Friday, 23 July 2021
Is your website maximising the potential of your business? We look at the straightforward improvements you can make to attract customers and drive sales.
Most businesses today understand the importance of having a web presence, whether it’s simply to provide company information and contact details, to act as a shop window for your products or services, or to drive and process online purchases.
Once your site has been set up, it’s important to keep it looking good and take advantage of the latest developments when it comes to the likes of marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO).
Here are some fast, effective tips that will help your site and your business stay ahead of the competition.
“Your website is about building trust with your customers,” says Josh Elliot, creative director of The Startup Guys, a web design agency. “Don’t use stock imagery that’s cheesy and dated. If you are the business with a small team of between two to 10 people, that needs to come across on your website. Invest in professional images. There are online libraries and a photo shoot can be done in half a day for a couple of hundred pounds.”
Businesses have to make a trade-off when it comes to ensuring their site is optimised for various devices and/or browsers, says Kriston Reid, head of digital design at advertising agency Designate.
“Everyone has to work to a budget so where you focus your attention depends largely on what trends you’re seeing via Google Analytics. If you’re seeing 90% of traffic on mobile, it makes sense to focus your attention on that.”
“Obviously, you’d want the site to perform well on mobile but if you’ve got customers on the bus using a fairly weak signal, you don’t want your site to be too heavy,” Reid adds.
“Consider the weight of the pages: if you’ve got a variety of fonts on the page, for example, that can slow things down. And think about compressing the photography so it looks good but you’ve got a happy medium in terms of the file size. There are sites that can easily test initial download times.”
Your site isn’t much use if people can’t find it on Google or other search engines, but there are simple steps that can boost your ranking. If you’re using DIY web design service such as Squarespace or Wix, there are tools that allow you to make beneficial technical changes to your web pages.
A Wix spokesman says: “Each page on your website can and should have its own unique heading tags. These are short texts very similar to a headline of a newspaper section: after scanning your domain name, search engines scan your site’s headings to gain additional insight on the accuracy of your page.”
“For location-based businesses, regularly blogging on your site – once a week or twice a month – with specific keywords about what you’re offering means you will get ranked more quickly in your local area on searches,” says Elliot.
“It’s much cheaper than SEO, for which you’re going to be paying an agency between £500 and £1,000 a month unless you’re an expert. Blogging is just your time and having some confidence with writing.”
“The most important thing many sites lack is a clear call to action. You’ve got six seconds to capture your prospect’s attention”Josh Elliot, creative director, The Startup Guys
Elliot adds: “Contact Yell.com and any other local directories that your business and site are registered with: make sure your name, address and phone number are the same across your site, your Google Places, Yell listing and so on. Google will then rank you accordingly.”
“The most important thing that many sites lack is a clear call to action,” Elliot says. “You’ve got six seconds in which to capture your prospect’s attention – then what do you want that person to do? Do you want them to give you a call, fill out a form, go to a specific page or portfolio? That must be the first thing you address – have a button on the home page with something like ‘get a free trial’ or ‘get a free consultation’.”
If you’re running a marketing campaign that directs potential customers to your site, there’s no point sending them to your homepage, Elliot adds. “Instead, send them to a landing page entirely devoted to this offer with a call to action. A landing page is a web page on your site with everything removed from it apart from what you want that person – that potential customer – to do. It is totally stripped back, so it’s driving the person to do one thing.”
The Wix spokesman says: “The ultimate goal of a landing page is to get viewers to click, but where is that click taking them? Will they be redirected to a shopping cart? A registration form? Think carefully about the next step and create an easy path for viewers.”
Facebook marketing is one way of driving traffic to your website – but if you don’t yet know enough about it, there is a useful tool to use in the interim called Facebook Pixel, says Elliot.
“Everybody has a Facebook Pixel: all they need to do is to go into their account and go into their Ad Manager tab and create a Facebook Pixel. You then take this Pixel and put it on your website,” he explains.
Once it’s on your site, it allows you to see who has visited you and track their behaviour. “Say you’re a small business selling flowers and someone comes to your website and then leaves,” says Elliot. “That day, they can see an ad in their Facebook feed from your business, perhaps a message saying: ‘Thanks for visiting my website, is there anything I can help with? We’ve just written an article on wedding bouquets, why not take a look?’
“It sounds complicated but it isn’t: just go into YouTube and type in ‘How to install my Facebook Pixel’.”
Where payment or data is required, certification assuring compliance and protection will preserve customer trust.
“For WordPress, Squarespace and a lot of those third-party sites there are payment gateways available,” says Reid. “For the most part they are robust enough to have a decent level of security in place. But it is down to the merchant to keep their customer data safe, and to make sure they have the right firewalls on their servers.”