Not only does your website need to look good and work correctly, but it also needs to be easy for prospective visitors to find you on search engines. Furthermore, you should be ready from the start to satisfy all of your customers’ requirements. In addition, you also need to be able to understand how your website is working for your business, and where the opportunities for improvement exist.
As an experienced digital marketing agency, we are often approached by businesses that are looking for a helping hand in promoting their newly designed website.
For a good proportion of our projects, the client’s website is well configured for search engine optimisation (SEO). That said, from time to time there are elements of a website’s functionality and optimisation that are overlooked. This can lead to sometimes costly development work being required to fix areas of a website, which with the correct planning, could have been in place right from the start.
This post looks at some of the common areas that we often find need improving in order to enhance a website’s digital marketing performance. Although the list is by no means exhaustive, it intends to provide some guidance for those considering launching or designing a new website.
Responsive web design
In today’s multi device/multi screen world, having a website that is designed with mobile and tablet devices in mind is vital. During 2014, mobile usage is predicted to overtake desktop usage, so make sure that visitors can use your site on their smart phones and tablets. When choosing a web developer, make sure they are up to speed with the latest developments in responsive design, and that they are able to complete a project to meet the needs of mobile-based visitors.
Functional on site elements
Before launching a new website, check that it’s possible to edit the key elements of your web pages independently of one another. I’ve worked on many websites that have been limited in terms of this functionality, and it invariably leads to problems with on-page optimisation. For optimum on-page performance, you should be able to edit the URL structure, page headings, page titles, meta descriptions, image alt tags and navigation item titles – all independently of one another.
Even if you are pleased with your brand new website, it should always be considered a work in progress. As your business (hopefully) grows, you may wish to additional pages for a new service you provide. Additionally, you may choose to add additional static content as a result of your ongoing detailed keyword research. Your website should be built to accommodate the introduction of additional content, and the option for your visitors to navigate to this content should be simple and easy to implement.
Goal and conversion tracking
In order to measure how well your website is meeting your business goals, it’s essential that you have access to some form of analytics data. What’s even more important is to ensure that you have accurate goal and conversion tracking installed onto your website, which enables you to measure and track your KPIs.
Make sure that your website is built with goal and conversion tracking in mind, and check that all contact forms work correctly and operate in a manner which allows to you to track goals and conversions accurately. One popular way of achieving this is to ensure that your forms, when completed, direct your visitors to a “thank you” or confirmation page. These pages can be tracked as goal urls within analytics, and can contain tracking codes for paid marketing campaigns.
Custom 404 pages
404 error pages, if correctly configured, are returned when a page or piece of content on your site no longer exists. These pages not only notify the search engines that your page is no longer a part of your website, but also inform your visitors that the content is no longer available.
Designing a custom 404 pages which a friendly message to notify your visitors, and providing useful links to redirect them into helpful areas of the site, can really improve the user experience.
Before launching your business online, you should check that all of the links on your website actually work. The last thing you want is to put your website live, only to discover several weeks or months down the line that you are losing traffic due to broken page and CTA links. There are several free popular tools out there which will crawl your website and check for broken links, such as Xenu’s Link Sleuth and Screaming Frog SEO Spider.
If you decide to redesign your website, work with your web developers and SEOs to ensure that any pages that have changed in terms of URL structure are redirected to the new or most relevant version of that page. This helps to retain traffic, to improve the user experience, and also pass on valuable link metrics to your new pages.
Search engine readable image text
When designing your website, ensure that the search engine can read any text contained within images such as banners and calls to action. These elements often contain valuable keywords relating to your business and services.
Search engine readable business details & telephone numbers
As with image text, it’s vitally important to ensure that your business address and telephone number are contained on your website in text format. This is particularly important if you are a local business, as the search engines use key details such as your business name, address and telephone number to establish the locality of your business.
A favicon (short for favourite icon) is a small image file that is associated with a particular website or web page. Your web designer will be able to implement this file onto your website in a manner that web browsers can make use of, by displaying the icon in a user’s bookmarks bar. Although the lack of a favicon won’t be detrimental to your search visibility, it can help to reinforce your brand and improve the user experience of visitors who often return to your site via bookmarks.
Digital marketing strategy and planning
At Hallam we work closely alongside web design and development agencies to ensure that all of our clients get the most out of their website. A key part of work is to provide sound digital strategy and planning to make sure there are no potentially costly mistakes made from the outset. If you are considering launching a new website and are looking for an experienced digital marketing agency to support your project, then give us a call on 0800 622 6100 to see how we can help.