The holidays are over. The cookie jar is empty. The decorations are back in the basement.
Time to take off your cozy fleece jumpsuit and put on your business owner pants.
What can you do to grow your business this year?
Well, I hear a business websites is great in doing exactly that.
Want to get more leads and sales through your website in 2022? Check out these 22 tips to make your website successful this year.
Don’t change a thing on your website if you’re happy with your clients and the money. Who cares if Karen got a new chic website everyone’s praising on Twitter? You do you.
But if you’d like to get different clients or clients that pay better, see below.
Before making any changes to a page on your website, ask yourself these 5 questions:
- What did my visitors come to this page for?
- Will this new piece of text / visual element interfere with my visitors’ intentions?
- Can they easily read everything?
- Is my message clear?
- Will this new thing pull visitors’ attention in a wrong direction?
Let go of the fear to appeal to fewer people.
There are freaking 7,7 billion people living on Earth. Trust me, there still will be enough prospects out there for you when you narrow your target audience. But now your website and offer will resonate with them much better.
Make sure you’re familiar with stages of prospect awareness and decide what stage of awareness your prospects are at on every page of your website.
This will help you recognize the parts of your website that are missing their goal completely, and instead of tweaking the copy here and there with no result rewrite it from scratch and see improvement.
Unless you have invented a new thing (hello, teleportation device!) or offer an unusual service, don’t bother addressing people who have never heard of the things you offer on your homepage or service pages.
Instead, talk to problem-aware or solution-aware prospects (see, I told you you need to know the stages of awareness).
- If you’re a copywriter, burn the sections “What is copywriting?” or “Why you need good copy” with fire 🔥🔥🔥 If your prospect doesn’t know that already, they won’t be able to appreciate the value you deliver and won’t be ready to pay your fees.
- If you’re a search marketing agency, don’t shy away from using words like SEO, PPC, backlinks etc. These are the exact words your prospects are already using to describe their needs.
Always address your prospects as “you” (even if you’re a fancy-pancy company).
Remove these words and phrases from your web copy:
- our mission / values / philosophy
- we are proud to / we take pride in
- the best (provider, solution, software, etc.)
- Be specific as to who you’re addressing exactly (“you”, “businesses of X size / Y niche / Z problems”)
- Put your prospects in focus (not yourself) by telling them why they should care to read the next sentence or to work with you
- Make specific claims and support them with data, testimonials or case studies
Declutter your navigation using these rules of thumb:
- Not more than 7 main navigation items
- No drop-downs (except for under Services or Products)
Delete these pages from your website:
- Testimonials (here’s why)
- FAQ (here’s why)
Add a page “Case studies” to your navigation and website. After you create at least a couple of case studies, of course. Because – have you heard? – case studies are the most powerful social proof that makes your prospects go crazy about your offers.
Add photos of real people (yours or your team mates) on your homepage or at least your About page. Avoid stock photographs of people who are neither real nor you / your colleagues.
Make sure your homepage passes a 5-second test. After looking at your homepage for just 5 seconds, your prospects should be able to tell:
- what you do
- for whom
- what’s the benefit
If you are writing your own copy, don’t be afraid to make it too wordy. Be afraid to make it unclear.
- Engaging and interactive workshops delivered by experienced public speaker (vague, self-centered; what’s in it for me? 🤔)
- Engaging and interactive workshops that help the members of your team improve their communication skills (wordy but still clear)
- Interactive workshops that help your team improve their communication skills (both clear and succinct)
Make your About page shorter and remove any sentence that doesn’t make your prospects:
- relate to you more because of the common values or experiences
- trust you more to do a good job
Not sure what makes a good About page? Here are three great examples of About pages for small business owners (+ more tips on writing your own).
Make your individual service pages longer by adding the description of your process and addressing reservations you anticipate your prospects to have.
Struggling to write your service pages? Steal this fail-proof service page outline.
For Pete’s sake, add a proper footer to your website.
Learn the basics of Google Analytics (it’s much less scary than you think). Because you can’t improve what you can’t measure.
Once you aren’t scared of Google Analytics anymore, do these two things:
- Create a custom dashboard to be able to see the most important metrics of your website at one glance
- Set conversion goals to get excited when you see more people clicking on your CTAs buttons / contacting you / buying from you this week than last week or to see how the changes to copy or design influence user behavior
I love this comprehensive guide by Andy Crestodina. It’s written in plain language anyone will understand and has many videos and screenshots.
Start spying on your website visitors to better understand how you can improve your pages. And by “spying” I mean recording their browsing sessions as if you’re peeking behind their shoulders using Hotjar, Crazy Egg or similar software (you will be surprised but that’s totally legal).
If you’re a freelancer, hire someone (even if just for a small job). You’ll discover many things that you didn’t know mattered so much to clients, which will help you improve your services (and understand that you’re more valuable to your prospects than you think, because you can keep deadlines and communicate clearly).
Thinking of hiring a web designer?Ask a potential candidate a couple of trick questions.
