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Ryan is back to discuss some simple steps for doing an annual website review and checking the health of your online presence. 

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Sean Corbett:
So happy to talk to you again, Ryan, it’s been a while.

Ryan Desmarais:
It’s been a hot minute, hasn’t it, Sean?

Sean Corbett:
Yeah, I know you guys have been pretty busy on the front lines and we’ve had some exciting guests on the last couple months. And that’s why I thought it was really important to reconnect with you so that our listeners could hear what’s going on. What’s going on the front of Websites.ca? What are the boots on the ground saying?

Ryan Desmarais:
Absolutely. And it’s good to be back, happy new year to all of our listeners. Hopefully everybody’s January is off to a good start. And really on that note, there’s something I wanted to talk about in terms of being on the front lines. One thing that we really like to push is this concept of doing an annual website review.

Ryan Desmarais:
So many businesses just let their website sit for years on end sometimes, with no changes to it. It’s a good idea to do a basic review of your website. We recommend once a year, just make sure everything’s in order. First things first, Sean, out with the old.

Sean Corbett:
Yeah.

Ryan Desmarais:
I know I’ve seen lots of client sites and sites out in the wild where there’s a promotion that’s still on the specials page that’s three months past. Or there’s a job posting that’s already been filled. Or one that I just dealt with in December was a team member was listed on the, Our Team Page, even though they had left the team six months ago.

Sean Corbett:
Yep.

Ryan Desmarais:
This website-

Sean Corbett:
Another classic one, Ryan, is holiday hours. Somebody will scramble to get their holiday hours up for December and then they’ll forget they did that. And they’ll only look at it again in March. And they’ve been telling people their wrong hours for three, four months.

Ryan Desmarais:
Classic. Remove all that. It’s a new year, out with the old. Just do a quick review of the site, click through each of your pages, skim them. It takes less than five minutes because you can quickly make a list of, “Oh Hey, that’s old. That needs to be removed. That’s old.” If you’re a client of ours, you can send us an email, let us know it needs to be removed. Or if you’re managing your own site, get in there and purge all that old stuff out. Because it just makes you look bad if somebody’s reading information and thinks it’s relevant and current and it’s not.

Ryan Desmarais:
Double check your contact information while you’re at it, too. If your phone number has changed, you’ve added a new cell phone, emails change. Another one is your Google Map is something you should look at, as well. If you’re using a Google Map that’s embedded on your site, sometimes Google Maps can error out or glitch out and not show the right location. So it’s a good idea to just make sure that map is pointing in the right spot.

Sean Corbett:
Very good point. Yeah, and actually one that just came up for me two days ago, I was looking at a client website and all of their social media links, Facebook and YouTube and stuff must have changed a little bit about how they parse social media links or how they were set up. This is probably years ago, right when I set them up. So some of them were redirecting to the right place. So they were still ending up at the right place … the link ended up at the right place. But then the Facebook one had completely changed in its format. And it actually had a very strange URL, it was Business.Facebook. Whatever, big stringent numbers. But it must have worked before because I remember checking it.

Sean Corbett:
Checked it the other day, like you said, because it’s time for a quick little annual review. Go in and click all the buttons, turn all the levers. And one of the main places where that client was doing a lot of promotion from his website leading to Facebook, the link was broken. So you’d be surprised. I mean, you wouldn’t be surprised, but our listeners might be surprised.

Ryan Desmarais:
That’s right. Broken links, click on the links, make sure things are going where they’re supposed to go. Great insight. Your Facebook links, you’re linking to other suppliers websites. That’s one that I’ve seen pop up too. If you’re listing some of your suppliers or businesses that you work with and you have their logo on your site and your linking to their website, make sure those links still work. Because sometimes your suppliers or your related businesses, they change their domains or their system. And you may need to update your links.

Ryan Desmarais:
So that’s sort of the first part of the annual review is out with the old. Get rid of everything that’s old, broken and outdated. That can take as little as five minutes skimming through your pages and just making sure that everything looks right and you’re purging out all the old. After out with the old, Sean, it’s in with the new. What have you done-

Sean Corbett:
Tell me.

Ryan Desmarais:
That’s new? What have you done that’s new in the last 12 months? Is it on the website yet? Do you have a new product or a new service? Or maybe a change to your product or service lineup? Is it communicated on the website yet? How about your team? Has your team changed? You hired somebody new, you got a new sales manager that’s not on the, Our Team Page yet. Get them on there.

