While there are several powerful marketing & advertising channels online (i.e. search engines via optimization or advertising, social networks, search & listing directories, email marketing platforms, etc.), consumers will always prioritize information about the business, its products and services. Everything else should be valued as a means for driving them inbound to great useful content! For those with a ‘long term marketing view’, here are the most important things to consider with business websites.
Top Priorities For Modern Business Websites:
- CONTROL: Own your website and its URL! We should always have the option to move from host to host, at will! If not, accept the risk of losing an accumulated investment of time, money and digital footprint. Most free and many low cost providers offer solutions that can be a trap; that prioritize their business interests. No one likes being trapped and no one should accept the possibility of having to start all over again. Why accept anything but ownership? (See: Why A Business Should Use WordPress?)
- CONTENT: We cannot emphasize investment in content enough, a website is worthless without it! Pages must have a depth of information for each subject relevant to the business. Sooner or later buyers will need useful information on products and services. Above all, search engines wish to rank pages based upon their subject- specific usefulness to people!
- MOBILE: Accept that visitors arrive on small mobile devices! Be mobile- friendly to visitors on phones, tablets and PCs alike. Not only is it best for consumers, but search engines prioritize it. If you are not mobile friendly, assume Google does NOT want to recommend you in its search results.
- HOST & MANAGE: Chose a host platform that serves fast loading pages or expect to disappoint people and search engines! The Internet, browsers, devices, apps’ and, unfortunately, hacks advance; your website software must pace that advance! Most website solutions lag this reality, so be out front of the curve. Be hardened against hack and be certain your website software is updated & managed!
- SEO: It is common for a business owner to say, “the website is just a reference for existing clients.” We would argue this is narrow-minded because everyone searches. Assume that without some SEO a brand is invisible online. Use website software that, at least, offers search engine friendly support. Pages are ranked for their content: visibility in search results begins with the on page mechanics of content! Web Footprint: A website should also forever grow a far reaching web footprint of indexed pages, inbound- links, likes, shares and reviews … from all over the web. All of these off page signals may send someone somewhere sometime to our pages! They also serve as the off website signals search engines use to rank, so we must protect ‘web footprint’!
- DESIGN: For visitors, what your brand looks like matters. The website is an immediate replacement for window shopping. “Drag and drop” gets thrown around loosely by the bottom- dwellers of website software and its rarely ever good enough. Design can’t be one dimensional; it must accept a stack of priorities including website theme, mobile- responsive, security, lead capture and various other apps or functions. There’s got to be cooperation, aesthetic should never undermine other requirements. Choose solutions that allow you to carry page URLs from design to redesign, so that a web footprint can remain in tact!
- SECURITY: Like it or not, no one can guarantee website security. At minimum we must be sure website code is updated in order to harden it against vulnerability. Management matters and a serious marketer must invest in highly regarded website defense. Solutions like a firewall, daily malware scanning, two factor login authentication and much more! Some may even guarantee they can clean a website that has been hacked.
- WORDPRESS: And finally for websites, a business should use WordPress?