optimized to be more specific, then your pages will no longer be competing with each other for spots on Google.

Implement Schema Markup to Add Rich Snippets to Product Pages

With schema markup and snippets in your e-commerce platform, customers get to see important information about what you offer, their functions, and even how much they cost. With all these important information, the chances of the customer progressing to checking out the content of your site will skyrocket.

With schema markup and snippets on your site, you gain increased ranking and rating in the SERPs and more revenue for your business as it tells the search engine exactly what the information you provide is. To ensure that your site gets the traffic and rankings it deserves, you should implement the following:

  • Optimize your product with schema markup.
  • Ensure that schema markup also tells the user how much your product cost.
  • Try to add ratings and reviews to your snippets.

 

 

Optimize Product Page Permalink and Structure – Use Breadcrumbs on all Pages

Permalinks are the permanent links to your product page on your website that make it easy for your customers to find what they are searching for, navigate your site, and even boost your ratings and rankings on the search engine. The permalinks should have the exact keyword you are trying to rank for as often as possible.

Breadcrumbs tell the user exactly the location they are on your site and can also come up in search engines result making your content more understandable by the users.

Add your Site to Google Webmaster Tools

Google webmaster tools help you analyze the technical sections of your site, such as…

  • Search queries – here you see the keywords that the users typed whenever they visit your site.
  • Crawl errors – here you see all the crawl errors Google encountered on your website.
  • Keyword – here you get to see the various keywords on your site and how important they are.
  • Sitemap – here you see your sitemap and what URLs it contains
  • Links – here you will see where all your links (both internal and external) come from and be able to restrict any that are harmful to your site (such as spam links sent from a competitor).

Optimize Product Pictures and Videos

Pictures and videos are also very important and as such should be optimized for search engines as well. To do ensure a successful optimization, you have to implement the following

  • Use names that provide the necessary information for your pictures.
  • Use variations of your keyword as the alt tags.
  • Try to reduce the time it takes for the file to load by minimizing the size.
  • Transcribe your product videos.

 

Strengthen Product Pages with Little or No Content

Don’t let your product pages simply be lists of specifications. The more content on a page, the better its chance of ranking. Add as much as you can to the most valuable pages. Long sales copy will not only improve conversions, but it will boost your rank in Google too.

Continue A/B Testing

A/B testing is also known as split testing, and it the process of trying out two versions of your web page to know which one is better in terms of performance. Google has encouraged such methods and it is beneficial for your business as it will help with specifics that you can use in your search engine optimization.

Use Keyword Search Tools to Check your Status

Keyword search tools to help you to check your status across all the search engines and they also enable you to know the amount of traffic your keywords generated. They can also help you to compare your keyword ranking performance with other sites. Check in every two weeks or so to see how focusing on e-commerce on-page SEO factors is helping to boost your traffic.

In conclusion, the work and effort you have to invest to ensure that your website is optimized for search engines can be overwhelming, but with the aforementioned tips, you are sure to find it just a little bit easier.

 

This article was written by Sinoun Chea. Sinoun (pronounced ‘sin-noon’) is the founder of ShiftWeb Solutions, a web design and SEO company. She is passionate about working with small businesses to help them achieve a sexier presence on the world wide web. She is both an artist and entrepreneur at heart. In her spare time, Sinoun is always working on various projects that stimulate her brain. She also aspires to be a professional picnicker, an air floater, and an expert sleeper.
3 Ways to Make Your Website More Effective

3 Ways to Make Your Website More Effective

If you have a business website, you know that it’s a powerful thing. But you also may feel frustrated if, after all the time and money to spend putting it up, your sales and conversions aren’t increasing. Having your website be effective in bringing you results is the whole point of setting it up! I like to think of a website as another employee. It should have a specific job, a purpose, and goals. You need to teach it how to work in line with your overall business goals. You should give it the tools and the knowledge to achieve what you want it to achieve. You should review it regularly to make sure it’s doing what you want, how you want. And if it isn’t, you need to re-evaluate it.

