Yes, I’m one of the technical guys on the team. No, that doesn’t mean that secrets I’m about to spill aren’t as easy as my headline would have you believe. There really are some pretty easy things you can do to improve the performance of your venue website. Without further ado (I told you I was a tech guy, not a writer!), here you have them:
1. Clean Up Redirects
A quick primer on redirects for the uninitiated: There are essentially two different players here, 301’s and 302’s. A 301 is a permanent redirect considered to be an SEO best practice for when a page’s URL is changed or deleted. A 302 is a temporary redirect that should only be used when a resource is removed, but will return to its original location eventually.
When your site has too many of either of these redirects or they’re being used incorrectly, it can slow site speed, making it more difficult for search engines to crawl your pages (it’s not great for user experience either). If these redirects are being used incorrectly, it could lead to even bigger problems, such as an ugly—and potentially irreversible—run-in with Google. As per usual, it’s about finding the right balance. This video straight from the source is a good place to start.
2. Improve Page Load Times
This one’s pretty straightforward. Pages with long load times are crawled slower and less frequently. Given that more than half your traffic is probably coming from people on a mobile device at this point, load time has become an especially important factor for rankings, usability and conversion.
Start with a free tool like Google PageSpeed to find out where your site stands on load times. Follow any recommendations they offer to fix identified issues (or enlist the help of an expert). For those of you with a slightly more advanced DIY ability, here’s a few classic fixes for page speed problems to consider:
- Use browser caching
- Optimize images and enable compression
3. Simplify Conversions
You can optimize all day long but if you haven’t made the conversion process on your site as clear and simple as possible, it won’t do you much good. Regardless of whether it’s a soft conversion like a newsletter subscription or social media “like” or a hard conversion, such as registration or ticket sales, you have to make the process obvious and easy.
Do this with prominent calls-to-action, experience-oriented, hassle free processes and clearly-stated objectives. It’s also never a bad idea to have someone outside your organization walk through the process to get an unbiased sense for how simple (or otherwise) it really is.
4. Focused Messaging
You might be surprised to hear advice about messaging from a technical guy, but after so many years working in this niche, I’ve picked up on a thing or two about what kind of messaging resonates and how much of a difference it makes in the ultimate success of a site.
It’s a particular problem, especially for venue clients, to zero in on which of the several audiences your site needs to speak to should take priority. I’ve found that the best way forward is to put your customer’s customer first. That means guests get top-billing.
It’s not that I’m recommending completely ignoring exhibitors, sponsors or event planners. Far from it! But, at the end of the day, these users aren’t looking for messaging that is tailored to them – they are searching for platforms that are focused on their customers!
This last one’s a doozy. Beyond just improving functionality and usability, my last recommendation has the potential to actually improve the overall efficiency of your business as a whole.
My colleague lays it all out in this post, but I’ll summarize for you here. Integration—tying your website directly into third party software—allows you to reduce workloads, improve efficiency and create a better experience for users who can be assured they’re accessing the most accurate and updated information available. For example, you enter information for an upcoming event in your event management software and it is then dynamically populated on your online events calendar in real-time. Same deal for bookings. Same deal for leads (in reverse), etc.
Bonus Tip: Ask for Help!
I know I promised you tips you could implement on your own to optimize your venue website, and I have! This one is just gravy.
As a venue manager, you wear many hats. It’s ok if web design, SEO and online marketing isn’t one of them! Don’t be afraid to focus on your core strengths and call in the experts, if need be. As it happens, I know some people…