In the digital age that we live in, your website is going to be one of the most powerful tools your business can have when it comes to marketing. If it isn’t good quality, informative and easy to navigate, you risk your customers losing interest and going to one of your competitors.
Launching a website and managing it can be quite a daunting job, especially if you have little or no experience. Because of this, many business owners don’t bother with one or have one that is ineffective, and they do not understand the impact that this can have on their business.
Do not worry though, because, in this article, we cover some of the things that will help to make launching and running an effective website a lot more straightforward.
Carefully select your team
Before you do anything, you need to choose whether you are going to do it all yourself, whether you will use an in-house web team or whether you will outsource to a third party. All of these options have their pros and cons, and most of it comes down to your budget and how much control you want over your website.
Creating a site that looks good, but most importantly works with little downtime is a demanding and skilled job, so many decide to leave it to a professional. However, if you do want to have a go at it yourself, start off with a simple website, such as a WordPress based one. The key thing to look for is web hosting with free SSL.
A good web host will give you the option of regular backups of your website, minimum downtime and at a basic level of technical support should you need it. An up to date SSL certificate is essential if you want your customers to trust your website, and many good hosting companies offer these for free.
If you decide to outsource the development your website, which, if you have the budget, is recommended as it gives you more time to focus on growing your site, then there are a few questions that you need to ask.
Can you add/edit content easily on your own, or will you need to wait for them to do it?
Do you receive any technical support from the developer?
What measures do they have in place to protect against hacking, data breaches, and other cybercriminal threats?
Develop the content
Before you spend ages building a website, you need to make sure that you have plenty of content prepared and ready to go on there. Many commercial sites now have a blog section, where they can share information, thoughts and relevant content linked to the industry, or give their clients and customers a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the business.
One thing that you should be aiming for is not only to be selling your product or service to your audience but to be an industry expert. If you are using your website purely for sales, people will only come to your site when they are looking to purchase something.
If you have a blog attached to it, people will be checking in regularly, so you need to be updating it regularly with fresh and exciting content. Google now consider interaction when ranking websites, so having material which encourages interaction and discussion with your customers will only help push your content higher up the search engine.
Develop an understanding of SEO
Search engine optimization, or SEO as it is more commonly referred to, is essential when it comes to your website. Without it, your website won’t be visible or rank highly in Google searches, which is what brings in traffic for many sites. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is.
Essentially, it is thinking carefully about the words that people might use to when they are searching for your site. These are called keywords. They need to be used carefully within your content, as well as being applied to images and titles. There are professional SEO companies out there, but there are also lots of website plugins and software available to help you out with this.
You more than likely already have a presence on social media, but if you want to promote your website, it is even more critical. Business pages on Facebook and Twitter are essential, and Instagram is growing in popularity for businesses.
Make sure that it is regularly updated, and that you don’t just push your own content constantly. Try and aim for an 80:20 balance – 80% of your content should engage your customers and encourage interaction and conversation, and 20% should focus on your brand.
Sharing content from other people may sound counterproductive, but it is the best way to find out what interests your customers, what they are looking for and to increase the overall visibility of your website.
You should consider installing some sort of analytics software into the back end of your blog to track and monitor traffic. Google Analytics is considered to be one of the most effective, giving you a breakdown of views, visitors, location, how they are looking at your site, time spent on particular pages and how they came to land on your website.
This is key to looking ahead and seeing whether you are reaching your target audience and what you can do to keep them on your site for longer.
Make sure it all works
Before you go live with your website, make sure every aspect of it works. This includes looking at every page, and every link, every plugin that you may use in the backend, any analytics software that you are using and that is mobile responsive.
Check regularly – broken links can be infuriating for your customer and can also harm your website ranking if there are too many, so make sure you update or remove if they are flagged up.