Once, it was enough just to have a website. But increasingly, it’s more complicated than that. Businesses fight for the top spot in search engine rankings. With over 1.55 billion pages recorded on the Indexed Web, there’s a lot of competition out there.
It’s important not to forget, though, the real purpose of your website. It’s not to top the search rankings. It’s not even to win awards for best website design. There’s no denying these increase your visibility and are therefore nice to have. But ultimately, your aim is either to sell to customers or to inform an audience. Keeping the end-user in mind is the key to achieving a truly effective website.
Content, Content, Content
Plan out a content strategy. It’s your website’s business plan. Decide what you want to achieve and how your website will do it. The aim is to make it easy for customers to find what they need as quickly and efficiently as possible. The ideal time to plan is before your website is designed. It’s more cost-efficient than publishing a website and only then thinking about how it appears to the end-user.
Pick a content management system that allows you to update your website on an ongoing basis. Regular, fresh content pushes you higher up the search results. And you’ll lose momentum if you have to call on your designer whenever you want an update. Critically, ensure your web design incorporates a blog. Even if you don’t want one now, you might in future. It’s an easy way to keep refreshing your site.
Great content is all very well, but it must also be relevant to your audience. This is why keywords matter. What keywords are your customers searching for? What keywords are your competitors using? Markets change; and the ways people search changes too, so it’s worth refreshing your keywords periodically to ensure you’re up to date.
It’s estimated that soon, 59% of internet usage will be on a tablet or smartphone. It’s therefore increasingly important to optimise your site to be as viewable on mobile devices as on a desktop pc. This is where Responsive Web Design comes in. if you haven’t already got it, you want it. Because this means that viewers will be able to read content easily, navigating through with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling.
As it develops, test your website on your own smartphone. Does it respond? If you’ve incorporated a comments box or contact form, will they work on an iPad? If not, you may have just lost a potential customer. Remember, Flash isn’t supported by most mobile devices either. If you’re planning on including animations or slideshows, you may waste time and effort if your target audience are gadget-lovers.
Think about what social media platforms are most relevant to your business. Pick the ones your customers use on a daily basis. And tie your website in with all your social media. It’s expected these days. Ensure your ‘follow’, ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons have high visibility, integrated in the header of your site. Find out about the management tools available which will simplify your social media integration. They’ll help you work out what’s working and what’s not – then you know where to focus your time and attention in future.
Ultimately, SEO and web design are not incompatible. Nor is one more important than the other. You need both, but remember they’re simply tools in the battle to engage with your end users – customers. Used the right way, your website is more likely to score highly in search engine results organically. And you should see your bottom line increase.