Bland to Brilliant: Website Checklist

This list will not audit everything that goes into running a successful blog – talk about overwhelming! Instead, we’ll cover a quick list of the imperatives that apply to every blogger, from novice to veteran.

This is the first step to creating a blog that attracts visitors, converts them to fans, and keeps them coming back for more.

  •  Invitation To Friend/Follow On Social Media

Social media is more than a trend or a tactic that you can use to build an audience. For bloggers, it’s as essential as a blog itself. And merely having a social media “presence” isn’t enough; you have to let people know you’re active on social media by inviting them to interact.

There are many ways to accomplish this; one of the simplest is to extend an invitation – “Follow me on Facebook,” for example, and include a link to your page. 

TIP: Focus on one at a time. Hold give-aways, competitions and fun events on that one platform. Include bits of it in your posts and invitations to join you on your blog.
Facebook Strategy for 2018

  •  Professional Quality Logo/Header

The world of Internet marketing is vast and competitive. While you can create your own business identity, it’s usually far more lucrative to leave it to the professionals. A well made identity can last 5 – 10 years or more; can be placed on tiny business cards to large vehicle wraps.  They are malleable, irreplaceable and unique. 

Make an investment in your brand and your business by creating a strong and relevant header and logo to represent your business. 

TIP: grab a few social media templates from your designer at the same time. Canva templates make it easy to swap out a photo or post title and you’ll have matching graphics for social media, post images and more.

  •  Easy To Navigate

Make sure your visitors can find their way around your website quickly and easily. 

If you’re uncertain about how to accomplish this, then study websites that you visit often. Notice how they guide you through the site. 

  • Do they provide relevant and easy to recognize navigation tabs? 
  • Does the flow of the site seem logical? 
  • Is there a search function so you can head directly to the page or information you’re looking for? 
  •  Interaction / Comments

Does your website invite visitors to comment on your articles and blog posts? 

One of the best ways to not only measure engagement but to also create it, is to take a look at the level of interaction on your site. With WordPress, you can turn comments on and off and you can allow comments for a specific period of time.

Some business owners choose to not allow comments, but if you don’t then you may be selling your visitors short. Engage them in conversation and invite interaction and comments. You’ll not only learn a lot about your audience, but you’ll also help build a loyal community.

  •  Social Sharing

Social sharing not only adds value to your visitors and prospects, it also helps boost your traffic and brand awareness. By adding a social sharing function to your site, your visitors can bookmark using the platform of their choice. 

There are several top quality WordPress plugins that make social bookmarking easy. Our favorite is social warfare. When someone bookmarks your site it’s added to their account, where other users can browse and share. 

Be sure you’re featuring the bookmarking sites that appeal most to your audience. 

TIP: 99% of blogs will want to feature Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram as sharing options.

  •  Fresh and Catchy Content

The single most important thing you can do to transform from bland to brilliant is to create the best content possible.

Fresh content means that your content is recent and it’s relevant. You’re not creating content about something that happened five years ago or even five months ago. You’re creating content about what’s going on right now. 

Of course catchy content varies depending on your niche and your audience.

The most important thing to remember when contemplating what makes something catchy is what voice and style you want to communicate to your readers. Are you serious? Funny? Controversial? What makes your content interesting, different, and valuable to your reader? 

  •  Archives With Clearly Distinguishable Keywords

This function is particularly important for SEO. Make finding information easy for your visitors by creating archives. Archives are essentially directories for old content.

No one wants to search through page after page of old content just to find something they’re looking for. They want to be able to find what they need with a few clicks of their mouse. Use keywords that accurately describe the subject of the content to organize your archives.

  •  Search Field

A simple tool, like a search field can make your website immeasurably more usable. 

  •  Inquiry Form

What do you want people to do when they’re at your site and they have a question? You might already have a FAQ page (hopefully you do), but what if the answer to a visitor’s question isn’t on that page? Ideally, you want your visitor to be able to reach out and ask their question. This keeps them engaged and connected to your business.

To make this happen, it has to be easy for them to contact you. One of the simplest ways to accomplish this is to have a contact form or an inquiry form on your site. They enter their email address, subject line, and ask their question. You or your customer service assistant receives the message and can promptly respond. 

