5 Surefire Ways to Construct a Website That Makes a Great First Impression

Have you ever thought about the impact your website can have on potential clients? Online presence has become increasingly important over the years, making it even more critical that your website stands out from the crowd. It has to make a statement in a way that is both clear and concise, and also draws readers in to learn more. From the content you publish to the graphics and pictures you use, potential clients and customers are going to be looking to your website to get a better idea as to what exactly you do.

Often times, your website is the first point of contact between your business and your potential clients…so how do you make a good first impression? Easy. Here are five surefire ways to construct a website that makes a great first impression:

Utilize SEO friendly content to direct pre-interested viewers to your site.

Gone ViralThis is an important one, yet it is often overlooked. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, applies to every aspect of your website. And when used correctly, SEO can really help readers have a great experience on your site. What exactly is SEO you might ask? Well, essentially, it involves optimizing the pages and posts on your site for search engines by targeting specific keywords throughout your content that readers are already searching for.

Let’s say you have a landscaping company. When potential customers come to Google or other search engines to look for a landscaping company to hire, they probably aren’t going to know to type in the name of your company directly. Instead, they’re probably going to be typing in something like: landscaping company, how to do landscaping, best time to do landscaping, best landscaping methods, how to trim bushes, how to create curb appeal, etc. – you get the idea. So, if you want to be found online, you’re going to need to create some optimized web content around those keywords. And as more people start finding your site using those keywords, your company will begin to pull up higher in search engine rankings.

But you want to make sure you are targeting the correct keywords. Let’s use the landscaping company example again. Say you own the landscaping company, but you really want to write about picking the correct paint colors for interior walls, so you write some content about it. While I’m sure this would be interesting content, it doesn’t exactly fit into what your company does. “Picking paint colors” may have been a high-ranking keyword, but just not for your particular industry. So, when someone is searching for “picking the correct paint colors for interior walls” online, they might just end up on your website. Which really isn’t where they want to be, because your site is all about landscaping. This causes the searcher to have a bad experience, which in turn leads them to click away from your site very quickly. While this mishap may have given you a page view, it wasn’t one that benefited you or the searcher.

To sum it all up – make sure your web content is SEO friendly, but be doubly sure that the keywords you chose to highlight work for your industry. This will create an excellent experience for the reader, and could earn you lots of clients along the way.

Organize your web content.

pensHave you ever visited a website that looked cluttered, and you just couldn’t seem to find what you were looking for? If not, maybe you can remember the last time you visited a store that was poorly organized, making it almost impossible to find what you needed. Either way, the experience, I’m sure, was frustrating. That’s why creating structure and organization on your website is important – you want your readers to have a good experience!

Your home page should be easy to read, with a menu bar near the top to direct readers to the correct locations. All of your pages and posts should be under relevant categories, and those categories should be easily accessible. For example, on my own website, I blog about different topics. But each of those topics falls under a specific category like writing tips, blogging, content marketing, self-publishing, etc. So if a reader wants more info about a particular subject, they can just click on that specific category to learn more.

Another thing you’ll want to do it create some solid cornerstone content pieces. Your cornerstone content pieces are the pages on your site that contain the most relevant and useful information about the most talked about and popular subjects on your website. Each popular subject (especially those that you want to rank in the search engines for) should have it’s own cornerstone page, and all of the other posts on your site that talk about that subject should link back to that cornerstone page. By doing this, you create internal links within your site that point to the cornerstone pages. This shows the search engines that you consider those pages to be the most important on each respective topic, which causes those pages to rank higher than any of the others on your site for those particular keywords.

For example, on my site, under resources, I have a page called “content marketing.” All the other posts about content marketing on my blog link to that page in one way or another, and I spent a good deal of time crafting the resource page to make it very user friendly. I would consider this my cornerstone content page for content marketing, and I’m currently working on creating more pages like this for different topics. They take some time to put together, but once you have them, it’s a great resource that you can share with your readers, and use as a reference again and again.

Create and maintain a helpful and informative blog.

blog-300x300Blogging is important. Not only because creating fresh, relevant content helps your rankings in the search engines, but it also creates a great experience for readers and potential customers visiting your site. It’s a way of communicating with your readers by providing them with helpful information and tips that might assist them along their journey.

The more you blog, the more your readers will trust you, and the more they will share your stuff on social media and tell all their friends about your awesome site. You want to be known as a trustworthy source that provides clear and concise information and advice within your industry. This creates online authority within your niche, and also boosts your ranking even higher through increased brand awareness, more social shares and generally satisfied readers.

But you need to be consistent. You can’t just blog one day and expect great results. You have to keep with it, even when it’s not that fun. The more quality content you create, the better chance you have of finding new clients and readers through search engines, which is always a good thing!

