April 21, 2021
Learn 10 tips on how you can spring clean your website to get ready for summer with our guest Clarissa Schearer of Axia Public Relations.
Our episode guest is Clarissa Schearer, PR Strategist at Axia Public Relations. Clarissa builds and maintains client relationships, shares client messages across news media, and builds brands through web media.
Five things you’ll learn from this episode:
How you can improve your company website
How every part of your website reflects back on SEO
Why website SEO is important
How to increase your website page speed
The importance of website accessibility
Also available on
“Having a website that loads quickly is important because it impacts your company credibility too, so if customers don’t find your website credible, they might not find your services credible either.” - @ClarissaRose728
“If your company is being accused of not following the Americans with Disabilities Act, the first thing a plaintiff’s lawyer will look at is if your website has an accessibility statement.” - @ClarissaRose728
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About Clarissa Schearer:
Clarissa is a PR strategist. She builds and maintains client relationships, shares client messages across news media, and builds brands through web media. Clients love her work ethic and results.
Guest’s contact info and resources:
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About your host Jason Mudd
On Top of PR host, Jason Mudd, is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands and fastest-growing companies. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.
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- Hello and welcome. I'm Jason Mudd and you're listening to On Top Of PR. Today, we are interviewing Clarissa Schearer. Clarissa's a strategist with Axia Public Relations. The agency I work at and she's sharing today 10 ways to improve your website. This is a great episode. I think every business that has a website will benefit from listening to her 10 tips and whether it's summer, winter or spring these tips are all going to be very applicable to you especially as you're trying to increase your search and optimization and grow the leads that you're getting from your website. So here we go.
- [Narrator] Welcome to On Top Of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer.
- Hello and welcome to On Top Of PR, I'm your host Jason Mudd. And today I'm joined by Clarissa Schearer of Axia Public Relations. Clarissa welcome to On Top Of PR.
- Hi Jason, thanks for having me.
- We're glad to have you, I'm glad to be here. Today, we are talking about 10 ways to spring clean your website for the summer. Is that right?
- Yep, we're talking all about ways you can improve your website for the summer ready.
- Excellent, I love it, I love it. Clarissa is a strategist with Axia Public Relations. She's been with us for a few years now and is a great associate and team member and her clients love working with her. She really has all her stuff together. And today she's gonna share some of her smarts about how to keep your, or how to get your website ready for summer. I think that's a very timely topic we're talking about here and there's really 10 things we're gonna go through that are really important anytime of the year when you're thinking about your website, is that right Clarissa?
- Yeah, these are typically 10 tips or things that companies struggle with when building out their website. So usually when we're evaluating a company's website, we usually evaluate about 40 different criteria but we've taken those 40 and narrowed it down to the top 10 issues that we usually see with clients or companies websites. And if we have time, we can even add a little bonus at the end.
- Oh! Nice teaser, I like it, okay. Excellent, So in our episode notes, I assume we'll put a link to all the content we talk about. And so if somebody is interested in following up after this conversation, they'll be able to check that out inside the episode notes. So Clarissa get us started. What is the first thing out of the box you wanna lead with here?
- Awesome, so number one out of 10. Number one it relates to performance and performance comes page size. So page size is really what your website is made out of. Your website is made out of multiple files like image files, HTML, anything like that. And the more files you have on a page, the longer it takes to load. Typically, we liked for best practices try to keep a page size under three megabytes. So it loads faster and it keeps people on your page and not waiting forever for your website to load.
- Well, that's very clear and concise, a nice measurable of three megabytes or less, and I'd certainly emphasize the or less, maybe you can get it down to even a megabyte that would be ideal because people have a short attention span, right? They're only gonna spend so much time on your website and if the connection's not fast and they don't get instant gratification guess where they're going? They're moving on to your competitor's website or going back to Google to see if there's another page that could load fast.
- Yeah, definitely. Speaking of page speed that's actually my second point. Page speed, we usually like to keep it around five seconds or less for how long a page loads and any longer than that people are gonna go somewhere else. They're gonna go to a competitor whose website loads faster. Having a website that loads fast is also important because it reflects your credibility too. So if they don't think your website is credible, they might not find your services credible either.
