Elevate Your Website: A Webinar Series for Event Professionals To Boost Business

Learn how you can win more clients with an elevated event business website today! This is a 3-part video series chock-full of fantastic insight. The videos include:

- Tips, Tricks, & Common Mistakes: Learn about the pros and cons of outsourcing development, the fast action items you can do today to make improvements, and the common mistakes you should avoid. We talk about what website building platforms are better for you to try and where you might find additional resources to help you design, build, and grow your online presence.

- User Experience (UX) Basics: Learn the what, why, and how of User Experience and make sure your site is designed to bring in new business. We cover everything from basic definitions to clear action items you can take immediately, so be prepared for some fast wins!

- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips: Learn about the basic definitions of popular buzzwords (H1 Tags, Meta Descriptions, Crawlability and more!) Also, get some concrete action items you can take today to better your discoverability. You'll also get our favorite resources and tools to continually monitor and improve your SEO.

Tips, Tricks, & Common Mistakes Transcript

Karen Gordon: Hello, everyone, welcome. Welcome to part one of our three part series this week about elevating your website. Today is tips, tricks and common mistakes. Tomorrow we'll be covering UX, the basics of user experience. Thursday we have SEO tips, so really exciting content we have for you this week. We're really excited that you are joining us today.

First off, I want to let you know that today, we actually already have the webinar. As luck would have it, the recording didn't work. Of course, things happen. You're getting the exclusive recording I am doing right now for everyone who registered, as this was promised that you would get a recording.

Unfortunately, I do apologize the Q&A session that we had at the end is long gone and we do not have anyone logging in live right now.

What I'm going to do is I'm going to ask some of the folks who were in the session with me, a couple of my colleagues who tuned in if they can help me remember some of those great questions we had and I will include some of the information about those questions and answers in the email we sent as a follow‑up.

A lot of our questions were wonderful questions about Goodshuffle Pro, so I will be sure to include that information in the email follow‑up since it will not be a part of this recording.

Thank you again now for registering. Thanks so much to those who tuned in and really excited to walk you through today some of the basics to work on elevating your website. My name is Karen Gordon. I'm the VP of Growth at Goodshuffle Pro. I've had a lot of people asking recently, "What does that mean? [laughs] What does a VP of Growth mean?"

It means that I run all of our business departments from a business growth standpoint. I run a marketing, sales, customer success, and also provide the business angle in our product growth as well. I have my hands in quite a few departments and with that I have a lot of opportunities to connect with our users.

One thing I hear folks say or confess is that they haven't prioritize their online presence which kills me. Hopefully, if you are attending this or in this case of watching this recording it's because you know that online presence is extremely important.

Sadly in the state of happenings that are currently with the virus, online presence is even more important because there are just less in‑person interactions happening right now. Thankfully, a lot of people have been very savvy and using this tough time to get their ducks in a row, amp up their online presence. That's why we wanted to take the time to say, hey, here are some really great action items for getting that going.

Today, we'll first address for folks who are either building a new website, completely revamping, starting fresh, the common question is, is this something I should outsource or is it something I should tackle myself? Then, we're going to go ahead and give you fast five action items.

If you're anything like me coming to webinars or courses, I always want to have things I can walk away with. We're going to give you some homework right off the bat. Then I'm going to walk you through the 10 most common mistakes that I see. Some are super quick fixes.

Others are a little bit more in depth, but I'm positive that you will all walk away with at least a couple of action items that will really elevate your online presence. Then at the end, I am sorry that we will not be having the live Q&A on this recording, but I will share my contact information.

Please, don't hesitate to reach out. I'd be happy to answer any questions after the fact that you want to shoot me a direct email. I'll have my information there at the end. Let's get started. The first fork in the road where we see folks get stuck is the question of do I hire someone? Should I attempt to do this myself?

It really depends on a number of things. Obviously, there's a money cost versus time cost. That's always the number one factor in deciding if you want to outsource anything. In sticking in the theme here a little bit about common mistakes or common traps people fall into, a couple that I see are, first, people will say I'm not techie, so I need to hire someone.

That's not exactly true. Companies like Squarespace have made billions of dollars off of making it easy to build a website. You really don't have to be techie anymore in order to build a great website, particularly not a pretty basic one. With that, one of the worst things I see is that people will hire someone and stay completely removed from the process.

Then, the developer builds something that is really techie, and then you can't ever make any edits. In fact, to me, this is one of the biggest scams out there. I've seen people who will hire a developer. The developer proudly builds it in something like Drupal, which you don't know what that is. Good. You really don't need to as an event business owner.

You can get a developer who's really proud to build something in a complex language, and then it's a language you don't even speak. How are you supposed to ever make an edit? You can't. That's where it feels kind of scammy to me. Now you are stuck paying to make even the tiniest edit on your website.

We'll talk through some tips about either hiring, or doing it yourself, but as you can probably tell, one of the first things I'm going to tell you is that the goal should be to have a platform you are able to at least edit. Even if somebody else designs it, sets it up, helps get things going, you need to at least be able to edit your phone number, or add something that says "New COVID policy."

If you hire an expert, you should choose your platform first. A WordPress still here is pretty popular with website builders, but it's a little more complex than a Squarespace or a Webflow. Just make sure that it's something that you feel comfortable making those edits.

Be sure above all that you decide what the site needs to do. For example, we here at Goodshuffle Pro offer an amazing website wish list integration. People love it because their clients can choose some of the items that they want for an event, and instead of just emailing it to them, they will build a proposal in their system in Goodshuffle Pro on the back‑end.

This is a huge time save, and a really neat feature, but we work with just about every platform except for Wix. We've had a couple of people who went and decided to build everything first, and then called us and said "OK Karen, I'm ready to install my integration now." I said "Why didn't you call me first? You could've built it on truly anything else."

Just know that if you are working with a software like Goodshuffle Pro, if you have some sort of function you need your website to do, you need to start with that functionality. You need to start with the core thing you want your website to do for you, before you pick a platform.

You want to make sure it's going to work. You also want to make sure whoever you're hiring understands how that works. We had someone who had a developer building something for them. I offered a million times, I said hey, here's our quick guide on how it works, or did you want to jump on a call if you have any questions?

He was very standoffish, I understand, I know how it works. Long story short, he had built other websites for other businesses using a different integration, and just assumed that he would have to build an individual page for every inventory item.

He went and used something like a WooCommerce, where he had taken this vendor's inventory, and built individual pages for each one, not realizing our integration automatically does that.

At that point it was too late, he had already spent these hours, he wanted to then bill the vendor for all the hours he's worked, even though he's done something completely unnecessary.

Again, you want to make sure that you understand what you want your website to do, make sure that the developer, the person you're hiring, understands what it needs to do, and that any integration you're using, that everyone's on the same page.

I always say take advantage of people's customer service and customer success, and say "Talk to my developer directly if you need to." The last thing you want is to be paying for somebody to do something, if they don't really know what they're doing, and they're going to go ahead and waste all this hourly billing.

Finally, it's also ideal to have someone who has built a website for someone in at least a similar industry as you. You want someone who really understands how people shop in your industry.

For example, we've seen rental clients who had developers who don't really understand why booking a rental is different than shopping on amazon.com. Anyone watching this is likely in the events industry in some capacity, and can understand why, of course, it is very different.

If you're on the event rental industry you're going to need to know if you have enough inventory for the date that they're selecting. You're going to want to probably upsell them on add‑ons to the items they're selecting.

These are all part of the process, but like this guy who went with this WooCommerce thing, I think he just assumed that it was like maybe a regular e‑commerce business he was working with.

There's a huge advantage in working with somebody who understands how your industry functions. Another great thing about working with someone who gets your industry is they may have cool suggestions you haven't thought of. Isn't that the whole reason to work with an expert, is to get their ideas as a developer, as a Web page designer?

For example, one of our preferred partners, someone that we work with who designs websites, who knows our integration really well, did this awesome thing where their client ‑‑ you can see, I have a picture of it here ‑‑ had been featured in a bridal magazine. Of course, they wanted to show this off on their website.

The developer had the idea, "What if we did a landing page where we had all of the featured images from the wedding where we had the quotes from the bridal magazine, where we showed all the services that we got? We did planning and rentals, and design. "

Then at the bottom, they had it say, "Party like the Flippins," which is the name of the couple that got married, which I think is the cutest name. They featured the actual inventory that they'd used for this event so that you could actually add those things directly to your wish list as you were looking at this gorgeous bridal magazine feature.

It turned out wonderful. I've now suggested it to tons of other folks. That was just a perfect example of why you might want to work with somebody who's worked in the industry before.

This designer, this developer knew that that's how brides, or grooms, or people planning an event might shop, is that they'll see the inspiration from an event that you've done and quickly want to have similar‑looking items.

Now, if you do it yourself, same thing as your first step that I'm going to tell you with the expert, which is picking your platform, and not just picking your platform but testing your platform.

I can't tell you how many people say things like, "I went with WordPress because someone told me it was the best." Well, best for whom? If you want something that has tons of options for plugins and a million customizations, sure.

If you want something with maybe a little more built‑in security and more of just plug‑and‑play experience, I'd probably recommend Squarespace. Plus you just need to like the feel. Use those free trials that these platforms offer so that you can click around and see what feels more intuitive to you.

One of the biggest mistakes we see is people just getting started on a rough foot. If you build your website on a less than great platform, you end up getting stuck on whether or not you want to start all over.

We have a wonderful client. She built her website on a platform that's meant for photographers, but she's in florals and décor. Now she's hitting some limitations. I feel so bad for her because, of course, she feels like, "I don't want to scrap all this work that I've done," but she also knows it's not really the fit for what she's trying to do with her business.

Another thing we pretty openly say is we are not huge fans of Wix. The reason that our integration doesn't work with Wix is the same reason a lot of integrations do not. They don't allow you to drop any custom code into your website, which means that you can only use an app or an integration from their app marketplace, which is pretty sneaky, right?

I'm sure they get some profit share where you can only select from very specific apps. Whereas if you do WordPress, or Squarespace, or Webflow, these are still very templated drag‑and‑drop type things. You don't have to be a coder to do them, but if you wanted to add a little snippet of code, like an integration oftentimes requires, you can just override with the code.

