Little Black Cherry returned to my life in a bizarre way. I launched this online store in 2007 and sold it 5 years later. While the new owner ran it for over 3 years, nothing really was changing. She decided to sell it to her friend and the current owner, Mike.
He then, knowing that it was originally my business, got in touch wanting to receive a FREE website critique which I offer now with my current copywriting business (sorry to confuse you!).
We first started exchanging emails – Mike was kind enough to fill me in with the updates on what was going on behind the scenes since I sold LBC in 2012 – not much overall. As he is still busy with his day job, he needed someone to help him steer Little Black Cherry back onto deep waters – and he knew I could be the person for the job. I was glad to help!
With initial SEO, blogging and now social media, Little Black Cherry is back in my life – and I would love to continue with the project – for me it’s like going to the candy store – browsing alternative outfits, dip dye hair, current edgy styles, what more can a girl want?
Have you ever wondered why some websites make you want to stay and browse while others call for pressing ‘back’ button right away? Is it the design, right colors, the wording? Researchers think that website usability is the factor responsible for keeping your visitors engaged. How your website satisfies their expectations reflects in a bounce rate and conversion level.
You see, we are so accustomed to particular website structure that we automatically head to certain parts of the site expecting similar content: logo in the top left corner, navigation at the top, contact link in the footer and so on. If the content we expect is not there, we feel confused. That is one of factors that might affect your site’s usability.
How can you improve your website usability? Experts recommend few simple tips, which we analyze below:
1. Be brief and to the point
Online readers are not known for their patience. They have a short attention span – they probably sit by the computer, watching a Countdown and waiting for a pizza to bake. If you don’t grab their attention immediately, they will go elsewhere with a touch of a ‘back’ button.
Readers skim the articles to find what they need as soon as possible. They read headlines, bold text and image captions. According to Jakob Nielsen in his study, usability can be increased 58% by cutting half of the words on a webpage. Shorter articles increase readability, same as shorter sentences and words. How can you use it:
- Get to the point quickly
- Remove excessive information
- Use common words and phrases
- Avoid long paragraphs and sentences
- Use numerals for numbers – instead of spelling them out (100 instead of a hundred)
- Test your writing with Bausch-Kincaid readability tool (part of each Word document)
2. Use headings
Yes, these bold phrases within content not only shine like beacons telling your reader what each paragraph is about, they also optimize your text for search engines.
Don’t change headings font with text editor – use H tags instead (H1 – H2 – H3). They will have better value for Google. Make sure to use them in the right order too.
According to Nielsen, we read in chunks, following F-shaped pattern. We skim from left to right skipping a lot of text in between. Therefore, when writing content, include key information in the top left corner of each page.Other things to remember:
- Break lengthy paragraphs into blocks, one with separate heading
- Include main keywords within headings
- Use H tags instead of text editor
3. Make your page skimmable
Jakob Nielsen proved that online readers skim the content looking for useful information. Making the process easy for them will not only improve your website usability by 47%, but also help you connect with the customers and build rapport. How to do it:
- Make first words count. Users read first few words in headings and text instead of full paragraph
- Include important information at the top of the page
- Write target keywords within the first paragraph
4. Use bullet points
According to ClickTale eye-tracking study, users are drawn to bullet points and text formatting (italics and bold text). These can speed up the reading by highlighting most important information.How can you use it:
- Break up your paragraphs with bullet points (list facts, ingredients, names etc.)
- Highlight key information in bold and italics
5. Don’t be afraid of white space
Many web designers are concerned about using white space, but don’t be tempted to fill every part of your website with text and banners. Online, less is more.
We want peace and order when browsing; too many elements asking for attention can scare us away. Use margins and space between paragraphs liberally to increase usability.Other things to try:
- Use comfortable space between words, letters and paragraphs
- Add generous margins on both sides of paragraphs
- Stop using wide layouts
- Use CSS instead of tables when designing content
6. Add strong visuals
This is a wonderful way to break up the text and add interest to your page. People are naturally drawn to images – just check your Twitter stream. You tend to scroll down the news feed and stop by a great image, often skipping the text.
It’s the same on your website. Add interesting and relevant images to enhance your user experience. Avoid stock photos though; study shows readers ignore them. Why not create your own graphics using Canva.com? How to use images effectively:
- Include pictures relevant to your content and each paragraph
- Add descriptive captions
- Avoid stock photos
- Design your own graphics
James from Fling Footwear got in touch with freelance content writers at Rock Paper Copy to improve their SEO. His online store was in a competitive market – ladies heels – therefore he faced a fierce battle. Yet his SEO efforts focused around general keywords, which placed him firmly on the back pages of Google.
Google Keyword Planner
We started by running a thorough keyword research using Google keyword planner. We have put homepage link into the tool which derived automatically over 800 keywords. We focused on the ones delivering 500+ monthly searches. As James wanted to use these in his AdWords campaign, we picked the ones in lower PPC range (up to £0.50 per click).
That initial step gave us about 20 keyword phrases. We have then got rid of phrases that didn’t suit Fling shop – James didn’t have any blue heels or yellow boots, so any keywords that would deliver zero results were crossed off. That left us with 5 phrases.
Next step was to put these keywords into Google Trends to see how each performed in last few years – and what is the prediction for the nearer future. We discovered that three of the keywords had a really amazing potential, therefore decided to focus on these.
With these keyword phrases in tow, we headed to a Google itself. We began by typing each keyword phrase to discover what we are up against in terms of competition. Google delivers number of competing websites for each keyword. Therefore we decided to focus on the keywords with fewer competitors. That way James would be able to be found with his AdWords and not buried by millions of big brands.
Keyword suggest tool
Another great feature that Google gives you is that it suggests longer phrases as you type – it’s a natural Long Tail Keyword finder. You are able to discover your keyword phrase suggested by what other people type into Google – amazing tool, not to be overlooked!
Now that we had about 10 long tail keywords found through Google’s suggestion tool and with knowledge that each delivers less than 800k results, we headed back to Keyword Tool. Here we have typed the list of keywords for the final stage – monthly searches and PPC cost. That gave us our two final Long Tail Keywords – one with 4,400 and other with 880 monthly searches – to give James a competitive edge.
Don’t fight big brands in their own game
There’s no point throwing your AdWords money on keyword with millions of searches, if you know there are other big boys fighting for it too. You have to be smart and NAIL the small keyword. If you get to the first page for a niche keyword, all of the 880 monthly searches can be yours. Which means you will spend less on AdWords and get largest ROI – way to go!