01| ABOUT US

02| BRANDING & WEB DESIGN

03| WEDDING STATIONERY

04| THE BLOG

05| THE SHOP

06| CONTACT US

Meet Bernel and learn more about our journey to serve creatives through one of a kind design.

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01| ABOUT US

02| BRAND & WEB DESIGN

03| WEDDING STATIONERY

04| THE BLOG

05| THE SHOP

06| CONTACT US

Explore our offerings, view our previous clients and learn which custom design experience best suites you.

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01| ABOUT US

02| BRAND & WEB DESIGN

03| BUSINESS RESOURCES

04| THE BLOG

05| THE SHOP

06| CONTACT US

Free branding and website resources plus our favorite tools of the trade.

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Website Audit – Spring Cleaning24 min read

It’s spring time, which means most of us have been spring cleaning around our homes, but what if you took the spring cleaning concept to your website? On today’s episode, I’m walking you through everything you should review in your next website audit! Plus, I’m sharing a few tools you can use within your audit to make those updates!

The Branded by Bernel Podcast is brought to you by Bernel Westbrook, lead designer and founder of Branded by Bernel, a design studio dedicated to building strong brands and Showit websites for creative entrepreneurs.

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Spring Cleaning Isn’t Just for Your Home

A few weeks ago, I started organizing my closets, getting rid of things that were taking up space, and preparing them to donate, when I realized that spring cleaning shouldn’t just be for our homes.

What if we put in that same mindset of spring cleaning our homes into our websites? Well, I did it! I created a full website audit spring cleaning checklist that I shared over on Instagram!

Your Spring Cleaning Website Audit

While you can check out that Instagram post here, I want to dive deeper into each of these things and the tools I use to update my website.

1. Check for Broken Links

Make sure all buttons and inline links on your website are working. When you have broken links on your website and people click on them, you’re losing out on the opportunity to convert them. By fixing these broken links, you’re improving your SEO as well as your credibility and conversion rates.

Why Broken Links Are Bad for Your Website:

  • Your customer come to your website because they are looking for something they want to purchase from you, but if they click on a broken link, they’ll leave your site.
  • When customers leave because they can’t find what they’re looking for, it increases your bounce rate.
  • It hurts your backlinks, which hurts your credibility for SEO.

How to Fix Your Website’s Broken Links

Well, thankfully some of the best things in life are free, like Atom SEO. You can enter your website URL and it will run an SEO check report that will tell you every single page page that has an error on it and what the error is.

2. Update Your Images and Affiliate links

As your business evolves and grows, fresh images can help represent that while still conveying the same information and messaging year after year. Plus, if you’re considering a redesign, it may not be that your website needs a new look—simply changing out your images will give it a quick refresh!

If you’re not including a branding photoshoot in your business each year (or even each quarter), I highly recommend you reconsider that. You can learn all about brand photoshoots in this blog post.

As you do grow your business, you are likely adding new tools to your systems and processes. Most of these tools have affiliate rewards that you should be taking advantage of. Make sure you are signing up and then sharing these products on your resources or blog page so that you can diversify your revenue streams and make that passive income!

A few examples of tools you can share about in your business include your email marketing platform, client management system, and anything you use in your business!

3. Update Your Portfolio

You’re creating new work every single week in your business, but how often are you adding those new projects to your website. Here’s a little tough love for you—you should NOT have to send people to your Instagram to see your latest work.

Updating your portfolio each quarter not only shows the growth of your craft but also instills confidence in your viewers.

I don’t believe that there is a right way to display your portfolio items. The important thing to do is to share your best work and a diverse collection of what you offer. This could be in the industry types, niches, service types, etc. Additionally, you can tell the story of each piece within your portfolio with your own words or through client testimonials.

Bonus: Testimonials

Every time you work with a client and it was an amazing process. Make sure you’re asking them for testimonials! You can ask for specifics around your style, your process, your client experience, your communication skills, etc.

You can never have too much social proof.

I hope you take this spring cleaning checklist and use it for your own website audit! If you have any additional questions, shoot me a DM over on Instagram!

Mentioned in this Episode:

Blog Post – Brand Photography: What Is It and Why Do You Need It?

Atom SEO

Connect with Bernel

brandedbybernel.com

instagram.com/brandedbybernel

Review the Transcript:

Hey, hun. Welcome to the Branded by Bernel podcast. I’m your host Bernel. You may know me as the branding and web designer who obsesses over the details. So you don’t have to, we all desire to be great at what we do. Although once we get there, no one seems to talk about the messy middle. This motivated me to set the table and invite industry peers over to share stories about living and working in the creative world. So grab the OJ and champagne, pull up a chair, join the creative community and be prepared to build a brand you fall in love with. This is the Branded by Bernel podcast.

