It’s the end of January and that means we have reach the end of the Build A Better Website series. Hasn’t January flown by? Or is that just me?!
Anyway, I do hope you found the series informative and I’d be delighted if you picked up a few tips along that way. Feel free to get in touch to give me feedback or to ask any questions, I love connecting with you all.
DAY 23 – SECURE & PROTECT
Have you added security to your website? If you haven’t yet, then you need to get that secured and protect asap. Estimates show that almost 30,000 new websites are passing on malware to visitors every day. And the problem is rife with small business websites. It’s easy to think that ‘I’m just a small business, hackers don’t care about my website’ unfortunately the size of your business is irrelevant.
How can you protect your website
Use a good host – I’ve spoken about this many times but a good host can make all the difference to your website security. Make sure your host regularly updates their servers with the latest software and security patches.
Passwords – This is a no-brainer but still needs to be mentioned – choose a secure password. Choose a password with a variety of numbers, symbols, lower and uppercase letters.
Update – Regularly update your website plugins and software. If you are notified of an update then you should do it. The updates contain new features and patches for security vulnerabilities.
Backup – Take backups of your website on a regular basis. Can you imagine losing everything on your website – the files, pages, images, blogs? It would be a disaster. Install a backup plugin and run it at the very least weekly.
Scan your site – Scheduled some time to run a scan on your website for any malware or changes of the files. There are a number of plugins that can do this for you.
DAY 24 – BE RESPONSIVE
If your website isn’t responsive these days, you are doing business a disservice. A responsive (or mobile-friendly) website that adjusts to fit different screen sizes is essential, as it allows you to view without having to zoom in and out to read the page. Having to do that is frustrating and it will put people off spending any time on your website.
Google also value a mobile-friendly site and changed their search algorithm last year to reward sites that are responsive.
“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.” – Google
A responsive website has the content arranged vertically so that the text and images are clear and easy to read on a smartphone screen or tablet.
So, if you don’t yet have a responsive website, you should make that one of your top priorities for 2016. The majority of themes are now responsive so you can be rocking a responsive site in no time.
DAY 25 – INVEST IN SEO
You have a gorgeous looking website but virtually no search engine traffic – so what gives? Unfortunately, once you have your website designed and built there is a bit more work you have to do to get it listed on the search engines.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) can be a confusing area for most small businesses – there’s keywords, meta tags, titles, organic search, rankings… the list goes on.
It is hard to know how to optimise your website and where to go to get help. And it is even harder when the goalposts are constantly changing.
Quick tips for boosting your website SEO
- Focus on providing valuable content
- Optimise your website for mobile
- Make your website social media friendly and use it to your advantage
- Work on Local SEO if you have a location based business
- Improve your page load speed
- Provide a good user experience
DAY 26 – ADAPT AND ADJUST
With any business, you need to adapt and adjust to the market and your customers. It’s highly unlikely that you will stick with the exact same package, product or service indefinitely – you change it and adjust it as you progress.
The same principle applies to your website. Gone are the days when you could throw up a website and not touch it again for years – you have to keep on the ball. And that means taking some time to make sure that your website is still working well for the business or is if it is damaging your brand.
If you want to keep ahead of the competition and make a positive impression on your website visitors, you need to make sure that you have a design that looks fresh and current. A website that looks dated and old fashioned is not going to do to anything for your brand except turn people off.
Another thing to consider is the changing expectations of people visiting websites. An example of this is mobile responsive websites, people now expect all websites to work well on their smartphone. So if your website doesn’t it looks unprofessional.
I’m not saying you need to keep up on all the latest trends and technologies but I do advise you look at adapting and making updates to the look, at least, every few years.
DAY 27 – KEEP IT UPDATED
You know what is just as bad as having no website? Having one, that isn’t regularly updated. Have you ever visited a website and noticed that the blog was last updated over 6 months or ever worse more than a year ago?
What does that say to you? To me, it looks like they have given up on the website, got bored or just don’t care about the impression they are giving visitors to the website.
In an ideal situation, you should be updating your website on a regular basis, at least, every few weeks. Not only does this look better to people visiting your website you are also providing value to them by taking the time to produce quality content. And Google likes it too.
Even if you don’t have a blog, make a point of updating your content to reflect the changes within your business. If you have prices on your website ensure that they are correct and not the prices you charged last year. The same applies to your services or products if you no longer offer them get them removed from your website asap.
DAY 28 – CHECK & DOUBLE CHECK
Before launching your website or if you are making any updates, make sure you check and recheck before going live. It is so easy to overlook something and then days, weeks or months down the line you find the error on your website.
The error may be small but something as simple as a broken or wrong link can affect the usability and force people to abandon your website. People will not go hunting for the information they expect you to provide it to them in the most efficient way. Errors make that impossible and lose you credibility.
Quick tips for testing your website
- Visit each page and check all the links are pointing to the correct page
- Run a link checker to scan the website for broken links
- Check that all images are properly displaying on the website
- Send test messages through the contact form to make sure you are receiving
- If you have an online shop, put through some test orders
- Visit each page to make sure everything is displaying properly
- Does it look OK on all browsers and mobile devices
Running a full test on your website pages can save you a whole heap of problems later on so always schedule some time to testing and checking anything you update.
DAY 29 – THINK AS A VISITOR
Have you gone through your website with your ideal visitor in mind? It is a fantastic way to check that your website is intuitive and user-friendly for someone who happens to stumble onto your website.
The navigation might be easy for you to understand but will it make sense to John who came on looking for your services? Or does that image on the homepage clearly show that you can click on it to be taken to more information? You know how it works but is it crystal clear for visitors?
It isn’t just the workings of the website you need to consider. It is also the content that you have on the pages. Think about why people are visiting your website – is it to find out about your services, to view your portfolio? And what do you think they will do once they have found your services, will they want to call you, email you or connect with you on social media?
Getting into the mindset of your target audience and understanding what their goals are will help you create a website that works for your visitor.
DAY 30 – GET PROMOTING
Once you have a website, you are not going to magically get traffic flooding in. You need to put in a bit more work to actually get people visiting and engaging with your content.
Ideally, you need to set out a marketing and promotion plan for your website.
Ways to promote your website:-
Collateral items – Do you have business cards, leaflets, letterheads etc? If so, add your website address to every piece of business stationery you have.
Social media profiles – Add your website link to all your social media profile pages. They all have a box for your website so make sure you put it to good use.
Share your content – If you have written a new article or updated a page on your website, shout about it from the rooftops. Share it on Facebook and Twitter, pin in on Pinterest, post a photo on Instagram.
Advertising – Another great way to promote is by advertising your business/website when you are out and about. Add graphics to your car, get a t-shirt with your logo and website on it, add a sticker to your laptop for when you are out at the coffee shop working… the possibilities are endless.
DAY 31 – HAVE FUN!
Last but not least, have fun! Whether you are DIYing your website or working with a designer it is important to have fun and enjoy the process. Creating and designing your website should be a rewarding and valuable experience. It shouldn’t be a stressful, horrible experience that you never want to repeat again. And if it is then you can look at ways to improve the process next time.