As a business owner — if you are like us — the turn of a new year is like a fresh start for our business. We are always motivated and inspired by the prospect of new business and relationships in the new year!
Any savvy entrepreneur knows that their website is ground central for communicating your businesses story and messaging. People are spending significant amounts of time on their phones, tablets and computers and the web is the medium they use to research and find virtually any product or service.
Because your business website plays such a vital role in the success of your business, we encourage you to give some love to your website and nurture it for the upcoming year! You’ll be glad you did! Below is a helpful checklist we put together to help you ensure that your website is ready for success in 2018!
Is Your Website Content Rich?
Information is important. Individuals buy from people they know and trust. Businesses buy from businesses they know and trust. Does your website’s content help prospective clients get to you know and your business? Your business needs a story and a mission, and that needs to be communicated clearly to your prospective customers on your website. If you are a small business, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there a little. If you are larger business or corporation, tell folks how you were founded, your journey and allow them to meet the people behind the product or service. Provide visitors with enough educational content that they feel comfortable reaching out to you. When someone is seeking your products/services on the web, they are usually going through a self-educating process. Who do you think they will call — a company with a highly-promotional website OR a company that cares enough to help educate them so that they can make an informed decision?
A content-rich website is also good for search engine rankings too. It gives the search engines intelligence to know how and when to rank your website, it pulls folks into your website and it keeps them there longer… all important factors for search engine rankings.
Is Your Website Mobile Ready?
Having a mobile-friendly website has become a critical part of having an online presence. 80% of Internet users own a smartphone. 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. If you have a website that doesn’t present well on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, your organization will look unprofessional and out of touch with modern technology. Prospective buyers may move on to a competitors site that may be easier to read and navigate on their mobile device.
Google cares whether your website is mobile friendly or not. In April 2015, Google announced that it would start evaluating websites for mobile-friendliness and would use that as a criterion for search engine rankings. Google provides a great tool to test your website for mobile-friendliness. Give it a test to determine if your current website passes the test!
There are a number of mobile-friendly best practices over and above what Google requires for mobile-friendliness, such as making sure your important content displays near the top of the user’s screen. Google prefers that your website doesn’t redirect for a mobile version of your site and that your underlying HTML code remains the same as well, with mobile detection and appropriate CSS for styling.
Here in the USA, 94% of individuals use a smartphone to search for local information. A mobile-ready website is critical for your business, regardless of its purpose. Make sure your visitors and prospective customers have a good user experience when they are visiting from a mobile device.
We live in a society of fast-movers. The availability of content at our fingertips has become more important as our patience and attention spans have decreased. For this reason, you need a website that performs well. That means quick load times for images, video, and content.
Did you know the overall performance of your website plays a role in how you rank on Google? Google wants the best possible experience for their users and their search engine results to take into consideration the load times of websites as a key ranking factor. Google provides a test to see how your website performs and makes recommendations for updates to provide a more optimal performing website to your visitors. See how your website’s performance stacks up.
Security should be a concern.
Are you running an e-commerce website? Do you collect and store customer data? If so, surely you have security in place such and Secure Socket Layer (SSL) using the https:// protocol to deliver all your content. Internet security is such a key concern that Google now marks websites that do not use the https:// protocol as “not secure” in the Chrome browser if they contain password OR credit card fields on a website. You can rest assured that this requirement will become more stringent and eventually include all websites and other browsers will start implementing similar measures.
Does your website host malware or viruses?
Malware is rampant on the web and all websites are vulnerable to these hacks. The search engines will display a big warning message to visitors entering your website if they detect malware on your website. But did you know you could be infested with malware and not be aware that folks visiting your website are being redirected or that data could be harvested from your visitors without your knowledge. It’s important to monitor your website for malware and viruses. There are a number of services available. The one we recommend is Sucuri’s free website malware and security scanner.
The best defense is offense. Using security software and monitoring will help you monitor and mostly prevent malware hacks. If you use WordPress®, there are a number of plugins that are available to help you monitor for malware and prevent vulnerabilities. Wordfence Security is one that comes to mind right away, but there are others available to help you protect yourself.
NOTE: WordPress software and plugins need to be updated almost weekly to thwart off hackers. It’s handy to have a website agency on your team to help you maintain your site and keep it healthy!
Are there any broken links?
Broken links are annoying. When a user clicks on a link or image and get a message “404 Link is Broken”, it can be disappointing, and you don’t want to disappoint your visitors, do you? It’s almost like breaking a promise.
But equally as important, is that broken links are bad for SEO. The search engines index websites by following links, both internal links, and outbound links. But if a search engine can’t crawl your website adequately, it may run into issues determining how you should rank in searches. There are a number of tools available to check your website for broken links. We recommend googling “broken link checker” to find one and check your website regularly. If you are running WordPress®, we recommend a plugin like Broken Link Checker to keep track and receive notifications of broken links..
Is Your Website Search Engine Friendly?
What does it mean in 2018 to be search engine friendly? In the past, it’s been all about keywords in titles, meta data, alt tags and keyword infused content, but research from some of the top authorities in the SEO world are finding that Google’s algorithms, in particular, is getting more sophisticated and taking the context of your content more into consideration than the typical keywords in headers, titles, and metadata. This makes sense and is good news for businesses that need to rank content for more than one keyword or phrase.
As a result, the amount and quality of the content that you provide visitors becomes critical in how you perform. Other very important website ranking factors have to do with the user activity such as, how long a visitor stays on your site, do they click through to other pages, how fast the pages load and how much overall traffic your website gets. So basically, the traditional SEO optimization that we’ve known in the past is dead and the focus has shifted on the website visitor… as it should be.
Social Media Ready
It seems that most of our clients just don’t get social media for business, at least at first… but it is critical! They don’t understand how their business can truly benefit from social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Honestly, it’s not something you can set and forget. Social media, done right, can take your business to another level, but you need to understand the nature of social media is SOCIAL. It requires interaction, engagement and constant activity. The channels you use and your strategy for building an audience is vital to your success in social media. It takes a plan, content creation and consistency in order to produce.
If you have a social media presence, you need to make sure that you share that will your website visitors. Many folks will go to your website and as part of their vetting process will click through to your Facebook page, YouTube channel, etc. to see what you have going on. You want to make sure that your social media channels link to your website and vice-versa.
As I mentioned, content is important. If you have content that is rich and interesting, your visitors will want to share it. But you need to make it easy for visitors to share. Adding share buttons to your content and pages reminds users to share and it makes it easier for them to do so. When visitors share your content, others will see it… driving more traffic and interaction.
Thank you for reading…
We sincerely hope you found these tips useful and that it helps your business grow and succeed in 2018!
These are points that we share with our clients on a regular basis and we know that many of them can be daunting to implement on your own, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. We truly feel that your website should be a well-oiled machine because it’s vital to your business.
We would love the opportunity to chat with you about your website and online marketing goals for 2018. Just give us a call! (301) 515-4184 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Happy New Year 2018 from Trumpet Marketing!