I’ve recently introduced my digital high five – my way of finding clarity amidst a busy digital marketing space, where I see there being five main strands to successful digital marketing each having their own strategy and each part of being awesome online:
- Website strategy
- SEO strategy
- Social media strategy
- Content strategy
In this post, I’m going to highlight the key factors for the first finger in the high five: website strategy.
Even if you’re not striving to be at the top of organic search results, every business needs a website. It’s your online shop window. A chance for prospective clients to check out your business and your services and in a lot of cases, to check out you.
Sadly, in my opinion, the true value of a website is often overlooked. It’s the kind of must-have that not everyone is able or willing to invest in getting right. So many times I come across businesses who try to build a website themselves, sometimes successfully. With free website services (Wix, Weebly, etc.) you can see why, but the bottom line is there’s much more to a website than just setting up a few web pages and those free hosting platforms don’t usually give you the flexibility to get your site right for your business. That’s why you need a website strategy – it doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be right.
So, in terms of a website strategy there are three core aspects that must not be overlooked:
Hosting is the term used to describe where you’re going to store your website on the internet. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but essentially you need to choose a hosting provider that offers you a cost effective way to store your website and server the website pages on the internet.
There’s lot of hosting providers to choose from (I use 1&1) and whilst you might find your choice is limited by your budget you should consider choosing a provider that offers easy install of your favourite platform (e.g. pre-installed WordPress), is fast, provides secure encrypted web pages (via a https SSL certificate) as well as hosting and managing the domain name (e.g. your-company.co.uk) you’re going to use.
Speed of the server is probably your biggest concern as it’s a search ranking factor and if possible you should consider using an SSL certificate as that’s likely to become a more serious ranking factor in the future.
Platform wise you need to pick something that works for you. I always use self-hosted WordPress (not to be confused with wordpress.com which is WordPress-hosted) – I find it easy to use, there’s thousands of theme/templates to choose from, it’s ultra-configurable and you can be sure you’ll find a plug-in which will help you achieve the look and feel you’re after; plus if you get stuck, there are hundreds of online resources available that will be able to help.
Having the right design and layout is very important. You want your visitors to be attracted to your site and be able to navigate around it easily and have it designed in a way that is easy to use and easy to interact with.
You also want your website to be mobile responsive, and don’t let anyone convince you that this doesn’t matter or decide not to do it because of the cost (not that it should cost extra – if you use WordPress, most modern themes are by default, responsive). There’s no excuse for your designer to build a non-responsive website these days. Being mobile responsive means your website automatically adjusts itself to fit correctly on any sized screen so on a mobile device you shouldn’t need to pinch or zoom in or out to view the site, it should resize automajically. With more and more online searches being via mobile devices, responsiveness of sites is a more and more significant search ranking signal.
The final piece of the puzzle is your content. Clearly the site needs to look good (i.e. the design) but you need great content organised in a way that works for your visitors (don’t try and build your site to please Google, build it for your customers).
Generally speaking you want the front page of your site to be brief and to the point, highlighting your core services or products as well as other areas of your business and site. This is why you’ll see lots of sites that may provide 3 or 4 headings using a photo for each or maybe some icons (I’ve opted for icons) – these can then click through to more detailed information. You want to attract visitors to your site (obviously) but don’t want them to be overwhelmed by too much writing when they get there.
You also want to hone your sales funnel ensuring that visitors become potential sales, so you want obvious call to actions (e.g. easy ways for visitors to get in touch and buy your services or products). You should consider having a blog as part of your website as well as long form content in the background.
Keep it simple upfront but have more detail in the background to give deeper context to what you do as a business, but also, long form content will help your website ranking in search results (SEO).
So, generally there’s quite a lot to consider when you’re building a website for your business. But the best advice is to outsource your website development and design. Remember, all the time you’re spending trying to build your website, is stopping you getting out there building your business and delivering for your clients – sometimes it makes sense to outsource, particularly when it comes to specialist things like websites.