For quite some time a company website has been more than a luxury or add-on. Websites play an important role in business and sales operations and are now a necessity in our tech-focused world. As such, the conversation has moved from whether you should have a website to whether your website is effective.
Why strong websites are important
Just because websites have become ubiquitous doesn’t mean that they are all good. There are a lot of websites that are doing more harm than good. A strong website provides a lot of benefits to your business, but getting things wrong can prove disastrous. Arguably, it is better to have no website at all than a bad one. However, since not having a website isn’t an option, here are three make-or-break areas that are key to consider when creating a new website or revisiting an existing one:
1. First Impressions and User Experience (UX)
Making a good first impression is vital in the world of business. Unfortunately, statistics show that it is surprisingly uncommon for businesses to have a website that makes a good first impression on consumers. According to a report from the Society of Digital Agencies, 77% of agencies believed that their clients lacked good website UX.
Making a good first impression with a well-designed, visually appealing website that prizes user experience can make all the difference when it comes to your bounce rate, and converting visitors into sales. According to Adobe, 38% of people will leave a website if it is unattractive or has poor layout, and two-thirds of people would prefer to read something that was visually appealing (versus plain content). There’s no question that a poorly designed website is just as liable to turn clients away as a good website is to turn window shoppers into buyers.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Clearly, making a good first impression is important but securing the opportunity to make that first impression is just as important (although not always easy). Ensuring that your website is designed with search engine optimization in mind is just as important as providing a smooth user experience and attractive design.
There are four general ways that visitors will find your website and successful websites make the most of each of these entry points:
Direct traffic comes to your website by typing your URL in the search engine’s address bar. Having a memorable URL displayed prominently through all your consumer facing communications is crucial to capturing direct traffic.
Referral traffic comes to your website via links on other websites, blogs, directories or social media channels. An effective social media and content strategy is important for gaining referral traffic from other websites.
Paid referral traffic comes to your website through an advertisement. Some examples of online ads include banners, pay per click ads and social media ads.
Organic referral traffic comes to your website through a website search. The website visitor may search for your company name, a related keyword or a phrase that relates to your business using a search engine like Google. While paid referrals can be bought, organic referrals are cost-effective but difficult to capture, making them the most coveted (and sometimes the most lucrative) type of website traffic.
There are many on-page (visible) and off-page (behind-the-scenes) SEO techniques that website developers and digital marketers employ to boost SEO, but the wrong techniques can not only prevent you from achieving a high page rank, they can also cost you website traffic.
Hiring the right SEO agency is crucial. A poorly designed or implemented SEO strategy or black-hat SEO techniques can cause your site to plummet in page rankings. How do you know if you’ve hired an unscrupulous or incompetent SEO agency? Kiss Metrics warns businesses to watch out for SEO agencies who:
- Are keeping you in the dark – they should have something to show even if it isn’t results
- Don’t want your input – your website and SEO strategy should be about you building SEO legitimately which is almost impossible to do without your industry knowledge and input
- Won’t divulge their methods
- Receive a manual penalty email on your behalf – this results from spam or other ‘black hat’ SEO tactics being used on your website
- Cause your rankings and traffic to drop – keep an eye on your analytics, you may not shoot up right away, but you shouldn’t drop
3. Mobile and Responsiveness
Having a website that looks great on a desktop is no longer good enough. Your website needs to look and operate at the same high level across all devices. According to Social Media Today, about 50% of all ecommerce traffic comes from mobile platforms, and mobile devices account for 60% of mobile users’ primary Internet source.
Amazingly, studies show that as much as 56% of all Internet traffic comes from mobile. If your website isn’t responsive or optimized for mobile, then you are effectively saying you don’t care about 56% of your potential website visitors.
Some important steps to ensure that your website is optimized for mobile include:
- Incorporate responsive designs so that mobile users don’t have to constantly zoom in and out. Implementing a responsive design made a huge impact for the popular ecommerce store O’Neill Clothing. The responsive design led to a 400% increase in conversions on Android devices, 333% more transactions and increased revenue over 590%.
- Consider mobile user needs – think about when you use your mobile device to search information or look up a business. You want concise and clear information that is delivered quickly. When you’re on the go and using your mobile to search you’re probably looking for specific information like directions, an address, coupons or prices. Ensure that your mobile site delivers this type of content.
In the 21st century having a poorly designed website is more than just a serious faux pas, it can cost your business. Have you taken the time consider whether your website is a help or a hindrance?