- That's a good point. You're reminding me, what just last week I was introducing a friend of mine's business to another company. And when I went to the website as part of the introduction to show them the website, I cringed because he's got a new company managing that website. It doesn't look nearly as good as it used to and even the company I was with was like, I don't know. I don't like the way the site looks, it gives me pause a little bit. Is he really working with the type of companies that he says he is? And so credibility is so important. You hit the nail on the head.
- Yeah, definitely.
- What's the next tip you got for us?
- All right, so tip number three also relates to performance and a little bit of page speed. So this comes down to page requests. So a person's web browser, they typically send a request to your web server when they try to log onto your website. This can be multiple files that load your images, any texts and the more files that you have, the more page requests are gonna send. And the more page requests that you're requesting, the search browser is requesting from the server, the longer at time it's going to take. So the more HTTP requests your website makes, the slower it becomes. By combining different files, the faster your website's gonna be too.
- Yeah, that's good advice. I know companies really struggle with that and it's one of those things that a user doesn't really realize because all that's behind the code but having nice and clean code that pulls a limited number of page requests will really help you. And also Google knows that. And so they're going to help rank your site even higher. That's a good tip.
- Yeah, definitely. Let's talk tip number four now. So tip number four, it relates to mobile responsiveness. People typically think of websites. They think of computer screens. They don't take into account that most of the websites we visit are probably from our mobile phone and that really needs to be different because a lot of people visit websites on their phone and the responsiveness matters. So mobile responsiveness really refers to the layout of how your website looks on a mobile phone. You don't want someone to go to your website on a mobile phone and have to zoom in on all your texts or zoom out because it's too big or having links that just don't make sense and don't fit on your pages. So mobile responsiveness is something people really need to take into account when they're building their website too.
- Totally agree, I'm a heavy power mobile user. And if a client, if a company's website like you're describing doesn't load quickly, it's going to load even slower on mobile. And if it doesn't render right, forget about it, right? They're gonna move on very quickly. It really is a mobile world and so if your website's not mobile friendly already, that's gonna be tough to do business especially this summer when people are traveling even more, right? And maybe they're checking out your products or services while they're traveling because they're in market or they're sitting on the beach, or they're on a plane, or they're in an airport, or they're at a cabin, who knows, right? But yeah, I mean, mobile usage if it's not high enough now for you, it's gonna be even higher during the summer when people are traveling.
- Yeah and mobile responsiveness isn't only important for the functionality of your website, it's also really important for SEO purposes too. Google really takes into account that how well your website responds on a mobile device. It actually ranks you higher in SEO too.
- And speaking of SEO, so a little bit about SEO before we talk about how we can work on that with your website too. So SEO stands for search engine optimization and it basically just means how your website ranks on the first page of Google or any page of Google but you wanna be on the first, you wanna be the first thing people see. And the more key words and the more credibility your website gains, the more traffic that comes to your website, the higher your website is going to rank on Google. And hopefully it'll be the first link when someone looks up an industry that your company is in. And people will click that link and they'll do business with you. And for SEO, so we have a couple of tips relating to SEO too about how you can get your website summer ready. So first is the permission to index. So Google actually has little web crawlers that crawl around a new website or a new webpage to see if your site is legitimate or not and also allows it to index itself onto Google pages. So if your website doesn't give Google or any other search engine the permission to index, then it's not going to show up on any of the Google pages either.
- That's a good tip, I like it.
- Yeah, we have a few more regarding SEO too. On next let's talk meta-description and just to remind everyone, this is the sixth tip, so tips six of 10.
- So for the meta-description and meta-description is an HTML element, it really describes and summarizes what your webpage is about. So the page title is what the bold thing that you're going to see for some of the Google searches. And then under each of the bold titles or bold page titles, you're gonna see the meta description that gives a little summary of the page of what someone's about to click on. Key words can be, if someone is looking up a specific question, they may find your website based on the meta description not just the page title. So it's really important to have those meta descriptions inserted correctly and with correct keywords so people can find your webpage too.
- And not only that, I also think that meta-description is also like the teaser to tell the user what they're gonna see upon click. So it's kind of like a little bit of a summation to verify, yes this is the type of information I'm looking for. So I am gonna click and move forward and continue in the conversation. Clarissa, these tips are great and really insightful. I wanna take a quick break and then we'll come back with more on the other side.