You should just make sure when you're looking, what's going to have a lot of limitations may not be something that you need right away. If you end up growing into a tool or another functionality and you're on a very limiting platform, you again are going to end up with that horrible feeling, that feeling of feeling stuck.

Then also feel like you can phase out approach or have a phased approach rather when you're rolling out your website. You can gradually roll out new things. Do not have an under construction website for months on end while you are perfecting things in little 15‑minute intervals whenever you have the time.

You want to get a basic template out with the absolute need‑to‑knows and get that live immediately. There is no reason to not have that live in under an hour. Then from there, you can phase in better design, more inventory as you add it, more testimonials as they come in, better SEO tools, which we're going to talk about on Thursday.

Event people are perfectionists by nature. It's what makes us all so great at building beautiful events. Unfortunately, it can also get in the way of progress when we don't get something live. Every day that you don't have something on your website, you're losing customers.

Finally, I want to say that you can choose to manage your website and still outsource parts of this process. Maybe you hire someone to consult on the front end and help you design and structure your website, or maybe you want to hire someone to set you up for success with SEO.

You can absolutely choose to outsource these things and still maintain control overall. The goal here again is just to be able to at least make edits yourself, but that doesn't mean you have to take on everything.

All right, so now that we've talked about getting your platform, about hiring an expert or doing it yourself, here are five things I want everybody to literally do as soon as you are done with this recording. I'm calling these not just the fast five. I'm also calling them the facepalm five, as the icon showing you a nice little facepalm with my fingers.

They seem maybe a little bit obvious to some people as I say them. Honestly, if you check your own website, you'll be surprised to find most people have at least one of these. As a side note, when I told my team that the webinar recording didn't go through, they told me that that was my facepalm five for the day.

We can all have our facepalm moments. It's OK if you have one of these on your website. The first is you need to show your location. I can't tell you how often someone signs up for a demo of our software. I go look at their website and see they do great about rentals, no clue where. I don't even know what time zone they're in for me to set up a call.

Think about how that's affecting your SEO. When someone googles wedding vendors in Charleston or DJs near me, and you don't have a location on your website, do you think it's possible that you're showing up?

Three things to remember about the location. One, make sure front and center, someone should know as soon as they land on your website whether or not you service their area. Two is Contact and About pages. A lot of people will skip to one of those to see where you are. It's great to have a nice about that explains who you are. Make sure that you have the basics of your location on there as well.

Then, to win SEO, you need to consider also what people actually call your area. As a great example, I live in Washington, DC, and the DC metro area is oftentimes called the DMV, which is short for DC, Maryland and Virginia, since the three are all very close to one another. If you're in this area, you would want to make sure that you have on your website servicing the DMV for folks who might go ahead and search using that term.

Number two, seems a little obvious, but define what you do. Think in terms first of what you do for them. The first thing that someone wants to know, the first thing that all of us want to know when we visit a website is, what's in it for me?

Something like, "best weddings," isn't as good as, "brings couples vision to life with decor and design services." It's much more clear and much more clear what's in it for me. Also, remember that they're coming fresh off a Google search, probably. Ensure that the terms that they would use in that search are listed there.

We'll touch a little bit more on that later, as well as on Thursday. As a quick gut check, I would say open up your website right now. Take a quick look and think, is it really clear, what and why?

Next, remove dead links. If you have coming soon anywhere on your website, please go to your website and enter that page into draft mode. I mentioned earlier, this phased approach, which means slowly building and adding pages. It's totally fine.

You don't want to put up a page that is a placeholder because, A, I promise it'll live there a lot longer than you care to admit and B, think about the message that that sends to your client. It says I started something, but I didn't finish it, not a great look.

It's much better to have a simple sparse even website until you have time to, let's say, add a blog rather than, "Blog coming soon," sitting there for ages on it. Also, if you're using a template, which again most of the platforms I mentioned to have all sorts of templates you can choose, Squarespace, WordPress, that's great.

Just note that a lot of templates have placeholders built into them for things like social media. They'll have those little social media icons.

If you don't have a Twitter, let's say, just make sure that you remove the Twitter icon. Otherwise, it's going to be a dead link. Finally, test. Go through your website tonight. Click on absolutely everything. If it is broken, fix it if you can. If you don't know how or you can't, temporarily remove it until you can. These are not only bad for clients' experience. It's really bad for your SEO.

Next step, you want to have a clear call to action. Something that you're trying to get from them. Do you want them to reach out? Do you want them to build a wish list? Whatever you want them to do the most should be the biggest, most obvious button.

Also, make sure you give them something to do immediately. You can't just say call us if you don't answer your phone 24/7, which by the way, I really hope you don't. It's a terrible experience for the insomniac planner who's trying to get their event done at 4:00 AM to not have anything that they can do.

At the very least have a contact form. If you're in design, decor, or rentals, you should have a wish list. People want to take an action immediately, particularly the younger generation.

Finally, give them a way to reach you. In fact, you should give them several. Make sure you have your email, your phone number. Make sure you actually have those on every page.

If you have this awesome page, for example, the Flippins wedding we talked about and someone goes, "Uh, this is really what's selling me. I love this photo, the spread. I love what they did."

You want to make sure that on every page they have that way to reach out. They have a call to action. They have contact information, that they're not lost when they're finding the thing that they love.

Now, those are the fast five, aka the no more facepalm five, that I want everyone to do today, pretty straightforward. Without further ado, here are the top 10 mistakes we see all the time.

Hopefully, the top 10 mistakes that everyone watching this is going to now move away from. Number 10 is music on the site. You wouldn't believe how often I see it. Autoplay videos with sounds are also a hard no. Studies show people oftentimes are scrolling their phones in bed, with a partner asleep next to them, so a loud video? Not going to make them too happy.

Similarly, if they're supposed to be working, but they're secretly planning their sister's baby shower, you don't want to be the one who's accidentally busting them with a loud blast of happy sound and songs. No music, no auto‑play.

Number nine is a pretty big one. The only reason I put it as low as I did on the list is because I'm hoping people know this one by now. The majority of your users or your visitors are coming to your website on their phones.

You need to make sure that all of your website, not just your home page, is completely mobile‑friendly. It is easy to navigate from any type of device.

It's worth noting that some platforms and some plugins and integrations automatically do this. They have it built in to collapse into a smaller view. Others do not. When you're looking at adding a plugin on a site, when you're looking at picking a template, make sure you check how it's going to look on any size devices.

Number eight on the common mistakes. If you have Comic Sans anywhere on your website, please just delete it. Please. Similarly, Sriracha is one I rediscovered recently, and it brought me back to this phase in elementary school, when my friends started having computers to type up birthday party invitations.

They would all get very creative in their choice on font, which was very cute for an eight birthday, but it's not so cute for your professional business.

Speaking of creativity, obviously events are a creative industry, which is wonderful, but if you are too creative in describing what your company does, or your personal title, you are just confusing your clients.

An example I have, and why I chose this particular picture, is, I knew a guy who was starting his own event planning and production company. He decided to make his title "Conductor." He explained how he conducts everything within the experience, but what he was failing to think about was that nobody googles best conductor unless this is what they're looking for.

You really need to be thinking about that SEO at all times. You also need to remember, people have short attention spans. They don't want to read a whole paragraph just to understand why your title is what it is. They want to know what you do by looking at your title, by looking at your company description.

We talked earlier about how it's totally fine and great to get help, and to outsource to your new website, but you need to be able to edit it. I can always tell who completely a 100 percent outsourced something, because they've got broken links everywhere.

They've got something that says "Coming in 2018." It's heartbreaking, because they probably spent too much money on a team that created some complex thing that they don't even have a password to get into.

If you don't want to maintain your site, that's fine too. There are wonderful companies, in fact our guest speaker for tomorrow will be a ‑‑ if you're watching these as recordings, our guest speaker on the UX front ‑‑ she I know offers packages where she does monthly maintenance for websites.

A lot of people who will design your website will offer a monthly package, so you can also go the route of paying someone monthly. Even then I would say you want to be able to make a fast change.

The worst thing you can do is completely push it off your plate, and then end up with something where what happens is, these templates, these plugins, they all have updates. If a new update comes, and you don't know how to log in to update the new template, it can actually break, or ruin your entire page.

Number five here, I've mentioned the phased approach of website building. Don't worry at all if you just start with a couple of pages. That is totally fine. However, the goal should be to have multiple different pages and this helps with a few things.

One, it makes it easy for someone on your main page to know where to go, to know "I'm interested in this so I should probably go to this page." Two, it helps you win the keyword game. If you have one page that lists that you do planning, rentals, design, and catering. That's great. You're never going to win the keyword game with all of these varying services on one page.

By breaking out landing pages, you can focus each on the various things that you offer. You can have a page that says, "Event Planning Services in the DMV Area" and lists all of the things you do related to that part of your business. You can also have a direct link from an ad or social media post about that one service.

Even if I were to send an email to you and I knew you were specifically interested in planning, then I can send you directly to my page about that planning. Similarly, if I click on an ad about very cool bracelets, I don't want to go to with general landing or general Home page for a jewelry store. I want that ad to take me directly to the page about the exact cool bracelets that I saw.

You need to have page that drives people based on their specific needs. One thing to avoid though is the temptation to just slap a bunch of keywords on a page. Google does not like this, I promise your clients will not like this either. You don't want to have a page that talks about one service and then it's just a ton of bullet points and every single keyword stuffed into it.

Of course, you have humans visiting your site, you need to use photos, use testimonials, and tell the story visually of why people should choose your service. Remember, this is the ever tough game that we all go through of this dance around trying to win the SEO game for the bucks, but also win the hearts of your potential buyers.

In thinking about those buyers, one of the worst things that I see is lack of pricing. Anyone who knows me at all, will tell you this is one of my greatest passions. I have done speaking engagements, specifically about this topic. It's very hard for me to limit just to one slide, but I will try and give you a few quick notes on why this is so important.

Ready, paper and pen. Here is why this is important. One is impatience, which I mentioned earlier, it's more prevalent now than ever in the consumer. If someone is shopping your services and they can't find the main thing that they're looking for such as price range, that frustration is so negative with you, regardless of what your pricing is.