Hey, hey, I am so excited to chat with you guys this morning. Specifically talking about all the things that we can do to update our websites, spring cleaning edition. So a few weeks ago, I created an Instagram checklist for just some spring cleaning website tips. Honestly, what motivated it is I was going through my closet and realizing that the last two years, there’s so many of my spring clothes that I just didn’t wear just so many dresses and outfits that were for special occasions that honestly were just taking up space in my closet. And as I was going through, I was organizing these into boxes, putting together some things that I wanted to donate, and it hit me. Why do we only do this with the clutter in our homes, but not necessarily the clutter on our online homes. Okay, what am I talking about? You guessed it your website. So I put together a short little checklist that had three things to update your website, and you guys loved it on Instagram, share it it saved it saw like repost it in so many people’s stories.

So of course, I was like, I want to break that down a little bit more, because there was obviously so much information that was not going to fit on a slider post. So I’m gonna go over those three things, I’m gonna go over some of the tools that I use to update my website. And then yeah, I’m just gonna jump in with some of the questions that I saw you guys post it. So I’m gonna provide some answers for this. All right. So as we are now in quarter two, because this episode is airing in May, one of the things that is the most important, starting with your updates is checking for broken links. What is a broken link? Alright, so that’s the buttons and inline links on your website that are just not working that when you click it takes you to that 404 page.

Hopefully it’s actually to a 404 page and not just a page that’s blank and says not found. But yeah, so when people click on these broken links, what’s happening is you are losing opportunities. So just think in terms of broken links, equal loss opportunities, opportunities for what? That’s a good question, because somebody actually sent into me, why are broken links so damaging to your online business? Why are they such a bad thing? Right? Well, let’s just look at three of those reasons. First, customers, customers come to your website, because they’re looking for something they want to purchase from you, or they want to get more information. So your bounce rates are going to increase and people are going to leave if they can’t find that information. If they click on the link that says book now and it takes them to a patient says this does not exist or a product or what have you. They’re gonna leave, it also really hurts your backlinks.

So for SEO, there’s something called a backlink when someone else shares your link, or another website makes reference to something on your website. It just helps with your credibility for SEO. So now when somebody is on, let’s say, an articles website, and they mention your business as being one of the greatest hairstyles, or one of the greatest florists, and they click on that link, so you’re like, Yeah, I want to work with her. And then it takes them to a 404 page, or it takes them to a page not found a little error message with an avatar on it, then, of course, the credibility factor is lost again. And then search engines are not going to view that as a credible backlink as well. So your Google ranking is gonna hurt a little bit. All right, so now that we know why broken links are bad, how do we fix them? How do we find them?

I love love, love this website called Adam SEO, and I’m going to actually link to image shownotes. But the URL for that is error 404 dot Adam seo.com. And so one of the things that I really like about it is it’s free because let’s Face it, some of the best things in life are freebies. But when you go to this website, what you’re able to do is to enter any URL. So you can enter your website, you can enter your clients websites, if you are a web designer as well. This is something I encourage all web designers to do to check their client websites after they’ve created something, just to make sure there’s no broken links. But then also quarterly, I checked my own website on here, it’s definitely part of my spring cleaning, fall cleaning, what have you. But anyway, so when you type in your URL, it will scan all of the pages on your website.

So you’re gonna get what they call a SEO check report. And what that report will give you is, it’ll tell you all the pages on your website that there’s an error that’s found. And so they crawl your website in checking like all your internal links in real time. So you don’t have to worry about if you updated the link yesterday, it will show on the report, because it is updating in real time. So on that report, you’ll see the URL that is broken, and then you’ll see what page that URL is found on, then you’ll see the status of it and the impact of it. All of these things are so so good. Because what you can do is you can actually click on that URL, you’ll see what clients are seeing when they’re sent to that URL, and then by them giving you the page, you can actually log into the back side of your website, go to that page and fix that link. What the Status column does, um, the report is it tells you where it’s sending people.

So if you have a 404 page, which is basically just a page that redirects people when a link is not found, so if you have one of those pages, it’s like Oh, listen, you back to the homepage, or looks like you clicks on a link that is no longer working. If you have some nice pages branded on your site for that, that’s where a lot of your redirects will go. Now, sometimes, on the status, you’ll see something that says Connect failure. So maybe it was a working page at one point in time, but now it’s no longer connected. Um, so anyway, this report goes very, very in depth, I’m not gonna spend too much time on it. But I encourage everybody to go to Adam seo.com. And just check your links, because it’s really hard to manually check them all on your website. And it’s a lot easier to just run them through a free checker, it takes literally five minutes. They also give you a grade, which I just think is awesome, I think in terms of is it working? Or is it not working, I’m a very analytical thinker. So it gives you like an a plus or a B minus or a C.

