Welcome to Part 1 of our guide on Must Do’s on your website before starting Digital Marketing. There are laundry lists full of reasons that you might need a new website. They range from starting a new business, to rebranding, to updating or sometimes just because you feel like a refresh. But no matter what your reasoning, it’s super pertinent that you plan such an important part of any business carefully and methodically. Your website is not some throwaway bit of lip service to the digital generation, it’s an essential business tool and deserves to be treated as such.
“ …your website is your virtual office and shop welcoming visitors and showing what your company is and what it stands for “
Long gone are the days that a website could be optional or just a bit of parked space online. If your website is an important place to maintain reputation or the main channel for dirving awareness and income you should approach it’s production as seriously as the fitout of a physical shop. After all, your website is your website is your virtual office and shop welcoming visitors and showing what your company is and what it stands for. It should aim to be presented front and centre as an important business channel and up to the kinds of standards that the public and search engines expect in 2019.
So how can you ensure that you’re up to scratch? That’s the topic of today’s (and our next) blog. So let’s get started.
Something that we’ve noticed is very rarely considered at the beginning stages of a website is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). It’s actually surprising to find out how few people consider that the beginning stages of planning a website might be the best time to engage someone knowledgeable in this field. Wireframes (the basic planned structure of your website) are not just about user navigation and how you plan to structure your information, they’re very heavily tied into ranking well precisely because both of those things are viewed favourably by search engines. Many businesses tend to engage Digital Marketing professionals after the website is already built despite the fact that their first recommendations will likely revolve around editing the site structure and the onsite information. You should be planning that structure around relevant keywords with search volume rather than guessing at how to word menu items and structure the information they provide.
“ Getting started on the right foot with SEO will instantly improve your viability to search engines and provide the foundation for future success with SEO efforts. “
Keyword research can inform your information architecture, metadata (the backend parts which speak to search engines), onsite content and much more. Getting started on the right foot with SEO will instantly improve your viability to search engines and provide the foundation for future success with SEO efforts.
Be sure not to forget this when you’re getting ready to start on a website!
The investment in a website can be very large and without a way to reliably learn and evolve its content and structure, it can feel like being lost in the woods without a map. There are plethora of super shinny measurement services for your advertising, apps and websites these days but the truth is you can get most of it, if not all from Google’s free tools. Ask your web developer and advertisers to track your goals, build audiences and collect information about where people came from and what they were looking for.
This information will empower you to make positive change without the burden of guesswork. Top tools to try from Google include:
- Google Analytics; and
- Google Tag Manager
Using these tools you can collect, organise and present information and start advancing your plans for world domination.
Further to the search engine marketing part of everything, your site’s load speed is an important ranking factor (it should be less than 2 seconds per page), so decent hosting is a must for this reason alone, however, there are a number of other things to consider that aren’t related to this. Advertising is also heavily affected by the speed of the landing pages you send traffic to. Fast and reliable hosting will improve your user’s experience and likely result in more successful marketing campaigns.
For starters, not all hosting companies are the same and you need to consider which is best for your website’s needs. You should do your research to find out whether they’re likely to meet the level of support you need (an e-commerce site might need a lot more than an information website for example), the budget you have (although remember that in this industry especially, you get what you pay for), how often data is backed up and of course as we’ve already mentioned, speed is a serious consideration. Absolutely nobody likes slow websites.
In general, hosting your website locally in Australia or the country of your choice will improve performance for the user. Look for something fast and local!
This one is mostly for those looking to rebrand/change domains if said activities require a domain change or if the removal of an old navigation structure results in old URL’s being replaced, but that can also involve new businesses in some cases. There are basically two main situations here.
1. URL’s need to be redirected so that search engines know where to look when an old page disappears
2. URL’s need to be redirected to ensure that customers using old links, domains or URL’s end up somewhere useful.
It’s also important to note that the correct type of redirects needs to be in place. For instance, a “302” redirect indicates that the change is temporary, whereas as “301” indicates that the change is permanent. This is especially noteworthy because search engines take redirect types into account. If you had a page that was ranking well and you sit on a “302” (Temporary) redirect for too long this will likely count against you and you will lose standing. Be sure you think long and hard before launching a new site about what you need to redirect, how you need to redirect it and where you need to redirect to.
We have to admit, this point is a bit of a sore spot for us. We come across far too many sites engaged in sub-par security practices that put both the business and their customers at risk. We’re willing to bet that it’s also a bit of a sore spot with Google since they started ranking secure “https” sites higher than “http” sites. They want to serve the best results to their end users at the end of the day so it makes sense that they’d want those sites to be secure.
As far as what your own reasons should be, we don’t think we need to explain why you don’t want to be more easily hackable or why you shouldn’t want to do something like put your customers data at risk, so whether it’s ensuring that your site software is/stays up to date, having great passwords and policy around passwords, getting regular backups actioned, or encrypting any customer portals with SSL to protect their data it’s essential that you seek professional advice in this regard while you’re putting a new site together.
And that should give you a good list of things to consider! Do all of these before you start putting the site together and you should be prepared and in good stead. As always if you’d like to know more or have any feedback for us please feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below!