By Karen Dauncey
There’s an online answer for just about everything in this technology-driven world of ours.
We shop. We look for solutions. We find services. We socialise and exercise online. We educate and entertain ourselves online. And that’s why it’s virtually unthinkable for a business not to have a website.
But there are websites…and then there are GREAT websites and I’m sure you want some insider tips on how to elevate yours to greatness.
Of course, every website is unique. They’re all built differently and all have a wide variety of capabilities and functionality but that doesn’t mean they need to be complex and high-budget to be awesome. Be smart about what you do and how you do it – and your website can go from OK to Oh Yay!
Here are my six ‘must-haves’ which will help make your website great and which will encourage visitors to take action in some way whether it’s to make a purchase, share their details or interact with your website.
1. Make sure your website is FOUND!
Your number one priority is to give potential customers every opportunity to find you. That means putting your website address on your marketing collateral in the traditional formats such as print (eg on your business cards or promotional material) as well as in your online channels (eg email signature) and social media.
Remember to include your business details on Facebook and include your website’s URL so that users come straight to you.
But if you want people to find you when they’re searching online for your actual business, you also need to do some basic SEO. You can start small and scale up to a more comprehensive strategy – but you must do something.
2. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
See all those people looking at their smartphones? The stats tell us that they’re likely to be searching online (80% of users used a mobile device to search the internet in 2019). From September 2020, mobile-first indexing by Google will become their default way for Google to crawl all websites, so there’s absolutely no excuse not to make mobile optimisation a priority to make sure your website looks good on mobile both to Google and to anyone else looking for your business.
And if your website is already mobile-friendly, I recommend you do the Google Mobile-Friendly test on a regular basis to iron out any issues.
3. Make sure you website loads quickly
Slow and steady won’t win any race in the competitive online space. You need to make sure your website loads quickly, otherwise you’ll be eating your competitors’ dust. Studies show that over half of all visits are abandoned if a website takes longer than three seconds to load – so you need to find ways to beat the clock wherever possible.
I always recommend that business check their website speed on a regular basis (especially if changes have been made to functionality or content) and I use a free tool called GTMetrix for this. It’s a great resource for speed optimisation – simply log in and track the changes in your loading speeds over time. Of course, if you don’t want to go the DIY route, you can always ask your web developer or hosting company to help.
4. Content is king
Turning the words on your webpages from boring to brilliant takes some effort but it can open up a world of opportunity. It’s all about the quality of your content – and your words need to resonate with your target audience, meet their needs and expectations as well as enhance your brand’s personality.
Think of your audience as real people, not market segments. Put yourself in their shoes and have a conversation. Is your copy chatty and easy to read? Are you giving visitors solutions? Engage and entertain them and don’t be tempted to go hard-sell upfront otherwise you run the risk of putting them off.
Voice searches such as Siri and Google Home are on the rise so you need to consider the language that people use when they’re asking their virtual assistants for help. Keep your content authentic and conversational.
Blogs are another excellent way of connecting with your audience and boosting your search engine rankings. Sure they take a bit of effort, but if they’re done well, they add value to your readers and give you an opportunity to reinforce your brand message, differentiate yourself from your competitors and demonstrate your expertise.
5. Secure your site with HTTPS
If your website still hasn’t got the ‘S’ factor, you need to migrate to HTTPS sooner rather than later. Apart from it being a small ranking factor, Google is encouraging all websites to be HTTPS in order to protect your users’ connections to your website, and it’s always a good idea to do as Google says!
You don’t want to risk losing any organic traffic when migrating, so you will need to manage the process carefully. If you need help, check out this great guide from Search Engine Watch with more information- https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2018/02/26/migrating-http-to-https-a-step-by-step-guide/.
6. Fabulous favicons
They say dynamite comes in small packages, and I recommend you check out just how powerful a little favicon can be.
Favicons are the small graphics which appear next to a website’s title in your browser bar or in the search engine results on your mobile device. These images not only look good, but they also help people to instantly identify your website especially when they’re searching across multiple websites at one time – plus they’re a small ranking factor too. What’s not to love?
Which of these six picks will you use to fast-forward your website? It’s an ever-changing and competitive world out there and I hope I’ve given you some useful information which will help differentiate your website and fire up your business success online.
Karen Dauncey has over 17 years of experience as an SEO & Google Ads Specialist. She is the director and founder of Blue Cherry Online Marketing and specialises in helping businesses get found online using Google using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Google Ads. She will be shortly launching The SEO School, an online course to help businesses get found online using Google using SEO.