Having studied and worked in marketing, Freya Padmore became an expert in search engine optimization (SEO). As a full-time web designer in London, she not only creates pretty homepages for her clients worldwide. But she also helps them generate more leads and make more money through their websites by utilizing SEO. In our conversation, she shares expert advice on the essentials of a good website.
Freya, you don`t just create new websites from scratch but you also offer a power hour – a professional review for existing websites. This is such a great idea!
A lot of business owners I`ve worked with have already got a website and they just want to improve it. Also, people are often really proud of their website, they`ve built it from scratch and spent hours doing this. Yet they know that they could get more leads and more sales from their website. I get a lot of questions about SEO and marketing and how that applies to a website – I love answering these questions because I`ve got a background in marketing and SEO. The Power Hour is the solution that I came up with: we jump on a call and then I`ll basically review that website for my clients, give them a couple of pointers where I think they could improve it, and answer their questions.
What are the most common and severe issues that you see on the websites of small business owners?
In terms of the design of the website itself, a common thing that I see is that people are not using the first section of their website very well. Before you even scroll down a page the first thing you see, the first thing that loads up on a website, that is like prime real estate on a website. They say you`ve got only three seconds to capture someone’s attention – and you really do need to do that and give you’re your visitors a reason to scroll down. It could be a bold picture with a statement that addresses your target audience and gives them a reason to keep reading. If you sell products, you could say something like “free shipping” or “next day delivery” – something that is going to capture people’s attention to give them a reason to stay on your page. People often just have a picture of their team at the top of their site – which is nice but it`s not going to get people to keep scrolling.
What do you consider the most important part on a website for a small business and why?
Very important is the navigation bar: You want to make it so easy for people to go to the different pages on your website. It is so important that everything is really clear, that it makes sense what pages people are clicking on. I know some websites come up with some quirky names for their pages, for example a coffee shop calling their pages “Latte” and “Cappuccino” instead of “About” and “Contact”. But that doesn`t help anybody know what they`re clicking on, so people just won`t click on anything. Make it super obvious and easy for people to navigate.
How about the most important page on a website?
Apart from your homepage, always have an About page and a contact page. The About page is the second most visited page on any website apart from your homepage. Having an About page that tells people who you are and what you do is essential.
A lot of people struggle with their About page – what are your tips and ideas for them?
The two things that I see are: People either write their whole life story and it`s taking me half an hour to read. Or people who don`t address who they actually are, and they just make it really generic and talk about what they do. My top tips for your About page are: definitely include a picture of you! You should absolutely have your face on it. I know some people don`t like having pictures of themselves anywhere but knowing who is behind the contact form when somebody gets in touch with your business, knowing the face of a business, is really important for people. Tip number two: Think about your story as similar to your customer’s story. Imagine where they are now and how that relates to where you were. For example, if you help people with their fitness, you could talk about where you were at the beginning of your fitness journey so that people can relate to you – and then tell them about how you`ve gotten to where you are now. This is relevant to your target audience and it`s relevant to your subject. So, that`s a really good use of space on your About page. People tend to think the About page is about them – and in some ways it is – but it is also about your customer. Think about what is relevant to your customers: What do they actually want to know? What is going to make them want to work with you or buy from you? What`s special about you and why should they work with you? That is the point of an about page, not your random life story.
How do you come up with the ideas for the About page of your clients that will resonate with their target audience?
I don`t know their story so I can`t write it for them, but what I can do is, I can give them a couple of questions that they can answer, and we can then work that into a story. I have copy prompts for each page of your website. These are prompts that people can work through. A common question that I ask for the About page is: Where were you at the start of your journey relevant to wherever you client is? Where are your customers and where are you – and where are the parallels that you can draw there? Prompts like this make it so much easier to write something than staring at a blank page.
Talking about writing: Is a blog with many keywords still vital for SEO and a high google ranking or are there other ways to optimize the SEO of a homepage?
Not every website needs to have a blog. A blog takes time to write. I think, one of the misconceptions about a blog is, that it`s separate from your website. But what a blog really is, is you are basically making more pages for your website, which just gives you more opportunities to rank for more keywords. It also tells Google that you keep your site up to date, suggesting that you`re still relevant and in business.
But it`s still possible to rank for example your home page, or your About page for your specific keywords without a blog. It just means that you really need to focus on what you want to rank for. You then need to be really intentional with what you’re writing on your webpage. Say, you want to rank for fitness trainer London: talking about fitness generically on your homepage is not going to get you to rank before somebody else who specifically talks about “fitness in London”. You just really need to be intentional about what it is, you`re writing and make it relevant to the keywords you want to rank for.
How to choose the right keywords?
Think about what keywords people are actually searching for. I recently worked with a client who calls her business “branded bakes” – she bakes branded cupcakes for businesses. The name is amazing, and we love the alliteration, but people are not typing “branded bakes” into Google. They’re typing in “branded cupcakes” or “cupcakes with logos”. So, it`s understanding what people are going to type into google and then using that combination to write your copy. In her case that means to talk about “branded cupcakes” rather than “branded bakes”. It`s those very slight tweaks that can make all the difference.
Aren`t more pages going to slow your website down?
No. When you land on a website it only loads one page at a time – the one someone clicks on. It doesn`t load all of the pages at once. So, don`t worry about adding more pages to your website. Just make sure that each individual page loads quickly. Don`t use pictures that have really big file sizes but resize them. PNG is for graphics, a logo, for example, it keeps the quality better. Photographs should be in JPG and no bigger than 500 KB.