My Top Ten Tips For Keeping Your Content Management System based website looking good and performing well both on the screen and in search engine results.
Almost all of the websites we develop these days include a content management system, the ‘CMS’ as we geeks call it, allows you the client to take control of your website and update the page content, post news items, add pictures, manage your online shop, send out newsletters etc etc whenever and wherever you want.
But with this great new found power comes a modicum of potential chaos!
This article is just a few hints and tips on security, SEO and presentation for your new content managed website. A bit of good housekeeping and following a few guidelines will keep your CMS based website looking good and performing well. Trust me, things can go wrong when people get carried away with their new found editing skills, take a look at this horror! By the way, if you looked at that website and you thought it was OK, please stop reading this immediately and move to another country where technology does not exist!
Rule Number 1 – Security
There are countless numbers of nutters out there that would love to hack your website and turn your beautiful new web pages into images of dancing demons, naked sailors or redirected links to porn and virus sites. The best way to protect yourself from this is to use a good secure password and never share your log in details. Your password should be made up of a mixture of lower and upper case characters as well as numbers and special characters such as £ or ? or $.
A scary number of people use just a name or a normal word for their password, there is software out there that will crack this password quicker than you can say ‘butter my bottom and call me a biscuit.’ An example of a good secure password would be something like £dfG7L0?2$5NjFc7.
Rule Number 2 – Security Again
Read rule number one again! And don’t forget to log out of your CMS when you have finished working in it. It is also good practice not to get your browser to remember log in names and passwords for your most visited sites, including your CMS. If someone else uses your computer they can access all of your secure sites, keep the buggers out, start with a good strong password.
Rule Number 3 – Have A Cup Of Tea
When you first have access to your CMS it can be like getting your legs back after years of them going missing, the temptation is to start running but I’d suggest you just relax, have a cup of tea, think about if you really need to change anything on your website and pre plan what you are going to change before you do it and most importantly think about what the changes you are planning are likely to do to the websites SEO score and overall usability. (I’ll go into this a bit more further down).
We provide free video tutorials and free one to one training for you to ensure you get the best out of your content management system so if you get stuck or need support just call or come round, don’t go rushing in and don’t be afraid to ask if you get stuck. The kettle is always on here, just pop round.
Rule Number 4 – Don’t Go Text Format Crazy
Your content managed website has various text formatting tools that you can use, these allow you to change the color of text, change font, make text bigger and smaller and change the alignment of text. These can be very effective if used correctly but try to avoid going text format crazy.
For example avoid typing long paragraphs or whole pages in BOLD ALL CAPITALS, THIS CAN BE VERY AWKWARD TO READ AND IS GENERALLY REGARDED AS AGGRESSIVE OR SHOUTING. If I sent you a text message saying ‘What are you doing’, you would regard it as a normal text message, but if I sent you a text message that said ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!!’, the message that this display style of text gives off is totally different. Bold capitals used in the right way can be very effective, for example ‘This week we have an AMAZING special offer’ is much more effective than the whole page being written in that style.
Avoid Center Aligned Text in Big Bright Colours
Its hard to read and it looks pretty messy on the page. Again there are times when it can be effective used in the right way, but generally speaking try to keep your pages neatly aligned to the left as it is the natural place for people to start reading, or justified so the sentences spread out across the page.
Try and be consistent with the way text is laid out on pages, ie titles in one particular format, sub titles all the same, links all the same etc, it will help to keep people on your site if your text formatting is not so crazy that it makes people sea sick.
Use of appropriate fonts is also very important, for example you would not see a funeral directors website written in a cartoon font, handwriting style fonts are difficult to read and remember not all fonts work on all browsers.
Rule Number 5 – Think About Your Pictures
The size and style of pictures you use on your content managed website can have a massive impact on SEO and on the way people regard your site.
If you upload pictures to your CMS website that you have just taken on your digital camera they will generally be huge in both megabytes and in height and width, huge pictures cause web pages to load slowly and slow loading pages lose points on the search engines and it’s also bloody annoying for your website visitors if your images just dribble slowly into view. There is no picture loading over there by the way, it’s just a bloody annoying ‘loading’ sign.
People are generally impatient and even more so online and they will click off your website if the pages take ages to load. You can avoid this by resizing images to a sensible size before you add them to your website. There are lots of ways to do this without having to have any special software, for example on a windows computer you can re-size images using microsoft paint or there are loads of online tools, a couple of good examples are Fotoflexer.com and Tuxpi.com
On the other side of the spectrum are images that are just way too small. Would you buy this £2000 watch on the strength of this picture?