There are many ways to make a website effective. Here are my top 3. 

Good Content

This a very general step, but it’s probably the single most important thing about a website and the thing I find people overlook most. What does having good content mean, anyway?

  • Targeted page content on homepages, service pages and product pages that answers user’s questions
  • Blog posts that offer educational, non-promotional information
  • Content that is written well and in a voice that not only reflects who you are as a business, but that is easy for your users to understand
  • Photos, video, and other imagery that helps your users get the information they need quickly

Run through your site right now in your head. Does your written content actively and effectively answer the questions your ideal client has? I’m not just talking about telling them that your product or service fits their needs. But do you provide free, helpful information that not only answers their questions about you but about your industry in general?

Do you have an active blog? If you don’t, you should start one. Even if you only publish a post per month, a blog helps you rank better, gives you shareable content for social media, and earns potential customers’ trust. It’s one of the best ways to make your website more effective because it’s helpful and not salesy. Think hard about how you write the content on your site. Whether it’s sales copy, an About Me page, a blog post, whatever. What you say is just as important as how you say it.

If you have a more laid-back working style and you hope to cultivate a warm, friendly relationship with each client, avoid writing copy that is hyper-professional, stiff and technical. No one wants to read long blocks of text, especially if they are researching a company to work with. Think back to when you were in school. If you had to do research, would you rather have watched a video or take notes out of a dull, thick textbook? Most people are visual learners, so give them that option! For example, here’s a video I made a while back about writing great blog posts that are helpful to readers and optimized for SEO!

Good Use of Links

While this goes along with creating great copy, it’s important to recognize all on its own. Having links on your site is incredibly important. You don’t want someone to visit a page on your site and not go to another one. You want them to go to as many pages on your site as possible. The longer they spend on your site, the more chance you have of converting them to a customer or client. Think of it like dating. If you go on a first date and they are a good match, you’d want them to agree to a second date. And a third. And a fourth. A website works the same way. That first visit is the first date. You want to offer a second date to the people who are a good match for you by offering links to:

  • Related, helpful content
  • Social media profiles
  • Free downloads like checklists, ebooks, or whitepapers
  • Your About page
  • Your testimonials
  • Your products and services

Remember that your products and services is sort of like a marriage proposal. You are asking them to partner up with you. You don’t want to propose after the first date! Give them ample space to explore your site, get to know and trust you, before popping the question. These links can not only go in your written page content, but can be images, sidebar links, and buttons, footer links, etc. Space them out so that no matter where your user is on a page, there is a link to another page in view. Make them eye-catching, but not distracting from the real meat of that page.

Speaking of helpful links, if you’re thinking of revamping your website because it’s not performing well, check out this post on auditing your own website – it comes with a handy checklist!

Analyze How People Use It

I have met so many people who have complained that their site did well for a while when they first launched it, but eventually it “stopped being useful.” When I asked them why, they had no idea and believed that it was impossible to know. Remember when I said a website is like having another employee? If you had an employee who did great in the first few weeks after being hired, and then their performance started slipping, wouldn’t you want to figure out why? You would at least want to confront them and let them know they need to improve their performance.

When your website suddenly isn’t working as well as it was, it’s in your best interest to figure out why. You can do this with data and analysis. Install programs like Google Analytics. Try to be as consistent as possible with your content output. Monitor where your visitors come from, when, and who they are. If you can see all pieces of the puzzle, you can see patterns. And when you can see patterns, you can see when they are broken. I highly recommend that every 6-12 months, a business does an audit or controlled user-test of their site. Preferably both. Audits are when you bring an expert in to spot problems with your site you may have missed. If you can get users to test your site, you can get them to report back to you with problems or bugs that they find.

Lots of things can hurt conversions, from the season of the year, to the color of your call-to-action buttons, to the topics you’re writing about on your blog. If you can sit down with a detailed analysis of how your site works and how people use it,  and identify relationships between conversion changes and changes you’ve been making, you can spot problems and fix them.