Here are some basic tips for an effective website (see these tips in action in these web assessments):
- DO include your Location – prominently!
It is extremely important for the location of your practice to be prominently displayed on your home page, preferably near the top. When most people search for a service using Google or an alternative search engine, they are looking for a practice near where they live, e.g., they might search for “alexander technique delaware” or “posture wilmington.” If your location is not near the top so the search engine can find it, you are not likely to be found. In addition, potential students landing on your site will want to know where you teach, so don’t make it difficult to find this information!
- DO have easy-to-find Contact Information
Make sure your contact information is accurate (in particular check your email address!) and easy for people to see on your page. You can include your contact information on every page or have a page specifically for it – or better still , have both! In addition it’s useful to directly invite people to contact you to book a lesson or get information. Let people know you want to hear from them. Take it to the next level, and invite visitors to subscribe to your mailing list or e-newsletter.
- DO use Simple, Jargon-Free Language
Most of the potential visitors to your site will not have much or any knowledge of the Alexander Technique. We are used to terms like “primary control,” “inhibition,” “use,” and the like, and we forget that these terms are not meaningful, at least not with the meaning we attribute to them, to most people. Use simple, jargon-free language to convey the essence of what you would like to say, e.g., you might use “coordination” instead of “use,” in terms that people can relate to.
- DO Use Images to Enhance Your Site:
Photographs, images and graphics not only make your pages more interesting visually, but also help give potential students a better idea about you and the Alexander Technique. Do be careful of any photographs of hands-on work and make sure they look attractive to people who know nothing about the Technique.
If you do not have your own photographs or logo, there are many sites on the web where you can find good images. I have found www.freedigitalphotos.net to be a good resource for royalty-free photos and images.
- DO NOT use a Picture of FM on your Home Page!
This may be somewhat controversial, but for similar reasons that you should steer away from Alexander jargon (see item #3), having a picture of FM on your home page is not relevant, meaningful or even attractive to visitors to your website. If you want to include photos of him on a page about the development of the Technique that’s perfectly appropriate.
- DO NOT get too Fancy
Most people looking for information on-line tend to scan quickly through a website to see if it is relevant. Don’t make them go through multiple pages, or wait for images to appear or a video to play, before they get to them main site! You may have in mind a beautiful (and probably expensive) graphic video for your home page, but you will likely lose people who do not want to wait around for the beautiful graphics to load before they can get the actual information they want! This does not mean the website should not be visually interesting – just keep it simple!
- DO Keep it Short
Keep your information brief and to-the-point. Lengthy writing can be saved for an in-depth article, but should NOT be on your home page, or even your other main pages.
- DO Keep it Simple and Easy to Navigate
Keep your main pages short and make sure your website is easy to navigate; i.e., it should be easy to move from page to page. Being “user friendly” is much more important than having fancy graphics! If you have longer articles you would like to post, have links to them on subsidiary pages for people who want more information, keeping your main pages uncluttered. Make sure your page links are in the same place on every page – this is so much easier for your visitors.
- DO Highlight Key Words and Phrases
Use highlighted words, titles, key phrases, or even a short, but very to-the-point quote, especially on your home page. Use bullet points or enlarged, bold, indented or different color fonts so these key words stand out for anyone scanning the page quickly. Imagine what someone might be looking for who would benefit from lessons and make sure you include those words prominently (e.g., stress, performance, posture, back pain, acting, musicians, etc.).
- DO include Links
Having links to and from your website is one of the most important things you can do to increase the visibility of your site on the web. It is one of the key ways that search engines find you and rank you. Connectivity is rewarded! Make sure these sites have links to your website:
- Your professional organization listing
- The on-line directories of any other professional organizations to which you belong
- www.alexandertechnique.com (The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique), as this is often the first website people come to when searching for “Alexander Technique” on the web.
- If you use social media, even if purely personal, (e.g. facebook. twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) include a link to your website in your profile information.
Make sure your website has links to:
- All professional associations to which you belong (as above)
- Any other websites you like, e.g. local businesses/professionals (and you can also invite them to link to your site)
- Use links to direct your visitors to extra information, like articles, videos or news items.
- Social media sites you are using professionally (NOT your personal facebook page)
- DO Offer Something Free to your Website Visitors!
This was a piece of advice I received when I took my first “Creating Web Pages” course on-line. In reality this typically means giving something in terms of free content to your visitors, such as articles, audio or video clips, advice, or tips on how to do something (e.g., I provide information, including an audio talk-through, on lying down in semi-supine on my website), book recommendations, etc. Of course, you can also make special offers through your website for a discounted lesson or workshop if you wish.
- DO add Video or Audio to your Site
This isn’t actually necessary, but adding audio or video content a great way to enhance the effectiveness of your site. Some of the most visited pages on the web are those with audio or video content.
Add audio content – or a link to an audio interview/podcast – that you can either listen to immediat
ely or download and listen to later on your MP3 player. Record your own audio, or do an interview with Robert Rickover about your practice – find out more at: www.alexanderaudio.com/teachers/interview/.
You do not need to record your own video to have video on your website. All videos posted on YouTube are freely available to the public, so if you find an Alexander Technique video you like you can have a link to it, or even embed (so the video appears on your page) it right into your website. If you do want to record your own video/s, sites like YouTube make it very easy for anyone to post a video free of charge, and that video can then be embedded right into the page of your website.
- DO Be Mobile-Friendly
More and more these days people access the internet through mobile devices, so it’s becoming more and more important that your website be mobile-friendly. There are some simple, inexpensive, and even free ways to do this. Here are my favorites:
- WordPress If you use WordPress for your site (highly recommended) many themes come with a mobile version built in. If not, you can access world of WordPress plugins (applications), which include many mobile conversion possibilities – some simple, some more advanced. Many of the options are free.
- Duda Mobile provides a simple way to create a mobile version of your site. For many Alexander Technique sites the free version will be adequate.
- Another option is to create a version of your site which is designed to be mobile-friendly – a simplified, pared-down version. WordPress is the ideal medium to use to do this. You, or your web master, need to add specific code to your main site to redirect visitors using a mobile device.
- DO Submit Your Site to Search Engines
It can take time for the search engines to recognize and rank your site. To help speed up the process you can submit your site to the major search engines. Submit Express allows you to submit to the search engines in a few seconds for free.
- DO Use Metatags!
This is a bit technical, but your web designer will know how to do it! Make sure your metatag “description” and “keywords” are properly filled out and that “Alexander Technique” and “Your City or Town” are among the first few keywords. While the content of your site, rather than the metatags, has become increasingly important, it is still extremely helpful to have the metatags properly in place. It will help with your search engine ranking, as well as how your site is described by the search engines.
- DO Add a Blog!
If you really want to take your site, and your internet presence, to the next level, start a blog! If you have WordPress, this is the ideal blogging platform and can be integrated right into your website.
Here are some reasons why adding a blog is helpful:
- Search engines love new content. If you post blogs regularly this creates a great source of new content, including key words related to you, the Alexander Technique and your particular practice.
- It’s a great way to boost your internet presence.
- Your readers get to know more about you.
- Your blog can highlight your particular areas of interest.
- Writing about different aspects of the Technique helps clarify your own thinking.
- Interaction with your readers and other bloggers further enhances all of the above!
If you are interested in blogging, you may find these helpful: Tips for an Effective Alexander Technique Blog.