Mt Dobson Ski Area

Mt Dobson Ski Area

Redevelopment of an existing website. The umbraco content management system has made updating the website easier, faster and cheaper for the client.

Optimisation of the website and the implementation of twitter and facebook pages as part of the redevelopment also increased the website visitor numbers markedly in the following winter season.

Update: we implemented minor design changes and moved the newsletter to campaignmonitor.com in May 2012.

Mt Dobson Ski Area

What is a Website Health Check?

Whenever we are approached by a potential client to rebuild an existing website or undertake a search engine optimisation (SEO) programme, or to increase web traffic, we always recommend that a website audit report is undertaken first.

A website audit reviews the technical structure of a website and also reports on layout (for the user experience) and content and links for search engine rankings.

We consider the technical structure of the website to be the most important component of a website audit.  If the structure is fubared, then no amount of content updating or link building can improve the visitor numbers or increase sales.

The results can be very surprising.  We have completed website audit reports on websites with modern layouts and really nice designs, but built so that the website would only appear if the company name was entered as the search phrase.  In this case, the only visitors coming to the site are people who already know the name of the company.  This website would not attract new visitors because it wouldn't appear in any search results.

Another recently completed website audit was for a website that was technically sound, but the main navigation menu (which was at the bottom of the page) was different on every page.  For a user this is confusing and frustrating, and it is easy enough to return to the search results to find the next website.

Technical Issues:

  • Canonical URLs: multiple domain names that point to a website.  Where a website has more than one URL, one should be chosen as the target URL and the other URLs should be pointed to it.  This is a common problem and it reduces the page rank for the website, but it should be a simple matter for a developer to remedy.
  • Use of images for text:  where text is converted into an image instead of html text.  Images appear as blank areas to Google's 'crawlers', so any text stored as an image will not return search results.
  • Search engine indexing:  web pages need to be 'indexed' by a search engine for it to appear in a search result.  There are several different scenarios that would cause crawlers to ignore a site or to incompletely crawl a site.
  • Slow page loading:  overly complicated scripts, table-based programming and large images can cause slow page loading.  This would mostly affect the user experience (and they leave the site) but can also affect search engine indexing.

Design and content:

  • Where possible we test the keyword phrases used by visitors.
  • Check whether the website conveys the right messages to visitors.  It should be immediately obvious what the website is about.
  • Check meta data - titles and descriptions - are present and optimised.
  • We check that the overall layout is easy to navigate and give our opinion on the user-experience.

Links

  • Links are the single most important factor that impacts page rank.  Google, and other search engines, use links to determine what the website is about and to measure website quality.  Links to relevant industry-related websites are what count.
  • We check as best we can the internal, inbound and outbound links for a website.

Recommendations

When the results show that the website is structurally sound, we always include recommendations to the website owner that they themselves may be able to implement.  We make recommendations on content, meta data and external factors that will improve website traffic.

If the structure or other circumstances, e.g. high costs, dictate that the website is rebuilt, we guarantee to resolve all of the issues that we find in the original website.

The website audit report collates the tangible and intangible parts that form a website presence on the Internet and helps to focus effort and money on the areas where it is needed the most.

For a website owner that wants more business it is a great opportunity to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their website and to find the area to focus their efforts.

Fresh Content Brings Visitors Back

Make Your Website a Valuable Business Asset

We have found that some small business owners recognise that websites are a useful promotional tool, but they do not want to spend a lot of time or money on it.

It is very easy to create a free website and there are many free online website building tools available. Our experience has been that while the websites may look professional, there are problems with search engine indexing and hence poor search results, or updating the website is difficult and hence it rapidly becomes out of date (I will write more on this in a later blog).

We are 100% confident that umbraco's content management system, coupled with Paul's awesome developer's skills ensure that our websites are easy to update and searchable on Google.

Once the first hurdle, a useable website, is taken care of, having the confidence and skills to build a website into a valuable business asset then requires time and commitment.  It might also take you out of your comfort zone.

Make a Website Maintenance Plan

Planning a website maintenance strategy might sound daunting, but can be as simple as planning to review and update one page within the site per month and writing a weekly news article or blog.

Keeping website page content fresh and releasing regular updates will result in better search rankings and is a sound strategy for long term growth.

Better Search Rankings

Search engines such as Google rank websites that have new content higher than websites with static content.  Google places a high value on updated content, to avoid displaying websites that are no longer active.

Being in the number one spot in search results also increases click rates exponentially over subsequent search results, so refreshing page information and releasing keyword-rich news on a regular basis will be worth the time investment.

Get Customers to Notice Your Updates

Regular information updates encourage visitors to return to your website.  Social media sites are a great way to reach out to customers and remind them that you have a service or product to offer them. 

An RSS feed on a news column or blog (we are adding an RSS feed to our blog this month - we are just waiting for a software release), twitter updates and facebook pages all bring your information to your customers. 

How Do Social Media Sites Increase Website Visits? 

Take twitter for example.  I follow a number of people through my twitter account @fairliebusy.  When someone tweets about the latest blog update on their website and I follow the link, I am taken to the blog.  I will read the article and then I might look around the website for related articles or any other interesting information.  I might not buy a product or service this time, but I am building up trust in this contact and when I need that product or service - I am more likely to buy from a trusted source than an unknown source.

But I Have Nothing to Say!

There will always be something you can say about your business.  We regularly blog about topics that our customers bring to our attention, we feel that if one customer experiences a problem, others might have the same problem too, so why not publish some information about it - the rest will think you are amazing for anticipating the issue.

If you have no news of your own, you can also link to an industry-related article written by someone else.  They will be thrilled for the promotion of their work as well.

Measure, Measure, Measure

I love statistics and I use Google Analytics to check page visits, page source and traffic information on a regular basis.  I can see that when I publish a blog the number of site visits increases.  Analytics can also help you to see the popular areas on your site.  Checking your statistics can help you work out if you have any problem areas on your website and you can fix them.  If you have access to your site's statistics then use the information to target the problem areas and see your efforts making a difference.

Peel Forest Deer Genetics

Peel Forest Deer Genetics

 

Peel Forest Estate are world leaders in red deer genetics for trophy, venison and velvet.  We rebuilt their existing website using the umbraco content management system.  New features include news feed, dynamic menu updates and media gallery.  The website was completed within very tight timeframes and completed within budget.

The umbraco cms has reduced the amount of time required for maintenance and they are better able to promote their deer auctions through the sales pages.

Peel Forest Deer Genetics