7 Tips for Doing Your Own Website Maintenance [2nd Edition]

DIY Website updates

Table of Contents

A lot of small business owners have no choice but to wear a lot of hats.  One of those is probably the marketing hat, which every once in a while we dust off (why is there dust on it?!) and put on to see what kinds of things we can do to generate more customers and leads coming in. Today I’m going to give you some things you can do to spruce up your website, but first…

How My Broken Car Is Like Your Website

A few days ago my wife called me, frantic.

“There’s a problem with the car.  I was in the construction on Highway 40 and I must have hit something. Now the car is making a loud noise.”


She was able to make it to work, and I made my way up to the car.  Turns out the catalytic converter has a hole in it and needs replaced.

Calling a few dealerships around town netted me a few estimates from as low as $775 to as high as $1500.


Now, I’m a do-it-yourselfer, and I’m not afraid to get a little dirty.  Turns out I can get a catalytic converter that fits my car for less than $200 bucks plus shipping.

Looks like I’m doing this one myself.

Just like most small business owners, we look for opportunities to save money and still get a pretty good bang for our buck.  We understand that time is money, so we don’t want to waste time on tasks that we don’t think will net us a decent return down the road. So let me ask you this…

Website MechanicIf Your Website Were a Car, How Would it Run?

Would it be an efficient machine, getting your business where it needs to go and taking your business to places you’ve never seen? Or would it be extremely inefficient and maybe even smell a little bit?

I’d be willing to surmise that most small business websites might be running like a car, but not a new, shiny one…

More like an old jalopy that drains your wallet and doesn’t treat you well.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you think your website is an old jalopy, that’s ok – a few ‘tune ups’ and some ‘body work’ and you’ll be happy to be seen with it once again.

Website Tune Up 1: Your About Us Page

Let’s start with your most neglected and under utilized page on your site – your About Us page.

Did you know that during a visit to a website, when a purchase is made, that nearly 40% of those visits include a stop on the About Us page?

That means that 40% of purchasers are using that page as part of their purchase decision.

Your About Us page needs a few key elements to encourage potential customers to do business with you:

It should tell your story

  • Why are you in this particular business?
  • What special things does your business do?
  • Do you donate to kids charities? Military veterans? Support breast cancer?
  • How did you come up with the name and/or slogan?

Website MechanicIt should explain your company history

  • Can you use the local angle? ie “30 Years in St Louis”?
  • Can you talk about your humble family beginnings, maybe even add some pictures of grandpa working behind the counter?
  • Is there some other intriguing tidbit that made your business what it is today?
  • Did you ‘stumble into the business’ on accident? How?

It should include pictures

Pictures of your staff or building says “hey, we’re real people!” …and people like to do business with real people (and therefore avoid giving money to corporations)

It should have links to staff bios

Remember, bios aren’t resumes, they’re explanations of their expertise in your industry.  Pictures/headshots make it even better.

Website Tune Up 2: Your Thank You Page(s)

Another often overlooked and neglected page is the Thank You page – a page that visitors typically see after they’ve taken some sort of conversion-related action. It could be a purchase, a download, newsletter signup or social media action.

When a user sees this page, they’ve just converted. That means they’re in a good state of mind (assuming they had a good experience before the conversion) and are more willing to convert in the future.

This is the time to ask them to do something else – LIKE you on Facebook, sign up for your newsletter (which has a coupon towards a future purchase) or upgrade their purchase at a discount.

So many people leave money on the table because they’re just happy to have a purchase. Wouldn’t you be happier if your conversions stayed the same but your average per-sale revenue improved?  Of course you would.

Tune Up 3: Calls to Action (CTAs)

This is a pretty easy one and won’t take you long to identify/fix.

Take a minute and look through your website. Pick a few random pages – is there something on these pages that direct the user to do something?  Have you clearly defined (and made obvious) their next action?

Depending on the purpose of the page, it should either prompt them to give you an email address or take a purchase-related action. You’d be surprised how many websites don’t ask for the sale!

The Johnson Box

Here at Red Canoe Media we love plugins that help with building ‘optin boxes’ – in fact you’ll see one in this article in a few minutes.  These plugins let you build a themed Call to Action, often called a ‘Johnson Box’, that prompts readers to do a particular thing – download a free report, join the newsletter, whatever.  They’re an integral part of our lead generation system and work quite well.

Think about it – if you’ve written a blog about, say, green widgets (which you sell), and a visitor comes to your blog to learn more about green widgets, wouldn’t it make sense to put some sort of offer in front of them that encouraged them to learn more about your business and perhaps even purchase a green widget?

Get that email address or purchase after you’ve hit them with some great information. Hit ’em while they’re hot and boost your conversions.

