Your website sucks. Here’s how to fix it
This post is aimed at people with self-hosted websites or blogs, for example, www.yourdomain.com.
Those on free hosting platforms, for example, with domain names like www.myfreewebsite.blogspot.com or www.myfreewebsite.wordpress.com (or www.myfreewebsite.wordpress.org) may find this post more relevant for their needs.
Your website is breaking my heart (and YOUR bank balance)
There are websites that make writers money and there are those that bleed money. And even if all you have is a static blog “that I’ve been meaning to update”, that blog is still a missed opportunity in terms of the revenue it could be generating for you.
That’s why I get just a little bit mad when people tell me, “It’s just a website.”
(No, it jolly well isn’t).
If you’ve invested in a website with your time and money (even if it’s just a “personal blog that I’ve been meaning to update”), it’s only fair that you should recoup your investment.
So, how can you make money from your website?
In the first instance, you have to make your website attractive to search engines like Google and Bing. If these search engines can’t find you, then your target readers or customers won’t find you either.
How to ensure your website is found by Google and other search engines
The easiest way to do this is by conducting a website audit. This will highlight the leaks that are preventing your website from being found by people looking for what you have to offer (whether as a freelance writer or author).
These leaks could be anything from not having the right metadata (that’s the information that Google’s spiderbot looks for when it indexes your site, so that it can store and deliver your website to people searching for your services), to identifying faulty pages (the ones that says ‘404’).
Why you should care
Broken links on your website and defective/non-existent metadata sends signals to Google and other search engines that your website is below par.
And if it is below par, it is highly unlikely that they will send traffic (people) to your site.
Most importantly, if you are a freelance writer or even, author. Imagine you’ve spent a lot of time and money on your website to make it look good. You sit back and relax, thinking that all you have to do now is wait for people to find and visit it.
But actually, the website you’ve spent so much time and money on is not even doing the thing that it’s meant to do, which is to drive visitors to your website, and ultimately, increase visibility for you/your books or services.
Even worse is not even knowing what you don’t know.
I know someone who thought she’d done everything she could to optimise her website for search engines, only to find out that her website hadn’t even been indexed by Google in the first place, so she wasn’t getting any traffic (potential customers), to her website.
She was a freelance writer, so her website was her store front. You can imagine how she felt.
When we finally discovered and rectified the issue, within 48 hours, her website started showing up in Google results, and she had traffic coming to her website.
That’s why you need a website audit.
In fact, a website (or a search engine optimisation – SEO) audit isn’t just a good thing.
It’s an absolutely essential process that will empower your business with real, actionable insights, like, what’s working on your current website, what’s falling short and how you can improve your site to rank higher in Google and generate more leads.
It’s like I say to clients, you may have the world’s snazziest website, but if it takes 20 seconds to load, then it’s a liability, because it’s costing you money. We live in a “now” culture, so if your websites takes more than 5 seconds to load, your visitors will go elsewhere.
A website audit can also look at your content, to see if there are any duplicates (Google hates duplicates), excessive faulty pages or dead links, and poorly-structured metadata.
Not only that, it will offer recommendations for improvement.
Show your website some love and it will love you back in $$$s
As you may know or may not know, I’m a content strategist and have also run my own boutique content agency.
My clients included Unilever, easyHotel.com, Symantec and more.
I say this, because, as a content strategist, nothing hurts more than seeing so many budding authors and freelancers with failing websites.
Even worse, they’re not even aware that they’re website is failing.
You may not have published your first book or acquired your first client as a freelancer, but if you want to make it in the business of writing, then you need to start treating your website as a business asset and invest in it accordingly.
And that means making sure it’s doing the job it’s meant to do, which:
if you’re a freelance writer is getting visibility and leads from Google
if you’re an author (published or budding), is having an author website that showcases your work, without loss of functionality (broken links, large images that too long to load, corrupt plugins…)
Why you should invest in your website
Your website address is the first thing that people ask for when you tell them you’re a freelance writer or budding author.
It’s also your opportunity to build your business and your brand on your own platform.
In other words, you call the shots.
But if people come to your website, and it takes 20 seconds to load, or your links are not working, or even if they Google your name and nothing comes up in search engine results (because your website has not been indexed by Google), think of the lost opportunities.
And if you think websites are dead and social media is “where it’s at”, then I would caution you to read the story of LittleThing, a famous brand that was decimated by Facebook’s algorithm changes, and eventually had to close shop.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t invest in social media.
Far from it; it’s a great tool.
I’m saying that your efforts should be consolidated on building your brand, your business, on your own platform (your website).
And the first step to doing that is making sure that it actually works for you is by conducting a website audit to assess its performance.