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8 Menu Items that Optimize Your Website

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One of the ways to optimize your website is by making it easy to navigate, so that people stay on it and engage with your content. Think of menu tabs on websites as labels on kitchen cabinets: When visitors walk into the kitchen, they want to know exactly where you keep the pots, glasses, plates and so on, so that they can just dive into cooking instead of spending 10 minutes opening and closing cabinets, looking for where you store everything.

Similarly, when visitors go to your website, they want to know exactly where to find your bio, service descriptions, testimonials and so on, so that they can get the information they need without hassle. In this era of Attention Deficit Disorder, you will lose visitors, and therefore potential clients, if you don't make everything painfully obvious. With this principle in mind, here are 8 menu items that optimize your website:

Home
This page is the first that most people will see when they come to your website. It should be brief and compelling. Within one or two paragraphs, you need to establish why someone should stay on your site. To do so, be sure to let visitors know what your site is about, who it is for, how it will benefit them and what action steps they should take from the home page. For example, guide visitors to your services page, for information about your live and multimedia programs, or guide visitors to your store, to sign up for your classes or purchase your products online.

About
Here is where people get to learn more about your company, your employees, your mission, and you. This page establishes why someone should trust and work with you, so do your homework on writing a professional bio, to make sure you do it right. Include the most noteworthy accomplishments of anyone you are describing, and if you are writing about numerous people in this section, consider using a drop-down menu for navigation ease.

Services
This page is where you let prospective clients know exactly what you offer and how it may benefit them. Be sure you are clear on your brand, target audience and message, before writing this section, and as always, include hyperlinked keywords throughout the page.

Testimonials
Round up statements from people who have worked with you and have good things to say about your work. It's a good idea to make a practice of sending out evaluations after working with clients, so that they can give you feedback when it is fresh. You can then ask permission to post on the website whatever excerpts you would like to use for the testimonials pages. If it is agreeable to those who have written the testimonials, include their full names, their titles and links to their own websites.

Store
Here is where you hawk your goods and get some cash. This page can include books, live classes, Skype sessions, merchandise such as t-shirts and mugs, downloadable multimedia products and whatever else you have to offer. Connect this page to an e-commerce site like PayPal, E-Junkie or 1shoppingcart.

Media
This page is where you put your press kit, current (not old, please, never old!) press release and audio, video and print media clips. By having all this information organized on one page, you make it easy for media professionals to quickly get what they need. In a future blog post, I will offer detailed guidance on how to optimize your media page.

Blog
The blog is essential to the website, and it serves multiple functions: It keeps content on your website fresh, which search engines like (thus getting you extra SEO points); it serves as a go-to place for additional details you would like people to know (for example, if you want to educate them on the back story of the services you offer); and it serves as a platform for both establishing your voice (and therefore brand trust) and connecting you with others in your field, through cross-blogging.

Contact
Either have a web form for people to fill out, or provide your contact information -- which may include your phone number, fax number, email address and postal mail address. In the interest of your safety and privacy, I highly recommend having contact information that is separate from your personal information. Use a PO Box (or other mail box service, such as those run by UPS) for your physical address; use Google Voice or the like for your phone number (otherwise people can do reverse look-ups to get your physical address); and present your email address as "name [at] website.com," to keep those creepy crawly spammy things away from you.

Remember that your website is your calling card to the world. Invest the proper amount of time, energy and resources into optimizing it for visitors, media and SEO, and you will have a winning online game face.