Ryan Desmarais:
Maybe a new promotion. Maybe you’re running a new year’s special that you’re not talking about yet on your website. Get that up on there. Or maybe you’ve just done some awesome projects in 2021 and you want to showcase them on your site and you haven’t had time to do that yet. Get it on there. In with the new, we got a new year upon us.

Sean Corbett:
New photos. Maybe get rid of some of those dusty old five year old photos and get those late 2021 photos on there.

Ryan Desmarais:
That’s it. Especially, yeah, we got a lot of trades businesses that we work with that do awesome construction renovation projects. Whether it’s residential renovations or commercial construction-

Sean Corbett:
Yeah. Concrete, cabinets, basements, that kind of stuff.

Ryan Desmarais:
Yeah. Yeah. The stuff that’s … your examples of work from 2013, 2014 is now starting to show its age a little bit. Especially in the residential design side of things.

Sean Corbett:
Yeah. Here’s an eight track player we installed.

Ryan Desmarais:
That’s right. Or the built-in module for your old tube TV, your 32 inch tube TV.

Sean Corbett:
Yeah, that’s right. The cabinet fits-

Ryan Desmarais:
That fits in the wall.

Sean Corbett:
In the super deep TV. Yeah.

Ryan Desmarais:
Yeah. Get all that stuff out of there and get the new stuff in. That’s the main points I wanted to drive home here with the annual website review, Sean.

Sean Corbett:
Yeah, that’s great. And I mean, so much of the stuff is like a basic straightforward things that people either think, “Oh, I’m bored. I’m annoyed. I don’t want to do it.” And like you said earlier, the recording, that these little things reflect way more poorly on you as a business than worrying about some of the big picture items that are sexy when people are building a website. “Oh, I want an animated slider or a video.” Yeah, no one really cares. But if your hours are wrong and you’re advertising something from 2013, man, the psychological effect of that is brutal.

Ryan Desmarais:
It really is.

Sean Corbett:
Another interesting thing just that comes to mind, Ryan, now that saying this. So if people could do this little quick, go through at least to get rid of the old stuff. And then if you say, “Well, I don’t really have time or I don’t want to prioritize adding something new.” Maybe try to pick one impactful thing and just make that one change. And when you work with a company like websites.ca, it should be as simple as emailing over that change and then we take care of it.

Sean Corbett:
And one potential thing people could look at that I see missing on a lot of small business websites is some small business websites don’t barely have any contact information. They might just have a form or they might just have an email. They don’t even tell you the name of the person who’s going to answer the phone if they have a phone number. Why don’t put the name of the main person who answers the phone? Put the office hours, put everything there, put your full address. Like Ryan said earlier, have a Google Map. “Oh well people don’t visit us.” Or whatever. It doesn’t matter. It’s psychological. When you give people more information, they are going to feel more comfortable reaching out to you and doing business with you. And you have to start thinking about these things on your website.

Sean Corbett:
Another one is an About Page. A lot of About Pages we see, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, they say things like, “We do this. And we pride ourselves on that. And delivering excellent customer service since 1995.” Well, they haven’t told us anything about who? Who does it? What are the names of the people? What are their backgrounds? Can I see a picture of them? Don’t say, “We.” Say the names.

Sean Corbett:
And a final thing, I would turn people onto for looking for these little easy wins on your website that are not sexy, but they’re psychologically powerful. Is if you don’t have testimonials right now on your site, please make it a priority. Go get at least one testimonial from a happy customer to put on your website. And then here’s an extra tip for that, put as much information as possible. Don’t make it anonymous. Anonymous testimonials have no power. Joe S, no power. Put the full name, put the city they’re from, if you can. If you can’t put the city for whatever privacy reasons, put at least the province that they’re from. Joe Smith from Winnipeg … or pardon me, Joe Smith from Manitoba. If you can put their role, if you’re a B2B, put their job title, put the name of their company. Get those testimonials and make them as specific as possible. There’s one simple thing you can focus on for your website that would have very far reaching consequences over time.

Ryan Desmarais:
Ding, ding. I love it. Absolutely, I do not disagree. I concur wholeheartedly, Sean. Reviews, so impactful. Absolutely. And your contact information, so true. Whenever I’ve been on a site and there’s no … I’m sure you’ve seen sites like this, Sean. There’s nothing but a contact forum sometimes.

Sean Corbett:
Yeah.

