In this lesson we’re going to cover the 7 most crucial site-building mistakes that you need to fix, as well as offering effective solutions that will help turn your site into a strong affiliate money-maker.
We start with the main problem plaguing websites: weak content. If the content on your website is poor, it is going to be the weed that strangles the life out of your affiliate strategy. We cover some guidelines to make it easier to develop quality content.
We will then cover what metadata and markup mistakes you could be making, and you’ll learn how to get on top of them.
Then comes the techniques and tools that are useful in stopping the inevitable website-doom that comes with slow loading times. We’ll help you get your site to load faster than a caffeine-pumped cheetah. Want to drive more traffic to your platform? Make right decisions now and guarantee your success, buy website traffic
Ever encountered broken links? Not great. We’ve got a tool to help you find them, so you can make sure no one has that experience on any of your pages.
Next, we’ll give you some tips for moving away from using Flash for multimedia, because unlike the name, it can slow down loading times. When you also consider the compatibility issues Flash can have with certain devices, this section becomes all the more useful.
We wouldn’t be covering current website issues if we didn’t look at mobile-friendly optimization. It can’t be ignored, but it can be fixed, and we’re here to tell you how.
Last but not least, we help you make sure you’ve got the right basic pages up and running. So let’s dig in with the first major website mistake.
Problem One: Weak Content
Content is the flesh and blood of any website. It’s a simple equation: great content will boost your website’s success. Poor content will cause it a slow and painful death.
Even Matt Cutts of Google has said that good content trumps SEO, as can be seen in this Read-Write article.
Yes, it’s that important. You’ve got to do it, and this is how.
We’ve got three main tips to guide your content creation.
1. Audience Analysis
The first is using your brain, and the mastermind known to all as the Internet, to figure out what your audience likes.
Try searching for your topic on Google to find competing pages or blogs. What do they do that is effective? Once you know that, you can tailor your content to what readers want. If they like what you have to say, they might even pass your content on.
As an example, a web page about gardening probably wouldn’t appeal to its target audience if it’s covered in pictures of monster trucks.
I have a feeling that an informative, well-written, image-inclusive article about growing the most popular flower for the current season would go down a lot more smoothly. Which brings me to my next point.
2. Media Methods
The media you choose as the vessel for your content information changes the impact dramatically. You shouldn’t just write page after page of information to impress your audience.
Refine the best bits of information and then really present them in a powerful format. Multimedia is much more desirable, not to mention easier to digest, than boring old text.
This snippet of an infographic from a Jeff Bullas article shows that articles containing relevant images increase their total views by 94 percent compared with articles that don’t.
Speaking of infographics – you can eliminate flat text entirely if it really isn’t you. Instead, deliver your information in visual formats, such as infographics and short videos.
Whatever medium you decide to go with, just make sure you ask yourself, “What would my audience appreciate?”
3. Quantity vs. Quality
So now you’ve got audience-focused multi-media content. What else could there be? Try this age-old question. What’s more important: quantity or quality? Like so many things in life, it’s about balance.
Too much on the page and interest will topple to oblivion, too little and there isn’t enough substance.
Don’t set a specific length for your article or video before you begin, but think “what is the fastest way to get across the most important information, no more, and no less?”
Make a bullet-point skeleton of your main points, refine it to the crème de la crème, and then use examples you’ve found that you’ve liked as inspiration to build from there.
Alternatively, you can source quality creators of content, but I don’t need to tell you to be really careful when it comes to services you’re spending money on! Read reviews, do your research, and set the person of your choice up with a small trial to see what they can do before you invest too much.
If coming up with content yourself, or giving someone content-creation tasks, sounds like more than you’ve got time for, AffiloJetpack could be a good option for you. It comes with most of the work done for you so it’s the fast-track, minimal-effort option.
Problem Two: Incorrect Metadata and Markup
The second problem-zone that may have gone undetected is the incorrect use of metadata and markup. That’s code for “you need to check your code!” If you aren’t correctly using elements such as title tags, alt tags, or internal links, your SEO is at a severe disadvantage.
Let’s go over how to check these elements are in place, as well as how we can give them some extra SEO “oomph.”
1. Title Tag & Meta Description
First things first: check that you have title tags, and meta descriptions. Then make sure they’re quality. This might seem obvious, but without stellar title tags and captivating meta descriptions, you are adrift without a paddle in the ocean of the world wide web.
So the question is, how should these key elements be constructed to get the attention of search engines, and those who use them?
- Firstly, make sure your title tag and meta description contain keywords, but only where they naturally fit! No one likes a spammer.
- They should each be short enough to avoid being cut off or substituted by Google. Try to keep title tags less than 70 characters, and meta descriptions less than 150 characters. (Keep an eye on them and adjust accordingly if they’re still getting cut off, as wider letters can take up more room causing a lower allowance for character quantity.)