Plus, they then resent you for wasting their time, because they're searching all over for something and you're just not showing it to them. Speaking of wasted time, one of the biggest mistakes that the small business owners and sales people in general make is wasting time on unqualified leads.

When people tell me, "I'm scared to show my pricing, they might not inquire because I'm too pricey", I say "Good, that's a good thing." Do you want to waste your time with someone who is never going to be able to afford the prices that you've established for yourself?

Also, by not putting pricing out there you're giving the impression that there's room for negotiation. I hear event professionals of all types all the time, who are annoyed by people trying to bargain with them. Actually, in the webinar earlier, I asked people to raise their hands if they get annoying clients who try to bargain with them, and almost every single participant's virtual hand went up.

Yes, it is annoying. When you don't put a price out there, you're giving the impression there's room for negotiation. You're being cagey about your prices, you're having people assume that it's just something that's not really established, it's not well set, and it's not really based on anything. We have also seen a correlation in people who don't show pricing getting more bad actors.

Meaning, people who will dispute credit card charges, claim they never got their order, all of that kind of stuff. What happens is by delegitimizing your business on the front end by not showing well‑established prices, you're opening the door to these shady shoppers. Finally, I get people who will say, "I have a competitor down the street that undercuts my prices."

Here's the thing, they can do that regardless of whether you have pricing on your site. The difference would just be that you have somebody wasting your time, calling you, getting a quote and then taking that quote down the street, having that competitor do a lower price and winning. In that case you've wasted all your time.

Chances are that client is always the client who's shopping for the cheapest price is always going to shop for the cheapest price. Chances are you're not in business because you have the literal lowest price in town, that's very rarely the case why people are booking with you. There are other reasons people choose to work with you and your job is to put those reasons very clearly on your website.

Which brings me to number two, UVP, for those who don't know another passionate topic of mine. Unique Value Proposition, UVP. You all have one and it can't just be does great events because that's not particularly unique.

It might be more like we have the most well‑taken care of furniture rentals in the state of Kansas, or we provide full‑service events from design through execution, so you never have to lift a finger. I talked to folks all the time who tell me these great things about their business, and I regularly can't find that anywhere on their website.

I was giving a lecture about transparent pricing a couple of years ago, and a woman stopped me and said, "You know people are more willing to pay once they know me, I'm just very charming." "Fine," I said. Are you on your website? Honestly, do you have videos of you interacting with clients making them laugh?

Do you have testimonials about how easy you are to work with? Because it's totally fine if you are part of the unique value. Again, if you're not showing that unique value on the site, of course you're scared to put prices. There's nothing that's correlating those prices with that value.

Think about as an example, when you see a restaurant's menu pricing online, you don't expect everywhere to have Applebee's pricing. You can tell by things like the branding on the site, if there are reviews from newspapers, if there's a five‑star review on Yelp. You can tell if they have unique food offerings that you don't usually see at other places.

There are lots of things that provide value that people are willing to pay for when they're shopping, when they're going out to eat. If I have a generic website that says restaurant, it is good. We have Cobb salad, we've got burgers, $45 minimum per plate. Of course, [laughs] I'm going to wonder why the price is that when I don't see any value associated with it.

The problem is never a price. The problem is ensuring your price and your unique value align. As a side note, we are rolling out even more materials on some of these passions of mine, transparency, pricing, unique value props. Be sure that you're signed up for our mailing list so you can get more information as we continue to roll out more of this content.

Now it brings me to number one. The biggest mistake we see is people who have no action for the person on your site to take. Let's say you've done everything else. You've story told about your successes. You've shown your unique value proposition. You've shown your value‑based, very clear pricing.

Now they're excited. You're it. They want to work with you, and then there's nothing for them to do. Maybe they can call a phone number. Again, what if it's 4:00 AM? What if it's Gen Z, who apparently don't like talking on the phone? Have you given them a way to start the process of working with you from the comfort of their couch?

That's what something like Goodshuffle Pro, with our website wishlist integration, can help you do, can make sure that they are taking that action while they're excited and so that you can make sure you close that sale.

If for some reason that's not for you, and I'm happy to talk to anyone offline about, "Was this a right fit for our company?" If it's not the right fit for you, then at least have a contact form. Not one with seven zillion questions, please people do not like that.

Something to gauge them to make it clear where you can start the sales process, because the worst thing you can do is get them all pumped up, and then just to leave them float with no way to get the ball rolling.

Now, again, with this odd recording here, I'm going to go ahead and put a little plugin, in case you're viewing this before for our upcoming webinars. If you are reviewing this at the end of the week, you can watch our recordings as well of our other two webinars.

Our webinar on UX, user experience. If that's not something you're familiar with, don't let that intimidate you. All it really means is the experience your users have coming to your website. Things like extra landing pages, so they know where to click, or making sure you have a very clear call to action.

Some of the things we discussed here today on a very basic level, we'll be doing a little bit more of a deep dive tomorrow with Kristy Glassick of GlassickUX. She's a dear friend of mine, and she's going to teach you all those basics. She's going to make sure that it's really easy for you to do with zero coding knowledge.

How you can do things just like pick templates that are going to grab more of your leads, get more business. Then, our SEO webinar on Thursday. That is going to be led by my colleague Carmen. We're going to dive into all the basics and understanding of what you need to do in order to get your website maximize.

Now, even if you say, look, that's something I want to outsource, there's a lot of value to understanding the basics of these things. I thought one of our users Cam Petty she owns Beautiful Event Rentals in Dallas. Actually, I stole on this previous slide, this is from her website. I stole it from you Cam Petty, if you're watching, [laughs] because I love her website.

I think her [inaudible 40:09] and her branding is quite beautiful. She has a podcast called Render Podcast. I was a guest on at once, so you'll have to go check that episode out. She just told this story that I've repeated a bunch since, I thought it was a great example.

She said when she was starting out her business, she paid an SEO firm. She paid them tons and tons of money. Then later as she started to learn a little bit more about SEO, she realized they were doing a terrible job. She got a little wise to what they were doing. She fired them.

Then she has since hired a firm for a fraction of the price who is doing way better. How she got to that what she did some learning on her own. That's just a great example to me of she never had the intention of doing all of the legwork herself. She wanted to outsource that part of her business.

By knowing a little bit more about what it meant, how it works she was better able to identify who was doing a good job. Now, she's paying less to have someone do a better job. This is just another reason why it's important to attend these webinars, these classes, as you can so that if you can just learn even the basics.

Again, it'll make you a lot better suited to hire the right people to talk about the work they're doing for you and to give you a little bit more power and control in taking over the parts that you can do on your own.

With that, I apologize that our recording didn't work today and that I don't have the wonderful Q&A we did earlier for you all, but like I said, I am very happy to answer any questions you have.

I know earlier, some of the questions had to do with folks asking about various website platforms. I'm happy to talk through those the main ones that we find people are happiest with seem to be WordPress and Squarespace. Squarespace being a lot more user friendly, if you have no experience.

We also got asked quite a bit about Goodshuffle Pro. I will go ahead and say if you're not familiar with Goodshuffle Pro, we're an all‑in‑one software for event businesses, particularly businesses with inventory, so event rental, custom design and decor, florals, venues, DJs. You name it.

If you do anything in the event space, we've got a unique software that's going to have you do everything from the sale all the way through the event execution. Nice, neat and organized in one platform.

We do your billing, we're invoicing proposals, team collaboration, your inventory management to make sure you never double‑book anything, all of your tracking across your entire business operations. We've got you covered.

If you haven't checked us out yet, you should go ahead and shoot me an email or go to goodshufflepro.com/demo and sign up for a quick demo.

We'd be happy to walk you through the platform, talk to you a little bit about your business and your business goals and see if we might be the right fit to help you automate things, make things a lot smoother on your operations and save you time and help you grow your business.

With that, thanks for tuning into the recording. I hope everyone has a wonderful day and we'll be in touch soon.

User Experience (UX) Basics Transcript

Karen Gordon:  All right. It looks like we are at exactly two minutes past, so we're going to go ahead and get started. Thank you so much for everyone joining us today. For some of you, I'm seeing you for the second day in a row for those who joined us yesterday, for yesterday's first installation in this three‑part series. Today is all about elevating your website with user experience.

I'm Karen Gordon. I'm your host today. I have the easy job today after presenting yesterday. All I have to do is welcome you all. I'm Karen Gordon. I'm the VP of Growth here at Goodshuffle Pro. Although we are the hosts today, today's presentation is actually by our wonderful guest, Kristy Glassick, the owner of GlassickUX, who also happens to be a dear friend of mine. I am thrilled to have her here today.

For folks who are joining us and have questions as we go along, one of my only jobs as the host today is to moderate those. Please go ahead, send them in the Q&A, send them in the chat. I'm going to keep an eye on those as we go along.

I'm going to do my best not to interrupt Kristy unless there's anything absolutely burning about one of the slides. What we'll do is instead after she's gone through her presentation, at the end, we'll go through all of the questions. That'll be a great time to ask her questions about UX as it pertains to your business and your website.

Without further ado, I'm going to stop sharing my screen, and go ahead and hand it over to Kristy. Thank you so much for joining us.

Kristy Glassick:  Thank you so much for having me. Let me just get set up right here.

Karen:  I do have a question already coming in about someone asking about sharing yesterday's presentation. Yes, everyone who's registered will receive all three recordings by the end of the week. Keep and lookout for that email that will be coming hopefully tomorrow, if not Friday.

Kristy:  All right. Thank you so much for having me today. Thank you Goodshuffle for the invitation. As Karen mentioned, my name is Kristy Glassick. I am the founder and the owner of GlassickUX. I've been practicing user experience for about four and a half years now in many different roles. Everything ranging from user research and discovery activities through website and interface design.

Also, into front‑end development as well but we're not going to cover that today. Today I'm going to share with you some basics about user experience otherwise known as UX. I'm going to give you some background, some notable principles. Some activities that you can take back to your own business to kick start improving your own website's user experience.

We're also going to have some time at the end to review some additional resources that I'm going to give to you and I'll set up some Q&A to get some questions from you all.

To kick things off today, let's dive right in and talk about what UX actually is and how it affects your business. This first section is going to be dedicated to covering the background of UX and trying to understand where it came from and what the purpose is.

