Websites. A necessary investment or just another thing to worry about? For many business owners, a website can strike fear into their hearts as they descend into a world of technical jargon and IT systems.
But what if you understood it a little better? Perhaps even how to improve it for the benefit of your potential customers and even your bottom line? Wouldn’t that be worth yours and your team’s time?
The ‘build it and they will come’ era has long since passed and unless you’re a huge multinational or iconic brand, just having a website can no longer guarantee success. However, understanding why and how your business can take positive steps towards creating a good website experience, can be the difference between surviving and thriving.
Bad vs good website experiences
Whatever the goal of your website, the value of a good online experience should not be underestimated. If a visitor has a positive experience, a positive response is more likely to occur. In contrast, a negative experience is likely to see that visitor go elsewhere.
What constitutes as a ‘bad website experience’? It can be as simple as not finding the right product or answer to an interest, slow website load times or even problems navigating the website. All of which are becoming more and more important given that digital attention spans continue to drop.
The key question to ask yourself ‘what (not if) is likely to stop a potential customer placing an order or getting in touch?’ Put yourself in their shoes, be critical and be prepared to make changes.
So where do we start?
Five easy ways to improve your website experience
Analyse how quickly your website takes to load
This is important for two reasons:
- The faster your site loads, the faster a visitor can find what they want.
- Google includes site speed as one of a number of factors in its approach to content indexing. The slower the site the less likely it will appear in its search engine results listings.
There are numerous online tools to test how ‘responsive’ or fast your site’s load time is but sometimes Google can be your best friend.
Make your website mobile friendly.
This issue isn’t really very new and has been written about more times than I can count, but it’s all too easily overlooked. Internet usage has changed dramatically and what was once the domain of the desktop device, has been liberated by the advent of the smart phone.
Back in 2015, Google confirmed that “more searches took place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan” (via Searchengineland.com). Roll on two years and mobile search continues to increase and in fact even accounted for nearly 36% (£8.7bn) of the total UK retail consumer spending in Q2 (May to July 2016) of £24.2bn.
As with site speed, having a mobile friendly site is another factor Google takes into consideration, favouring those with dedicated mobile or dynamic device experiences.
So how can I test to see how mobile responsive my website is? Well again Google is our friend with a useful and free mobile site test tool.
What does Google say?
This may sound like a loaded question, but getting into the habit of checking Google’s left hand side search engine results pages (SERPs) against your brand name and your key products and services, is a great start to thinking about how potential customers may find your site.
When looking at these SERPs ask yourself some key questions:
- What do the listings say?
I.e. Are they informative about the page, do they link to relevant content?
- Who else is listed above and below you?
- What keywords or search queries is your site not appearing against that it should be?
For the more technically minded consider investigating and installing Google Search Console. This free program allows you (or your ‘webmaster’) to track your site’s search performance, identify problems as well as giving you access to range of free Google resources.
Take control of your content.
The amount of control you choose to take with your website and its content, can be dependent on what platform your website is built in. Platforms such as Wix, 1&1, WordPress, Joomla all pride themselves on empowering their users through content management systems (CMS).
Often with a short and shallow learning curve, a CMS allows a user to create, manipulate and amend content at will via a secure cloud login. Some even have mobile apps to allow changes on the go!
Even if your website doesn’t have a friendly CMS you can still take control simply by researching and creating new content that adds value to the online customer and website experience.
For starters think about developing some what, where, when, how and why content. FAQs and definitions are another great place to start.
Whatever you do or don’t do, underpin everything with data.
I’ve saved the best till last, but instead of writing about why data is important, I’ll let Google’s Avinash Kaushik explain.
So, in a nutshell data can drive continuous improvement of your website through a range of analysed factors that can be translated into desired outcomes (both online and offline).
As one of the world’s leading website data tracking and reporting platforms, Google Analytics is not only extremely versatile, it’s also free to use.
The power is back in your hands.
As the digital world continues to evolve at pace, getting a grip on your website and creating a positive online and website experience has become increasingly more important.
Investing your time into understanding the value of the five steps outline above could well be your first experience of the digital marketing world, however it is unlikely to be your last.
Menzies Advisory team provide a range of business and financial analysis services in order to support the growth and development of your business.
For more information please contact Menzies to discuss your business needs.
This content was produce by Menzies Marketing Technologist Paul Van Wymeersch.