  •  FAQ Page

FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions. 

Including an FAQ page on your website helps make it more user-friendly. Create a list of the most common questions you receive and turn it into a separate page on your site. Make sure that like all your other valuable pages, this FAQ page is easy to find and read. As you receive more questions, you can add to the page.

Also, consider occasionally linking to other important internal pages. This can accomplish two things. It can help keep your visitor on your website longer. And it can help boost the rankings for the page you’re linking to.

  •  List Of Awards Earned and/or Recognitions

If you or your blog has been recognized for anything relevant to your industry then by all means make sure it’s acknowledged somewhere on your website. Awards and recognitions give you a boost in credibility.

If you haven’t won any awards or received any relevant recognitions, that’s okay. You’re certainly not alone. Consider including a campaign to win an award in your business planning. Get involved in your industry and get acknowledged. 

  •  Media Page

Do you have a media or advertising page? A media page is designed to help provide the media with the essential information they need. 

Approach it with the belief that the media will come looking for you and will want to learn more about your business. Here are just a few of the elements to include on your media page:

  • Company Mission and History
  • Product List
  • Company Bios
  • Company News and Press Releases
  • Brochures, Logos, Images
  •  Top Quality Free Downloads

Useful freebies are appreciated by just about everyone. However, they can’t be the average run of the mill freebies. Your free content needs to provide unique value to each reader. Some of the best freebie downloads are simple.

For example, you might create a calendar, checklist, or even a downloadable worksheet for your prospects to fill out. Remember to brand your free downloads and use them to gently drive traffic to a sales page or the next item in your sales funnel.

  •  Contributor Content

Let other people create content for you. Each guest blogger, interview, or contributing author brings their audience with them. 

You’ll gain traffic and followers. You’ll also gain credibility by providing your prospects with a variety of valuable content. 

  •  Community Involvement

At WPB we’re big into using what we have to do good in the world. Not only is it a privilege, it is also great for business. Having the choice between a blogger who does good and a blogger who doesn’t who would you rather support? 

For example, if you have a pet related blog you might get involved in a fundraiser for your local humane society and invite others to donate or get involved themselves.

  •  A Newsletter

Email marketing is still one of the most powerful means to connect with your prospects, build relationships and create loyalty. However, your email newsletter has to be valuable. Make sure it provides different value than your website content. And separate that content so that newsletter subscribers receive unique value. 

  •  Optimized Sign Up Offer

How do you motivate people to sign up for your newsletter? A great sign up offer can do the trick. There are many options to consider. You can give away a free report or ebook. You can provide a free online tutorial, video series, or access to behind the scenes audio recordings.

Create a fabulous offer to motivate subscribers and publish that offer in a prominent location on your website. Experiment to see what type of opt-in form works best. 

TIP: Remember that pop-ups on mobile sites are penalized by Google.

  •  Push Notifications

Readers spend a lot of time on their devices – whether desktop or mobile. And push notifications let them know when new material is posted. Push notifications are read 70% more often than email, and they are a lower commitment. The reader only has to allow notifications – no email necessary. 

  •  Social Media Widgets

You’re active on social media right? You can add social media functionality into your website. Social media widgets can invite people to join you on your chosen sites. 

Social media widgets can also display your activity on your favorite sites. For example, if you have a Pinterest account you can add a Pinterest widget to your site and display your latest pins. 

TIP: weigh the price of users clicking away from your site, with the benefit of them joining you in your social media platform

  •  Great Headlines for Everything

Headlines have an important role to play, and the more compelling and relevant they are the better. They’ll pull your prospect to your content. Practice writing headlines. Test headlines to determine what your prospects respond to.

TIP: CoSchedule has one of the best headline testers

  •  Exceptionally Effective Calls To Action

Include a call to action in every single piece of content you publish on your website – even if you merely want someone to stay on your site and read some more. Tell your visitors what to do next and help guide them through your site step by step. 

TIP: limit the call to action to ONE: related content, share on social media or sign-up?

  •  Clear Brand

What’s your brand? Is it strong and apparent on your website? You can use your colors, logo, header, buttons, graphics, and the voice of your content to help build and establish your brand. 