PS… are you a Red Canoe Elite member and want to learn a lot more about conversions? Check out our 6 Tips for Better Conversions tutorial. Not a member? Join the community and see over 100 how-to marketing videos on everything from SEO to Google Analytics.

User Experience Fixes (aka Body Work)

Now that we’ve made some improvements to the site and hopefully improved your chance for additional conversions, let’s look at ways that we can make the actual user experience a little better.

Website Body Work 1: A/B Testing

A/B Testing with Google Experiments
click to view larger

It’s important that you always be testing at least one thing on your site.

For instance, those CTAs we mentioned above – don’t just be happy with a graphic that says ‘Click here to purchase’.

What if your visitors would respond better to a graphic that said ‘Purchase now’ or ‘Checkout Now’?

You don’t know until you test it.

Create the other CTA graphic, then duplicate the page you want to test and add your new CTA to that page. Now you should have two identical pages, minus one graphic that’s different.

Next, fire up your Google Analytics dashboard. In the left navigation, look for ‘Behavior’ and then ‘Experiments’. This is where you can set up an experiment to see just which graphic really resonates better with your audience.

Follow the steps to set up an experiment, then watch as Google magically distributes your visitors to two pages evenly. As each conversion is recorded, Google will keep track and soon a winner is announced.

After around 30 days, you’ll have a decent amount of data to get a ‘winner’.  Did the new graphic perform better? Good – make that change your new “A page” and start another experiment with a different objective.  If not, choose a different element of the page and try again.

Here’s an example of a company that tested a few different headlines until they found one that worked best


And then they implemented with winner of the test:


Continuous testing will lead you to more sales and a better looking and smoother functioning site.

Website Tune Up 2: Spy on Your Visitors

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could stand over someone’s shoulder and see where they’re clicking on your site?  Sure, you can find that information in Google Analytics, but it’s just a bunch of numbers.  There must be easier ways…

Click Heatmaps

Enter ‘Crazy Egg‘ – a heatmap/click tracking tool that shows you just where people are clicking (or not clicking) on your website.

Check out this experiment we did for our client STL Beds:

First, a screenshot from a CrazyEgg experiment we did on an internal page for bed frames.  Our main purpose of the page is to get people to use the blue buttons in the middle section, which as you can see they are doing.

heatmap tracking test stlbeds

But there are a lot of people clicking the sorting buttons on the right.  And in particular, we noticed that a lot of people were using the ‘Bed Size’ options as their starting point, but this was pretty far down the page.

So we moved it up closer to the top where it would get noticed, and as you can tell, used more.


heatmap tracking results stlbeds

This simple test helped us make the user experience easier, get people to what they wanted quicker, and increased sales of their bed frames by 7%.  Not bad for a quick & easy test!

Here are a few things to look for when you run your own CrazyEgg test:

  • Are visitors clicking where you want them to?
  • Is there a high concentration of clicks in the wrong place? Why do you think that is?
  • Are your visitors are doing just what you want them to do? If not, are they distracted by something else on the page?
  • Does your content fail to deliver? (You’ll know this if most of the clicks are to something in your navigation or search bar – they’re giving you another opportunity to provide the info they came looking for in the first place)

Website Tune Up 3: Search Box

In another instance, we did a heatmap test on a home page for a tool distributor and noticed that a LOT of people were using the search feature on their site.

I mean a LOT – around 60% of their visitors.

This was pretty alarming, and screamed that the users were not finding what they expected to find on the site.

In this case, it was the main navigation – the owner had built it by brand name instead of by product type.  So instead of things like drills and routers, you saw words like Dremel and Black & Decker.

Well, if you need a router but don’t know who makes them, what are you going to do?

I should also say here – having a search box in your header is absolutely essential, especially for ecommerce sites.  I can’t believe how much of an increase in conversions we’ve seen for clients just by adding a way for their visitors to search their site.

Why? Because not everyone that comes to your site is being honest.

Not being honest? How’s that?

Well, let’s take the STL Beds frame page again.  A lot of visitors to that page come there from Google by typing in something like ‘steel bed frames’.  Then once they land on the page, and see the frame options, they may be a little more specific and type into the search bar ‘queen waterbed frame’.

I wouldn’t say a lot of people do this, but many do.  They use a generic search query to find a page that looks like it may have what they want, and then they get more specific.

It’s no different than clicking on ‘Queen’ in the Bed Size links on the left, really.

General search -> Specific search

Website Tune Up 4: Make Sure You’re Still ‘Hip’

Just because you were cool back in the day doesn’t mean your zoot suit is still all the rage.

It’s important to keep up with the latest changes and updates that the search engines are looking for.  When doing your web maintenance, this is a good time to check a few things that Google has recently deemed as important:

DIY Can Mean More Money in Your Pocket

Just like a tune up and a little body work can increase the value of your car, the same is true for your website. Take the time to do it right and you’ll see the results in your bottom line!

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