5 Things Your New Business Website Must Get Right This Time Around
This year, it's time to get your new business website right. As you think about having your website redesigned, here's a checklist of things you need to focus on. Things change rapidly. What worked five years ago doesn't work now.
2017 is the year to really prioritize your audience and not shy away from the technology shifts we know are coming and are here to stay. I would love to suggest that you don't need to care about your website, but you and I both know that's not true.
The good news is that while these concepts aren't easy, they are quite simple. Use them as the foundation for any new business website you plan to launch.
Planning Your New Business Website
1. Social-Friendly Content
People will share your content on social media sites if it is worth sharing. If you make it difficult to share, you're losing an audience and could cripple your business.
In case you've been avoiding the social media movement, please know that you can't go back in time and just forget about it. Social is here to stay. The best thing you can do is be prepared for it.
Don't just take my word for it. Ryan Holmes, a LinkedIn Influencer and CEO of Hootsuite, explains why you're going to get left behind if you keep burying your head in the sand.
"In 2017, expect to see more executives take the plunge into legacy channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as fresher platforms, from Instagram to Snapchat. In many respects, it’s no longer an option but a business necessity. Globally, more than two billion people are now on social channels; the average user spends nearly two hours a day plugged in. To stay connected to customers, employees and partners, even top business leaders will be making time for social media in 2017." (Source)
You can no longer expect that most of your visitors will come from search, or directly to your website. Plan to make social a part of your website design. Expect people to share it, make it easy for them to do so, and they will.
How to create social-friendly content:
- Make sure you have properly configured Open Graph tags for sharing on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
- All of your blog posts should have social sharing icons.
- Use images on every page that will likely get shared.
- Pay attention to that image and make sure it's something interesting and high-quality.
2. Use Images and Videos to Tell Your Story
People are visual creatures. That's why video has become so huge. If you can share something effectively with video, do it. Mix up your content so that half is visual with images or videos and the other half is written text.
I think some people shy away from having too much video and image in their content because old-school SEO experts don't realize how powerful this content can be. Search engines do value video. There's no reason to ignore video or images or be afraid that you will miss out on search engine value because of them.
The reality is that people have been forecasting the rise in video for some time. Last year, marketing expert and Forbes contributor Steve Olenski published an article with a series of compelling statistics. He wrote,
"Capping it all off is the statistic that one in four consumers will lose interest in a company that does not incorporate video content on any of their channels ."
3. Responsive Design
"Wi-Fi and mobile-connected devices will generate 68% of all internet traffic by 2017." (Source)
You should expect that most people will visit your website on a tablet or phone this year. While your website is being developed, test it on a phone. This should be your priority.
Responsive design is a fancy way of saying "looks good on mobile and tablets, too." More technically, it means that the website is formatted specifically to be usable and view-able on mobile devices.
That's what "responsive" means - the site "responds" to the device appropriately. Mobile devices are different - very - than desktops and laptops. Responsive design means no horizontal scrolling!
If you've ever tried to read an article on a phone and not all of the text fits on the screen, that site is not responsive. You don't want that for your site.
The reason this is such a big deal now is that so many people are using their phones to go online. For a very long time, web developers were not developing for mobile devices because people weren't using them that way.
Most well-qualified web development companies use responsive design. If you're using a pre-made theme such as for a Wordpress site, make sure the theme's developers have specifically stated that the theme is responsive.
Now, you have to assume that if someone finds your website via search or social, for example, they are going to use their phone to go to your website. Make sure it looks good on a phone.
Responsive design is a critical element of modern websites
Is Your Website Responsive?
Based on what you know now, is your website responsive?
4. Search Engine Optimization
Every website in 2017 should be optimized for search. With the many different quick ways to get a website published, this shouldn't be difficult. Additionally, there are literally hundreds of thousands of articles and blog posts on SEO with easy-to-follow tips and tutorials.
When possible, opt for a custom built website that takes into consideration your audience, your keywords, and your competitors. If you are not an expert in search engine optimization, you really should get help with it. It's not something most people know how to do and it's not simple.
At the same time, to optimize only for search and not for humans is unwise. While search engines have gotten better and better at prioritizing pages that humans stay on, share, and go to often, it's still computer programming. You have to take care to create content that both humans and computers understand.
Quick-And-Dirty SEO Checklist
Research your target keywords
Because you need to know how people search for businesses like yours.
Use proper meta tags
Because that's how search engines read your content.
Connect to Google Search Console
Because that's how Google helps you improve your site. Your site will get crawled and Google will tell you where you need to make changes.
Make your content readable
Because otherwise, people can't easily read it and definitely won't share it.
Half of the world is on the Internet.
In 2017, more people will be using the Internet than ever before. Your content must be readable. That means that people must be able to easily scan and understand your content.
The Flesch Readability Test
Make your content as easy to read as possible by using a scoring test. Many content and SEO tools these days incorporate readability tool such as the Flesch Reading Ease Score. Simply put, this score tells you how easy or difficult your content is to read.
This is a challenge for business owners who are used to writing at very high levels. Keep your audience in mind when writing your content. If you don't, your website might suffer. Here's why:
"If your text is too difficult, the text is too hard to read for your audience. This might scare off your audience and make them search for information elsewhere. A difficult text will result in a high bounce rate and this will lead to lower ranking in the long run. So, you should definitely make sure your texts are well written and not too difficult." -- Yoast SEO Blog
Writing for the web has a few general principles:
- Use short sentences and paragraphs (2-3 sentences per paragraph for most audiences).
- Swap out words with long syllables for shorter ones, if possible.
- Break up the text with headings.
- Use bullet points where appropriate.
In 2017, the speed at which information travels is lightning fast. This means that you're better equipped than ever before to get your website either on track from the start or back on track. You have more information at your fingertips than we web developers did back in the early 2000s. You can do better.
These five things are just the start. But they're a very good start. Paying close attention to them will put you miles ahead of competitors who still plan to try and get by with a poorly performing website. Let that decision be their downfall as you sail past them.
There's never been a better time to disrupt any market. If you've previously had issues breaking into an industry before, try again. This time, arm yourself with a fantastic site and a content marketing strategy that surprises your target customers, and floors your competition.
© 2017 T Peterson