We all know it’s crucial to have a website for your organization or business, but when was the last time you evaluated what is on your website and how well it is working for you? We spoke with Mike Jacobs, CEO of Proper Villains agency about the basics of what should go on a sports organization’s website.
Here are six takeaways:
Findability and Uniqueness:
Your website should be simple and clear, particularly the domain name. “It needs to be something that is easy for folks to understand and spell and say out loud,” says Mike. “Try and be too clever and it will backfire. There should be only one way to spell it and one way to say it.” If another person or business has the name you want, try adding your city or location to the name, “When you get into ‘dot-net’ (instead of dot-com) it just confuses people.”
Information Architecture – Make it Easy to Find the Most Visited Pages
Think about who will be coming to your site and how they will be using it.
“People think of a website as this giant category. But that is akin to calling everything on a piece of paper one category. But is it an ad? Is it a brochure? A legal contract? Is it instructions to put a bookshelf together? It could be many things.” Mike says. Define the goals of the site, and work toward them. If the front of your website is geared to new visitors then make your first page include all the things you would want someone to quickly understand, at a glance.
If you keep game schedules on your site and parents are going there repeatedly, make sure you set up your site so that those people can bookmark the page or pages they use most frequently. They’ll skip the homepage and go straight to schedules. This is called information architecture and it’s crucial to making sure your website is easy to use, saving you time and headaches so you’re not constantly fielding help-desk type questions about where to find something on your site.
Show You’re Legit – Use “Third Party Validation”
It’s not always something we are conscious of, but we have trust signals, ways we decide something is trustworthy, and one key factor is whether other people or sources have vouched for a product or a business. “We know that logos or badges matter, we see them and we think ‘Oh this is a real business,’” Mike says. Find ways to include those kinds of validation on your site: If you are part of a governing body, if you work with other local organizations, if you have sponsors — include those logos and badges on your site. Touting those affiliations will make your brand stronger. The same goes for testimonials or quotes from people who have had a great experience with your sports program, so gather them up, and post them on your site.
Make it Mobile-First:
When they search for information online, more people use their phones and tablets than a computer desktop. That means people Googling sports programs in their area are doing it on the go. Your site needs to be mobile-optimized, meaning information will be easy to read and navigate on a cell phone or tablet. And the site needs to load quickly; according to data released by Google, half of people searching will give up if a site takes longer than three seconds to load. “We are all living off our cell phones more and more, so it’s crucial that any organization has a site that is responsive to mobile,” says Mike.
SEO – No Magic Tricks
SEO, or search engine optimization, means your site will show up in searches. There are whole industries set up around SEO, but Mike says that’s leveled off. “SEO is the reward for having a quality site with good content. There are no magic tricks anymore; just have a clean and usable site that loads fast, is mobile-friendly and looks professional.” Pagespeed, how quickly your site loads, is one of the most important factors for Google SEO, especially on mobile. “If you’re doing all of these things and there’s only so many leagues in your area, you’re going to do decently,” Mike says.
One thing that can help you show up more in searches and help people find your program is to have other businesses or organizations link to your site. Mike recommends reaching out to your sports governing body, to any organizations that you might partner with, like your practice facility, and ask them to link back to your site. “That will help some with SEO; in conjunction with a well designed site; this is the formula that Google is looking for.”
There’s no magic formula for the perfect website, it’s a mix of balancing what you want to convey about your organization, understanding the needs of people who return to your site regularly for information.