Ryan Desmarais:
No email, no phone number, no address. When you just see that, I know me, it’s a psychological thing of, “Well, who are these guys? Is this a real business? Is this just somebody running a business in their spare time out of their basement?” You don’t need to provide each and every little thing, but the more you’re comfortable with putting out there, the more psychological impact that’s going to have on the visitors on your website. No-

Sean Corbett:
Totally.

Ryan Desmarais:
Question about that.

Sean Corbett:
Yeah. And that’s why you should think about all of your online … well, really, all your marketing material. But this is a show about websites. So everything on your website, you should run it through that lens if you have the brain power and time just to sit down and again, like Ryan said, doesn’t take that long. We’ve put you onto the idea, now you can think about it.

Sean Corbett:
The great marketer, Gary Halbert used to say, if a business could pick the ideal address that everybody should have an address on main street above the first national bank.

Ryan Desmarais:
Yeah.

Sean Corbett:
Because that would be the most trustworthy address. You don’t want to have like an apartment number or whatever. You want to be in the numbers between zero and 200 on Main Street above the bank.

Ryan Desmarais:
Yes. Yeah.

Sean Corbett:
So that’s an interesting tidbit, though, to think about, when you think about putting anything on your website. If you’ve listened to Ryan and I talk enough, you know that we’re all about minimalism in terms of bells and whistles. So you kind of only pay for what you need. But we’re about being extremely decadent about details and specifics.

Ryan Desmarais:
That’s right. Well put. The devil is in the details in how you organize those things and how you keep your website from becoming bloated. That’s the other side of it, where sometimes people do an annual website review or more often, and they just keep adding and adding and adding and adding. Thinking that, “Well, the more I put on it, the better.” Well, not in any circumstance when you’ve already got 50 photos in your gallery, is 50 more going to make that much of a difference? No, I’d argue that it might detract a little bit. Maybe pair that down.

Ryan Desmarais:
I was just having a conversation this week with a client where I said, “Hey, you know what would be better than 50 photos? Is 10 awesome ones.” Like 10, A plus, knock them out of the parkers. That’s what you want on there. Not like every job you’ve done in the last seven years.

Sean Corbett:
Yeah. If you absolutely have to put lots of photos because it really is helpful for you, let’s say that you just do so many different subgroups of things that you need examples-

Ryan Desmarais:
Yep.

Sean Corbett:
Of them. Then you have to actually organize it into those subgroups. Don’t just have one big gallery page. Now talk to your website provider about, let’s split this gallery page up into six different pages, and we’re going to organize them to categorizes. Easier for you to update in the future-

Ryan Desmarais:
Yeah.

Sean Corbett:
And then easier for your clients to parse through it. Because again, if you’re going to get a basement built, do you want to have to look at a hundred pictures of kitchen cabinets first before you get to the basement pictures? No, you obviously don’t.

Ryan Desmarais:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely.

Sean Corbett:
So is there anything else? I mean, I know like we’re using the new year as a theme for this. But I know, Ryan, that you’re doing yearly reviews with people all year round because it depends on when their website renews. When someone signs on again for another year, we want to make sure what their goals are and how to improve the site and are they happy with it and all that kind of stuff. So what do you most commonly hear from people? Like, do they have misconceptions about what a website review is or concerns? Or maybe is there like a common thing that every second person asks to be changed on their site? Just any insights you can give us about that?

Ryan Desmarais:
Yeah, really good question. I mean, the one thing I can say is that there’s no serious commonality between the reviews. I find that every business owner and every industry is a little different. But one thing that I really enjoy about doing reviews is bringing new ideas to the table of how the website can be made more effective. Especially with those clients that we’ve had for a long time. Because if you’ve signed to our service in the last year or two, likely you have all the up to date, current features. Sean and I like to say, the bells and whistles. You have all the kind of up to date features on the site.

Ryan Desmarais:
But sites that … going back to this whole review and off the top, I mentioned, there’s many businesses that let their website sit for years on end with no changes. I really enjoy bringing some concrete ideas to the table that can likely help their results from their website. So when I say results, I’m talking about traffic numbers and even better yet, the lead generation that’s happening through the website. And they’re little things that can help drive your visitors to become a lead. Whether that’s to call your number or fill out a form. And these strategies change over time, that’s why it’s an annual website review. These reviews that we do in 2022, they look a lot different from the ones that we did in 2015.

Sean Corbett:
Right.

Ryan Desmarais:
And that’s because the web is constantly changing. So when you ask that question, Sean, I would say every review I do is a little different. But the thing that I really enjoy is finding a site that hasn’t been touched in a while and really bringing some concrete ideas to the table that can have a positive effect on the results for their website.