And that’s really the grade of like how quickly your page is loading, and then also how many broken links are on there. So check out your page. That leads us to tip number two of things that we want to update. Okay, so tip number two is update your images and your affiliate links. Oh, my goodness, guys, you would not believe how many times I go on a website one year, and then go on it like the next year, and the pictures are all exactly the same. Now most people might not notice that if they’re not a web designer. But it does lead me to believe that your business is evolving and growing and updating when I see some new fresh images on there. So fresh images can do a lot to make your website content film new while still conveying the same information. So you don’t necessarily have to change what you’re selling, or what you’re giving people or what tips are on your website, just putting a fresh new image on, it may entice someone to click on the same button or the same page that was always there with the same content, you’re just kind of giving it a little bit of a refresh. The example that I use for this is my couch in my living room. So I love my couch, it works perfectly for my living room. It’s very, very functional.

However, just to freshen up the overall look of the space, I switch my pillows out and more specifically my pillow covers. So I just switched my pillow covers out maybe once or twice a year. And you would not believe how it just brightens the room and just gives it a fresh new feeling. Especially since a lot of us work from home. It’s just really nice to go in a room and it looks a little different. And so literally switching your images out is a very easy way to do that on your online home. Not necessarily having to do a whole website redesign. That’s something that comes up a lot in my line of work. Obviously people are like, Hey, should I redesign my website? Is my website too boring? And a lot of times if your website is still serving you well then there’s no need to redesign the website. Maybe just freshening it up with some new header like page headers, which is good some new call to actions on there. And then, of course new brand imagery.

This is also something to note for my newer business owners listening. A lot of times, when you first launch your website, your images may just consist of headshots which nothing is wrong with that, because I started with a website with only headshots. But as your business begins to grow, you can do more branding photoshoots that honestly show you at work in whatever your craft is. So pictures with your laptop or pictures of you drawing, if you’re a graphic designer pictures of you putting flowers together if you’re a florist pictures of you adjusting a veil or opening a door if you’re a wedding planner. So really some pictures showing you an action. And those also speak to the credibility factor of you’ve had clients and it’s showing you at work. So that’s just a little update there too. If you have not done a branding photoshoot, that might be something to put on your list. It might not be a q2 thing, but it could be a yearly goal. So wanted to throw that out there. And then I do have a blog article all about what to include in your branding photoshoot.

So I will link that in the show notes as well. All right, so also under those updates for Tip number two, we mentioned affiliate links. So this is so important. Obviously YouTubers have been telling us this since 2002, that we should be listing what products and tools that we use, but it has really grown more I feel like for non YouTubers and bloggers like any creative entrepreneur now can make some passive income on the tools and resources that you use every day. One of the ways to share these, as you’re growing your business is about creating an affiliate page, or just a resources section on your website. So if you go to my website, Brandon by brown.com, back slash resources, you’ll find that there’s a page of all of my favorite products and tools that we stand behind. One of the notes with affiliate links is really keep in mind that only share companies you truly believe in only share things you actually use. Because that’s going to continue to build trust with your ideal client. You don’t want to recommend things that maybe you’ve just seen on the internet. But you’ve never tried yourself because one of my favorite parts about affiliate links on my resources page is people reach out to me people use my live chat button and they say do you really love dubsado? Do you really love show it? How do you use it in your business?

And because those are tools that I literally use every day to run my business, I can easily answer them and just give them some of the tips that I’ve learned from using the tool and also some of the benefits. So I can’t stress that enough with affiliate links. Be authentic, just be real. Put what you actually use. So some of the affiliate links to keep in mind. Because once again, if you’re a newer business owner, and you’re hearing at affiliate links, you might say where do I get these links? Because that was something that I ran into people kept talking about making this income with affiliate marketing, and I was like, okay, but where do I get these links. So some links to keep in mind your email marketing software, more than likely you have an email list and you send out newsletters, so whatever software you’re using, whether that’s FLOTUS, MailChimp, ConvertKit, mailer light, and there’s so many others, all of those have affiliate links.

So if you log into the back side of your portal, or your dashboard, in any of those accounts, usually there’s something like, share or refer a friend, or something of that nature. And that’s a really good one that almost every business owner has that you can go ahead and put on your website. Here’s the email marketing tool I use, also, including that affiliate link at the bottom of your email. So when if you are someone who sends out regular newsletters to your clients, it’s really nice to put in the footer like, do you enjoy these emails? Or do you like the way this was designed? Or do you like communicating with me in this manner? Here’s the tool that I use to create these wonderful newsletters. And you’d be surprised how many people click on those other affiliate links that you can include a client management systems, I

know I mentioned dubsado That is the client management system that I use, but there’s also 17 Hats HoneyBook Basecamp that’s popping up now. And all of those have affiliate links as well. So include on your website, why you love those why you use them. For instance, I use them Sado because it’s an all in one business management platform. I’m able to send my invoices through that make appointments, create workflows, those are all the reasons why I love that tool, and I use that tool on a daily basis. Thus, by telling you guys that and then putting the link underneath, it gives you an opportunity to try it. One of the things to know Know to on your affiliate page or resources page, blog posts about resources, wherever you’re going to list these links, one of the things to know is what people will gain from clicking on your link. So let them know that they’re going to be able to receive a free trial and 20% off or they’re going to be able to get 25% off their first order, or they’re going to get one month free, if they book a year, or purchase a year subscription to something, all of those things, once again, will entice people to click on it. But it also just lets them know why you’re providing this value.

