Having a company website and a strong online presence is a must-have for any business in today’s economy. It’s surprising how many small businesses either don’t have a website or have a website which is outdated and underperforming. A well built website will not only increase your visibility and potential sales but it will also build credibility, trust and brand awareness. So whether you already have a website, or you’re looking to build a new one we’ve put together these 8 useful tips to help you along your way.
Responsive Web Design
Chances are you’ve heard the term ‘responsive web design’ floating round the water cooler in recent years. Responsive web design isn’t a new concept, well at least not when you consider how fast the web industry moves. The basic idea of responsive web design is to create a website which provides an optimal viewing and interactive experience for all users regardless of what device they are viewing it on. In short, a responsive website is optimised for all devices including desktop, tablets and mobile. To see a responsive website in action try viewing this site (www.jacit.co.uk) on your smartphone.
So why is responsive design so important? Well, Google have now officially confirmed that mobile search queries have overtaken desktop queries. This means that more users are choosing to search Google using their mobile devices rather than using traditional desktop computers. In April (2015) Google also rolled out an update to their search algorithm which means mobile friendly websites may have an advantage over non-mobile friendly sites in terms of search engine rankings on mobile devices. Both of these points alone make a strong argument for why responsive web design is so important, but when you combine them with the other advantages they have, in terms of usability, user experience and conversions rates, it’s a no brainer. If you currently have a website which isn’t mobile friendly then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
Fresh and Unique Content
One of the main reasons why websites start to underperform is through neglect. If your website hasn’t been updated in a long time then that not only tells Google that it’s becoming stagnant and potentially irrelevant, which can dramatically affect your SEO, but it also portrays the same image about your business to your customers. Frequently updated websites on the other hand not only provide users with valuable up-to-date content which can help increase your brand image, but they also help to keep you in Google’s good books. Don’t be confused and think regular fresh content will automatically increase your search engine rankings because it won’t. It will however help your website to get crawled more regularly which will give you the opportunity to increase your rankings based on the quality of your content. The thing to remember is that it’s the quality of content that counts not the quantity. Another key point to mention is duplicate content, directly copying content from other people's websites is generally a bad idea and can have a negative effect on your SEO.
Videos & Content Marketing
According to Cisco, "video content will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic by 2017". This isn’t that surprising when you consider Youtube, which is one of the second biggest search engines in the world, currently receives over one billion unique visitors every month! With these figures it’s easy to see why online video is quickly becoming a key content marketing tool.
If you’re not familiar with the term ‘content marketing’, it’s a marketing technique which involves creating and publishing valuable content with the aim of attracting new customers, visitors and even links back to your website (which can really boost your SEO). Often content marketing is shared amongst consumers and users which attributes to its effectiveness. One recent example of effective content marketing, which also happens to be a video, is Lexus’ recent hoverboard campaign which has been viewed by over nine and a half million people worldwide.
Obviously this campaign had a huge budget but there are other, less expensive, ways for smaller businesses to start taking advantage of content marketing. One popular option is to create infographics just like the one we did for our client All Car Leasing.
Customer Reviews and Testimonials
A simple and often forgotten way to maximise your company’s website is to add customer reviews and testimonials. There are countless third-party services out there, such as Feefo and Trustpilot, who will collect customer reviews on your behalf and provide you with a widget which you can easily embed onto your website. The advantages of using these services are that new reviews will be added to your site automatically by the service provider without you having to manage them. However, if you're looking for a more cost effective way, then you can manually upload reviews to your website yourself. Reviews are a great way to show your level of customer satisfaction and an effective method of building confidence in new and potential customers which can lead to increased conversion rates.
Connecting with your customers is more important than ever and what better way to do that than through social media, especially when you consider there are now 2.078 billion active social media accounts worldwide! Social media isn’t just great for sharing updates about your products and business, but it can also be an effective way of addressing any issues your consumers may have before you lose them as future customers. A good tool for this is TweetDeck which, among other things, allows you to track, manage and organise your company's twitter account in real-time. You can also monitor what people are saying about you by seeing tweets which mention your company.
Page speed is key to keeping both Google and your users happy. Think about it, how many times have you left a website because it was taking too long to load? In fact Strange Loop even went as far to say that “a one second delay can cost you up to 7% in sales”. Couple this with the ever growing competition out there and it’s clear to see how important page speed is, but don’t worry if your website is a bit on the slow side, here are a few things you can do to help:
- Choosing suitable web hosting. Utilising a professionally configured and performance driven server can make a huge different to your load speed.
- Gzip Compression. Depending on your knowledge and how much access you have to your website and server, enabling gzip compression can generally reduce the response size by up to 70%.
- Optimising your websites images correctly can dramatically reduce their file size.
- Minifying your code by removing whitespace and empty elements will reduce file size, page load and network latency. There are several, free, online tools available such Minifycode to help you.
There are many other, more technical, ways to help improve your page speed but for the purpose of this article we’ve highlighted some of the most common and easiest ones to implement.
Schema markup has been getting a lot of attention in the SEO world recently. Essentially schema markup is code, similar to rich snippets, that you put on your website which tells search engines what your content is about. This can make a huge improvement to your SERPs (search engine results page) and you’ve probably already seen the effects of it in action. Take a look at the SERP example below which is a product page for one of our clients, Period Design Center. Notice the gold stars? These are generated by product reviews which have been marked up with schema.
Monitor Website Traffic and Performance
Our final and arguably most important tip is to monitor your website and it’s performance. Your website is your company’s face to the world and frequent down time can jeopardise your sales and brand image. An effective way to minimise this hazard is to regularly monitor your website and address issues as soon as they arise. Monitoring your website will also provide you with a greater insight into your users behaviours and habits. You’ll be able to determine where your users are coming from, which pages they are viewing and which pages they are leaving on. This data is incredibly valuable and will help you strengthen your online presence well into the future.
When it comes to improving your website there are many factors that need to be taken into account and although we’ve only just scraped the surface, we hope these 8 simple tips will help you get started. If you’d like further guidance on improving your website, or if you’d like help building a new website feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org