  •  Obvious Target Market

Who is your target market, and when they visit your site will they feel ‘at home’? 

If you’re unsure who your target market is, then it’s time to conduct some research. Take a look both at the demographics and psychographics of your readers. What do they have in common? Create an ideal reader and then craft your website to appeal to that person.

  •  About Page

Your “About” page can include a number of pieces of information. Consider including information about your vision and mission. You can also include a bio or team information. 

You might include your blogging history and your purpose.

  •  Contact Page

The contact page is simple enough yet it is very important. It should include your contact information even if it’s already been published elsewhere on your site. Include name, phone numbers, email addresses and physical address. 

Also consider including any social media links on this page.

  •  Video And Welcome Audio

Video and audio have become primary means of communication online. YouTube, Vimeo and other social video sites have changed the way we interact online.
People enjoy being able to put a face with the text. They also like to hear your voice. Consider including both video and audio content on your site. You might even include a simple welcome message embedded into your landing page and/or sales page.

  •  A Way For People To Give Money 

Are you passionate about a cause? There are many ways you can integrate your cause into your business website. Taking this step not only helps raise money for something you believe in, it can help build your business.
A simple plug-in to help people click and donate, or a link to a cause you believe in, helps identify you as a socially responsible. More and more consumers are choosing socially aware businesses.

Additionally, if you have environmentally friendly practices then take time to identify those on your website. Sustainability is not just a buzzword; it’s an approach that consumers respond to.

  •  RSS Feed

RSS is a means of syndicating your content. It allows others to subscribe to your site and automatically receive new content and/or blog posts in their email inbox or via their favorite reader like Feedly. It’s ideal if you can offer both reader RSS and email RSS so that your visitors have a choice.

MORE: the Difference Between Email & RSS

  •  Regular and Consistent New Content

One of the best ways to make your blog stand out from your competition and really take hold is to create a steady stream of top quality posts. 

It keeps things exciting and of course, it keeps readers engaged.

  •  SEO Plugin

SEO is search engine optimization. It’s the strategy and toolbox of tactics that drive traffic to your website. 

There are many tactics to embrace including linking, keywords, content, social media and more. Before pursuing any and all SEO tactics, use the SEO Plugin for WordPress by Yoast. 

TIP:  Set up Instructions for SEO by Yoast

  •  Analytics

Analytics will not only help you fine tune your SEO strategy, it’ll help you build stronger relationships, better understand your readers, and it will help you create highly targeted content. 

Analytics is essentially a program that helps track every single visitor activity on your website.

Google offers a free version of analytics software that is easy to use. You embed the code into your blog and then you can track your website activity.

You can see which pages receive the most visits, where your visitors come from and much more. 

  •  Relevant and Strong Outbound Links

Many people are frightened of outbound links. They’re worried that they will be sending their visitors away. The key to good outbound links is to link to websites that are complimentary and that you have a relationship with.
For example, if you have a dog training blog you might link to your favorite dog toys website or your favorite dog breed information site. Choose relevant sites that aren’t in direct competition with you. These outbound links should also only be with professionals that you have a connection with. Ideally they’ll also help promote you by linking to your site or by promoting you on social media. 

  •  Pictures

Do your prospects and customers know what you look like? Add a picture to your website and show them. 

Make it a professional image that represents you and your brand. If you have a team of employees or even contractors that your clients may interact with frequently then consider adding photos of them on your “About” page or contact page.

  •  Security

WordPress will secure your users and your content. But only if you keep it up to date, and plugins to a minimum. 

If you sell anything, make sure your readers know they’re protected by sharing your security protocol and policies. Have your blog served over HTTPS. 

TIP: Tutorial for Installing HTTPS

  •  Fast Load Times

Invest in a good , and make sure the graphics you’re uploading aren’t so large they slow down load times. 

People are impatient and generally won’t wait more than a few seconds for a site to load.

  •  Visual Interest

Right along with a professional logo, the website presents a first impression. Make sure that you keep the site attractive and relevant to your audience.

You’ll create a website that is beautiful to look at as well as useful. 

Work with a designer to get an attractive and effective site.

Step Two

You are ready for your own design! See all the packages we offer or contact us for something uniquely tailored to you!