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6 tips you can apply right now

Author: Ben Jeffery

12 of the 52 medals won (so far) by the British Olympics team have been taken for cycling. To use the current Olympics cliche, if the GB cycling team were a nation they'd be joint 7th with France in the gold medal tally (as of today). Add Bradley Wiggins's historic victory as the first Briton to win the Tour de France and you've got a huge success.

British competitive cycling has come a long way under the leadership of Team Principal Dave Brailsford. Along with his team, Brailsford has focussed on building the success of British cycling since Chris Boardman's gold medal in 1992, and the creation of Team Sky in 2009. But how?

Website lessons from Olympics

It's the little things

The success of GB Cycling is in large part due to Brailsford's relentless focus on marginal gains. As he explained on BBC Breakfast recently:

"The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together."

So it's not about one big change but lots of small ones, like training the cyclists to wash their hands better to prevent illness, researching the effect of sweat on the weight of clothing, and even taking your own pillow when travelling.

How this helps you

When it comes to your website, the truth is that you're probably not going to suddenly find one thing that turns a poor website into a great one. If you want to make improvements, you need to focus on the details and make lots of small changes.

So as Acting Director of Marginal Gains for business websites, here are my 6 small changes you can make right now.

1. Get better images

If you're not using images, you should be. And if you are using images, they can probably be better. Images make a website come alive, but poor images ruin a visitor's first impression. Use real photos of you, your products and your customers, and get a professional to take them.

2. Use headlines in your text

Most readers of websites scan pages rather than reading them in depth, so you need to make it easy. Use headings and sub-headings that reflect the kind of things you know your customer will be looking for. They'll help break up the text and get your message across more quickly.

3. Use video

If users see a video on your home page they're considerably more likely to stay on your website, and ultimately get in touch. It doesn't have to be expensive either as most modern phones can record video. Interview your customers or demonstrate your products, then upload to YouTube and add their code on your website.

4. Focus on one search term per page

It's much better to have a single page that's highly relevant for a search term than lots of pages full of the same keywords. For example, our home page is focussed on the term 'web design cheltenham' so we repeat the phrase at various points in the content and code.

5. Use other people's comments

Third party approval of your products or services is much more effective than praising yourself. Use testimonials, ideally with photos or even a video of your client.

6. Update your website regularly

Set yourself a goal of reviewing or updating your website once a week or month, and stick to it. This discipline will make you more aware of your website, and make it more relevant to your customers.