- All right, see you then.
- [Narrator] You are listening to On Top Of PR with your host Jason Mudd. Jason is a trusted advisor to some of America's most admired and fastest growing brands. He is the managing partner at Axia Public Relations, a PR agency that guides news, social and web strategies for national companies. And now back to the show.
- Hello, and welcome back to On Top Of PR, I'm your host Jason Mudd. Today I'm joined by Clarissa Schearer. We're talking about how to improve your website for summer but really how to improve your website for any time. Look, if you're enjoying this episode, I would encourage you to take two actions. Number one is subscribed, so that you get notified whenever we have new episodes drop. Secondly, if there's a colleague that you think would benefit from this conversation or someone you know, please be sure to let them know about this episode so that they can learn more and make their website even better too. And so let's get back to the show with Clarissa Schearer.
- Hey, so we've talked a little bit about, I think we went through six tips so far about the 10 ways that you can spring clean your website this summer.
- That's right.
- Like be prepared for summer. So we have four more tips left, plus maybe a bonus one if Jason's nice enough and will let us listen to it. But we've just got started on SEO and we have a couple more tips related to SEO. So SEO like I said before, is search engine optimization. It really helps how Google or another search engine ranks your website or company website on the first page of Google or any page of Google. And you really wanna be at the top. So for last time we talked about meta descriptions. Let's talk about content plugins now. So content plugins are basically software additions that allow you to customize your website. That's the simplest form I can put it, but they also help web pages become more than just big blocks of texts too. So there's plugins that help your blog posts rank better. There's plugins to help you embed YouTube videos or any other kind of YouTube, any other kind of videos on your website. And there's also plugins that help you customize your fonts. So it's important to have website plugins that are compatible and aren't that give you the ability to customize your site more too, also helps you with SEO.
- I had no idea that would help you with search and optimization also. It seems like all these tips are coming back to search engine optimization, which is great because number one, not only is search and optimization incredibly important, right? It can make or break a company's success. And number two, it really shows just how powerful Google and the search engines have really become because they are obviously considering user experience as a leading indicator, leading reason to rank pages high. And so I think that's compliments to them. They know the better content they point users to, the more the happier their users will be and therefore the more satisfied. So I really think that's something that a lot of companies should be keeping in mind. It used to be people would try to manipulate the search engines to get the outcome they're looking for. I know in the late 90s that's what everybody seemed to be doing but then eventually along came Google and really set the bar quite a bit higher for not only fast and more accurate results, but more user-friendly results. So I'm really glad to hear so many of these tips that you're sharing are helping the audience rank higher on search engines which is just critical.
- Yeah, definitely. Google really takes in the user experience into account when they're calculating SEO and making you earn it to go on the first page.
- Yeah there you go I like it.
- But one last SEO related tip to your website is descriptive link text. So you probably have some buttons on your website. Go look at them right now, what do they say? Do they say, click here? You might want to edit those then because saying click here will rank you lower on the Google's SEO. Google wants you to have an actionable descriptive link texts. So instead of just click here, try get a quote or contact us. Something that's actionable and something that the user or website visitor knows what they're clicking on. Not just a random button that says click here.
- I couldn't agree more with you Clarissa. That is like a, I'm saluting that flag because I'm a big believer in what you're describing. I think that's so important. I also think it's important and I hope I'm not taking away one of your tips but what came to mind, I'm kind of hooking onto your answer or plussing your tip is that the hover, when you hover over that link, what appears there is the alternate text and that's not only important for our friends that need accessibility but it's also important as part of your search engine optimization. And thirdly, it's also important. So when the user just kind of hovers over that with their mouse and that's what I'm using my finger for those watching the video, is when you're hovering over that link, well, text pops up and tells you what you're gonna see next or what this is gonna do, what action is going to take. So again, good for SEO, good for those that need the accessibility assistance. But thirdly, just the user experience is gonna you that when I click on this link, I'm gonna view article or I'm going to request a quote like you said or contact the company. Just gives them a little bit more assurance of what's gonna happen next when they click on that button.
