The Website Wake-Up Call
Any day now, you’ll get a wake-up call: Your website is in trouble. Maybe a customer complained about a broken function on the site; or an employee couldn’t find vital information. Maybe the site’s traffic is way down, and you’re only noticing now because someone said you should look at your Google Analytics (you did install Google Analytics, right?).
You wonder, “Why has our website been neglected? We created it to be our marketing outreach backbone, but we’ve treated it like an orphan child. We failed to dedicate anyone to its care. We didn’t create goals for tracking, so our analytics are meaningless. We rarely post on our blog, and we forget to post news. We never optimized the site for search engines. How could anyone ever find us? And if they did, why would they ever come back?”
What Are Your Next Steps?
Every website naturally ages, and has glitches. There are technical problems, and then there are problems with your web strategy. Your first step is perform a website triage – a thorough review of what is going right and what is going wrong. Include your web designer and get their recommendations, along with projected costs. The tasks may range from a few tweaks to a full web re-design.
Ultimately, here are the five most important things your NEW website should do:
1. Be responsive on mobile devices:
The reason this is at the top of our list: If your site is not responsive, you risk losing a huge marketshare. People are looking for services and products to buy, and most of them are searching with their phones. A responsive design ensures that your site is easily viewed and navigable on phones and tablets while the desktop version’s integrity is maintained.
If that’s not convincing enough, Google’s 2015 announcement that they were “expanding their use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal” was an important signal to all companies. The underlying message is, your website may start to disappear from search results, if your site is not mobile responsive. If you want your site to be found on search engines, it MUST be mobile-friendly.
2. Capture leads:
Do you have a landing page with a contact form on your site? If not, add one in addition to your email address:
- A form allows the user to stay on the same page, and doesn’t require an email client setup.
- A short form will provide you with user information that you can use to follow up a query.
- That same information can be used to create legitimate mailing lists for future outreach.
Remember, you have an audience. Talk to them, sell to them, ask them for feedback.
3. Be SEO-friendly:
If your site hasn’t been optimized for search engines (SEO), be warned: Having no SEO is comparable to a store without a sign.
- How will prospective customers find you online? They’re searching for your services, but can’t find you because your site isn’t ranked by Google search engines.
- They WILL find your competitors whose sites are optimized. Google is the only game in town for online searching.
- There are specific ways to optimize for Google search, including having a regular blog. Have an SEO expert implement a customized strategy.
4. Be consistent in your branding:
The average time a user will spend on a website is 58 seconds. (Want to know how much time users spend on YOUR site? Use your Google Analytics and find out.) You have a short window to capture their attention:
- Your services or product descriptions should be crystal-clear and easily found.
- The navigation should smoothly lead users where they want to go – and ultimately where YOU want them to go.
- Your logo, color palette and design should be cohesive and very similar page to page.
- All images and content should mesh with your company profile and voice. That profile should also be consistent across all your social media. Make sure there’s no disconnect between your website’s voice and the tone of your tweets.
5. Stay current and be updated regularly:
- If you want to avoid what got you in trouble in the first place, implement a web maintenance contract with a company that provides web support. They will alert you to problems, perform those essential CMS updates and tweak your site on a regular basis. Given a strategy and goals, they can also provide analytics reports.
- Schedule a regular in-house web review from a sales and business growth standpoint, to see how you can improve outreach.
- If you are introducing new services or targeting new markets, seriously consider a website revamp.
BONUS TIP: Install an SSL certificate:
- As of 2017, Google is now requiring extra security on websites, in the form of an SSL certificate, or your site will suffer in search engine rankings, plus display security warnings in Chrome and other browsers. We are strongly advising our web clients to have us implement this extra security on their websites. See this article for more detailed information on SSL security.
Your best marketing tool is your website, which has the potential to reach the widest audience. You’ve got the tool; use it to its fullest extent.