A business’ website is arguably one of its most important marketing tools for several reasons: most importantly, to reassure potential clients and customers that your goods and services will satisfy their needs and ideally to attract new customers who are searching for a solution.
Many SME owners, particularly those selling services rather than products, assume that because their offering does not often change then their website does not need much attention.
However, the online world changes more rapidly than any other sector, not only in terms of consumer behaviour but also in terms of the technical aspects and in particular the ranking of your website by search engines will be influenced by how active it is.
Website user experience and security
There cannot be many website owners who are unaware of the growing importance of the medium through which potential clients view their website.
The UK has one of the highest rates of browsing via a mobile phone and this means that a website cannot hope to keep site visitors unless it is responsive – i.e. easy to view and to navigate on a smartphone as well as a PC or laptop.
This applies equally whether a business is selling products or services and is an aspect of websites that is assessed by search engines such as Google.
If pictures take too long to load, if it is difficult to move between pages, if there is too much text to be easily readable on the screen the likelihood is that the visitor will go elsewhere.
This means that visual and other elements of design need to be as clear and simple as possible and, especially, that the information shown on a mobile phone needs to be pared down and easily digestible on a small screen.
An annual website appraisal will ensure that it is still performing to the maximum standard, wherever it is being viewed.
An audit should also look at the behind the scenes technical aspects such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), whether the key words being used are still relevant, and whether the design is still the best it can be. Don’t forget that every web page should be optimised, which also allows for more focused targeting of messages to help search engines direct potential clients to the relevant page.
You might consider making your website more integral to the running of your business where some firms do everything through their website from database management, to integrated marketing campaigns that trial messages and optimise results, to booking orders, managing work flow and processing payments.
Last but by no means least, given the frequency of news reports about website hacking, a crucial element to have checked is the site’s security. This is especially important, not only for taking secure online payment, but also for any business that is encouraging visitors to sign up for offers, appointments, free information or any material that requires them to register their personal details.
A regular website audit should also check that it is protected with the most up-to-date security protection against invasion.
In short, if a business wants to protect and enhance its reputation a regular website review and update should be a key element in its operations