The definition is, the overall experience of a person using a product, such as a website, or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use. You might have heard of user experience before. It's been a trendy term in the last decade in the web world, but it's been around for a long while now.

The UX movement was actually founded by a group of forward thinkers who began to ask questions about how products both tactile and digital were being designed and why. They started to ask questions like, why aren't they being designed for the users' needs?

We're talking a couple of decades ago. Back then, the standard was for web experiences to be thrown together. They were thrown together effort and often it was the expectation that the user would learn to use the website or learn to use the product, or they would fail at their task. That was just how it was.

This group of forward thinkers decided to flip the script. They decided to start asking the important question. What if products were designed based on the user instead of vice versa?

Asking this question is what led to what we now know as user experience or UX design, which is a field that again, as you probably know is going to booming in the last decade and has become a truly integral part of the product of development pipeline.

In full practice, user experience encompasses just a ton of things. This is just a smattering of what it actually encompasses. These are terms that are typically associated with UX. However, today just to keep things simple, since we only have an hour together, we're just going to talk about user experience as one holistic concept.

The big question is, how does this affect your business? I like to answer this question by reminding folks of what my business's tagline is. That tagline is, "The world is watching." The world is watching sounds kind of ominous. It sounds a little bit big brother ask, but really it gets the point across.

Your website is your face to the entire world. Anybody can access your website, and the way that you present yourself is often going to form their first impression of you. It's going to form their opinions.

If your website isn't well‑maintained, can they trust you as a vendor, as a business partner? These are questions that you should ask yourself when you're thinking about how UX can affect your business. Most of your potential clients or your customers are going to view your website, either before they even talk to you or meet you, or early on in your business relationship.

It's important to put the time and effort into maintaining a website that's easy and intuitive to use. You want them to be impressed and delighted by what they find when they go to your website. You know the importance of creating a clean and polished and professional image in person. You want to do the same. You want to take care of that web presence.

It's an opportunity for you, to put your best foot forward, and there are a number of benefits to performing UX activities. Some of these are a low barrier to entry. User experience activities are inherently empathetic activities that usually don't cost a lot of money.

You don't need to throw a big budget at a project, you don't have to hire a fancy firm, you don't have to expand your staff. All you need is someone who's interested in learning these activities and the basics of UX to get started. It's also a high return on investment.

As I mentioned, you don't need a big budget, you don't need to throw a lot of money at this. It can be something where even the smallest activities can form big impactful changes on your website that are going to get you more inquiries from your clients, more contact forms, more leads, more interest, and more engagement on your website.

It's also an opportunity for continual improvement. One of my favorite things about user experience is that it's not a one‑and‑done, I finished this project, I'm wiping my hands of it field. It's something where you're continually looking for opportunities to improve on your website to make things better, even if it's just a little bit at a time. It's a long‑term commitment.

Lastly, as I alluded to before, anybody can improve UX. It doesn't take a degree, it doesn't take a ton of education. All it takes is an interest, some reading, some research, and then applying what you've learned to get started in UX.

We're going to move right into our basic principles of user experience. There are way more principles than I'm going to cover today, but in the interest of time, I've picked out a few that are integral to the process, so we're going to cover those today. The first one we've got here is designed for your users, the second is consistency, the third is clarity, and the final is less is more.

Our first principle, design for your users. If you've ever dabbled in UX or read about anything related you've probably heard this before, but it's considered the UX golden rule. Your website should always be designed for your users, and not for yourself.

Remember, even though it is your website, you're not designing it so that you can use it, you're familiar with it, you know where the content lives and how it functions. You want to make sure that when you're designing your website, you're thinking about the user and how they might be navigating it.

In addition to that everyone will inevitably have personal opinions about how things should be styled and how they should function and how they should be laid out, but it's extremely important to continually ask yourself, "Is this what the users are going to expect or does this just make sense to me because I'm familiar with it?"

That's going to help you build out your website to make sure that it's easier for your users to understand the design and find the information that they're looking for.

Another tip is consistency. Consistency, if you've ever dabbled in marketing before then you've probably heard the old cliché that content is king. In UX, consistency is king. Being consistent in your website allows you to set expectations for your users from the start, and then maintain those standards throughout the website so that it is easier for them to navigate.

Once they start to notice the elements that are similar, all of the buttons look similar, all of the buttons look similar, all of the layouts are consistent, these sorts of things make it easy for the user to focus on content and less on trying to figure out how to work the website.

Doing so also tends to build trust with users. It makes the website easier to navigate and so it allows them to feel like they can trust you, they know what's going to happen, they know it's clickable, they know what styles are consistent across the board and what dictates a section.

A couple of the examples that I've said here are using preset button styles. This is a really important way. It gives the user an intuitive quick cue as to what is a call to action. Using consistent text styles to establish a visual hierarchy, making sure that you are consistent in your use of headers, the size of your headers, the size of your body text, the size of your captions. Things like that are going to become very important.

Another example is elements that are grouped together should share the same styles. For example, if you have on your website three packages, and you have them set up in three different cards, all of those cards should look and react the same.

That sort of helps the user to understand without having to think too hard that these are all similar elements that are grouped together. These are just examples, there are of course, many other ways that you can improve the consistency across your website.

Also, we've got clarity as one of our principles. This is a really interesting one. You just really want your website, your goal with your website is for it to be as obvious and as clear as possible. You never want your user to ask themselves what something means or "If I click this, what's going to happen?" or "Am I submitting something? Am I losing progress on a form?" You never want your users to have those sorts of thought processes.

If you're familiar with psychology you've probably heard this term before, "Cognitive Load". In psychology, the definition is the amount of working memory resources used. However, UXers have hijacked that phrase a little bit and started to apply it pretty heavily to our work.

In UX when you are talking about cognitive load, you're really describing how much mental energy your user is going to have to put forth to accomplish a task or to navigate your website. The important thing to know there is that reduced cognitive load is good. This should always be a priority.

We want to make things as simple as possible for your users. You never want to make them think too hard about how to navigate or work your website. It's also going to allow your user to spend more time focusing on the content.

If your user is on your website and they can't figure out how to get from A to B or they can't find the information that they're looking for, then they get frustrated. Taking the time to actually design things so that you're reducing your cognitive load is going to allow them to take more time to actually focus on what you've put on your website, instead of getting distracted by how it functions and how they're supposed to navigate.

Because of that it also tends to drive user action. If they're able to go to your website, they're able to get the information they need quickly and efficiently, then they're more likely to take action to fill out a contact form so that you have a new lead to book something with you. Overall, it just makes a more pleasant experience and reduces frustration.

I feel like we've all been there where we've been to a website, and you're clicking around, and you can't find what you want and you just feel the urge to throw your computer out the window. We just want to make sure that that never happens with your website.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to be clear and concise with your language and your call to action. There are definitely opportunities for you to let your personality show through and to demonstrate your brand through creative language on your website. However, there's a time and a place for it.

The creative opportunities that I've listed here are just an example. You can use a catchy headline to demonstrate your brand personality. Maybe you're a fun and hip brand or something like that. You can use a headline maybe over a nice designed hero on your home page to let that shine through.

You can also use marketing body copy on your pages as well. As long as you're still being clear about the take home points about those calls to action, you can use that as an opportunity to get creative. However, there are instances in which you really don't want to be using creative language.

I'd like to think of these things that you are focusing clarity on, these are really things that are related to the functionality of your website, the way that it works. The things that allow you to be a little bit more creative are the copy side of things, the headlines, but when it comes to functionality you want to be very straightforward because these cues are communicating with your users about how to use your website.

Here we have navigation, that's a really good example of one. You want to make sure that on your main navigation you have everything listed so that it is intuitive, so that use knows exactly what's behind it. It's not an opportunity to say, if you have a special package, or something called "Winter Wonderland" and you want to feature it, that's not something you want to put on your navigation. It's going to be very difficult for users to understand what lies behind that link.

Labels are another example. I frequently see with clients, people using their own lingo, their own internal culture language to label things in a way that they think builds character with their brand. However, I find often with users it can be very confusing. "What does this label mean? It's not something that is in my vocabulary per se." So you really want to steer clear of using creative repeatsy language with labels.

Buttons are one that I think is pretty well established. You want your buttons to be clear. Where is it going to take me? What action am I taking if I'm going to click this? And of course calls to action. I am going to touch back on this later in the presentation to talk about how you can really write effective calls to action and links. The steps you can take.

That is another instance in which you don't necessarily want to be too creative. You want to be very straightforward and clear with your user about what actions they are taking. Here's a really good example, it's very simple but it gets the point across. Some can associate a website, something like, "We need to finish later?"

Which from a marketing perspective might come across as laid back and casual, and give that persona. However, if you're a user and you see a button that says "Need to finish later", what does that tell you? Does that say, "I need to finish later so if I click this it's going to save for me?"

Or does it say, "I'm going to divert away from this page and it's going to send me elsewhere?" It's not very clear what's going to happen if you're going to click that button.

A better option would be a really crystal clear version that says, "Save for later." That ensures that the user knows that if they click that button, and then they wave that page, their progress is not going to be lost. Less is more, our final principle that we are going to explore today.

Karen:  Kristy, I will say that is very in line for those who were on yesterday's webinar. It's very in line with what I said about not being too creative with your titles or your company description because it kills your SEO.

I gave that example, some might remember, of an event planner I knew who called his title conductor instead of planner or production manager. I said, "Who's out there googling best conductor when they're trying to plan an event?" It's very similar from a UX principle that you tie in together that creativity in events is a beautiful thing, but creativity on your website is actually very confusing.

Kristy:  Yes, very good point, very good point. Often I find it makes you feel like you're building your own internal culture, but it is internal. When you use that sort of language, it means something to your team but it doesn't mean anything to potential clients. You just want to be very mindful of that.

"Less is more," this quote here, if you decide to explore user experience a little bit more after we're finished today, I guarantee you're going to see this quote in a lot of places. It's very popular. Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. It's almost cliche now in UX [laughs] to use this, but the point stands.

Most users are not going to read your website, it's just the sad truth. They scan them. In UX we often observe what's called an F pattern where they start at the top. They move down a little bit like that. I'm doing this backwards. There we go. An F pattern, you get the idea.

