Category Archives: Website Review

Website Review: Search Engine Optimization

Time to focus on how well Barbara’s site is set up to get picked by Google et al.

I have to say, her site is actually doing quite well — good job, Barbara! If your site isn’t coming up #1 or close to it for your name — unless you’ve got a common name — then you’re doing something wrong. Barbara’s site does rank #1 in Google for her name, so that’s a good start. And, for the phrase "heart at work" it comes up in the top 10 — very impressive!

When setting up your search engine strategy, it’s best to think like the customer/client. What words/phrases would they type into a search engine? Keeping in mind that you need to have realistic expectations here. I would suspect for Barbara, that "career counselor yarmouth" or "career counseling yarmouth" and "inspiring presentations" would be big ones. And again, major kudos! All are #1 in Google. Well done.

So, how does she do so well? Quite simply by having all of those words in the actual text on her home page (and on other pages) and in the title tag. And, I assume, by having some good quality incoming links (i.e., links on other sites TO her site).

Also, notice I said you must have realistic expectations. Barbara’s site doesn’t show up in the top 100 for "career counseling" without the Yarmouth. But, then she’s competing against the rest of the whole world. If I lived in Yarmouth and were looking for a career counselor, you bet I’d include the word "Yarmouth" in my search.

I don’t know if there’s anything I’d suggest for improvement here. She’s done all the basics right: made good use of keywords in her text, used logical and unique title tags for each page, and got incoming links. Way to go, Barbara!

Website Review: Copy on Secondary Pages

In general, the copy on the secondary pages of Barbara’s site are well written and have useful information that visitors are likely to want to know.  I will comment briefly on each page below.

Presentations and Provence Retreat

I would recommend re-organizing the text on this page so that the information on the presentations and retreat is first. Visitors will arrive on this page because of the name on the navigation button and it’s best to provide them with that information right away. Remember, not everyone will read everything on your site or on any given page so you will want them to easily have access to the information they want and that which brings you $.

I would also put the information about Barbara and where she has presented at the bottom. If her visitors are interested in the presentations and retreats after reading about them, they can scroll down and read the rest of the material on the page.

Women’s Week in Provence

This page is informative and describes the retreat details clearly. I would recommend providing even more details on the kind of person who might want to attend as well as the benefits of attending.This would likely result in more people registering. More testimonials would also likely increase the number of visitors signing up.

Bio

This page is well written and  gives a feel for Barbara’s work.

Intention and Philosophy

I would put the navigation footer at the bottom of the page rather than having it in the middle of the page. Also, Barbara might think about having the anchor text (the clickable words) in the numbered items 1-4  match the explanations of these 4 points lower down just so it’s  bit more cohesive and clear.

In the middle of this page the sentence, “A licensed clinical professional counselor, Barbara Babkirk works with people who want to change some aspect of their work or explore a new direction in their lives.” would seem to fit better at the bottom of the page where the rest of the information about Barbara is.

Career Counseling Sessions

Barbara has listed the benefits of her counseling sessions which is very important. She could even list the specific problems and concerns her clients have so the visitor can assess whether he or she might be a suitable client. She might get better results if she had a “call to action” at the end of the page inviting the visitor to contact her. More testimonials would likely convert more visitors as well.

Contact Page

Although most people’s websites only have the contact information on this page as Barbara does, I think she can make better use of this page by writing some text inviting prospects to contact her and perhaps even advising them when she might be able to get back to them, etc. Just a little more information making it more inviting.

Inside Heart at Work

This page describes some background on Barbara’s work and choice of the term, “Heart at Work” which gives the visitor more information on Barbara’s company. The more information you can give the prospect, the easier it is for them to make a decision.

Overall, good job on the copy on the secondary pages,  Barbara!

Website Review: Home Page Copy

As a marketer and copywriter, I am totally convinced that copy is the most important aspect of your website and there is plenty of research to back this up.

Helping and healing professionals don’t normally have any background in copywriting or marketing so when I write copy for them (or guide them in writing their own), we are usually starting at square one even if they already have their website up and running.

Barbarababkirkscreen_2 Here is the link again for Barbara’s website so you can view her site in a separate window and easily go back and forth between reading this post and viewing her site.

While Barbara’s website is well written, I would recommend changing the copy on the home page entirely so that Barbara will get better results. Research shows that you only have a few seconds to catch the attention of your website visitors and your copy needs to speak to them if you want them to stay and read your site further.

