In this modern technological age it is imperative to have a good website in order to increase sales, develop leads and stay ahead of the competition. But having a website is only the first step, on it’s own it is not going to magic you up hundreds of new clients or make your turnover double overnight. In fact, a poorly designed website, or one that cannot be found easily by search engines, can do more harm than good. If the design and layout look amateurish or if it does not function correctly, it could put a bad reflection on you and your business, and if it cannot be found by the major search engines (yes, there are many more than just Google!) then you are essentially throwing your hard earned website budget away, investing in something that no one is going to see.
But don’t worry, help is at hand. We have compiled the 7 most important features that every website needs in order build a successful site online, increase your page ranking and ultimately drive more traffic (and potential clients) your way. Implementing just these 7 SEO tips will have a huge impact on your site’s performance and ultimately on the number of people wanting to engage with you through your website.
1) Get Responsive
This might seem a little obvious to some, but it is surprising the amount of websites out there that are still not responsive or are poorly optimized.
For the less technical, a Responsive Website, or a Fully Responsive Website, is one that can adapt the content of the site and alter the website’s structure depending upon the device it is being viewed on. This means that a website that has large images and a complex menu system on a computer monitor looks and acts different than the very same website viewed on a mobile device, ensuring ease of use on ALL devices. This does not mean a separate mobile version of the site, but rather an intelligent website than can detect the size of the screen you are viewing it on and give you the best options within that screen space.
Why is this necessary? Well, since April 2015 Google has been giving preference to sites that have a responsive design when searched via a mobile or tablet device. This means that older websites that do not have this feature that may have performed well when searched online in previous years are not performing as well now, and can continue to struggle to gain rankings online. Less people finding your site mean less people visiting it.
If your website is not mobile optimised, you could be in trouble and should get this rectified asap.
2) Add a blog
Adding a blog can be a really worthwhile method of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). When used right, this is one of the most important additions you can add to your website to increase your rankings and increase your levels of traffic.
Two important points to note, one is that you will need to update your blog regularly with posts, news and articles with some frequency, otherwise it can make your site look stale and neglected. Avoid this by trying to post, at the very least, monthly, but perhaps weekly if you are able. Second important point to note on this is to make sure that you write original content. Google has algorithms in place to look for duplicate content online, and if you have copied and pasted from another source Google can give the original writer positive ranking improvements and give you negative rankings, so watch out for this.
3) Optimize your images
If you find your site loading slowly at times (or indeed, all the time) then it is a good idea to optimise your images on your website. This can be done manually using software such as Photoshop or Gimp, or you can use plugins for your website to automatically do this for you. For example, for websites built on WordPress there is an plug-in called Kraken (see www.kraken.io), when used correctly it can reduce the file size of your images by up to 90% with no visual loss of quality.
By optimizing your images properly your website will be able to load faster, giving a far better experience to people visiting your site.
4) Add an SSL Certificate
Although this is not a new requirement, a lot of people are still completely unaware of the importance of this. Yet again, this another example of Google’s influence over the internet. But what is an SSL Certificate?
An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate encrypts information sent between a visitor and the secured webpage. They are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser.
Typically used to encrypt data on websites that handle personal information and credit card information, recently Google listed having an SSL Certificate on your website as a positive search signal (meaning sites that have an SSL Cert can perform better in rankings) and will now receive a boost in rankings as a direct result. For more information on this direct from Google visit this link HERE.
5) Get Socially Integrated
Proper utilisation of Social Media can be an inexpensive way to gain a lot of additional traffic to your website. The key here is to use it effectively and to have proper integration with your website. Things like embedded newsfeeds are a counterproductive way to integrate your Social Media, though I still see it used very frequently on websites I view belonging to potential new clients. The biggest drawbacks of integrated Social Media feeds is that it takes your existing website traffic and diverts it away to your Social Media account, where your visitor often migrates to other sites on the web.
Modern Social Media integration – and some we use very effectively on the websites we currently design for our clients, involves coupling a blog or news section with some form of social sharing app or a social sharing bar. These are often free of charge for the basic add-on (though with some additional paid for features if you want to go down that road…), and if implemented correctly with a fully responsive designed website can have a massive impact on visitors numbers to your site, drawing your social media traffic and directing that flow directly to specific pages on your website. With a carefully worded article or news section, you can easily quadruple your usual website traffic – and once you have the visitors on your website, they often view other articles or services and it can lead to completely unrelated sales or contacts.
Once a website is properly integrated, sharing content from your site is easy, a simple click or two and your site creates the Social Media posts for you to share with any of your chosen social media sites, saving you huge amounts of valuable time and resources!
6) Analyse your traffic
This can completely change your website, and indeed your whole business focus, if used correctly. Indeed, this is something I can dedicate a whole article on all by itself, and is something I often sit with clients on and they are often amazed by what they can learn about their customers, but also about their own business and what exactly their clients need.
There are several options in relation to statistic monitors and website analytics packages, but by far the best, hands down, has to be Google Analytics. Once installed with a unique tracking code on the back end of a website, it gives access to thousands of potential reports, and the best part – it is completely free to use. Some data we monitor for our clients can include (but not limited to) – geographic traffics sources (where in the country/world your visitors come from), online traffic sources (how the visitor found your site ie through a specific search engine or whether they types the address directly into their browser window), the most visited pages, how many visitors per day and how many times these visitors visited (some come back more than once), and many, many more.
There are countless ways we teach business owners to monitor their website traffic to their great advantage. For example, if a client is checking their daily visitor count over, say, a 30 day period, they can identify trends. One might see what days of the week you get the most traffic for your specific products or services and then tailor online advertising around these times, or you might see big jumps in traffic on specific days (maybe you have more traffic on Sundays when people are browsing over a coffee, or maybe your visits are tied to the working week). By monitoring these big jumps, you can narrow down the cause like for example, a newspaper advert that comes out on a Tuesday might have a big impact on website traffic for those few days that the paper is on the shelves. Conversely, if you have advertised in a paper or magazine and you see no response on your website traffic, perhaps you should consider other forms of advertising that may give you more impact!
7) Monetize your site
Making money from your website should now be one of the first things on your mind when it comes to getting the most from your website. Statistics across Ireland point to the fact that this is fast becoming the preferred way for more and more users to shop. As of 2017 89% of households in Ireland had access to the internet* and in 2015 alone Ireland had 1.9 million people using the internet to purchase goods.**
A lot of business owners we come across can often be worried about their lack of knowledge in this regard or the possible costs involved. A good website development company will have no problem in allaying these fears. Good design companies will include training on the finished website and provide back-up and support once the website is built, allowing the client to upload their own products, edit the content themselves and have much of the control of the site they want. Quite often as well the price works out quite below most expectations as technology has advanced over the past few years (a great example of this would be a client of ours who opened a new shop, spending over €100k on fitout and stock in an urban area of 25,000. For far less than a tenth of this price they now have an online shop with access to millions of shoppers as opposed to numbering in the mere thousands, (plus their online shop is always open too!).
Regardless of whether or not price becomes a factor in your decision to add eCommerce functionality, there are a number of grants and supports available to go towards the cost of getting your business or hobby trading online – these can change quite frequently so feel free to get in touch with a member of our team who can advise on what is available at any given time. We can also advise on the different ways available to trade online with the pros and cons of each, and can discuss what exactly may suit what you are planning to sell and how best to market it online.
For any further information on any of the points listed above, please feel free to get in touch with a member of our team. We provide website design and development to clients local, national and internationally.