- When writing these title tags and meta descriptions, think about how you can make them as interesting as possible. These are all people see when your website or pages come up in search engines, so are they well-written enough to really capture attention? This is your chance to snag traffic, so you have to be what they’re looking for! Ask yourself, what can you offer that no one else can? Why do you have exactly what they’re looking for? Give them the call to action, tell them to visit your page to get to those answers.
- Lastly, make sure you don’t have the same title for each page. Broken record syndrome is not attractive to search engines or humans. Instead, whenever making a new page, create a unique title that is relevant to that specific page’s content. Looking at Affilorama in Google shows the size and importance of the title tag, as well as the importance of the meta description for letting people know what they get when they click through. Neither have been cut off, and both include all the relevant information required to attract people who are searching for help with affiliate marketing.
2. H Tags
Speaking of relevant information: h tags are important to tell search engines and people visiting your pages what they’re about.
Your pages’ main headings should have an h1 tag, and your subheadings should have h2 or h3 tags. Sub-headings are less important than each page’s main heading, but without them, no person or search engine can decipher the main points of your content at a glance.
Would you suggest reading a web page that only had one thick block of same-size text? Neither would Google, so let’s make sure that’s not the case!
In WordPress, you can select h tags as heading sizes from the drop down box with “Paragraph” as the default.
Only use “Heading 1” once at the beginning, and make sure to include your main keyword for that post. Then use “Heading 2” or “Heading 3” for your sub-headings, ensuring that they are placed at every relevant point in your content.
To do the same in HTML code, simply write h and the desired number in angle brackets, enter your title or subtitle, and then enter /h and the same number in angle brackets:
3. Alt Tags
The next thing is to check that your images aren’t naked due to not wearing their alt tags. These alt tags are what Google uses to tell what it’s looking at, so it’s important you include them whenever uploading an image to your site.
Bots don’t have eyes like humans do, so they have a harder time figuring out what a picture is at a glance. They crawl code as a kind of web braille, so your code needs to tell them what the picture is. Then you have more of a chance of people searching for images like yours finding your site.
When adding an image to your site, there will usually be a box for “Alternate Text”. Enter a brief description of what the picture is about, and it’s taken care of.
4. Internal Linking
A last question to ask yourself is: do you link internally? This is important, not only to build link juice within your own website, but also for ensuring a good navigational structure.
Help people get from your home page or landing page to the next one, so they can find more information or sign up for your newsletter or buy a product. Don’t spam your pages full of internal links, but definitely ensure that you have as many as is relevant for navigation and information sharing.
AffiloTools has a health check module to help find these issues so you can identify exactly what you need to fix for your website.
To use this AffiloTools module, access AffiloTools and click on “Health Check” in the left-hand side bar. If your site is loaded into AffiloTools, a search will immediately begin on the most important pages of your website.
The first thing you’ll notice when the search is complete is the overall health check score.
This takes into account all of the main issues your website is currently facing. These issues are rated in individual categories, which can be seen to the right, including on-page optimization, performance, and indexing.
You can see the individual problems requiring attention in order of their importance under the “Important Issues” heading.
To look into the specific details of any one issue, simply click on it to reveal more information. This will show you everything you need to know including what page, or pages, the issue can be found on to help you to see the issue for yourself.
The Health Check module will also let you know in easy-to-understand terms why each issue is important, and how to solve it, including a link to more information for anyone who’s still unsure of how to proceed.
AffiloTools will automatically refresh this daily, but if you want to check for results immediately after fixing an error, simply hover over the issue in the module to click on “Check Again” on the right-hand side to refresh your results.
If you don’t fix issues like this yourself, but you have someone who does, you can click on “send details” to direct all the information associated with this issue their way. If the issue is something you are aware of and not bothered by, or you don’t deem it worth fixing, you can click “ignore” to remove it from these results altogether.
Problem Three: Site Load Times
Do people have to wait for your page to load when they click on it? You might think, “Sure, a little bit, but they don’t have to wait that long so it’s not too bad, right?” I’m sorry, but no.
Take a look at this snippet of a KISSmetrics infographic.
People start abandoning your page right from the first second of delay. “It’ll only take a second” really isn’t enough for some people! By 4 seconds, you’ve lost 25 percent of people. That’s a quarter of your potential audience. So what can you do about it?
I’m going to tell you three important factors to look out for.
1. Your Images Are Too Large
The biggest element that causes a site to slam on the brakes when your page is trying to load is image size. Now I don’t mean just the literal size. I mean the file size. Some images are much more intricate than they need to be to perform their purpose.
You can resize images with tools like the one I’m about to show you, which is called Riot. In Riot you can click “open” at the top left corner, or simply drag and drop an image into the left hand space.
The original will show on the left, and as you can see, it automatically optimizes the image to be about a fifth of the size, but it looks virtually the same.
If you want it even smaller you can click “Compress to size” and type in what size you want it to be, but going smaller than the optimized image means you will start to lose quality.
