You must regularly review how well your site is performing, how easily your target audience can find it and how much money it is earning you.
Moden day marketing involves a lot of honesty. It is not a word that gets used as much as ROI, conversions, performance, and sales. Yet it is a word that is most likely to help business growth to match your aspirations.
The beginning of the year provides a perfect time to take stock of what is working and what isn’t working on your website. There are three crucial areas that this article will address:
- User Experience
- Technical Tasks
All you really have to do is be open and honest with yourself about what you find. If your audience does not engage with your website then it might not look as good as you think it does. If you are not getting enough traffic to your website then you may need to approach your marketing differently. Give your website an honest review and let the findings inform your plan for 2017.
User Experience is a very general phrase that pins down exactly how well you know your audience. To create the best website experience for your target audience you must understand their wants and needs, their values, and what extinguishes their intent.
Take a step back from your website and those important landing pages (the pages users are most likely to hit first) and ask these questions:
- Is it useful?
- Is it usable?
- Is it easy to find?
- Is it valuable to the visitor?
- Is it easily accessible?
- Does it come across as a credible and secure site?
If you are not sure then ask colleagues and friends to give you their impression of it. You can also pay for user testing which will give you a frank analysis of your website. Don’t take anything personal, though – websites are subjective.
There are a few key areas that you will need to focus on to ensure your website is up to scratch.
- Original content that fulfils a need. If you are selling vitamins it is critical that you have informational advice on what to take the vitamins for and when.
- Logical Navigation. Make sure the website is easy to navigate with a comprehensive menu and logical internal links that extend the visitor’s journey. Essential elements for your eCommerce store include having the basket and cart button in the top right-hand corner, clear calls to action and buy now buttons and breadcrumbs so the user can get back the way they came and continue their searches easily.
- Strong aesthetics. Create banners that make your visitors want to click on them. Creating an attractive site will make your visitors more engaged.
- Mobile Friendly. Ultimately one of the biggest essentials to come out of 2016 with mobile devices overtaking desktop. Your customers must be able to use the website on their smartphones and buy through their mobile device. Try to avoid annoying pop-ups and make sure they can read, see and click through easily.
- SSL. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, it ensures a smooth entry to the site and a one-page checkout for the more impatient shoppers (that’s almost everyone these days).
- Trust signals. These often come in the form of reviews or secure payment networks such as Trustpilot, Feefo, and Paypal. It allows your customers to purchase from a new site for the first time.
- Google Analytics & Search Console. An essential in understanding how your site performed last year and which areas were not as successful as you had planned.
Google Analytics and Search Console should be your starting point for reviewing how your website performed in 2016. This is where the data you need for informed decisions will be.
In Search Console you can find out:
- What links are pointing to your site and whether there are too many spammy links coming from one domain that you should look into removing.
- It confirms if you have incorrect meta on your site, that could be too long, too short or non-existent.
- Detailing how many of your pages Google has indexed.
- If your site currently has any crawl errors.
- How many 404s your website is producing and if any of those are a problem.
- If your website is broken in any way then Search Console will probably be trying to tell you about it so it is important that you regularly log in and have a look around.
In Google Analytics you can do so much I could write a book about it. Let’s focus on the data you need right now:
- What pages are performing best.
- Where traffic is landing.
- The origin of your audience, whether that be the UK, US etc.
- How each of your marketing channels is performing – acquisition details the traffic and conversions from PPC, organic, direct, referral, social media and email.
- How your website is performing on mobile and indeed all devices right down to the type of smartphone or tablet being used.
- Bounce rates, pages per session and how long your average visitor is on your site.
- Most importantly conversion rate and revenue total for each marketing channel.
Looking at your website without that data is possible but it is not as informative and will not allow for you to make supported decisions when it comes to using the data to back up marketing decisions.
If your website is simply not being found then you need to look at your SEO and there are three specific areas you should look at. Those areas are technical, on-page and off page. The area you have the most control over is likely the on-page SEO.
The areas are:
- Conducting thorough keyword research and creating strong relevant metadata for every page.
- Improve your site speed (check it out at GT Metrix).
- Create bold, engaging and useful content that marries up to the metadata for that page.
- List your site on relevant high domain authority directory lists.
- Get strong links back to your site by sending out some of your products to be reviewed and placing them on offer sites if relevant.
- Make sure there are not multiple versions of your site live (non-www, https, http, www are the most common).
- Keep abreast of Google updates because they can and will impact your website.
When it comes to SEO we are the experts so if you have any questions or if any of this has come across confusing, feel free to drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is where we consider the fact that your website might be telling search engines something different to what it is telling visitors.
These points can seriously hinder your website and affect both User Experience and SEO:
- Is your site set to no-index or no-follow? That will stop search engines from finding it at all.
- Does your website have a lot of 404s? This may be as a result of previously moving products around without applying redirects.
- Has your website lost its ranking juice because you changed domain or moved it around without a full redirect table?
- Does your site have the correct rel=canonical element in place so that one product is not trying to rank ten times in Google because it is in ten colours? This is a problem because they will all be identical so Google will not know which one to rank and therefore lower all your rankings.
- Does your site have the correct pagination code? If not then you may have duplicate content and meta because you have not told Google this is page one of many that belong to the same category.
- Have you moved to HTTPs and left some of the page content insecure giving search engines mixed signals?
There are plenty of technical tasks that can help create the look and feel of a brand new website for 2017. The importance of strong foundation for your website is essential, these allow for your website to perform well and ensure that visitors to your website are fulfilling their needs.
The most common problem we encounter with websites not being as successful in 2016 is that when a successful site is relaunched bigger and better than it was with a new page layout and fresh design. Although it looks striking we often find that the redirects have been forgotten meaning that everything listed in search results until the new site gets indexed goes to a 404. The pages that once carried SEO juice from backlinks, the age of the domain and position in the website hierarchy, have been wiped clean. The website basically has to start again. If you can avoid doing that and make sure your site is indexing you already an advantage.
Commit some time to the tasks outlined above and 2017 will be the year your website performs and converts as well as you plan it to. It will take time to create fresh content and it takes time to analyse the data from your previous year but the end result will be worth it.
There are many different elements in which you need to consider for 2017 to be your best year yet, regularly checking and maintaining your new website is essential. There are so many different specific marketing metrics that can help you to grow your business this year. Take a look at our free downloadable eBook on 7 Marketing Metrics that Matter in 2017 and if you have any concerns about your website’s performance or any of the metrics we speak about in the eBook feel free to get in touch with us.
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