- “I was thinking of adding a slider to the homepage. What do you think?” The correct answer to this question is “Noooo!“
- Or “I hear one-page websites are in. Could you make me one?” The correct answer here would be “That’s a really bad idea.“
Thinking of hiring a copywriter? Find out if a potential hire is any good by telling them something to what a good copywriter would object.
- “I think I don’t need much text on my website. We’re a designer agency, so the images of our work will speak for themselves.”
- Or “I think that for a website tagline, we need something that makes a big statement. For example, ‘Solution for success’.”
A good copywriter will tell you that:
- Images are highly interpretive and that without clear words that explain what your client offers, for whom and why people should hire them they won’t get many leads from their website
- “Haha. Only over my dead body!” or anything else that means they don’t think it’s a good idea, because your current tagline doesn’t tell your prospects what you do and why they should care.
If you’re taking care of your website yourself, don’t try to do everything at once. Do whatever you can without stressing yourself out.
Knowing that you need to change a gazillion things on your website could make anyone hyperventilate.
You know what helps? Putting those things on paper and tackling them one-by-one whenever you have the time and energy (even if a small change to your navigation is all you could fit in this week).
As they say, drop by drop, the sea is drained.
100 more short & actionable tips
Looking for more copy and web design tips that will truly help you improve your website? You’ll find my best 100 website tips in this book.
8 thoughts on “22 Tips to Make Your Business Website Successful This Year”
I appreciate the clear and concise tips Gill provides for optimizing website content, improving user experience, and increasing website traffic. The advice is to focus on creating quality content that is informative and engaging. I also found the section on mobile optimization particularly insightful, as more and more users are accessing websites through their mobile devices. This article is a valuable resource for creating a professional and effective business website.
I really the whole post you created. Will def going to use it as I am also a web designer.
Thanks, Srishti. Glad you found it helpful.
Wow…. from now on, whenever a small biz owner asks me “I don’t know what I should do with my website”, I’ll point them to this post in a matter of nanoseconds.
Also, as a fellow copywriter (although a noob one, not a master like yourself) I felt good knowing that I passed the trick question test haha.
Lastly, I’m glaaaad I got Jacob Mcmillen’s course. This post and many others prove it; that guy knows his shit haha.
Thanks for everything Gill!
You knocked it outta the park as always 🙂
Hi Esat. Sorry for the belated response. Somehow I came across your comment only now. Thank you very much for your kind words 🙂 Glad you found this post helpful.
Hahaha! I think you could make a great post with only trick questions for any type of business advice.
I love how outspoken you are. I agree with so much that you say – but I wonder about the stages of awareness homepage advice. You write: ‘don’t bother addressing people who have never heard of the things you offer on your homepage or service pages.’ I used to think the same. Yet for the last 2 years or so, as an experiment, I’ve had the things I offer right in the reader’s face on my homepage, only introduced with one short paragraph. And it has not hurt one bit. I actually don’t think I sold more because of it. But either way: it has taken me over 13 years to sell without holding back, and I feel that making clear I sell things at the beginning is only fair, in a way.
Am I making sense? Or did I not understand you correctly?
Also: people can travel through those stages of awareness at great speed, I find, if they like and trust you. I think the like and trust factor is, at least for small businesess, what matters uppermost. People will educate themselves about you and your products if they are enamored.
> Yet for the last 2 years or so, as an experiment, I’ve had the things I offer right in the reader’s face on my homepage, only introduced with one short paragraph.
But this means you’re addressing people with high awareness level: someone who knows how things that you offer help and probably knows you already. Which is exactly what I’m saying: the higher the awareness level, the easier it is to convert people.
What I don’t recommend doing within this tip is to start explaining people what’s blogging and how it helps them grow their business (if we talk about your case of being a writing / blogging coach).
People with lower awareness level are harder to convert. Which may be an inevitable state of things if you’ve created an absolutely unheard of product or service where the majority of people indeed don’t understand what it is and how it helps.
But for common services like blogging, writing coaching, copywriting, SEO, you name it, you’ll have plenty of people with higher awareness level who don’t need to hear about the benefits of a service in general and who only need to understand why they should hire / buy from you over your competitors. Or, like it probably is in your case, just show them the product because they already know, like and trust you, and know that whatever you produce is always damn good 🙂
Gotcha! I am not sure there is such a high awareness level for my readers – actually, I am sure there isn’t when someone lands on my homepage for the first time. But yes, I see what you wanted to say. Don’t explain the value of christmas ornaments when people are ready to buy your high end ornaments anyway.
I was talking to someone about this yesterday – a copywriter. On his homepage he tells people he can provide them with great copy. I think a copywriter should think of something more original, for his homepage. Because of the proof and the pudding. So he should offer something even better, or better written.
But this is a whole ‘nother subject.
One thing someone once told me about level of awareness and copy – on a salespage – is: in a very long salespage you can take people through several of these stages. If people are ready to buy, you can have a short page.
I am not sure if that is right. I also think very expensive offers need more explanation. More information leads to less insecurity. Right?