You can even select different file types, which also changes size. JPEG is the smallest size naturally, so often a good option, but if you have any transparency in your image, like this one, you will lose it when you change the file type.
You can see what I mean with this example. As a JPEG, the optimized image is less than half the size the optimized GIF was, but the transparency is replaced by white. You’ll need to decide the best option for each image, taking into account optimization, compression, and file type.
2. You Have a Low Quality Hosting Provider
Another thing that could be slowing you down is your hosting provider. If they’re really cheap, there could be a reason for it that’s holding you back.
You can take a look at our blog post on what to look for when choosing a hosting provider to get more insight on this issue. Alternatively you can check reviews on a variety of web hosts at Who Is Hosting This?
3. You’re Running an Inefficient Theme
The last thing I’m going to get you to watch out for is WordPress themes. Some of them are great. Others… not so much.
You can check with the Google page speed tool to get more specific feedback into what elements could be holding back your loading speed.
Problem Four: Undetected Broken Links
So what else is hiding around the corner? Broken links really do irritate users and lose you some big points when it comes to credibility, but they’re also easy to overlook. So how do we track ’em down?
Google’s Webmasters tools and the broken link checker that you can get for WordPress users are great ways to track down these broken links. Once you know where they are, you can fix them to ensure a cohesive user experience. I’ll show you how easy it is.
With Google’s Webmasters tools, you can search for any broken links using the “Crawl” function in the left hand menu. Select “Crawl Errors” from the drop down box and look under the “Not found” tab. This will show you all of the links to your site that aren’t working.
If I select one to click on, I see a text box that has a tab for error details, as well as a tab for seeing where the broken link is located. Clicking on “Linked from”, and then selecting one of the links takes me to the website where the broken link is.
I can then find the link, and click it to see where it’s trying to go. From here, I can either create a redirect so anyone clicking on that link will be sent to the latest relevant page for that information, or I can message the site owner with the new link so they can update it.
Problem Five: Using Flash
And now we’ve reached Number 5 on the list of possible errors, using Flash for your website’s multimedia displays.
Flash can have compatibility issues with some devices. You want everyone to be able to see your content if you are going to put in all the effort of getting it there, so what can you do?
You can upload videos, all rendered using HTML5, via Youtube or Vimeo. Check your YouTube settings, clicking “Request the HTML5 player” if you are currently set to default player.
Problem Six: Lack of Mobile-Friendly Optimization
6 is another biggie, and it’s getting more important all the time. Mobile devices can be anything from phones to tablets, and if your site doesn’t load fast and look great on them, you could be losing an ever-growing percentage of traffic.
In 2012, mobile marketing generated $139 billion. In 2015, that’s expected to jump to $400 billion. The number is just gonna keep on going up, so don’t get left behind!
When choosing a WordPress theme, look for the words “responsive” or “mobile friendly” in anything you buy. These will resize your pages when loaded on different sized screens, and optimize them for the change in platform.
If you are one of the few HTML warriors who build their websites out of blood, sweat and code, try Bootstrap’s “responsive CSS” tutorial.
With the Google page speed tool I mentioned earlier, there is also the option to test mobile speeds in a different tab.
This will tell you specifically what is slowing your site down on mobile devices.
Problem Seven: Absence of Basic Pages
The final point for this lesson is all about your basic pages, or lack thereof. When I say basic pages, I’m referring to your “about”, “contact”, or “disclaimer” pages.
These are actually a United States FTC requirement, so you want to be careful not to jeopardize your budding affiliate business by not meeting your legal obligations.
Add these pages to your site. About pages and contact info helps validate you with page visitors. Affiliate disclaimers (along with privacy policies) also build trust with your audience, which could even lead to an increased number of sales.
When creating or optimizing your about page, make sure it’s personal and conversational. Show them who you are, what you can do for them, and what you’ve done for others (positive testimonials don’t go awry!).
When creating your disclaimer page, research the FTC requirements. AffiloBlueprint includes a lesson about this.
So let’s take a quick look over what we learned in this lesson. We taught you how to improve your content to further the success and reach potential of your site.
We then let you know the best tips and tools to focus on your h tags, meta descriptions, and markup. Slow pages slow success, so we filled you in on the main things to watch out for.
We also made a couple of suggestions of tools to use to help you find any of those sneaky broken links on your website. We looked at why using Flash isn’t the best option, and why you should opt for HTML5 instead.
Mobile optimization is a doozy: you can’t let that slip through the cracks, so make sure you’ve got a responsive, mobile-friendly theme going.
And to finish, we covered the importance of basic pages, and what to consider when creating or reviewing yours.
Where to Now?
Go through the lesson, checking for anything that could be negatively affecting your page and fixing as required. To check your site regularly for issues, use the Health Check Module in AffiloTools, which can be found at tools dot affilorama dot com slash health hyphen check