Happy New Year (almost)! I know it's a cliche sort of thing, New Years resolutions. I also know that most of us end up breaking all our well-meaning promises to ourselves. This year, along with the weight loss, exercise, make-more-money resolutions, resolve this one;
"I will work on my website to make it more effective this year!"
The world is online more and more, which means your website is competing, online, with more and more sites. This means your site needs to be at its best to just keep your head above water.
Make sure your site is up to date. Frequently I'll go to a site that is still using Adobe Flash animations. Folks, this is outdated technology. Not only will it not display on any of my browsers as I have it disabled by default, but it won't show on Apple products like iPhones and iPads. Then I'll see "Content coming soon" or "Under construction". Yikes! Or I'll view their blog and the last post is 6 months ago, or a year, or YEARS! This lack of maintenance tells your customer you don't care about your online business card. What will they infer about your care of them from this?
Make sure your platform is up to date. This is a bit trickier for the site owner than #1. However, it's still very important. Whether your site is Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, or something else, this "operating system" must be kept up to date to ensure you get not only all the new features, but also (most importantly) the security fixes. The same applies to all the extensions added to the site - again, these must be updated to use new features and security fixes. And don't be fooled that your site isn't a target because it's too small. Scammers and hackers use ANY site as a base to spam, distribute malware, or to hack other sites. Actually, they LOVE little, un-maintained sites as their nefarious activities can usually go unnoticed for months or years.
Make sure your site URL starts with "https", not "http". That little "s" at the end is very important! "S" stands for secure and means the site, and all activities on it, are protected by an SSL Certificate. This is an important signal to site visitors that you are concerned with their online safety and identity security. It also sends a message to Google that you're "with it" and they reward you in the rankings. Google (who now has around a 90% search market share) has been pushing the use of SSLs for months.
Stop the insanity! You know the definition of insanity is to keep doing what you've always done, but expect a different result. This may work in a casino pokey machine, but not in business! If, during the past year, you tried marketing methods that didn't work, then maybe they don't work for you and it's time to try something different. If you've never done so, try Pinterest, or Instagram, or one of the "newer" social sites, such as Alignable or NextDoor. Each of these are useful for different industries and there's really no one that fits all, though everyone can receive some benefit from any.
Read the numbers. Hopefully you get monthly traffic and ranking reports from your designer and/or SEO person. Learn how to read these, and understand what they mean. They will give you valuable insight into what is working on your site and what isn't. See what's working well (that is, drawing in traffic and keeping them there) and expand on it.
Finish it off! One error I see on many sites is a lack of content. Content is still one of the most important indicators to Google of site authority. Services or products pages seem to be the worst offenders of lack of content. Many site owners seems to consider a list of their services to be what suffices for content on the services page. News flash! It isn't! It isn't for Google and it isn't for your customers. Your visitors want information about you, about your company and about your products and services. Don't short-change them with a simple list. And the more information you add, the more chances you have for Google to rank you.
Be responsive. Not just in your customers service, though this is definitely going to put you above the competition (but I won't go down that rabbit hole!). The responsive I'm talking about is your website. It needs to be designed in a way that makes it adapt to whatever device it's being viewed on. This is another signal to Google and it's getting bigger and more important. Check if your site is mobile friendly )responsive) using Google's Mobile Friendly Checker.
Are you a blockhead? I mean, is your site blocking Google's indexer robot? This is something I've seen way too often and it points to s designer who hasn't even gotten to design 101 yet. There's an important little text file on most websites (it really should be on all) , and it tells the indexer robot what to index and what not to. Unfortunately, though it's a tiny file, it has massive power to give your site ranking serious grief. To stop the indexer indexing, say, the log files on the site, we'd add the line "Disallow: /logs/" I have seen many instances where this line is in the file "Disallow: /". / is the main root of the site, so it's telling Google not to index the entire site. Run you site through the Google Mobile Friendly Tool and it'll report if your site is blocked by robots.txt.
So, as we roll into the New Year, do your business, and your website, a favor and check out these tips. If you get stuck, or you have questions, don't hesitate to ask us.