Most users will just scan your website looking for the content that they came for, or just browsing through it casually. You want to make sure that when you're adding content to your website it's carefully curated. You're thinking about what's important to put on the page. Drawing attention to the things that are going to get your user to take the desired action.

You also want to pay attention to the layout of your website. Overloading these pages with headlines, and text, and images, and buttons, and forms, and widgets, and what have you, can become visually overwhelming very quickly. You want to make sure to focus on what's important, get that upfront and trim the rest.

Another point with less is more, is also that you also want your content to breathe. That's something that I often see with websites is that, it's a lot of content even if it's well curated, a lot of it is pushed together, force together.

If you move things apart, even just a little bit, you'll start to notice there's more breathing room on your page. It's easier for people to digest when they have nice clean sections. All right. Karen, do we have any questions or we're good to go for Section 3?

Karen:  We are good to go, but folks, feel free to ask those questions. Again, we'll go over a bunch of questions at the end, but if there's anything you want to ask us from moving along...Oops, sorry we do have one. Sorry, what is SOE terminology represent? I want to go back. When did that come in? Can you go back one slide. That.

Not sure what they're referring to here. I think they're saying SEO. We're talking about SEO. I see. Sorry, we have things coming in rapid fire. Search engine optimization. We're going to have a deep dive on search engine optimization tomorrow. Yes, we were referencing how things can hurt your SEO.

Search engine optimization means optimizing your website so you show higher in search results. If you were again, the example I gave of a conductor. If I'm searching on Google, I want to find an event professional in my area, you need to think about what's the search engine is going to pull from the different websites.

It's all the bots that crawl your website and help Google give us awesome results when I'm searching something like most delicious restaurant near me. You want to optimize your website for those results as well as having a great experience in terms of the UX.

Today, more on the design, but if you want to learn a little bit more about that search engine optimization for your website that we tomorrow session at the same time. All right. Thank you for the tag team of people jumping in saying that meant SEO. I was wondering what does SOE mean.

Kristy:  All right. Now we're going to dive into the applicable stuff. Now that we have that basis, that good idea, some of the basic concepts and principles again just a handful, just a little taste of the principles of user experience. I'd like to talk to you about six ways that you can start to improve your own website's user experience.

Again, as I said before, I cannot reiterate enough. You do not need a big budget. You don't need a big team. You don't need to hire specialists necessarily. You don't need a ton of staff time to do these. You can do these at your leisure.

One that I'm particularly passionate about is checking your text contrast. This is a huge no‑no in terms of website design. You want to make sure that if you're going to go to the trouble of adding text to your website ‑‑ especially in cases where it's overlaid over an image or a background ‑‑ that it's visible. Highly visible.

This is sort of a rudimentary example right here. This is probably not something you'd actually see on a website, but you get the idea. When there isn't enough contrast between the text and the image in the background, it's really hard to see and it's really easy to miss.

You want to use text contrast wisely to make sure that your users can read everything that's on the page, even if that means that you're going to have to make some aesthetic adjustments. Even if that means you might have to make the image a little bit darker than you'd like, or a little bit lighter, or change the text color a little bit.

It will be worth it in the long run, since it's also, as an aside, considered the best practice in terms of accessibility. I won't get into accessibility today because we don't have time, but it's worth looking into in regards to your website.

You want to make sure that users that have visual impairments can use your website, can read things, can still have access to the same content that someone without visual impairments has.

In addition, you can also use text contrast in creative ways. You can use text contrast to bring out certain parts of your page that are the most important, and draw your user's eyes to those using colors, using bolded fonts and such, to try to build the storyline as your user navigates your page.

Our second way is to create better links and calls to action. I alluded to this before, now we're going to dive into it. This might seem like something that is more of a marketing concept, because calls to action are often associated with marketing efforts, but it does have its place in user experience as well.

Writing good links and calls to action, they help your user understand what they can expect if they're going to click on that link or CTA. Here are four ways that you can write better links or CTAs.

First of all, you want to be specific. We use text links to communicate with our users about what they can expect if they navigate to another page. You want to make sure that if you're going to give them that context, you're going to communicate with them, that you're using language that's specific enough. That you're following through on what you've promised in that link.

A good example here, one that you see all over the web all the time, is "Learn more." Learn more is very vague. Learn more about what?

It may pertain to a certain part of the web page that they've already explored. It could pertain to several parts. It's not specific enough for a user to click on it and necessarily understand exactly what they're going to find on the other end.

What if we wrote it a little bit differently? What if we wrote that link as "Learn more about our fall specials"? That's much better. It's a much stronger statement. They know exactly what they're going to find if they click that link.

Some other examples of vague language that are frequently seen online are things like "Read more," or "View," or things like that. You want to try very hard to be as specific as you can, without being verbose.

The second tip is to be transparent. Often you'll hear in user experience that a link is a promise. You're promising your users that if they click on this link, they're going to get access to the content as they'd expect.

When you're being transparent, if the user clicks on your link or your CTA, you want to make sure that you're delivering what they were expecting.

For example, if you have a call to action that says "View our fall specials," let's go back to the fall specials example, it should lead to a page or a lightbox or something like that, that has listing of your fall specials. It should not lead to a contact form that has to be filled out and submitted prior to accessing the information that they were promised.

If you want that lead, if you want them to fill out that contact form in order to view the fall specials, then be transparent about it from the start. On that links say, "Contact us for a Fall Specials." Then they can fill out the form and view the page.

I realize that's not going to be very popular with the marketing clout because it might diminish the lead generation, but it will help to instill trust in your users. A lot of folks get really frustrated if they have to fill out forms in order to access information that they thought that they could get otherwise.

Using strong language is also very important. When writing a CTA or a link, you want to make sure that in addition to the two above, being transparent and being specific, you are also making a strong statement. This especially stands for when you're using links within text.

You want to have a link that can stand on its own. For example, if you added a link that said planning a wedding. That's vague. What about planning a wedding? You could transform that to, use our wedding vendor checklist to begin planning your wedding or something to that effect something that's a little bit more detailed about what lies behind that link.

Using that strong language and having it stand‑alone means that the user doesn't have to rely on additional context to figure out what it's going to mean.

Finally, make it to the point. With this one again, this rides on the other three points that I've made before. With this one, you do want to be as concise as possible without losing the meaning and without losing that transparency.

You want to make sure that they're concise and you're getting your point across, and they have enough information and that they are informed and can decide whether or not they want to click it.

Another thing you can do is to review your navigation. This is a big one. Navigation if someone isn't relying on search. A lot of websites don't have search, surprisingly. If you're expecting the user to rely on your navigation, you want to try to make it as foolproof as possible.

You want to ask yourself when looking at your own website, "Are these page titles in the navigation clear?" "If I was visiting my web page for the first time, would I understand what lies behind that link on that page based on that description?"

You also want to make sure that it accurately represents what's on the page. "Again, if I click on this link, is it going to take me to what I expect?" "Are there duplicative items in your menu?"

This is something I see often where people can't decide which bucket a page falls into, so they put it in both. However, if you sit back and look at it from a user perspective, that can be very confusing. "Why are they in two different menu items?" "Are they different pages?" "Is there different content?" I see it happen a lot.

Make sure that if you're adding a page, it's only living in one place in your navigation and then making sure that your subpages are appropriate. Making sure that everything is grouped appropriately so that if someone is looking for a specific piece of content, they know where it belongs.

Running your own site audit is yet another way that you can improve your site's UX. When you're running your own site audit, this is going to be really difficult the first time, but with practice, it will get a lot easier.

You want to sit back. You want to look at your website as if you are a user. You want to forget that you know where everything lives on the website. You want to forget. You know how it functions.

It's a great idea to click through your website and take notes with fresh eyes. Then it's going to help you discover the pain points in the frustrations that your users may be noticing, but maybe you don't because you already know how it works.

You want to know things like outdated content, duplicative content, and language, broken links, formatting issues, inconsistencies in text styling and image styling, outdated information.

These are all things that you're going to want to jot down, and that's going to set the basis for improvements to your website. You can take all of these notes, prioritize, decide what needs to be fixed and in what order.

This is my favorite one. Performing a quick user test. In user experience, one of our big jobs is to perform usability testing, which usually entails sitting down with a handful of users and having them perform tasks on a website while you sit back and you take notes. You're a silent observer.

When you do this, you ask the user to speak out loud as they're performing the actions on the website so that you can understand not just what they're doing. You're not just watching what they're doing. You're understanding more about why they're doing it.

This is especially important when you come across pain points when a user gets stuck on a page or gets stuck on a task. Hearing them talk through why it wasn't reacting the way that they expected allows you to put together a plan to fix such problems.

When you're doing your own mini‑user test, I would recommend finding a family member, a colleague, or a friend who isn't very familiar with the website, who wouldn't know how to navigate it otherwise. Then ask them to click around on the website and verbalize their feedback as they're moving through it.

They should explain exactly what they're doing and why they're doing it. Why they clicked here? What they expected to be under X navigation item? What they expected to be on Y page that wasn't there? Whether a contact form is confusing or has duplicative questions? These are all things that you want to hear as they're moving through the test.

You're going to write down as the performer, the auditor. You're going to write down the questions and the pain points as they ask them. That's going to set the basis for a plan for improvements to try to address these issues that your users are having behind closed doors in their own house that you're not seeing on a regular basis.

You'll be amazed. You really will be amazed by what you find out when you get some fresh eyes on your website. Things that you never thought of before that you did not think were a problem will quickly surface. It's a great way to get immediate and actionable feedback that you can turn into improvements on your website.

Lastly, know your experiences. This one, you're going to love me and hate me for it later because once you start doing it, it's hard not to. You want to start to pay attention to your own experiences on other websites. This, in particular, I like to say, works the best when you're looking at competitors' websites as well as a sort of mini competitor analysis.

When you're looking at other websites for experiences in general, even any user face experience, you want to start to pay attention while you're browsing the website or while you're interacting with it.

Start to ask yourself these questions internally. "What's frustrating you about this experience, if anything?" "What improvements could they make to their site to make those frustrations go away, and do they apply to your website?"

