The design of your website and how the navigation is laid out will keep prospective clients reading your information which is a big part of building trust. Having a site that is pleasing to the eye, easy to read and easy to follow goes a long way in getting clients. If your site is unorganized with hard to find basic contact information, people will just click on to the next site. Google also likes websites that load quickly and are easy to use!
Website Design Do’s
The best design is clean and simple. Here are some tips:
- Use text that is big enough and easy to read. Use plain black text. Visitors who can’t read the text will leave your site. Period.
- Use a white or light colored background.
- Break up text into short paragraphs that are easy to read. (Think most people skim!)
- Use subheadings to break up paragraphs and emphasize information.
- Get some pictures done professionally of you doing massage! That is really the best thing for search engines nowadays. Use professionally done pictures of people getting a massage in the header (top area). If you can’t do that, buy stock photos or buy pictures from http://ryanhoyme.com/pictures/. See how many people are using the image first, if you buy from a stock photo company, so it doesn’t look like the same person getting the massage everywhere. Do a Google Image Search – http://www.google.com/imghp
In the search engine box, upload the photo in question and click search.
- Use soft colors that suggest relaxation if your business is relaxation focused.
- Increase line spacing where possible, leaving more space between lines.
- If you use links, state what the link is – especially if it is a PDF file.
- Put your contact information – phone number, address, and email address on the top or side of EVERY page. Make it easy for people to contact you.
Website Design Don’ts
- Don’t use Flash Intros or Flash of any kind. Flash is dead. Search engines can’t find it, and people don’t have time to watch it. Avoid pop up or pop under pages!
- NO MUSIC! Sorry but it is true. The music is more about YOU not your prospective client. If I want music when I am online, I will play what I want and when I want it. If a site starts playing music, I will immediately close the window and others will too!
- Don’t steal pictures from Google images or from any website. Pictures are the property of the photographer. You can ask for permission if you find one that you like but get it in writing so they can’t come back and sue you. Also many pictures you find may be stock photos or may be owned by others and the person with the website may not know it. You are responsible for knowing who ownsthe pictures. You can do a Google Image search and actually upload the image in question and they will tell you other places that it is used. Just go here:
- Red on black doesn’t look cool nor does any other color text on a black background.
Navigation is a part of search engine optimization and also of getting your readers to become clients! Your key goal is to provide the easiest most effective navigation route for your visitors and for the spiders. You want them to move to the right pages in the right order. The basic design should be so simple that people don’t have to think. Yes, they can usually find their way through confusing navigation, but if you make it so they don’t have to think to do that, it will keep them more focused on what they are looking for and focused on your content. (For More info see the book: Don’t make me Think. A common sense approach to web usability by Steve Krug)
The navigation tabs or buttons will have text links in them that connect all your pages together. Remember, search engines love links and will find you through a link! They will follow the links within your site to index the whole website. The way you link your site together is an important part of search engine optimization.
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines recommends that you:
“Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.”
This is probably THE most important concept that I hope you will understand!
This means that every page should be able to be reached within 3 clicks from the homepage. Your site needs to be connected by links and in a clear Tier formation. Your home page is Tier
1 and the linked pages on your navigation bar then become Tier 2 pages. Your Tier 2 pages will link to Tier 3 pages. You don’t want to have more then 3 tiers because Google usually doesn’t index those pages.
Keep it simple and straight forward! Have a navigation bar down one side of the page and/or one at the top of the page.
The navigation structure and page layout will funnel visitors into making your most wanted response – an email/call to ask more questions or make an appointment or to use your online scheduling system to make an appointment. For instance, each page in Tier 2 will link to every other page in Tier 2 and also link back to the home page. Tier 2 pages may also be
linked to pages from other tiers. Pages from other tiers need to link either back or to any other tier if they are on the same topic. In that way, your website is linked together and will take people step by step through each page as you build the interest and trust of the reader. (See image below.)
As you create links from page to page, think about keywords again. The general method of linking has been to use the main keyword in the actual text of the link. There is now some talk of that actually hurting SEO and that Google is getting smarter all the time and can
supposedly now read the words next to the link. The real idea is to create natural looking links. Make your linking as natural as possible and as clear as possible.
Tier 2 pages show up on the navigation bar of the homepage. That is what defines them a Tier
- The Tier 2 pages will have links in the body of the page to the Tier 3 page and/or will contain a navigation bar with text links (or buttons or bars) and will influence the reader to click on the links.
The Tier 3 pages should also link back to Tier 2 and the home page. For example… Your home page will link to a page on your massage services (the types of massage) you do. That page will list the types of massage like deep tissue, pregnancy massage, etc. When the reader gets to the bottom of the page ‘deep tissue’ you will want to redirect them back to the homepage or to the other pages. You can do that by just adding a link that says something like
“return to Home”. The best way to link your pages together is to add something
called ‘breadcrumbs’ to your pages. Breadcrumbs is a navigation system that tells users where they are on the website so that they can easily navigate back to the home page or to the page that they just came from. Some website builder systems will do that automatically for you. WordPress has plugins to allow you to do that.
Here is Google’s Help file on that: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/185417?hl=en
You have to go to the bottom and look at the code that they tell you to use in the link that says Microdata. Personally I don’t really understand the coding part of it all, but just copy what they have there an add your own info to make the link work. You can also find templates or plugins with it already built in. This is what it looks like on a WordPress Website:
Clear and easy navigation is an important part of building traffic and giving your reader enough information so that they will make the call for the appointment. That is also why it is important to have your contact information on each page. Each page should also have text suggesting that they make a call or contact you by email.
Using Photos on your massage business website.
Another part of good design and SEO is having photos on your website. Photos are becoming a big part of making a site interesting and compelling for readers. People relate to photos that mean something. A well designed theme or template will also integrate photos into the pages to complement the content.
One of the issues with photos is finding photos that actually represent what we do as massage therapists. You can’t just go searching for photos on Google Images and use whatever images you find. That could be a big copyright issue. Most everything online is the property of the owner. If you find a photo that you would like to use, you need to get the owner’s permission. The thing is that many people have ‘borrowed’ photos from other sites and think that they are their own. You don’t really know the true source of a photo unless you find the photo specifically on the website of a photographer.
Photos will need to enhance your design and your content. One thing you can do is to make sure you think carefully about the placement of the photo in relation to your content and design. Put the photos near the text you want to highlight and make sure if you have a person that they face toward the content when possible. You can also create a unique style with your photos because of all of the easy to use image editing software that allows you to create vignettes or postcard looking photos etc. When you choose a photo you should also check to see how much it is being used online. You can do that with Google Images. www.google.com/imghp
Google still likes original photos best!
Although website design is important navigation and search engine optimization (SEO) is where the money is. The nicest looking site that is not optimized won’t really matter because no one will see it. A website with a simple design that is pleasing to the eye and is organized and optimized is what will attract customers to you.
So… design is one important aspect of SEO. The next step is to tell Google and search engines what you have on your website and that your website exists!