If you have ever bought anything from the domain provider 123 Reg, you may well receive a call from them offering a review of your website.
Mine was on Tuesday 7th August.
Now initially, you may be put off by the call like I was, because you’ll think that they only want to sell you something, and they do, but it’s still worth listening.
My caller was Dan and although he was quite forceful with his tone, he was still talking sense.
What the Call Will Cover
He wanted to talk about how my website can be improved by taking a look at it and going over things like the design, security, Search Engine Optimisation, and social media.
I told him to stop and explained that I offer these services to my clients, so not to bother.
His response was that he still might be able to give some insight in to where I can improve and I thought a general report of my website is still quite interesting even if I’m fairly confident that I know what has been done and needs doing.
So I let him continue.
He loaded my website and proceeded to congratulate me on the page loading quicker than “0.7 seconds that Google needs”, even though he’d previously stated that it should be quicker than “1.2 seconds”, but I’ll let him off.
I do like to make sure the homepage loads quickly, and only showing information to inform new visitors what I do as quickly as possible allows me to do that.
It’s important not to overload and bombard your poor visitors with information that they don’t need as soon as they step a (digital) foot inside the online experience that you have crafted for them.
Making sure that they only have the absolutely necessary information, in a very easy-to-understand format will not only cut the fat from your page and allow it to load faster, but will also allow your visitors to digest the information and make better choices about where to go next. Hopefully making sure that they don’t hit the Back button.
Anyway, before I could say anything, he was commenting on the fact that I haven’t set up better security on my website.
(I have now, but at the time, my website didn’t start with the glorious ‘https’ that you see on the more secure sites.)
I said, “yes I know, I’m annoyed that I haven’t set up the SSL yet, as I know Google does prefer that with every site these days”.
(SSL is something that allows your phone or computer to talk securely to the company where all of your website files are kept, in a way that means hackers will find it much more difficult to interfere with.)
For some reason, security is always something that people consider last, yet, it’s far more important than that.
I had left it for a while because I wasn’t sure how to do it.
Even when I learnt all about it, I still didn’t do anything because it’s so difficult to find time to improve your own website when you have other work to do for customers or clients.
Next, he set his sights on my blog.
He said I need to “blog regularly”, which is a fair comment because I know I don’t do it often enough, and this is important for exposure of your business on social media as well as for Google.
However, he then proceeded to say that I should write an article “every day, or at least every other day”, which is far too often. Who is going to sit there every day writing an article for their blog? He clearly doesn’t know what it takes to run a business. Even every two days is a big challenge, and most small businesses don’t have a dedicated person creating content for their website.
He even added “get your family members to blog for you”, which is just ridiculous. Family members don’t know enough about your business to help out in a meaningful way. Just rambling on about something they barely know is not a strategy for increasing your website visitors.
He did redeem himself slightly by commenting on videos and the fact that I don’t have any in my Blog. They are on other pages, which he realised later, but it’s more important in a Blog.
He knew the importance of keeping people on your website for as long as possible – especially if they came from Google, as they will track that information – and video is a great way to do this as it’s so much more engaging than text and imagery.
I commented on the fact that it takes a while to create a video so it’s not easy, to which he replied that I should create some with images instead.
Now, this will actually be quicker and easier for me, but for the average person it’ll be the opposite.
Whether he knew that or not I don’t know. I’m not confident because he called me both a web designer and a blogger in the same call, but you’re usually one or the other.
Don’t get me wrong, every business should have a Blog, but it doesn’t mean you’re a blogger – you just write the odd article alongside your normal business routine.
Anyway, if you’re a small business and you’d like to do more with your website, follow these steps for your Blog:
- Write down ideas for your Blog all of the time, as soon as you think of them. Trust me, you’ll need a big list for inspiration.
- Add 1-2 articles per week.
- Record yourself summarising the article in a well-lit area with a steady hand.
- Say there is more information to read on the page below the video so that they don’t leave straight away.
- Upload this to YouTube and ‘embed[google link ‘how to embed’]’ the video above what you wrote.
Video is so much more interesting, so it’ll encourage them to stay for longer, and that could always lead to more sales in the long run.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have a conversation about which social media accounts I had, but he did say that I should have icons displayed on my website.
This had been part of my to-do list for a while now. There always seems to be something ahead of it.
If visitors are interested in what you do and want to either support you or stay up-to-date with what you’re doing, social media icons are a great way for them to do this.
They allow visitors to click through to your business profile on Facebook or Twitter etc. very easily, allowing them to follow you on the social network they use the most.
Without these icons, people would have to go to the app or website themselves and search for you amongst all of the other profiles.
This may not sound like much of a problem to you, but it puts up a much bigger barrier than it would be if they could just click the icon button.
It’s all about making it easier for people so that they are more likely to do it.
The number of people following your business on social media will increase and this is a big opportunity to increase revenue as they will be paying more attention.
The Purpose of their Call
Now, although it’s not a sales call, they are still trying to sell indirectly through mentioning that you should buy more domains and an SSL Certificate for increased security.
They’re also trying to help you to seem more caring and this makes them look better – the more positively you think about them, the more likely you are to buy from them in the future.
Buying more domains is a tough one. They want you to buy all of the other domain extensions such as .com, .org, and .net etc. which is good business for them. And they have a good point about someone buying the same domain with .com instead of .co.uk and taking money away from you.
How often is this really going to happen though?
If you’re an individual, you won’t care.
However, a well-established business with employees should arguably do it anyway just to cover their bases.
The other argument is that people will find your website even if they forget whether you’re .com or .net and won’t get lost online looking for you.
123 Reg’s option to pay for an SSL Certificate to make your website secure, increase your ranking on Google, and comply with GDPR is a good one.
But also a scam.
There is no need to pay for an SSL Certificate these days, as it is free with a service called Let’s Encrypt.
You have the same benefits but without having to pay, because Let’s Encrypt argue that your basic security should be free these days.
Some companies will still argue that they need to start and stop the process as well as all of the infrastructure costs associated with it, but the best companies will still supply it for free. So it’s an easy way to know how much the company cares about its customers.
You may still need to pay your web designer to spend time setting it up, but this shouldn’t be too much.
So, even though some comments from the caller were through pure ignorance, most of his advice was worth listening to for the average business owner.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything that I could value that much, but when your head is buried in online marketing most days, it’s never going to be particularly enlightening.
If your business isn’t digital marketing then it’s definitely worth listening and taking notes. Your business will thank you for it.
The report wasn’t particularly comprehensive, a lot was left out such as:
- Whether the website was ‘responsive’; being easy to read and use on a phone.
- Basic optimisation techniques for search engines such as Google to be more visible when people are looking for something.
- User Experience tests to see if there are any areas that could confuse and annoy people, resulting in them leaving the website.
- Performance of my website other than my homepage to make sure people are given the information quickly.
- Whether I was making use of social media effectively.
If you would like a more thorough report on how well your business is doing online, and where you can improve, head over to my reporting page to find out.
Have you ever bought from 123 Reg? Are you aware of how well your business is optimised online? Leave a comment below.