Whether you’re happy with your current website or completely embarrassed by it, these are the changes that will get you the most traffic right away.
Forget all the conflicting advice you hear from everyone from online marketers to web designers.
Make these five tweaks and you can stop worrying.
High-resolution images look great but they can make your site sluggish, especially if your visitors have older devices or browsers.
Your readers don't have a high tolerance for frustration. If your page won't load on their device within a few seconds, they'll click away and never return.
Google knows this and penalizes sites that take more than 1.5 seconds to load.
So if your site doesn’t load in a flash, you can say “goodbye” to a top search ranking.
Remove the high-resolution images and slideshows. Allow yourself one or two good compressed images and leave it at that. You can always showcase your products or work (if your business is visual) in a gallery section elsewhere.
No high-resolution images
A high-resolution slideshow
Share buttons are vital to your blog's growth.
They let your visitors spread the word about your content on many social media sites with one click.
They also encourage more shares because they're powerful social proof that other readers also found your posts share-worthy.
If your buttons are only at the top of your post, your readers might not scroll back up the page to share when they're finished reading. If they're at the bottom of the post, your readers may never see them.
The solution? Add floating share buttons to the ones at the top and bottom of your posts. The buttons will move down the page as your readers scroll, and be right there as soon as they decide they want to hop over to Facebook or Twitter to tell the world about you.
Floating share buttons (they can also be anchored to the top of the page.)
No floating share buttons. Nowhere to click to share in the middle of the post.
Widgets and plug-ins add some cool functionalities to your webpages, but just like high-resolution images, they can slow down your site.
This triggers the same Google penalty I told you about in Tweak #1.
Be ruthless. Keep plugins and widgets that help your readers to engage with you and your content or ones that serve a valuable technical purpose - and delete everything else.
Remove any widgets that take your visitors off your site. You don't need to display a blog roll, the weather in Aruba, or your latest Tweets.
Try to limit yourself to 10-15 total plug-ins and widgets.
Keep your design clean and on point, with nothing to distract your readers from the action you want them to take.
A site with nothing in the sidebars except the feature photo for the post
Widgets in the sidebar unrelated to the main actions the site wants visitors to take
This website improvement is actually one of the most important.
If you make no other changes, make sure you do this one:
You must add a feature box directly below your website header.
A feature box runs across the top of your page and ideally offers an irresistible, must-have incentive to your visitors to sign up to your mailing list.
You see, sidebar list signups just aren’t effective anymore. People have trained themselves to ignore them.
This one change will help you gain five to ten times more subscribers than you'll get from a typical sidebar box offering newsletters or updates. It's the difference between getting five or six sign-ups for every 1000 visitors and getting 20-30 (or more!)
The bottom line? If you have a feature box, you can grow your list to 1000 subscribers in 6 months if you do everything else right. You’d need 5 YEARS to grow to the same list size without one.
Install a feature box.
A site with a prominent feature box
A site without a feature box
Your header and the top of the first page of your site’s home page are your most valuable online real estate. If people see nothing else on your site, they’ll see the top of your home page.
The part of the page that visitors see first, without scrolling, is known as the area “above the fold.”
You must use this space wisely.
Ideally, you want your logo and navigation on a single line in the top bar. That way, when you add your feature box, visitors will still see the headline of your latest post.
Keep your navigation tab labels as concise and clear as possible. Make sure there's no way your visitors can possibly be confused when they visit your site.
Don't use fancy, clever, or long tab titles. For example, use “About” instead of “The Fascinating Story of My Blog and Life” or “Check Me Out Here.”
A site with a narrow header, feature box, and latest post headline all visible without scrolling
A site where the header takes up almost all of the page
So, now you know the five tweaks that will turn your website into a traffic-generating, list-building machine.
But can you jump in today and do all of these upgrades yourself?
Do you know where to find good, affordable technical support if you can’t?
And once you make the changes, are you confident they’ll have the effect you hope for?
If so, great.
If not, good news:
I've got help for you.
I’ve done the research and gathered all the information you need in order to turn your blog’s online home into a sleek traffic maximizer.
I’ve compiled all these resources into a 31-page mini-course that guides you through the three competing goals you’ll have to balance with your website and then walks you step-by-step through the 7 Components of the Ultimate Blog Design Makeover. Click the button below to download your copy.