Right now, Barbara has done what many do–focus the copy on the home page on herself and her services. While this seems like a natural thing to do, in fact, people don’t want to know about you so much at first, they are much more interested in finding out if you understand them and can provide the help they need. In this sense, the copy should focus on your website visitors and their needs, not on you.

I would start the copy on Barbara’s page by having a headline that speaks directly to her target market–people wanting career counseling and perhaps something about the speaking markets she is targeting. The headline should be compelling and either be focused on the specific problems and struggles people are experiencing around  their careers and/or what they are looking for that will help them (i.e. the solution to their problem(s)). This will help visitors quickly identify themselves when they arrive at her site. If they see that Barbara has something they want, they will stick around her website and read her information.

The next step would be to begin the copy by showing understanding for the visitor’s situation. This would then be followed by stating the specific benefits people will experience from Barbara’s services.

Barbara should also explain what is unique about her services. Why should people hire her? What makes her different from all the other career counselors? People like to hire the best, or people who stand out in some way.

All the statements Barbara makes about herself and her services can be backed up by client testimonials. Yes, people do read and pay attention to well written, specific testimonials and they do take action based on them.

Finally, the last step on this page would be to have what is called a "call to action". This is where you ask the visitor to do something. For example, sign up for a newsletter, call you for more information, read some of your articles, etc.

A word about the length of copy:

There is a myth that short copy is better on websites, but this is actually not the case. The issue is more about having enough copy to convince the reader that they should take some action at your site. eg. buy your product or service. Usually this takes more than a bit of copy to do effectively. The more informed people are, the more likely they are to call you. For this reason, well-written, engaging copy is often longer than you might think it should be.

As a final note, I always recommend that my clients have a subscribe box to a newsletter or some other offer. In the long term your subscriber base will be foundational to the success of your practice.

If anyone is interested in reading more about copywriting you can check out the previous posts that I have written on copywriting by clicking here.

Website Review: Secondary Page Design

Barbarababkirkscreen_2 Today we’re going to look at the "secondary" (i.e., non-Home) pages of Barbara’s website, with particular focus on the design and layout. Again, for those of you following at home, you may want to open the site in a separate window so you can flip between reading this and viewing the site.

Font

As I mentioned in reviewing the home page, I like the colors used in the site. However, I find the font colors (khaki and yellow) a bit difficult to read on the burgundy background. In the larger point sizes and when bolded, they’re easy to read, but at a font size of 3 or lower (the main text and menu), it’s a bit of a strain on the eyes. White — or something very close to it — is always a safe bet when using a dark background.

On the Presentations page, I find the font of the first paragraph ("For a small group…") too bold-like. It’s actually size 4 non-bold, but looks all bold. And, having a full paragraph in bold is a bit of overkill. I’d lower the font size (lightening the color) and only bold part of the paragraph for true emphasis. (Same goes for all the text on the "Inside Heart at Work" page.)

Better yet, for real control of font size, weight, and color, try using CSS stylesheets. It gives you much better control of the exact font sizes (in pixels, e.g.) rather than relying on HTML’s 7-point system, which can vary widely from computer to computer.

I’d work a bit on the consistency of type usage. i.e., on the Presentations page, the two bulleted lists have different line spacing (double for the first list; single for the second). And, under "Retreats" the two headings are in different colors — I’d make them both yellow.

Menu

I like that there’s a text menu at the bottom of each page. However, in my opinion, that should be secondary to a more obvious menu at the top or left (or right) of each page. People generally expect to find the menu in one of these positions, so that they can easily navigate through the site, without having to scroll to the bottom of the page or go back to the Home page first.

Graphics

Kudos for using a couple of photos on the page to make the reading easier on the eyes. I’d maybe adjust the spacing around them a bit, though. For example, on the Bio page, the photo near the bottom of the page touches a bit too close to the text above it. Again, CSS can really be your friend in getting the spacing you want (or, you can use HTML hspace and vspace, but I don’t like the lack of control with these).

One Long Page

The "Intention and Philosophy" page is too long in my opinion. It looks like there’s a lot of good information there, but some people get scared off when they see that much on one page. I’d break it up into four or five separate pages (which will also help with search engine rankings; more on this in a later post). Also, I’d do away with the grey borders around each section. No offense, but only people new to web design use the HTML 3-d table borders. They’re just not cool ;)

I think that’s about it for now. Next time we’ll get into how effective the copy (text) is in the site in terms of getting results from visitors.