"Is it something that you can take and use on your own?" "What other do they do well?" "What sort of experiences delighted you?" "What made you happy that you are on their website and happy to interact with it?" "How can you learn from them?"

It doesn't all have to be negative but the negative pieces will jump out at you real quick, but you can take all of this information just quietly observing what others are doing and how you feel when you're interacting with their products and apply these lessons to your own website and make improvements.

This adjust this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to UX it is a broad field with a lot of subsections and I highly encourage you to continue to learn more about it, to give these tips and tricks to try, to see if it's for you to see how it improves your business and your online presence and to continue your journey on UX.

I have a couple of additional resources here to share with you today. These are I mean you could just Google you UX and a million things come up with. These are some trusted resources of mine. The Nielsen Norman Group is founded by two of those forward thinkers that I talked about at the beginning of the presentation.

They are heavily research‑based. They do a lot of blogs and videos and articles and things like that, but most of it is based on Research that they are doing. They also offer a number of online courses that you can take if you want to explore further. Some of these are mostly articles and blogs and doing tips and tricks.

General assembly is a great resource if you're looking for, maybe a one‑day workshop, or if you're really interested in diving into user experience, doing one of their in... Well, in person normally not right now, but they have online workshops that you can do or longer programs for 12 weeks or intensive programs, as well.

With that, I'm going to send Karen and Goodshuffle a link to a page. It's going to have all of these notes right now for you, including these additional resource link, so that you can access them later. I know it can be frustrating at times to listen to a presentation, to try to get it all down, but know that you missed some things.

I'm going to go ahead and put together a web page for you on my personal website, classicux.com. I will send that to Karen to distribute to the group so that you all have those notes at your disposal. I'd like to thank Karen and Goodshuffle for having me today.

I'd like to thank you all for joining. I hope you learned something and that you can take some of these action items back to your own businesses to start your improvement plans.

Karen:  Great. Well, Kristy, we have some questions that are starting to come in and I want to encourage people to continue to send in your questions. You can send them in the Q&A. You can also send them in the chat.

I'm going to go ahead and walk through a couple of the questions now. We've already got one as about search bar. Is it OK to put a search bar in the header of your page?

Kristy:  Absolutely, 100 percent. When it comes to search bars, those are tricky because there have been a lot of designs over the years that have interfered a little bit with usability. Sometimes you'll go to a website and you'll see a little tiny magnifying glass in the corner or something to that effect. Your search bar does belong in your header, it does, typically in the upper right‑hand corner.

Most websites will have it up in that corner, and users know to expect it they're. The absolute best UX practice is to have a box. It makes it a little bit easier for a lot of reasons.

By having a box there is a big cue for people so they don't have to look for the icon, or maybe people don't understand what the icon even means. Adding a little box in your header is going to be fantastic for your website. That's a great idea.

Karen:  People are asking about the ideal font and size of font for your website.

Kristy:  You want to have a pretty drastic...I'm going to refer you to Google's material design, for best practices. I'll make a note to send that link out with the other notes. That is an excellent point because one of the biggest mistakes that I see on websites is people getting too small with their font.

There are two different things that I'll refer you to in that email that are in the web page that I'm going to provide for you. The first is material design, which has best practices in terms of header one, header two, header three, etc. They're usually six header sizes for any website. You have body text. You have caption text, and then you have a button text.

You want all of these to be big enough that they're legible. Obviously, you start with header one being the largest, and then you trim down the size as you go or style a little bit differently. For body text, best practice is over 14 pixels. That's the minimum. I personally tend to go more towards 16.

Karen:  Great.

Kristy:  Sorry, the other [laughs] resource I was going to point you to on that page that I'll make sure to call out is a golden ratio calculator. The golden ratio calculator is, you basically put in your font, you put in what it's being used for, it's being used for body text, or it's being used for a headline. It helps you to calculate the ideal line height.

Line height in your text is just the spacing between the two lines. A lot of folks don't pay much attention to it, so the text comes across squished and difficult to read. If you use the golden ratio calculator, a lot of times, it'll give you an awesome recommendation for how far apart that text should be for optimal legibility.

Karen:  Always prefer a calculator over the guessing game.

Kristy:  [laughs] Does the work for you.

Karen:  Any other questions? I will go ahead and put a plug in case there's any other questions. In the meantime, tomorrow's webinar as we talked about is SEO search engine optimization, extremely important. This is how people are finding your website.

Now that you're going to go home and make all of the changes that I suggested yesterday and you're going to spruce up your UX based on Kristy's advice today. The worst thing you can do is then not have your website get discovered. [laughs]

We're going to be diving into how you actually get people to get on your website through some wonderful SEO tips, from my colleague Carmen tomorrow. I hope you all join us for that as well. I haven't seen any other questions come through, so I do want to give another big thank you Kristy for your time, your expertise. This was wonderful. It really is so helpful.

I think a lot of folks have said to me in the past that they thought UX sounded like some wildly technical thing that they just didn't need to know about. I think, as you illustrated today this is about the experience that people have when they first come to your website which is the first interaction most people have with your business and the most important.

I think this is all really important for businesses of all sizes. I hope everyone will take this advice and also I want to go ahead and share your contact information again, so people know to get in touch with you because as you said, this is a lot to really advancing your UX.

Once everyone's taken the tips and tricks today, they want to take it a step further. I hope they know they can reach out directly to you as well.

Kristy:  Always happy to answer questions. I could talk about UX for hours, so please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions at all.

Karen:  Yeah, absolutely. I have another person asking about the live recording. We will have all three recordings sent to everyone who registered by the end of the week. This is a nice time for me to confess that I didn't record yesterday's webinar.

I had to re‑record it, so it's missing the Q&A at the end, which my colleagues will never let me hear the end of them I'm sure. Yes, you will get a recording of all three of these by the end of the week.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips Transcript

Carmen Bodziak:  It is 1:02 Eastern. We are going to get going. First and foremost, thank you all for attending. This is the third day of our Website Crash Course. We're super excited to be ending this awesome educational week. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to be here.

We'll be talking about SEO today. Let me go ahead and introduce myself. My name is Carmen Bodziak. I am the marketing associate over at Goodshuffle Pro. We are an event rental software company, and we serve all of North America. I have the amazing pleasure of working with Karen, our VP of Growth, who actually presented [inaudible 0:43] on Tuesday if you were attending that session.

I'm excited to talk to you all today about SEO and the amazing things that it can do for your business. Again, thanks so much for joining. We're excited to have you.

Before we begin, I also know that some of you might feel as if you have a good grasp on SEO and, again, what it can do for your business, but some of you might not even be sure what that acronym mean. That is OK. We're here to just break it down, make it digestible so that you can leave here today with an action plan going forward.

What am I going to be talking about today? First of all, what is a SEO and how does it affect my business? Then we'll be leading into the two different components, both on‑page SEO which includes actions that you take directly on your website, and off‑page SEO which are things that you actually do away from your own site to have an impact.

Finally, we will be talking about what you should avoid ‑‑ my personal favorite ‑‑ SEO tools, and the Q&A. Just so you know, we will be sending out the recording of this webinar as well as the webinars from earlier this week in an email going out by the end of the week. Be prepared for those.

If you have any questions, feel free to send them in the Q&A box at the bottom of your screen, and we'll be answering those at the end.

To dive into it, what is SEO and why should you care? Essentially, SEO is whether people can find your website on the Internet or not or if it's just getting lost in a sea of competitors. The search engine results page is just the term for what pops up when you type something into the Google search bar.

Your goal with SEO is to be the first result that shows up when someone types in a certain word, such as best wedding rentals or giant inflatables near me.

My definition of SEO is Search Engine Optimization. These are the strategies that you use to increase the quantity and the quality of the traffic to your website through organic search. If we break this down, the quantity of traffic is, essentially, you want more visitors to your website. You want more people coming to see what you have to offer.

However, the quality of traffic is also really important. More is only better if the visitors are qualified, meaning that they are going to turn into paying customers. This quantity and quality needs to go hand in hand.

Finally, we have organic search. This is any traffic that you don't have to pay for, meaning that it's not an ad at the top of the results page. You know if something is an ad when you type something into the Google search bar and the first few entries have the little text in front of it that says ad. You know that someone paid for their spot there.

However, SEO is the practice of earning your spot. Ultimately, SEO is important because it brings new, qualified leads to your business, and that's huge. You're also going to stand out from competitors, especially if you're ranking number one for a spot that is highly coveted, that your competitors want to rank for. You're making your way to the top of the food chain, essentially.

Finally, it's really cost‑effective because SEO targets users who are actively searching for a solution to a problem that you can solve. It's part of an inbound marketing strategy, meaning that customers are coming to you as opposed to you going to them in a process, something like cold calling, for instance. Instead, they're coming to you.

The benefits of SEO, there's a whole lot. If you think about it, when was the last time that you went to the second, or the third, or the fourth page of Google? Maybe you have once or twice, but the answer is probably not recently.

It's really important for you to rank on that very first page in the numbers 1 to 10 spot. This is because when people see your site on the very first page, they're automatically more inclined to trust you, which is a really good thing. You want your customers to know that you can dish out on whatever product or promise that you have on your website.

In general, a higher percentage of users also click on organic results compared to ads, meaning that sometimes people just glaze right over those first few entries that have an ad next to it because they don't want to be sold. They're looking to check you out and see if that's something they might be interested in, but really what you're doing is solving a problem for them.

The ROI is also high as studies show that most people search something online before they're making a purchase. Tons of customers are on the Internet, so it's really important to be able to make your mark in as many places as you can.

The ROI of SEO is also very measurable, especially when you're using tools like Google Analytics, or HubSpot, or something like Moz, which we will cover later. You can measure where your leads are coming from, as well as which ones actually end up becoming customers.

SEO is also constantly evolving. It's not just something that's one and done. You have to continually work at it. You continually test. This opens up the doors for opportunities for improvement and ultimately a lot of business growth.

Finally, my favorite part about SEO is that anyone can do it. There's so many great resources online, plus a lot of the tools are free, so that's always a plus. You're already here on this webinar, which is fantastic. Let's get into the two components of SEO.

First, we have the on‑page SEO, which is again, actions that you can take directly on your website. This includes things like the formatting and the layout. How many pictures do you have? Do you have a title? What kind of words are you using?