- Yeah, definitely. It's really important to let users know everything about your site in regards how it benefits them. And that's more than just putting click here 'cause what am I clicking on? Where are you sending me right now?
- That's right. Click here, was kind of the common way in the early days of the internet to establish to someone, the user that this is the link but the internet is from a consumer standpoint it's probably getting close to being in the marketplace for 25, 30 years, almost 30 years now. And so people are getting way more sophisticated about how to use the internet. They don't need a button that says click here to realize that's what you're trying to do. So if you're a copywriter on staff or your agency or your colleague is still using click here, it's time to put them in a time machine and get them out of the 90s, right? And into the roaring 20s here to make sure they understand that click here is something you don't have to do anymore. People know where to click, they know how to click. Instead challenge yourself to be more descriptive and more optimized in what the keywords you're using to link from.
- Yeah, definitely make it actionable. Speaking of actionable, we're gonna talk about how you can take action to secure your website better because the last two tips I have, relate to security and security of your website. So first we're going to talk about HTPS. So this protects websites from attacks and gives visitors the confidence to visit your website to make sure it's authentic and trustworthy. So you actually need a security certificate to obtain an HTTPS. And it's pretty simple but it just allows the certificate to verify that your website address belongs to you, belongs to your organization and it protects your customers from any middleman attackers when they visit your website too.
- That's great, I love it and even websites that don't... It used to be a time where you only bought an SSL certificate for your site in the event you were selling products or services. Now it's just becoming mainstream for any credible organization to have an SSL certificate on their site, regardless of if there's the ability to do credit card transactions or not. And as you're mentioning it just authenticates that you're doing business with the right brand that somebody hasn't created a fake website to misrepresent their services or the organization in another way. So, yeah, and I'm sure you didn't say it but I'm sure Google and search and optimization reward you for having an SSL on your site, is that right?
- Definitely, Google takes that into account too and ranks you higher because you're a better and more trustworthy site.
- Excellent, that's a great tip.
- Yeah, definitely. And that actually completes all 10, but like I said, if Jason's nice enough, he might give, let us have one more tip, just a little bonus one.
- Well, I don't have a choice. You've teased it so much that I have to be able to let us do it but you know what? This has been a very efficient episode and so we definitely have time. So let's hear this bonus tip that you've been teasing all along.
- Awesome, so bonus tip, we're gonna talk about accessibility statements. So if you don't know what an accessibility statement is, it's not required to have on your website but it is highly encouraged. And we encourage all the companies we do website consultations with to have one. So an accessibility statement is basically a message that let your visitors know that you have a commitment to helping anyone or making your website accessible to anyone with a disability. So if they're hearing impaired, if they're visually impaired and kind of cognitive or speech, or physical impairment, your website is accessible to them. And I've actually done a little bit more digging into this and just as a little bonus, if it didn't give you a kick in the rear to get you an accessibility statement sooner, there's actually a story where a lack of accessibility statement is often the first thing a plaintiff's lawyer will look at for when deciding who to Sue for discrimination in non-compliance with the ADA regulations. So it's really important that's the first thing that if your company is being accused of not following the ADA or the Americans with disabilities act, that's the first thing they're gonna look at, is if your website, something that's open all to users is accessible to everyone too. So I highly encouraged, not just a bonus tip in my opinion this should just be a solid number 11 but it's really important to add on your website and of course it helps with SEO.
