Click here to subscribe to my free fortnightly Life Coaching Accelerators, for insider coaching tips.
Wendy Buckingham / Creator, Life Coaching Professionally
Why bother having a website? Is there any point to having one for your coaching business except that everyone tells you that you should have one?
Well the answer is - yes - in these days of online communication, you do need a life coaching website to promote your business. The question is which type of website will work best for you?
If you want to use your life coaching website as a productive marketing and business building tool, you need to make sure it is easily found . It should also engage your visitor to stay, explore and then feel confident in taking the next step to approach you to be their coach.
There are just three types of websites you can consider.
This may simply be a few pages with your picture, your contact details and a little about you and what you offer as a coach. With products like Wordpress, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, GoDaddy and so on you can quickly create a site like this yourself either for free or pretty cheaply. However unless you refer your prospects to this site or have paid advertising, it will rarely be found and seen by potential new clients. To do this it invariably needs a lot more work and the purchase of many plugins beyond the the basic free offer.
This website is one that has lots of information related to you and your speciality. It takes more work but, done well, the informative content attracts the search engines, so you get found by prospective new clients.
These sites can have hundreds of pages but yours may only have 10 or 20. It's up to you. The important benefit is that, with the right guidance and education such as that Wendy and I got from Solo Build and was missing from many of the platforms I researched, it can bring you free (organic) traffic, enquiries and, if you want, product income.
This Life Coaching Professionally site, with over 100 pages, is an example of an information site.
Content or information sites are often confused with a blog which is the third type of option. However, they are very different.
Think of a blog as an online publication. It's a continually updated source of information, entertainment and fresh content to read on a website.
Many coaches us a blog or Facebook page to promote themselves but in my experience a proper well constructed website with lots of information content is a better, more stable and long lasting and professional option.
Let's discuss how fancy promises, incorrect or misleading, information and confusing legalities can prevent you from choosing a the best website platform for your life coaching website.
Unfortunately, when you are creating your first website, it’s very easy to be caught out by persuasive and hyped-up marketing. Many high profile building platforms promise “websites in 15 minutes” or with minimal effort but the truth is that in most cases the advertising is either misleading or not telling you the whole story.
This can lead to disappointment and expensive mistakes when you discover "free" does not get your what you need and you are up for a lot more expense than you thought to create a website that "works" for you.
Too many marketing people and webmasters who claim to "know about marketing" or "build websites" will mistakenly lead you to believe that just building a site with few pages is sufficient and that Google will do automatically do the rest with it's search engines so that clients will find you.
However, simply creating things like a splash page or a pretty site with testimonials will not find new clients. To get continually found by the search engines you need substantial content and regular updates.
As a result you, the hopeful client, ends up with a website that is an expensive calling card that few get to see.
More and more, there are legal considerations that many webmasters have no idea about but, you as the website owner, (not your host or your platform) are responsible for.
For example, do you know that there is a European law called General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that requires you to do age and privacy checks for any email addresses you collect? And require you to have up to date privacy pages?
It's important to understand that every time you use a search engine to find information you are conducting an organic search. You are looking for information about a subject.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of creating content and information on your life coaching website that is visitor focussed and search engine friendly. The more you have, the more the search engines take notice and deliver your pages in the search engine results.
Many believe that you just add a few relevant keywords to a page. Wrong wrong! Your content must have what your visitors want to find and what the search engines need to give you a good ranking.
For example, if you have come to this page from a search on Google, Bing or one of the other search engines, you found me because of the organic search rules of focussed content I have applied that ranked me high up the results page.
When content is written with this focus, Search Engines have a better chance of understanding what your on-page content and the site are all about. This means that if someone is searching for a particular thing (for example your life coaching niche or specialty) and you have an excellent page about it and the Search Engines know recognise it, you have a better chance of being found.
Achieving SEO is not an instant process, but once it is established, your pages will be easily found because your content is high quality and relevant to what the person searching is looking for, as well as containing necessary keywords.
Ideally, you aim for your website to pop up on the first page of the search engine. The higher the better. After all, when was the last time you did a search and got as far as looking at page two of the search results!?
Wendy and I spend a lot of time visiting coaching websites. These tips are based on what we have found engages us to stay and explore or annoys us so we are tempted to quickly move on.
Technology can sometimes break! If a link on a site we are visiting doesn’t work and we have the time, we email the owner of the site and let them know “link not working”. However, not many people do that!
Regularly check that all your links to other pages and downloads are working. And that goes for links in emails and newsletters too. There are automatic programs that will check for you and notify you of a broken link BrokenLinkChecker is reputable and reliable.