It’s not just what you receive, but also letting them know what they’re gonna receive. We say it so often, people really don’t care what you know, until they know that you care. So by leading with what they will benefit from, it just honestly is going to make people trust you more. And it’s going to also let them know how these tools will benefit them. Because you’re not just putting the affiliate link so that you make money, you’re also putting the affiliate links so that your viewers, your clientele can also benefit from these tools. So that’s all on affiliate links. Um, that could be a whole separate episode, because I do like the passive income aspects of being a business owner, I think that passive income is an excellent, excellent way to just kind of fill your income out, and then to actually be able to work less hours. So that may be a later conversation. But if you did not have an affiliate link section on your website, hopefully that is something you can put up this spring, because it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s extra money, and it’s building those client relationships. All right, so the third tip for spring cleaning, is updating your portfolio, you should not repeat, you should not have to send people to your Instagram to see your latest work. That is not where all of your latest work should live. Now, it’s great if your latest work is also on your social media platforms, but it should be on your website. So updating your portfolio each quarter, not only shows the growth of your craft, but it also instills confidence in your viewers, they can go and they can see all the different projects that you worked on. Also, updating your portfolio serves as a way for people to see the growth in your business.

I know that sometimes we take things out of our portfolio because it does not reflect our current skill level. But it’s good to leave some of those older things or even to just kind of archive them and blog posts where people can still access them. Because it just once again shows how long you’ve been doing this and then also the evolution of your process and how you know you have honed those skills and more. Now, one of the things to note in your portfolio, is there’s no right or wrong way to display it. That was a question that I received after this post. How should I display my portfolio items, and there really is no right or wrong way. You just want to really share your best work and you want to share as a diverse collection of your work. So what does that really mean? So if you are a photographer, and let’s say you offer family portraits, branding, portraits and seniors, that’s a very wide array. But in your portfolio, you want to make sure all three of those services are represented, you want to make sure that you have something like that represent each type of session for people to look through. Okay, if you’re not a photographer, what does that look like? Well, as a web designer, I have broken my portfolio down into industry types.

So the different industries that I’ve worked with, I also have a recent recent launches section on my blog that kind of serves to support my portfolio. And what that does is just share like the recent launched projects that we’ve worked on. I also have snippets about my latest portfolio projects are my latest projects throughout my website. So with the testimonials, or with sections, where I have a testimonial, you can also click and see their project. So these are all really good ways for people to view your portfolio and to just really see all the different things that you offer. So I know that I mentioned that we’re going to talk about three updates that you can make in light of spring cleaning on your website. But there’s a fourth bonus one that I really just want to remind you guys to update your testimonials. Every time you work with a client and it was an amazing process. Make sure you’re asking them for testimonials, ask them for feedback. And with testimonials. It can be things about your process. It can be things about the final product that they received. It can be things about your communication skills, your soft skills, all of those things just really kind of speak to what the experience is likely doesn’t experience is not just what they received from working with you but how they felt throughout the entire process of working with you. So make sure you’re asking for those testimonials and then update those on your website, you can never have too many testimonials. Now, you might not want to put them all in one spot.

But you can never have too much social proof. If you find that you are getting over 10 or 12 testimonials on your site, it might be good to just add a reviews page or add a showcase page on your website where you can showcase some of that work and all those different case studies and results of working with you. So that’s a fourth bonus item to look into with your spring cleaning is testimonials that there might be a dusty box in the back of your closet that you really need to bring to the front because there’s so much power in social proof and testimonials. Alright guys, well, those are my three, actually four spring cleaning tips, the things to check for this quarter. And I am so excited to see how you guys continue to update your websites and make your websites work as hard as you do. Honestly, if you have any additional questions about your website, if you want me to take a look at your website, I would love to connect with you guys and just kind of see where you are with your web design.

So you know how to get in contact with me on Instagram, on Twitter through my website, there’s actually a live chat feature and there’s a real person answering those. So get in touch and I’m excited to see everybody have a very productive spring. Wow, that went by really fast. As always, thank you so much for showing up in my little corner of the internet. I would love to hear your thoughts on the show. So please, please subscribe, leave a review and share what you learned with friends. Some of the best things in life are freebies. So don’t forget to head over to Brandedbybernel.com to check out our free branding goodies, the show notes and more educational resources

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