Is your shop window sparkly and fresh, or grubby and streaked?
We're not talking about literal shop windows here, but your online shop window - your website. Let's hear from James - and if you want more info, we've gone into a bit more detail below the video (along with a transcript of the content if you prefer to read).
"Business changes really fast. It used to be that having a business card was an essential when you're at a networking event. It then became that actually you needed a
website and a pretty decent website."
- These days, businesses without websites are hugely disadvantaged. That was true even before the global pandemic that kept us in our homes and spending out time online rather than out in the 'real' world.
- But just having a website is no longer enough - we're more sophisticated shoppers these days, and we've got used to an online experience that's a long way from Geocities sites and flashing badges.
"However, do you know whether your website actually really does what it needs to do? It's
your only shop window at the moment for a lot of businesses, and therefore it has to really hit the mark."
- Have you been checking your analytics to see how effectively your website has been performing over the pandemic compared to before? Do you keep an eye on conversion rates and other metrics that let you know whether or not you're getting where you need to be?
- As people are becoming more and more digital - partly through natural means and a lot through forced digitisation from lockdown - they expect a website that gives them exactly what they need, without having to go digging for it.
- Is your message clear? Do people understand what you offer and what benefits it will deliver to them? Does it hit the mark with your target audience (you can't appeal to everyone, but it's important to get the right message for the people you want to work with).
"Does it have the right content on it for Google to recognise that actually you're an authority and it should rank you highly and send traffic your way?"
- Google rankings (other search engines are available) are as important as ever, perhaps more so. After all, how will people find your website if you don't appear in their search results when they're looking for relevant information?
- There are tonnes and tonnes of elements that go into whether or not a site will rank - most of them are kept quiet by Google's highly secretive algorithms. But we do know that content is key, because it gives you the opportunities to include relevant keywords and link back across your site.
- Authority and expertise are also extremely important. If you're an expert in your field, your website needs to make that clear.
- Google's aim is to provide searchers with the best result for their query. So, your site needs to provide that. Being an expert is one of the ways to do that - search engines will always want to share expertise over amateur content, particularly in high-value and high-stakes industries.
"Does it have a way that when people are on your site that actually it's obvious what they need to do to get in touch with you and to interact with you?"
- User experience is a massive component of a good website, and it's not about making it pretty (that's user interface, or design).
- Making sure your site is easy to navigate means people get the information they're looking for. And making sure it's super easy for people to get in touch with you is vital - if they have to dig around for contact details, or go through a convoluted menu system to find your contact page, you're placing barriers in their way and they have much less chance of converting into a contact or lead. Make it simple.
- On another note, if someone arrives on your website and immediately leaves because it's not what they're looking for, or it's hard to use, that bounce can indicate to Google that your site is not a good result for that search query. If that happens consistently, it will affect your rankings for that keyword or query.
"And overall, does your website portray the right kind of image about you and show that you are the organisation that you are? That people should really work with you."
- You may or may not be surprised to know how many websites don't reflect the companies they represent. Sometimes it's because the business has grown, and the site no longer matches up to what they've become. Sometimes things have changed in the business, but the website hasn't evolved alongside. Sometimes the site has evolved, but through adding pages as necessary and now the structure has become a little chaotic.
- Having a site that matches up with your business is really important. If someone speaks to you on the phone (or on Zoom), and then they look at your website, they expect to see something that reflects how you talked about the company.
- If you're a large company, having a small and outdated website will make you look smaller or less sophisticated. If you're a professional services company, having a website that's a mismatch in design or tone will make you look out of touch. There are lots of ways a site can diminish the impression of the business behind it.
- You want to make sure your site reflects who you are, what you do, and what you're capable of.
"If it doesn't and you want to understand a bit more, then we're offering a free audit
that will help you understand where your website maybe doesn't quite hit the mark."