This blog about basic website structure is second in a series of five. If you’re looking for advice about where to improve your existing website, or you need some pointers for how a new site should function, you’ll want to read all five.
There’s a whole world of specialists dedicated to making websites better who unfortunately do not understand how to communicate complex ideas to those who don’t already live in their world. We want to be different. We respect those that have been successful without learning geek speak or even becoming technologically savvy. In fact, we admire those who can do so much without ever relying on computing power to make it happen. We trust you’ll enjoy this post about basic structural components of a website.
You Need Multiple Website Pages
People often approach a website from a most basic cost savings perspective. They preface a quote for a website with, “I want something as simple as possible. I don’t need the extra frills and stuff that makes it interesting. I just want basic information on one page and I want to spend about three to five hundred dollars.”
I hope this isn’t your perspective. If it is, please keep reading. I promise you will appreciate what I have to teach you.
Someone that immediately agrees to building a “simple one-page website” without warning a buyer of potential pitfalls is a hack. They likely crank out websites as fast as possible and don’t care about what happens after the fact. And that’s the rub- what happens to a one-page website after it’s been built.
Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! are looking for specific website structure. As soon as I mention this is conversations, people automatically jump to, “You mean like keywords and stuff, right?”
Yes, but not really.
Keywords are a tiny sliver of the overall pie that makes a website a website. A much larger piece of the pie is page structure. Without copy and images separated into different pages and sections throughout your site, search engines get confused. Search engines are looking for special code that tells them what is most important in a page like specially coded titles and brief descriptions. The major problem with a one-page site is that you can only code each page with one special title, one special description, and a myriad of other specially coded things that make a page unique.
If you have different products and/or services you’d like people to find you online for, a single page site isn’t going to cut it.
If you want to be considered a subject matter expert, other experts will wipe the floor with you because search engines can only pick up a few critical things in a single page site.
Finally, if you’d like to be competitive at all, a one-page site will leave you dead in the water. It is appalling how many companies’ websites cannot be found in the top ten of search results even when searching for them by name.
To get your hands dirty and learn more about proper page structure, there are some experts you should follow.
*** WARNING ***
You enter this world at your own risk. These people speak a completely different language with more acronyms than you’ll ever understand. If you take your time and treat this as a learning opportunity, you’ll be better for it. Don’t be surprised if you have to open your digital dictionary to define all the new terms.
Use the Right Page Names
Creative types like to use quirky naming conventions for pages. Instead of something intuitive and familiar like “Products,” they might decide on “Our Stuff” instead. Yes, the creative mind works in mysterious ways.
Users can’t stand this. When they’re searching for products, they need a page name that’s familiar. If they have to click all over to decipher what is where, they will quickly abandon the site and find someone who isn’t trying to be different.
More importantly, search engines don’t know what to display if your page names don’t make sense. They will avoid sharing the “Our Stuff” page results because people aren’t searching for “Our Stuff” online. Bottom line, use page names that are universally understood.
Include Enough Content Per Page
If you are not a writer, HIRE A COPYWRITER. I cannot stress this enough. This is the largest pain point of our business.
Some of our clients will try to provide as little copy as possible. In some cases, one sentence per page. This is not acceptable. If you want to get found, write at least a few paragraphs per page.
When search engines display search results, it’s because they’ve found what they deem most relevant and valuable to a searcher. Make sure each of your pages is chalk full of descriptors, details and important information that make it more likely for your page to appear first in search results. This takes quite a bit of time to get right. Unless you write on a consistent basis, HIRE A COPYWRITER.
Mixing copy with professional photos, personal photos, videos, animated videos, are all great ideas. Including at least one of these per page helps you rank better and keeps readers more engaged, but please read our first blog in this series to ensure you’re not junking up your site with terrible photos.
Security May Be Required
It may seem like a bit of an outlier, but security could be required as part of your website’s structure. There’s a rumor going around that Google may force security measures in the way of what’s called a Secure Socket Layer Certificate (SSL) on all sites in 2017. Without it, users might reach an all red screen with a warning “This site may harm your computer.” Needless to say, this is a scary proposition.
The “This site may harm your computer” warning has been reserved traditionally for sites asking for sensitive information. Like sites requesting login credentials, social security numbers or credit card information that do not already include an SSL certificate. The SSL certificate secures the connection between web servers and browsers so sneaky hackers can’t steal information being transferred between them.
You may not absolutely have to have an SSL certificate for now, but we highly recommend one regardless of what kind of information is exchanged through your site. It will help protect users’ data and put you at ease knowing there’s at least something in place.
Can you think of other minimal requirements for a website that you’d like to share?