- Very nice Clarissa. I agree so much with that comment. I think if you think of retailers and even construction company and office development companies, they're all mindful of the importance of providing handicap parking, right? And accessibility to workplaces and retail and places of business to do business. And so, for years we've heard about this concept of what's called drive by lawsuits where somebody will just drive by an office or a retail store, et cetera. And they'll just take a photograph and show there was nowhere for me to park with handicap or there was no handicap ramper. or I couldn't access this building, or something like that. And now it's not even people who have those accessibility needs, it's lawyers or people they hire to drive around and look for these take photos. And then either threatened lawsuit and hopefully with the good heart of wanting to have them change or adapt and to prevent somebody who legitimately needs accessibility from not being able to access the venue. But how this has evolved to your point in my understanding is now what they call click by lawsuits where people are just going to websites, seeing if it's accessible for those who have special needs. And if it's not, then they are either suing that company like a large retailer for example or ideally sending them a letter just saying, "Hey, somebody might have wanted to do business with your website and they could not." So I think that's really important. And I think if you're in that construction space, an architecture engineer, general contractor, if you're in that retail space, whether your target or a Walmart or Home Depot or whatever. If you're not making your website accessible, that reflects upon the image and reputation of your company and what you're doing in person also. And so if our construction clients, many of them that's what they do for a living is make sure the spaces they design, the spaces they build are accessible but if you neglect it on your website, I think it really sends a wrong message especially to the buyers who are looking to make sure that you are savvy in that area and in those spaces for certain. So I'm glad you brought that tip up. I wasn't expecting you to bring it up but I'm glad you did because I think it is a really good and really important tip. And so to that end, I'll make sure that in the show notes we put in a link to a couple of accessibility solutions that we use and recommend that actually kind of bolt on accessibility capabilities to your existing website. Otherwise, it is a big endeavor to take an existing website or even build a website from scratch, make sure it's 100% accessible. Probably nothing is 100% perfect but there are adaptions and considerations you can take, one of which is using one of these two pieces of software to really help your users have that experience and set the settings they need to have that just right experience. And so that's at least, I think the first step is an accessibility statement. Do you agree with that?
- Yeah, definitely.
- And then a second step would be to purchase some kind of bolt on software which we have to, we recommend and then I think thirdly if you have the means and the ability and the passion for it or the resources to pull it off, would be to have a specific developer on your team that's making sure every part of your website is accessible. That may not seem reasonable but it is reasonable. You just have to prioritize it especially if you have a team of web developers, you can easily budget for one, for next year or next quarter or whatever it might be. So that was a great tip Clarissa, thank you for sharing. Clearly something I'm personally passionate about because I've seen so many companies just neglect that until either it's too late or it just seems like the right thing to do to me especially when we're focused on diversity and inclusion.
- Yeah, I was just gonna say that diversity and inclusivity is more important than ever and that this is just one way to show when people first visit you on your website that you're prioritizing that inclusivity.
- It's all about first impressions. What a great episode, Clarissa. I'm so glad you did this. I'm really proud of you and how you presented this information today. And it really is a very helpful to the audience. And I understand you have a special offer that you're willing to make for qualified companies and doing a website consultation. Tell me a little bit more about that, tell us a little bit more about that.
- Yeah, if you go to my show notes which I believe is on top of PR/Clarissa-Schearer. If you don't know how to spell my name you can just look on the screen but at that website there will be a link for free website consultation. So we will go over those 40 overall criteria I was talking about earlier and dig in deeper to your websites 10 top struggles that you need to work on too.
- Perfect, Clarissa go ahead and spell your name just so everyone can hear it.
- Sure, so my first name is C-L-A-R-I-S-S-A and my last name is S-C-H-E-A-R-E-R.
- So that's www.OnTopofPR/Clarissa-Schearer. That's where they'll get to the episode notes and from there, they'll be able to see a link to go to the form they can fill out to kind of apply to complete a website consultation. And I think for companies who aren't qualified either because they're not in the right industry or company size or something like that that they don't meet match the criteria of who we can offer that to. There is an option that they can click on to purchase a consultation. Is that correct?
- Okay, wonderful. So we're looking to accommodate everybody regardless of their current situation. So excellent, that sounds good Clarissa. And if our audience wants to connect with you you're available on LinkedIn, correct?
- Yeah, I'm on LinkedIn with first and last name the same and where I'm on Twitter, Once in awhile, you can find me @ClarissaRose728.
- That sounds great. Well, this was a great episode Clarissa. Thank you very much. I'm glad you were here and I'm sure our audience was too. And like I said, if this was an episode you've benefited from, I hope you will share it with your colleagues. And if you have any topics you'd like to hear, please be sure to reach out to us at OnTopOfPR. Otherwise I hope today, by listening to these 10 tips you are able to stay On Top Of PR and continue your loyalty and tuning in and watching our shows.
- [Narrator] This has been On Top Of PR with Jason Mudd presented by ReviewMaxer. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode and check out past shows at OnTopOfPR.com.