Your website design should be clean, simple and easy to read.

glasses-300x300We live in a very visual world, and I hate to say it, but people really do tend to “judge a book by its cover.” Or in this case, they judge a website by it’s aesthetic appeal. Now, you don’t have to go out and spend thousands on a custom site. I mean you can if you want, and maybe when you get bigger you should, but especially when you are first starting out and growing; it’s really not necessary.

There are a lot of great ways to create a visually appealing website without breaking the bank. It really just has to be clean, easy to read, use inviting colors, and utilize appealing images. If your site looks old and outdated, or if it’s got a rainbow of crazy bright colors, you’re probably going to lose some readers. They’re going to wonder if you are legitimate. And if you want to make a great first impression, you should provide the reader with something that looks good visually.

Like I said, it doesn’t have to be extravagant – just settle for clean, simple and easy to read. Oh and use high quality graphics on your blog posts and pages – since we are such visual people, the images will work together with your words to help tell the story you are trying to express.

Put the important things above the fold.

Key to success

When you open up a webpage, the first things you notice are going to be what appears above the fold – or the text that appears before you have to start scrolling down to see more. That top portion of your site is the first thing that visitors and readers will see, so be sure that it makes a good impression.

Readers should be able to understand what your site is about, what you have to offer, and get a general idea as to whether your site is what they are looking for before they have to scroll down. Don’t waste that space. Some things you could include in that section would be a menu bar, a header image with your company name and logo, a tagline explaining what your business does, and maybe even some links to other important pages on your site.

And if you are creating a landing page – a page where potential customers are directed to, often from ads – make sure that your purpose and your call to action are both above the fold, easily visible and readily accessible. Don’t skimp out! You want to make sure your readers understand what you are describing, and what your purpose is with your pages and posts. It all adds to the experience.

In Conclusion…

There are certainly other things that make a website user friendly, but these five things should get you off to a good start. To sum it all up:

  1. Utilize SEO friendly content to direct pre-interested viewers to your site. These viewers have the potential to become faithful readers and loyal customers.
  2. Organize your web content – create a system that is easy to navigate, and be sure that readers are able to readily find what they need. Don’t overcomplicate things.
  3. Create and maintain a consistent, informative blog. Doing this will create trust between you and your readers, and will surely lead to greater authority within your online niche.
  4. Your website design should be clean, simple and easy to read. Stay away from the colors that hurt your eyeballs, and focus on creating something beautiful for readers – something that speaks to them visually.
  5. Put the important things above the fold. This guides the reader’s eye down the page, but also lets them know what is most important and what your site is really all about.

Are you using any of these techniques on your own site? If not, don’t be afraid to branch out and try one of these tactics. If you’re interested in creating SEO friendly content for you site, organizing your content, starting a blog or building out a simple and clean website, but you just don’t know where to start, I can help you! I’d love to help your website make a great first impression – contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you!

This article originally appeared here, at TheStoryist.com – a sister company to JSL Marketing.

3 Good Reasons Why Your Business Needs Content Marketing

Content marketing. It’s a buzzword in the industry right now. They say it can make your business grow and become more profitable. They say it’s critical to your online success. But is it right for your business?


Honestly, content marketing is almost always a safe bet for your business. And it really isn’t even that difficult to implement!

Still not convinced? Here are three good reasons why your business needs content marketing:


1. Increased exposure on the web

Right from the start, this is a great reason to partake in content marketing. Imagine with me for a moment that you have an online business that sells exotic plants. You love plants, your employees love plants, and maybe you even have a store-front shop somewhere and all of your physical customers love plants. But, you need more exposure. Your business isn’t succeeding as well as it should be, so you start trying to sell exotic plants online. Thing is, there are a TON of websites out there, and quite a few of them probably specialize in the same thing that you are trying to sell. But, just because there’s a lot of competition, doesn’t mean you won’t be found!

Start writing quality articles about your exotic plants. Talk about how to care for them, how to make them grow, how to transport them – whatever you can think of that will be useful information to your potential customers and clients. People will see that you know what you’re talking about, and they’ll want to tell all their plant-loving friends about your awesome website and business, which will eventually lead to increased exposure on the web. Which also goes hand in hand with social media exposure.


2. Social Media Exposure

Social media exposure happens when people start sharing their interesting and useful articles around their various social media platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Sharing causes people to see your articles/content, which leads to more people finding out about your business, and which eventually leads to some of those same people coming back to your website to learn more about what you do and how you do it. Eventually, some of those readers may become your customers – and if they like what they see, they’ll keep sharing your stuff with more and more of their friends online and in person.

You want social media exposure. You need people to share your content and tell all their friends about you. Why? Gaining readers and customers just through social media aside, it all comes down to search engine rankings in the end.