Then we have the content, which is again, the language, the type of text on your pages, or maybe you have a blog that you run? We have the technical side and don't let that intimidate you. The technical side includes things like how fast is my website and are there any broken links? Things like that.

Finally, we get into the off‑page SEO, which typically people think of backlinks when they think of this. Again, off‑page SEO is anything that you do off your website that has an impact on your SEO game. Backlinks are created when another website links to yours, but social media also has an effect, although it's probably not in the way that you think. Stick around to learn more about that.

Diving into our on‑page SEO, again, any actions that you take on your site. First and foremost, we have keywords. What are your clients searching to find you? What are they typing into Google when they need something? What do you want to rank for? It's not just the keywords that you think are important, but it's the keywords that your customers think are important. This should always be backed by data.

Like Karen, our VP of Growth, brought up on Tuesday, she knew an event planner who's using the term conductor to describe what he did.

While this was true ‑‑ he's conducting his business and it's creative, it's a very fun term ‑‑ it's not what his target audience was searching for, unless they were planning a wedding or something with classical music. He didn't fit in with that event planner thought that people were having. If it's not what your target market is searching for, then it's not what you should be aiming for.

When someone lands on your website, they should also immediately know what you do. You should have text that explains what you do, who you are, and where you're based, what areas you serve. For instance, if you are an event company in DC, maybe you would have a DC‑based event company or event business serving the DMV.

However you want to phrase it, you need to let people know what you're doing. This is also important not just for the user and the person visiting your site but for the search engine bots who crawl your website. Now, these little guys, they're testing to see like, "Where should we categorize this person. How should we rank them when someone Google's something?"

It's really important for you to put terms on your websites like event rentals or custom design and décor, because then, the search engine bots know how they should show you to people who are browsing the web. You should be telling the search engines what you want to be known for. You're in control of that.

As a takeaway, after the session, go and open your website if you have one and look at your home page. Do you see a city or region? Do you see the type of business you offer or maybe the products and services you provide, for instance, chiavari chairs, rental inventory, and brand activations?

Whatever you want to rank for it, test and see if that's there. If not, then this is a really easy first step for visiting your SEO.

Getting into choosing the right platform. What platform should you build your website on for maximum SEO benefits? This is a bit of a trick question especially because there's not necessarily a right or a wrong answer. It's really about what fits your business' needs and your budget.

We, at Goodshuffle, use WordPress. We love it because they have a lot of great SEO plugins, specifically Yoast, which is what we use. It gives us a lot of control over our SEO and how we prepare our strategy moving forward. Other sites like Squarespace also do a great job of providing you with a lot of these various SEO tools.

As a final recommendation, I would say to do your research. If possible, talk to others in your industry. See what they're doing.

Getting into it, what rules should your website layout follow? How should you be formatting things? Let's start from the top with the titles. Here, I'm using HubSpot, a CRM system, as an example. When it comes to titles, there are two to consider, their H1 and their title tag.

H1 is just a fancy term for what you think of when you think of a title. It's a title on the top of the page. The title tag, on the other hand, is what shows up on the tab on the top of your browser. If you're like me and you have a bunch of tabs open all the time, the title tag is what helps you stay organized and find what you're looking for.

You should only ever have one H1 title on your page ‑‑ again, that title in the middle ‑‑ because this is what tells both your visitors and Google's bots what the page is about. For instance, in this explanation or in this example on the page, you see that HubSpot's H1 title is all in one inbound marketing software.

We see that their title tag says marketing software. You can probably guess what they're trying to rank for. As a takeaway, make sure that you're always including these top keywords that you want to rank for in your title tag and in your H1.

Moving onto headers. Sometimes these are slightly confused with the title, but the headers are actually what come below. They end up breaking up the page and acting like a table of contents for both the visitors and the bots. It's helpful for the user experience so that you know what you're reading. It also lets Google know the summary of whatever the piece of content is.

They're also a really great spot for your keywords. When you go home and you're on your website, open it up. Scan it. Look at your home page, your products page, your blog if you have one and see if you have these headers. If you don't, go in and add some. If you do, then are you including the keywords that you like to rank for?

Moving on to the meta description. It sounds a little intimidating, but I promise it's not. While it's not directly related to your SEO, it doesn't prove your click‑through rate when you show up on the search engine results page. All page search will show up first on the page. You can see the red arrow. It's pointing to an ad. However, what rings below that is all organic.

Both of the boxed words that you see on the screen are part of organic search. These are what's called your meta description or you snippet. You assign a meta description to any page that you create. It's easy to do on most website platforms. You just type something in. You want to make sure that you keep it short and sweet and that you include your keywords because that's what draws people in.

You want to make the meta description something that they're going to want to click on because you're trying to be out all of the other links that have shown up on that results page.

As a takeaway, go through your website. See if you've added a meta description to these pages. If not, go in and add some. If you have, check to see if your keywords are there, if it's engaging and something that the user would like to see.

Next we have our alt text. I thought I would switch it up and add in something that everybody loves, a photo of an adorable dog. Here, you can actually see that this dog is a Siberian husky. He's adorable. But the alt text, when we open up the image, it says Siberian husky cute puppies. Alternative text was originally created to make the Internet accessible.

Visually impaired users would use their screen readers. Those screen readers would read out this alternative text. This makes it so that everyone can see your website, which is the best option for you. If a file can't be loaded, then the alt text is what appears instead.

Alt text provides context for search engine callers as well. It's really important to be descriptive so that it's accurate for the screen readers, but also it's a great opportunity to showcase some of your keywords.

Here, you can see that when I google cute puppies, the Siberian husky shows up. Then when we inspect the image, we see that the alt text is Siberian husky cute puppies. First, it tells the visitor and the search engine what it is, a Siberian husky. It includes the keyword phrase "cute puppies." Of course, we're going to rank number one.

It's important to be descriptive, but you shouldn't keyword stuff which is when you put in cute puppies, adorable dogs, puppies on my feed, things like that where it doesn't sound as natural. Google dock you points for that. You want to make sure that you're finding that balance.

When you're performing your site audit, make sure that your images on your website have this alt text. If they do, are they including your keywords? Are they accurate? Make sure to check those out. It's a really easy fix if they're not.

Finally, we have internal links. An internal link is any link on your website that leads to another page also on your website, helps with user navigation and also will help the Google bots crawl your pages.

If we continue with this dog example, you can see that the original article that I had has a hyperlink to another page on the same website where it goes more in depth into the Siberian husky. Again, this is a great way for the user to learn more if they're interested and for Google to understand what the website is about.

For a more relevant example, if you're talking about the awesome inventory that you have on your home page of your event company website, then you want to make sure that you include a link to this gallery or your collection.

As a takeaway, make sure that you're adding any internal links that make sense, and provide context so that the user and the search engine callers are happy.

Now, we're going to move on the content since you got the formatting down. It's really time to focus on this content portion, especially if you haven't started creating anything yet. If you haven't, that's OK. Don't worry about it. Now is a great time to dip your toes into the water when it comes to content creation.

We're really excited to share with you just the basic cycle, especially when it comes to blog posts. However, content can also referred to the content that you have on your web pages, so this will [indecipherable 18:14] no matter what. Content should essentially solve the problem, engage the reader, and offer something new. It's also a really great spot to include your keywords.

First of all, you want to be identifying a problem. What are people asking? Mainly, what are your top leads asking? Think of it like a search query. What would your target market google?

Here, you can see that two of our blog posts from Goodshuffle Pro rank for a query about marketing event rental inventory. We love providing helpful, educational content to event professionals who are looking to improve their business. We want to target words that people who would find that information helpful are searching.

To figure out what your target market is asking, you can use a free tool like Google Search Console or Google Keyword Planner to figure out, what are they searching, how many people are searching this per month.

At the end of the day, you're an expert in the field. You've got a lot of experience and you know what you're talking about so people want to get to hear what you have to say.

Next, you want to be choosing your relevant keywords. You can decide whether you want to go for a shorter, more general phrase, something like event rentals. But that's usually a little more difficult to ring for or for a longer, more specific phrase, so maybe boutique vintage rentals in Dallas, Texas.

Now, that's longer, more specific so it will reach fewer people but it might be a more accurate niche target. Whatever you're trying to go for, just make sure you have something in mind. Make sure that you're building your content around your chosen keyword but be careful not to keyword stuff.

You can see here in a screenshot of our Yoast analysis from our WordPress site. This is a plugin that we're using. We can choose a keyword that our readers are likely to search. This is really helpful when we want to get our content out to people who really want to read it.

Ultimately, your keyword should appear in the URL, in your titles, in your headers, in your alt text, everything that we covered. When you rank high for one keyword, however, you're naturally going to rank highly for other keywords as well.

For instance, if you're going for event rentals, you'll probably rank high for party rentals, rental inventory, things like that just because you will be breaking up your text and not saying event rentals every other sentence. No one wants to read something like that.

You can find these keywords through things like Google Search Console, Moz, and something called Google Autofill. What that is ‑‑ it sounds intense ‑‑ but I'm sure everyone here has used it. When you're typing into Google something like, "How do I," and a bunch of options come up. That's the autofill feature.

If you start typing in the box, you're going to see a bunch of different options come up. You can see, "Hmm, maybe this is being suggested because a lot of other people are searching for it."

After this, go on Google and type in your city and your industry. For instance, DC tent rentals. See who's ranking on the first page, and then go to the second or the third pages and see who's ranking there? Where are your competitors standing? Go on to their website. See maybe what they're doing well, maybe where they could improve. See if you can see which keywords they're trying to go for.

You can come out on top by doing this mini‑competitor analysis and getting ideas for your own website. I see that we already had one question. "What were the two Google tools to determine the target market?"

These are both free. Google Search Console and Google Keyword. Google Keyword Planner, I will be touching on these at the end, as well. Thank you for your question, Jodie.

As we continue with the content section, you've gotten it written. That's fantastic. You've chosen your keywords and you're ready to go. The next steps are going to be to format it using everything that we've already covered. You will also want to use bullet points or numbered lists. No one wants to read a huge paragraph of text, so make it easy for them and on the search engines.

