As you would look to spring clean your home/office it also makes sense to spring clean your website once a year. There may be little to do. That is, your site may be up-to-date but there may be some small tweaks you can carry out which will better your customer experience and help your search engine rankings. We live in a world of fine margins between success and failure something which is magnified in the online marketplace.
It is fair to say that security has been a major topic of conversation this year. Especially with the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking centre stage. The new regulations came in on 25 May 2018 and you should already be compliant. That said, there is nothing wrong in reviewing the setup and security of your website. Use this intelligence to make improvements where necessary.
There are two specific security issues which will come more and more into play in the weeks and months ahead. These are SSL certificates and the HTTPS protocol which are intrinsically linked and create an encrypted communication channel between those visiting your website and your server. Valid SSL certificates and HTTPS protocol are very much taken for granted by customers these days. However, failure to have the correct elements in place will prompt a red flag from the search engines. When you consider the number of security breaches announced each year, often by multi-billion-dollar businesses, there is growing concern about the security of private and confidential data. If visitors slightly doubt your website’s security, you will lose them to a better prepared competitor.
While your security should be reviewed on a regular basis it would make sense to carry out a detailed review each year to ensure that everything is in place.
The vast majority of online entrepreneurs will have websites they have operated for many years which have created lucrative income streams. The key to maintaining these income streams is to keep up with the times, the latest trends and responsive website designs are one of the more recent developments. Quite simply, if your website design is not of a responsive nature then it is unlikely to be mobile friendly. When you consider that mobile Internet traffic now accounts for more than 50% of all Internet traffic, this puts it into perspective.
We are talking of smart phones and tablets which have to all intents and purposes replaced desktops and laptops. As a consequence of competition in the website design sector, it is not as expensive as you might think to convert your site to a mobile friendly/responsive design. This effectively means that the size and structure of your website will respond according to the size of the screen. So, when viewed on a tablet or smart phone it will look different to a laptop/desktop. Introducing a responsive design to your website does not necessarily mean changing the theme or the structure. It simply means that the theme will respond to the type of device being used.
As with security, SSL and HTTPS protocol, search engines already incorporate the quality of your responsive website design in their algorithms. This is just one of many changes in recent times which will have a significant impact on your traffic.
There are many elements of the online marketplace which change from time to time but content marketing is, and always will be, top of the pile. Written content, images and videos allow you to communicate directly with your customers and the search engines. As you need to make clear exactly what subject matter you are discussing on any one of your website pages, to enhance a customer’s experience, it is exactly the same for the search engines. If there is no focus, no keywords and no key phrases then how can the search engines rank you high for a particular subject matter?
It is also worth pointing out that the term “fresh content” also takes in the revamping and updating of existing content. For example, you may have a particular website page which ranks well for a term such as “Christmas sales 2017”. Many people fall into the trap of writing a similar page for “Christmas sales 2018” when they could actually update the 2017 page for 2018. Simply replace the different years and the quality of the content should ensure that you rank highly for “Christmas sales 2018”. Yes, you do need to keep your content fresh, up-to-date and on trend but you can also tweak previously popular content and give it a new lease of life. Never underestimate the power of content marketing!
Over the years you may replace various pages and change URLs. If not maintained, this often leads to broken links on older pages. It is fair to say there is nothing worse than a broken link to annoy a customer and make them look elsewhere. This is all part of the customer experience. So, unless you maintain a high standard going forward, giving the right impression, you risk losing them. There are SEO tools which will scan your website for broken links and advise you accordingly.
It may seem relatively small, insignificant maybe, but remember, the search engines are watching!
There is nothing like a broken link to indicate poor coding and a poor quality website. It may sound trivial but it is part of the customer experience. Plus, Google will not be keen to promote your website if the experience reflects badly. Finding and replacing broken links can be boring. Never-the-less, it is simple to rectify and will have a positive cumulative impact on your website rankings going forward.
While Internet trends change on a regular basis so do e-commerce trends, services and products. In a similar fashion to that successful website you have never updated, it is worthwhile reviewing images during your spring clean. There may be sharper images, more informative images and ones which will catch the eye of your visitors as soon as they land. Ensure that you make full use of the latest product images to stay up with the times. It is also worth checking the meta-data associated with your images. Even though the jury is out as to whether meta-data has any impact on search engine rankings, we know that poor coding is a recognised flaw when it comes to search engine algorithms. Many websites may be literally just under the radar of a large numbers of customers as a consequence of very small margins such as outdated images and missing meta-data.
If you are selling a service or product then it is essential that you have a call to action. The images and the content on a specific page will effectively “soften up” your customers and then your call to action, such as buy now buttons, prompt them to take action. Over time you will likely find that unexpected content pages become popular with the search engines and ultimately attract visitors. Unless you have a call to action on these more popular pages there is a chance that you will lose the customer before they have even really started.
Put yourself in a customer’s position. They land on your page and you offer exactly what they are looking for.
However, where do they go from here? Is there a simple way to purchase the product/service? If your customer has to overthink about how to purchase a product/service you will simply lose them.
Social media is now a big part of the e-commerce industry. It allows friends and acquaintances to share particular pages, products and services amongst each other. While the likes of Facebook and Twitter still lead the way, we also have Instagram, Pinterest and other up-and-coming social media channels. It is likely that you already have an array of social media buttons on your website which encourage visitors to share with friends and family. However, are you showing the latest up-and-coming social media channels?
Some social media channels fall by the wayside. As such, it makes sense to just remove these social media buttons from your site. The reality is that you can’t have a button for every social media channel – it would just be too much. During your spring cleaning, check channels which have received little or no traffic and perhaps remove them. If there are up-and-coming social media channels then why not at least trial a new button to see what happens. Websites which have literally dozens and dozens of social media buttons tend to go over the top. Keep it tight, keep it focused and strip out those which are unused by customers.
The key to revamp/review your website is to split the process into relatively small parts. Then, attack these one by one. While some of the elements mentioned above are more influential than others, high search engine rankings/good traffic numbers are often down to the cumulative impact of good practice. In simple terms, make your website available to as many people as possible. Keep the content on it fresh and on trend. Finally, never be afraid to tweak older, but successful, content.