Did you just see the dancing cat out of the corner of your eye? We will meet him in a minute. Anyway, If you are selling products online, advertising a holiday home, renting out hotel rooms etc people want to be able to see what you have on offer, postage stamp size pictures are not going to do you any favours, neither will tiny images that have been re-sized upwards and that now look all blurry and pixelated. If you are selling a product or service online good quality, fast loading, sensible sized images will do more for you than the most descriptive text.
Finally when you add images to your website always ensure you use ‘atl tags’, if you do not know what that means, it is covered in your CMS tutorial videos.
Rule Number 6 – Trust Your Own Judgement
One of the greatest miseries for any website developer is handing over a beautiful content managed website that both the client and website designer agree is perfect then within a few weeks the lovely new site is replaced by an abomination of dancing cats, ringing bells, jumping flashing pictures and dodgy music playing in the background.
You think people don’t do that? Check this out.
Trust your own judgement when it comes to your website, you know your business best, you know what your customers will respond to best, you can seek the advise of others about what they think of your website but really try to avoid adding dancing cats to keep Aunt Betty Happy and ringing bells to Keep your Gran happy and God Save The Queen Playing in the background because “it makes it more English”, yes, I have heard all of these reasons when a beautiful website becomes an abomination.
Trust your own judgement, if you are happy with your website, you will be more positive about what it is you are trying to achieve with your site.
Rule Number 7 – Most Of Us Are Ugly Some of The Time
Would you stay a weekend at this guys B&B or book your children into his weekend volley ball classes?
One of the best ways for small business’s to really connect with their potential customers is to show that there are real people behind the business and that the business is not just a corporate front. A good way to do this is to have an ‘about us’ page where you can talk about your experience, credentials etc and perhaps include a team photo or a photo of yourself. This can and does work really well on a lot of websites but if you are going to do this make sure you don’t just upload one of your bad hair photos in a rush! There is nothing more likely to scare people away than if your acne faced Saturday boy is pictured on your website dribbling over the sandwiches or if you’re a successful professional that looks like you just got made up for halloween.
A decent pro looking picture of you or your team can really help you connect with people.
Rule Number 8 – Text Content Is King (but not too much of it)
When we built your content managed website we made it so that the text on each page had a sensible number of characters and so that it was key word rich and search engine friendly, the results of this would be that you are enjoying good search engine listings for your chosen key words and phrases.
There is a life times supply of good and bad advice you can read on the internet about SEO, the vast majority of it is nonsense but you will read about content being king and it is true that over and above anything else good, creative, relevant, key word rich text gives you the biggest chance of getting good search engine listings. This needs to be balanced with attractive pages and other content such as images etc but the page titles, sub headings and text paragraphs on each page do a really really important job for you. By all means experiment and be creative with your website pages via your CMS but try not to change the opening text too much.
Don’t go crazy with the amount of text you put on a page, somewhere around 250 to 500 words is plenty and balance this with good quality images, bullet points and sub headings. When visitors arrive on your website they will usually decide within 7 to 10 seconds whether or not to stay on your site, if all they see is something like the first chapter of ‘War and Peace’ on your site they are unlikely to stay, but if they get a quick glimpse of a relevant quality image, descriptive heading and a line of text that says exactly what you do or what you offer then they are more likely to stay on your site.
When you write the text for your site keep it in simple plain English and avoid exclusively using ‘in house’ and ‘trade only’ phrases if you are trying to appeal to the average punter. There is no point writing about your ‘polyurethane RV102F’, when the average person is searching the internet for a ‘plastic roof vent’. Use the trade terms and part numbers but also speak the language of the normal everyday person too, you have far more chance of being found on google and the other search engines if your range of “Large Heavy Duty Plastic Buckets in Red, Green and Blue” are described as such on your website instead of being described as a range of “High Density Polyethylene Liquid Carrying / Holding Receptacles in Colour Codes FF6 to OCC “.
Keep it simple!
Rule Number 9 – Don’t Hide Your Contact Details
One of the biggest annoyances for people when they visit websites is not being able to find contact details, people will click off your website and buy the same product or service elsewhere if you make it hard for people to contact you. Display your phone number, email address and if it’s appropriate something like a quick contact form on every page of your site, make people feel as if they are welcome to contact you rather then making them feel it’s a chore.
It is hard for small business owners to always be available on the phone, there are days when I am on call for my retained fire service duties where I miss all my calls, but nevertheless do not hide your contact details and do not put people off contacting you, it’s been hard work to get visitors to your website, it’s harder to keep them there, so don’t shut the door on them as soon as they arrive on your site.
Rule Number 10 – Security (Again)
Did you change that simple one word password you have been using yet, if not go do it now.
Thank you for reading.
Or give me a call on 08454 755067
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