3. Better Google Rankings

Yes, I said search engines, but the most used and prominent of them all is, of course, Google. You want to rank well in Google, I think that’s a given. But how does that happen? As more and more people in your niche discover how useful your content is, and verify this usefulness through social sharing and link-backs to your site, Google starts to take notice. And as you continue to prove that you are both useful and an authority in your niche, Google starts to rank your pages higher than your competition.

The search engines can tell when people read and like your content, and they can also tell if/when readers share it. More people reading and sharing your content causes even more reading and sharing, which only adds to your credibility and usefulness. And the more useful you become, the higher you are going to rank.

Say, for example, you have a photography business. You really like this new technique that involves some sort of camera magic to make the people you are photographing look even more awesome than they already do. And you’re actually kind of an expert on this technique. Great! You should write a blog post about it.

So you go and write a post about this technique, and share it amongst your photography friends online. As they read it, discover its usefulness, and then go on to share it with others, you slowly (or quickly in some cases) begin to get clicks and links back to your website. It’s pretty awesome! As time goes on and you continue to post and share more useful content, you become known as the photographer who shares all sorts of neat tips and tricks for free on your site. This causes more people to visit, which not only increases your authority and usefulness but also makes Google happy and inherently causes your rankings to rise at the same time.

And you know what else is awesome about this story? You didn’t try to sell anyone anything! You just shared some tips – it wasn’t a sales pitch, wasn’t some sort of self-promotion asking the reader to buy something. You just gave them information – for free. And eventually, some of those readers are bound to become your clients because they like how generous you are with your content, they appreciate your transparency, and they know that you are crazy talented from reading through your tutorials and blog posts. It’s like taking out ten birds with one stone. And that is the essence, the beauty, which is content marketing.


While it requires some planning and research to implement a content marketing plan, all the knowledge you gain is only going to help your business in the long run. If you want more information for yourself, I’d recommend checking out this Content Marketing Guide from Quicksprout – it’s very thorough, and explains the ins and outs of the technique well. Or, if you’re looking to start implementing a plan today, let me know! I’d love to help you get started!

This article originally appeared here, at TheStoryist.com – a sister company to JSL Marketing.

Why Are Images so Important in Blogging?

images and blogging

A picture is worth a thousand words – or that’s what they always say at least.

But does the same catchy phrase apply to blogging?

Well, let’s take a look at some recent stats to answer the question:

  • Web content (blog posts) with images generate 94% more views than content without images. (HubSpot)
  • The human brain process visual information 60,000x faster than it does plain text. (HubSpot)
  • When considering e-commerce sites, it’s been reported that 67% of consumers say that the quality of a product image is extremely important in determining whether or not they will purchase a product. (Jeff Bulas)
  • Visual content is over 40% more likely to be shared on social media than any other type of content, like plain text postings. (HubSpot)

Clearly, visuals are an important component to both blogging and websites in general.

So, why can it be so difficult to prioritize images? Because I’ll be the first to admit that this is an area that I need to improve upon.

In fact, one of my goals this year with the JSL Blog is to use better images and use them much more frequently in our blog posts.

blog-300x300This might sound like a strange goal, but sadly, images aren’t really something that I’ve paid much attention to since beginning to blog. And that’s a shame, because obviously, they are an extremely important component to any blog post.

Have you experienced something similar on your own blog? Still wondering why images are so important in blogging? Check out some of these reasons:

Our Attention Spans are Limited.

It makes sense, really. With more and more content being produced and published online daily – an estimated 2 million blog posts per day alone – it really comes as no surprise that our minds have a hard time focusing in on and choosing which articles to read. If one has a compelling image, it’s more likely that we will choose that one over the other, less compelling articles.

Images Better Convey Human Emotion.

Sometimes just reading about something isn’t enough to elicit a particular emotional response, whether that be to make a purchase, read an entire blog post through to completion, or just feel some sort of emotion towards a lump of text on a page. Using a relevant, compelling image alongside your blog post can really make a huge difference in the attitude and response of your audience.

Images Break Up the Text.

Gone-Viral-300x300For no other reason than to break up the text on a page, images are critical to the success of a blog post. Staring at pages and pages of text without any visual break whatsoever gets tiring pretty quickly and your readers will begin to lose interest in what you have to say. Make your words a little more exciting and easy to follow by breaking them up with relevant and interesting images.

Quality Images Encourage Social Sharing.

One of the main methods for promoting and sharing blog content is through various social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, all of which rely heavily on images to make content more appealing and interesting (Twitter maybe slightly less so than the others). By including quality, shareable images within your blog post, you’re encouraging your audience to share your content via social media, thus promoting your blog even further.

Whichever way you slice it, images are important to the growth and success of any blog or website. As I personally work to improve in this area, I hope that you’ll feel encouraged to do the same!