While a do-it-yourself approach may be the first direction a business owner turns to for a website, a company looking to plant roots in any industry will realize that more than a token web address is needed to attract and keep customers or clients.
When considering improvements to a business website, most people tend to focus on aesthetic aspects of design. After all, it is design in this sense that is easiest to understand and solve, to some degree, on the most modest of budgets and with little to no outsourcing. To stand out from the crowd and function in a world where even service-based companies perform a majority of business operations and interactions on the Internet, the visual appeal of a website serves little more function than to attract users and arouse curiosity.
While both of those tasks are important, of much greater importance is whether a website achieves a business's goals. With that in mind, here are 7 things to consider when updating your b2b website.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of organically directing unpaid traffic to a website from search engine results. Despite the myriad developments in the way technology has changed marketing, it remains an incredibly important part of any company's branding efforts. Why? In addition to being incredibly effective, with so many consumers checking online reviews prior to purchasing a product or service, it is also imperative to keeping a brand competitive.
Nearly every competitor a business has will be engaging in tactics designed to help improve SEO ratings. Neglecting this will mean that every one of those competitors is likely to appear first in an online search for the product or service a business is offering. SEO provides excellent advertising value for the money spent, beating social media marketing, purchasing email leads and pay-per-click advertising in price.
2. 301 Redirects:
When replacing a URL, a redirect is a way to send search engines and users to a different URL than the one that was requested. Redirects should be used in cases like moving content to a new domain or a page that receives a 404 error or has expired content. The ideal way to do this, assuming that the content was moved permanently, is with a 301 redirect. While other types of redirects exist, a 301 redirect is the only one that preserves nearly all of the SEO value of the original URL.
3. Call to Action (CTAs):
Every website needs a call to action, an instruction providing direction to users about what actions the business wants them to take. While e-commerce website owners typically understand the necessity of a call to action, even those sites that are not selling a product or business need to clearly communicate what objectives they have for users.
This might include providing contact information, signing up to receive email updates or volunteering time or funds. In addition to providing direction to website users, an effective call to action will give a website focus and help measure the success and whether the site is achieving its goals. Explaining the benefit of responding, providing an incentive, and offering users more than one option of actions, are all ways to increase rates of response.
4. Page speed:
Page speed, which differs from site speed, refers to how quickly a page on a website loads. It may also be referred to as "page load time" or "time to first byte". In addition to the benefits of tanking and converting better than slower pages, increased page speed actually directly correlates to more users staying on a website.
In fact, if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load there is a strong chance that users will abandon the website, leading those users to fail to return to the website and to report the negative experience to friends. In this instance time is indeed money, and the more time a web page takes to load the less money the site will make.
SSL, or secure sockets layer, is the technology responsible for creating an encrypted link between a browser and a server, making sure that everything passed between the two stays private and secure. When updating a website, applying an SSL certificate will help keep users who are engaging with the site safe and secure when making a purchase, leaving a comment, or otherwise interacting. This certificate can be attached to the site domain and typically must be renewed annually.
6. Analytics and Webmaster Tools:
Google Webmaster Tools is a free program that allows Google to communicate with webmasters. The primary benefit of an account is that it allows Google to contact a site owner on any issues with the site that arise, such as an infection with malware. This means that the site owner may have the chance to correct any issues before users even notice.
Website analytics also allow for outside tracking of a site in order to communicate information about the site to its owner, but in this case, information has value whether there are any issues that arise or not. Checking website analytics provides webmasters with info. about visitor behavior, such as how many users have visited a site and which specific pages they visited.
The most common use for analytics among most webmasters is to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing techniques. This includes determining whether SEO is working by looking at the trend of organic traffic for a site as well as tracking conversion, such as how many visitors filled out forms, made a purchase or otherwise responded to a call to action. Analytics are invaluable because it enables webmasters to figure out which marketing efforts do and do not work and to redirect marketing dollars in the most effective ways.
7. "No-Follow” Sections:
No-follow links help webmasters fight spammers' efforts to leech traffic from high-value sites. Since Google ranks each website in part based on the number of quality inbound links that it has spammers make every effort to redirect traffic from sites that are more highly ranked to the spam sites they are operating. This is primarily done by posting links to the spam sites in areas of a website that the webmaster has little control over, such as comments sections.
The problem for webmasters is that these links end up taking away "juice" or page ranking value from the original page. In order to help prevent this from happening, webmasters can designate sections of a website that might be likely to contain these links as "No-follow", which serves the purposes of telling Google's bots not to follow them as well as discouraging spammers from posting the links there in the first place. It is also wise to designate no-follow links for any links that the site owner does not have control over, such as affiliate links.