You're also going to want to promote your content in your email marketing and on your social channels. Social media channels are very easy to create. You can update them as often as you want. There are best practices online, but you want to get your content out where people are going to see it.

Finally, you're also going to want to make sure that you monitor the traffic to these posts and see how they're doing. Maybe one of them is getting a ton of traffic. Can you emulate that on another one?

You also want to make sure that you constantly update them. At both your blog posts, if you're writing them in just your website, you want to make sure that information like a name change of a company or something isn't left out or that there aren't any broken links. You can use a software like Moz.

Again, I'll be touching on that later, but it'll alert you whenever any of these things come up so you can change them or like Christie said yesterday at the UX session, you can just go in, perform a site audit, click on all of your links, check out all of the information, and make sure you're good to go.

Now, we're getting into the technical side of things. You've got the formatting down and the content down which is fantastic. Again, I promise you it's not as intimidating as it sounds.

First, something that I'm sure all of you have heard of is optimizing for the device type. As you all know, more and more users are viewing information from their mobile devices and their tablets. It's really important to have this responsive Web design.

Basically, the website looks the same on your desktop or your mobile or it's very usable. You don't want to go on a website on your desktop, it works great, then you go to your phone, and you can't read the text because it's too small or things are too hard to click.

You want to make sure that it's a good experience for the user and also for the search engines. It's important to have this responsive Web design so that everyone has a seamless experience and wants to visit your site.

Then we have the page load speed. This is a scary little statistic so keep this in your mind. Most users won't wait longer than three seconds for a Web page to load, especially if they're on their phone. That means that your page has to be fast and grab users attention within that time span, or they're probably going to leave, and they almost certainly won't come back.

You can test your web page load speed with Google's PageSpeed Insights, a free tool online. You just type in your website domain, and it'll perform the analysis for you. I'll be sending that up at the end of the discussion, but for some of the recommendations made, you might need a developer's assistance, so just be aware of that. It's a great tool to get you started and on the right track.

Now, we are moving on to the URL and slug optimization. You might be thinking, "What is the slug other than the little creature in my garden?" The slug is the part of the URL that comes after www.mywebsite.com. You can see here in this example that HubSpot slug is /marketing/customermarketing. You can tell what they're trying to rank for here. Marketing, specifically customer marketing.

The slug usually shows a hierarchy or gives a short idea of what the page is about, and you know what you can expect, again, using the user but also the search engine. You should make sure that you're including your target keyword in the slug so that it's in the URL and make sure that it's short and descriptive.

When you're performing your site audit, go out and check all the slugs on your website. You want to make sure that they're short, descriptive. They tell the user what it is. However, you want [inaudible 26:47] being a broken link, so you can usually set up a redirect with that. It's easy to do. I can't go into how to do it here, but there's a lot of sources on the Internet.

If you want any help, a developer is a fantastic person to turn to. You want your website to get found, first and foremost. Crawling and indexing, I know that sounds a little intimidating but it's really not. All this work that you've done, you've gotten your formatting and your content. You're so excited to get your website out there for people to see.

If Google isn't crawling it, then there's no chance that people are going to see you. You don't want your work to all be for nothing. When a website is crawled, that just means that Google can see it. That's all it means. However, if it's indexed, it means that Google is deciding to promote it and to put it on the website or on the search engine results page.

In general, you will almost always want every single page on your website to be indexed. However, like an example of one that maybe wouldn't be indexed would be a Thank you page after someone submits a form or an order on your website.

You wouldn't want this to show up in the search because they didn't make the purchase. That's only supposed to come up if you do an action previously. In general, you will want your pages to be indexed, but some you won't. It's really easy to see what your pages are being indexed.

You just type in the page that you want to check out on the Google Search Console. That's what this screenshot is here, and you can see that the URL that I had typed in it's on Google. It's good to go. I love seeing all those green checkmarks. Great thing to keep in mind, and it's very easy to do on your own.

Next, we're going to move under the off‑page SEO. You got the unpaid SEO down, which is fantastic. Good job. This strategy mostly consists of generating backlinks from other sites to boost your credibility. However, like I said, it also does include some social media. When another site links to yours a.k.a a backlink, Google sees that as a vote for you.

Awesome. How do you get them? The first step is to generate linkable content. By this, I mean that content that people find interesting and want to link to. The screenshot here shows another website where someone put forward this question, wanted responses.

Karen, our VP of Growth, she went in and answered it as a comment. Then they linked it back to a blog post of ours. You can see that marketing strategies is a hyperlink. That's fantastic.

If you look at Moz, our SEO tool, the screenshot at the bottom, you can see that the spam score of this website is really low at one percent. The domain authority, which is how credible a website is, on a scale of 1 to 100, is that 85 which is really high, meaning that this is a good backlink for us.

Now, if you're just creating a basic blog, that's fine. Content creation can take many forms. Blogging is one of the best because it's short. It's a great place for keywords and people love to link to it. Keep that in mind. If you could, blog posts can take you far. Don't feel like you have to be pushing out a million a week. That's not the case. Try your hand at it. Maybe write in one or two.

Next, you're going to want to determine where your target market is. You want to write for websites that your target clients visit. For instance, we're part of NACE, and we love working with NACE, which is the National Association of Catering and Events. We read a lot of guest blog posts for them because we have a lot of insight into things that their audience will find useful.

It's a really great partnership and something that we love to do. It doesn't do any good to have a blog with a lot of views. If none of them are qualified leads, if they're not interested in what you have to say. No one who's not in the event rental industry, they don't want to hear about the event rental industry sometimes.

It's just good to know who your audience is and what they want to hear. You also want to make sure that these websites are credible. They're not likely to be seen as spam. You want to make sure that they're legitimate.

You can also figure out where your clients are consuming this information by sending out a survey including a field on a form, scouting out where your competitors are posting things and just doing general industry research.

Finally, you want to build relationships with site owners. Reach out to organizations that you sponsor or have membership to. Provide value and show that you're interested in their work. You can even offer to write a guest blog post.

We love working with experts to share quality information that we know that our readers love. That's always a really fun relationship to foster, and continue to follow up and build your rapport.

Moving onto the social channels, like I said, SEO is not directly impacted by socials. However, social media platforms and shares do have an indirect effect.

First of all, social media can increase your backlinks in the way that the more shares that your content gets on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, the more likely it is to be seen and then linked to from another article.

As you can see here when you google Goodshuffle Pro, our LinkedIn and our YouTube show up on the very first page. Social media is important. We want to make sure that we have a presence here because people will be clicking through there from the search engine result page.

Also, YouTube is actually the second largest search engine after Google, which is crazy. You want to make sure that...If you can, have a presence there as well. You can see that when you google party rental software or event rental software, we show up under two webinars that we've done with other partners, which is cool.

Many consumers also discover different brands on social media. Social media is a search engine in and of itself, like I said, with YouTube. People do this mainly in ways of hashtags. On Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram. You can click on the #eventpros and see what's going on in the industry, what's the latest buzz.

Some practices that you should be aware of definitely are duplicate content, broken links, and any backlinks that seems spammy or not credible. An SEO tool like Moz will warn you when you have any of these issues so that you can take immediate, corrective action.

To go into what duplicate content is. This is when there are multiple pages on the Internet with the same or similar content. Some examples of this include, having multiple pages for the tents that you offer and only changing the sizing.

Nothing else about the wording, or maybe you have a blog post on your website, and then you have a guest post on someone else's site, and you copy and paste that blog over there.

The biggest issue with duplicate content is that whichever page Google deems the best is what will show up. It won't necessarily destroy your SEO. You ultimately want your post ranking there instead of someone else's. It's good to make sure that duplicate content is at a very, very low minimum.

You also don't want just any backlinks, like I was saying. You want to make sure that the domain authority is high if possible, and that these sites appear credible. You want to make sure that they're relevant to your industry as well.

If you notice a backlink with a high spam score through an SEO tool like Moz, then feel free to reach out to the people at the site and say, "Hey, can you take that down for me?" Much easier than one would think.

In conclusion, some action items and next steps. I know I dropped some along the way, but in general, perform a site audit. See if there's any duplicate content, any broken links, any outdated information. Is your formatting in place? Do you have images? Do these have alt texts? Things like that, little things that when you put them all together will really make a big difference for your site.

You can also start and develop a basic content strategy. What that means is, you already have a blog, great. Maybe changing, maybe deciding to post instead of every two weeks, every one week, or maybe deciding to start on your guest blog post objective.

If you don't have a blog, you could consider starting one or just focus on the content on your Web pages that you have already. Can you add more text on an About Us page? Can you describe your inventory or your mission a little bit more in detail, things like that anybody can do.

Then you want to test your website's technical health with those free tools from Google. They'll be sent out after this. Finally, if you're in it to win it, you can invest in SEO tools to help you grow your business. Again, we'll be diving into exactly what these tools are right now.

My favorite is Moz. It's very comprehensive and has a lot of really great things like links and keywords. It alerts you of the broken links. Anything that you need to pay attention to is on Moz. However, it also has very similar platforms such as Ahrefs and SEMrush, so feel free to check those out too.

You can also check out Google Search Console, Google's Keyword Planner, and Google's PageSpeed Insights. All three of these are from Google. They're free to use. You can find them just with a quick Google search. I also really like Yoast, which is our plugin on WordPress that we use to optimize for SEO.

That brings me to the end of the presentation. Again, my name's Carmen Bodziak. I work for Goodshuffle. I'm so happy that I got to talk to you all today about SEO. If you have any questions, please feel free to send them in the chat or in the Q&A, and I can get to those now.


Carmen:  I see the question. "Can you use Yoast on Squarespace if not on WordPress?" I actually don't know the answer to that because I've personally never used Squarespace. However, we can see if that's the case. I can do a quick search.

No, Squarespace does not have a Yoast SEO plugin, but again, I know there are other alternatives to Yoast on Squarespace. Definitely worth checking out. No problem. [laughs]

If anybody has any questions just in general about SEO or just things you can do on your website, again, feel free to send them in or you can email me later and I can get back to you with an answer. I'm more than happy to do so. Thank you, Wanda. [laughs]


Carmen:  If nobody has any other questions, again, feel free to email me and thank you so much for tuning in. Hope you all have a fantastic rest of your week.   

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