Back before the golden age of the internet, it was hard for small businesses to have a global presence. When it came to marketing, there was something called the Yellow Pages, which listed the phone number of every business in the area. That’s all businesses had – phone numbers. If you were big in the area, you could take an ad out in the Yellow Pages, which were almost guaranteed to have everyone looking at them.
The problem was – the only way to have a larger presence than in the phone book was to spend a lot more on advertising in publications or trade magazines, on radio or on television.
Why am I taking this walk down memory lane? Because it wasn’t until the 1990’s that small businesses could immediately have a national or international presence. The internet changed all that; as of 2000, you could have a website and anyone, anywhere could find you.
We’re almost 20 years down the road now and websites are a must. They are your virtual “phone number” and online presence; they create a global storefront. But there’s so much competition now that if your website doesn’t have these five critical elements, you’ll be lost in the Google searches.
I’m emphasizing this because, often, people don’t pay enough attention to their websites. They skimp when it comes to the cost of having a beautiful website that will engage visitors immediately. They don’t spend enough time on the navigation of the site: how easy is it to find what clients and prospects want? How easy is it to contact your business, to solve a problem?
Here’s a list of five critical elements for your website:
First: does it have a contemporary look?
To beat out your competition, you have to look as though you’re up-to-date in your offerings. That means your website needs to show that you’re on top of your game when it comes to how modern you are in products and services. If your website looks like it was created in the early 2000s, or even 2010, it reflects poorly on your business and people may pass it by, in favor of a site that has that “wow” factor, encouraging them to stop and dive deeper.
Next: does it load quickly?
You can have the most beautiful website, with an exciting video clip at the top of the home page. But if it doesn’t load quickly, no one will see it. That counts on mobile devices, too, where many searches are done.
People now have an attention span of 8 seconds – which is shorter than a goldfish’s attention span (theirs is 9 seconds). If your site doesn’t load in that time, or even less, prospects will go on to the next choice in their Google search results.
Third: can anyone find what they want – or what you WANT them to find – quickly?
This is one of the biggest problems I see with many websites: they’re designed based on the thought-process of the business, not their customer. For example, many set up their websites based on the services, programs, or packages they sell. But is that what people are searching for? Think about the problems people have that lead them to you. Then make it easy to find those on your website.
Fourth: is everything on it responsive?
What does responsive mean? It means your website’s content has to work well on mobile devices, especially on smartphones. Google is so adamant about this they will “downgrade” your website in Google search results if your website is NOT responsive.
Many businesses have already made this move. But there are still elements on the site that are not “phone friendly.” For example, do you have downloads (in PDF format) on your website? These might be forms people for fill out, guides, or other types of materials, such as brochures that you’ve created for people to download.
If you have them, look at them on your smartphone. Are they impossible to read? Yes, most of them are. It’s time to take care of these, too, unless your goal is to have them ONLY downloaded and printed from laptops.
Finally: is it optimized for Google Search – and set up with Google Analytics?
One of the biggest downfalls is not optimizing a website for Google search. There are many ways to do this, from ensuring all the tagging, alt-images, and back-end formats are set up, to setting up an ongoing SEO strategy that includes backlinks and content updates.
Once this is started, it’s equally important to look at your Google metrics. There’s a saying: what gets measured gets done, which means that paying attention to your Google data ensures that your website is recognized by Google and is being sent traffic. Once you start to watch your Google data, you’ll start to discover where your traffic is coming from and what is working for you. Without that information, you can try lots of marketing tactics and never really know what’s working for you!
How did your website do with this checklist? Need any help? Contact me and I’ll help you to maximize your website!