Is Your Website Ready for 2015?

Websites and website user expectations are continually changing. As a business owner you need to keep up in order to stay ahead of your competitors, particularly if you’re spending money on AdWords or Search Engine Optimisation services, or both in order to generate leads and sales.

Three ways to make sure your online presence is ready to go the distance in 2015

You may already be familiar with the following recommendations but based on websites that I’ve looked at recently, these are areas where there are still big improvements to be made.

1. Your website needs to look good and be functional across computers, tablets and mobile devices

Having a mobile responsive design is a good place to start but you also need to create the website with the objectives of your visitors in mind. Consider what a user is trying to accomplish when they visit on different devices, such as finding your opening hours or reading a review. Tailor the website for each device accordingly.

A few examples of how you can optimise the mobile experience:

  • if you have a sidebar that appears on a computer or laptop, be aware that it will be pushed to the bottom on smaller screens so people won’t see it without a lot of scrolling.
  • Limit the number of navigation links so that they don’t take up the whole small screen
  • Shorten your sentences so people don’t have to scroll endlessly.

Here are some more tips for moving to responsive design that I learned when upgrading one of my websites last year.

I’m aware of the costs, time and resources involved with upgrading an older website to a responsive design, particularly if it was originally built in a custom Content Management System. Even if you don’t have a mobile responsive website, make sure you’ve tested it on different devices to see if any improvements can be made.

For example, I still regularly see websites that:

  • don’t have “click-to-call” phone numbers
  • that have way more fields in their forms than you could be bothered filling in while typing on a mobile device
  • have sharing buttons that inhibit you from reading the content easily on smaller screens.

2. Your website needs to be fast to load

This is important because:

  • Load speed is a Google ranking factor
  • Slow load speed has a negative impact on the user experience.

Your website hosting, web development and content can impact the speed so choose who you work with wisely.

Use Google’s free page speed tools to find out more about how your website rates and how you can improve it.

3. Make it easy for Google to love your website

Google’s job is to help searchers find what they are looking for quickly. If you want to get more web traffic from Google you can help Google do it’s job by making your website relevant to what your target audience are searching for and by building your website’s authority.

Add relevance by letting Google know what your content is about. Add a keyword in strategic positions on each page, including at the start of the Page Title, in the URL, in the headline and in the body text. And have some copy on your home page.

Build your website’s authority by having a blog, regularly adding new content, sharing each new piece of content far and wide via social media and encouraging others to do the same.

Find out more in 8 SEO Mistakes that Still Happen Way too Often.

Bonus Time

As a bonus, here are some more tips for making sure your website works as hard as possible for your business. These tips aren’t specific to 2015 but they are based on website mistakes that I still see happening way too often!

Get someone with fresh eyes to read your content before publishing it

Like the kid in that movie who “sees dead people”, I see typos and other copy errors. They tend to jump out at me so that I can’t see anything else. But I’m the first to admit that I can’t do this for my own website and content that I look at all the time.

Before you publish a website or any new content, get someone to read it who has never seen it before. It’s incredible what can be missed otherwise, including typos in banner images and sections of “lorem epsum dipsom” type content from a WordPress theme that haven’t been replaced with copy and missing words.

Also get people to skim through your home page and tell you what they think you do, who you do it for and where you do it. This is good feedback to find out whether your home page copy is doing it’s job well, or if it needs editing or updating.

Test your social media sharing buttons, online forms and links

I’m still surprised by the number of times that I click a tweet button and the auto tweet doesn’t include the article headline (or any kind of text that makes an enticing tweet) or has an @ link included to someone other than the author of the article or blog.

Test all your social sharing buttons to make sure your content looks good when shared. And needless to say, if you want your content to be shared, make sure you have sharing buttons available.

In a similar way, test your online forms to make sure they are easy to use and don’t have unnecessary required fields. Also check that when the form is submitted the information goes where you intended it to.

Another things to check are links. Click on them to make sure they work – when you’re copying and pasting a link it’s easy to miss a character from the start or end which means that link is invalid.

Have Google Analytics or another web analytics tool installed and have access to your account

I’ve been banging on about this one for five years now but it still surprises me when a website doesn’t have any analytics installed. Or when a website is updated to a new version and the web team forget to add the Google Analytics code to the new version so there is a gap in the data.

There’s another common scenario where Google Analytics has been installed but the Business Owner doesn’t know their login, or has their login but doesn’t have Admin access (which means they can’t give access to people like me who want to review their account and use it the data to optimise their AdWords campaigns).

Getting value from your website investment means understanding your web traffic sources and visitor behaviour, and how effectively your website helps you achieve your business goals. To get that information you need an analytics tool installed and you, or someone else, needs to analyse the data regularly.

Looking to build your online marketing skills and knowledge in 2015?

Have a look at these fab online courses

Learn DIY Search Engine Optimisation

Find out more about the Recipe for SEO Success eCourse and sign up by Monday 23 Feb.

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Facebook for Business 

The rules have changed! Find out how to use Facebook for Business in 2015 and sign up for the Facebook Business Success course

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Marketing your Business using Google+

Make 2015 the year that you tap into the value of Google+ for getting more web traffic from Google, building relationships and marketing your business.

Get into Google+ 468 x 90

Google Analytics 101

Find out what the data in your Google Analytics account means and how you can use it to improve your website by signing up for my Free Google Analytics 101 videos.

Got questions? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Note: The links above for the SEO and Facebook training courses are affiliate links. I’m happy to recommend them because I’ve done training with both Kate and Loren and know how awesome they are!

About Melinda
Melinda aka Mel is a Premier Google Partner, AdWords & Analytics Consultant, Speaker and Trainer and co-owner of Click-Winning Content. Mel provides results-driven services to Australian businesses and is committed to never using an acronym without explaining it first. She also likes grand slam tennis, cracked pepper and Melbourne sunsets. Please connect at the links below.