Sean Corbett:
Yeah. And to that point, about how one has to keep their ear to the ground about what the technology’s doing and the changes to Google and all that kind of stuff. Because two or three years ago, the big thing was to check if everybody had keywords in the titles of their page. And not to leave the audience behind, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, just to make it very brief. Sometimes you can tell Google the most important part of your page and that would be the keywords in the title. Google’s going to scan all the words of your page anyway, but you can make it easier and give yourself that little tiny leg up. So when we were doing reviews, say three, four years ago, that was an easy win we’re probably trying to focus on for everybody. And then maybe two to three years ago, the easy win was to try to make sure everybody was very mobile friendly.

Ryan Desmarais:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sean Corbett:
And then 2018, 2019, 2020, the big focus was page speed or load time. Yeah, that’s exactly it. Hopefully you have a good partner again. If you don’t work with Websites.ca, then hopefully you have a good provider who is your partner who can work with you. It’s like when we do a yearly review, as somebody, we want to bring our knowledge to bear and say, “Of course, it’s important what the business owner wants to change.” All those things Ryan said, the business owner knows those, we don’t know those things. They have to tell us. But also it’s important, like Ryan brings stuff to the table when he does these calls and says, “Well, these are maybe the one or two things that are important to Google right now. Let’s make sure we check your site for them.” And most of the time we’re taking care of it for them already, but it’s such a good thing to be aware of that and ask those questions.

Ryan Desmarais:
Exactly.

Sean Corbett:
Beautiful. So you got the last word here. As we’re looking towards this new year, you’ve got your ear to the ground. What do you think is going to be some of the more important things to focus on for small business websites in 2022?

Ryan Desmarais:
Great question. Peering into my crystal ball, Sean, what do I see?

Sean Corbett:
Yeah, you better make a prediction for us, that’s right.

Ryan Desmarais:
What do I see in the crystal ball coming through in 2022? I mean, for me, what I’m seeing and this is not just in 2022. The last kind of few years is trending towards this, is that Google is now taking more into account, not just what’s on your website. But also, what other directories say about your business and-

Sean Corbett:
Yeah. Yeah. The whole ecosystem of how you’re represented online.

Ryan Desmarais:
The ecosystem of how you’re represented online. And there are businesses out there that offer this service stand alone. The point I wanted to make is this, anytime your business is mentioned on the internet, whether it’s on your website, whether it’s on a directory, whether it’s in a chamber of commerce, wherever. You want to make sure that that information is up to date and that it matches everywhere. That’s something that I’ve seen in the last few years that that’s really accelerating. That if you have conflicting business information, it doesn’t help your business.

Ryan Desmarais:
Essentially, the more that Google sees your business and the same address, the same phone number on these multiple websites, the easier it is for Google to rank you higher on search. So that’s what I’m seeing because there’s new directories pop up every day and your business can be listed in these directories, even if you don’t know about it. But as a business owner, it’s your responsibility to do a quick search for your business once in a while and just make sure that all that information is up to date. Because the more conflicting it is, the tougher it is for Google to rank you high on search.

Sean Corbett:
Yeah. And actually, I don’t want to gloss over that one point. That’s actually the greatest single tip to doing an annual or whatever quarterly review of your business and website. Literally what Ryan just said, just Google your business name online and see what happens. You would be shocked sometimes at what you find.

Ryan Desmarais:
It’s true.

Sean Corbett:
I should practice what I preach because I don’t do that enough for my clients and for some of my own side businesses, I don’t even do it. And every time I do it, oh, it’s always something.

Ryan Desmarais:
It’s always something.

Sean Corbett:
Right. Whether it’s like a weird review that you got to go and address, or like you said-

Ryan Desmarais:
Yep.

Sean Corbett:
Someone’s got your business information totally wrong.

Ryan Desmarais:
Yep.

Sean Corbett:
Or on the flip side, we found like reviews or referrals or someone wrote an article about us that they didn’t tell us and it was glowing and it was fantastic. Like, well man, we want to reach out to this person. We want to feature that in our advertising. How come we didn’t know about this? Because we didn’t do that one simple thing.

Ryan Desmarais:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). In a nutshell and paraphrasing it, very simply, Google yourself, Google your business, see what shows up. If there’s outdated phone numbers, addresses, information, try and address those. Any negative reviews, try and address those, of course. But just Google yourself, that’s the practice that I would preach here as my parting thought.