There are well over 200 ranking factors that Google and the other search engines use to evaluate your site in the Search Engine Results (SERP). Pop-up boxes that cover the text on a mobile device are a real no-no because they prevent visitors from reading the page.
So if you have one, find out about removing it or placing it so it doesn't interfere with the normal reading process. Also avoid having it pop up the minute the page is opened. This ensures the visitor has a chance to see what the page is about and get interested.
Putting moving pictures on the header of your website seems to be a passion of many web designers wanting a site to look attractive, whether they be graphics to create the ambiance of your coaching or video or text testimonials.
Personally we find moving graphics distracting from the information we are trying to find on any site. We also find it most annoying if we are trying to read a testimonial or description of service and the screen moves on to the next one before there is time to even take in even the first couple of sentences. Much better to incorporate testimonials in the page content or have a separate testimonials page.
Unfortunately many web designers, with little SEO knowledge, don't realise that these slideshows are a very poor use of site space. They slow down the page load time (which is important for rankings) and actually have a very poor click through rate.
Plus, when located at the top of the page it significantly slows your page speed which can be offputting for an impatient visitor.
We'd never advise putting your phone number or email directly on your website. It's too easy for it to be scanned and sold to people who will scam and pest call you.
So make your "contact me" easy to locate on your site to simple to fill in. Ask for just enough information to enable you to get back to them by phone or email. We'd advise against making their phone number a requirement that must be filled in as it can be a barrier to their contacting you.
You could even include an optional box for them to tick if they want to be on your mailing list. Then they don't feel they are going to be "captured" for future communications from you.
Wendy is often amazed that some life and business coaching websites talk about coaching and how wonderful it is but there is no “About Me” page to back up the information and make it personal and credible.
Potential clients want to know who you are apart from your coaching qualifications. It is important for life coaching websites to have some friendly and engaging information about the coach that gives identity and personality so they want to know more.
Some of this should also be on your home page so prospects feel they are getting to know you straight away.
Another thing to avoid is referring to yourself in the third person when it is just you, in an effort to look more substantial. It doesn't work!
No matter how good looking and easy to navigate your site is, if the visitor does not relate to you as a friendly and credible person, they will be gone in a flash.
Following on from the last tip, whilst it is fun and exciting to write about coaching, the techniques, approaches and modalities, what your soon-to-be clients want to know HOW your coaching will actually help THEM and be worth their financial investment.
So, focus on benefits of your services to your clients. Talk about the challenges that you'll help them overcome, the value of regular coaching sessions, and so on.
While you can't promise your visitor that their dreams will come true, you can point to testimonials you publish on your website from clients who have had great results from your coaching.
A clumsy or dysfunctional unsubscribe function can be really frustrating and can lose you a lot of goodwill. Especially annoying are those unsubscribe systems that require you to go to a website and send an email.
Make the unsubscribe function for your newsletter a simple one-step process and check regularly that it is working.
If you are collecting any data such as email enquiries, a newsletter subscription, or selling a product or service through an affiliate, by law, you need pages on your website about privacy and affiliates. You'll see I have an affiliate disclosure underneath the Quicklinks at the top of this page.
Chances are that you use a mobile phone, tablet or iPad instead of or as well as a laptop. So does a rapidly growing proportion of the search market. So your site needs to be mobile ready which means that it displays properly for a visitor using either a mobile or a desktop and they don't struggle to find their way around your pages.
If you don't know and already have a site, you can use this mobile-friendly tester from Google to see if your website is mobile friendly. Remember that, even though your life coaching website site may be technically OK, it also need to be easy to navigate on all devices.
Not being able to easily find the information they are looking for, such as how to contact you, is a sure-fire way to lose visitors and potential clients.
Any new site created will be naturally secure assuming you are using a reputable host but if you have a site that is a few years old, you may need to update its security to Google's new requirements.
Most older website addresses begin with HTTP://. You may have seen this. However, there is an accelerating move to create a more secure web. You will know a site is up to date and secure because it displays a lock in the address bar… like this
And that is not all. You need to notify Google and Bing that you have also made the changes! Do you know how to do that?
Google are treating this matter so seriously that in 2018 they began pushing sites that are not HTTPS Secure, down the search result pages. Worst, browsers will warn visitors that a page is not secure and potentially scare them off the page. So – if your site isn’t HTTPS ready, then now is the time to act. Here’s more from Google on the subject.
I sincerely hope the information on this page and the related page on 14 Common Website Mistakes below, will help you navigate your way more easily in creating a life coaching website that really does it's job for you in attracting quality coaching clients.