What makes a great website?
1. A Professional Design
A website is often the first way a potential customer comes into contact with your business, so it is essential that the design is professional.
In the past many designers relied on large images, minimal text and features which, if employed now, would make a site appear quite dated. Instead, opt for a sophisticated yet simple design, which uses both imagery and text to capture the attention of the visitor and provide an engaging experience.
2. Maintain The Brand
When designing business websites, it is important that the site takes its style from the business’ brand and unique personality.
One of the key aims of the website is to instil trust and build a strong recall for your business in the minds of your target customers.
It can be tempting to follow the latest design fashions but try to find a creative way of designing your site which follows your brand guidelines.
3. Invest In Professional Images And Graphics
The images and graphics which are used throughout your website will dictate whether the site has a professional feel.
Instead of opting for generic images, try to show the personal side of your business with a true reflection of your services, products or people.
Whether the images are used as backgrounds to a page or within gallery sections, they will showcase the business and draw visitors into your site.
Don’t be tempted to just grab something from Google Images.
Unless you want a letter demanding lots of money from a disgruntled copyright owner.
The big image houses are checking for infringements 24/7 – it’s a real money spinner for them.
4. Design a Clear Navigation Tool
An awesome website is one which users can navigate easily.
They should be able to quickly find the important sections, without having to click through too many pages.
A navigation bar will provide visitors with all the information they require to find certain pages in your website, with many websites positioning these along the top or at the left-hand side of the page.
The key is to maintain a simple and uncluttered design, with all relevant pages grouped under categories to streamline the navigation process.
5. Add a Search Tool
If visitors already know what they are looking for, make it as easy as possible for them to find the exact page with a search tool.
Stick to a design for the tool which people will instantly recognise, such as a magnifying glass.
The aim of the tool is to help your visitors, so make the tool as clear and easy to locate as possible.
6. Include a Detailed Footer
All businesses have essential information such as a phone number or email address which customers will be searching for.
Instead of cluttering the pages with this information or making it difficult to find, add everything important to the footer.
It is also a great idea to include a sitemap within the footer, as this will make navigation to specific pages quick for your visitors.
7. Create Clear Call-To-Actions (CTA)
A CTA is one of the most important aspects of your website design, as it will show your visitors where to go and what to do.
A great website should have a high level of conversion, which is impossible without effective calls to action.
A CTA doesn’t necessarily need to encourage a visitor to make a purchase; it could advise a visitor to make a call, claim an offer or even sign up to receive emails.
8. Design a Responsive Website
With so many people browsing websites using mobile devices, it is essential that you make sure your site can be viewed on both mobiles and tablets.
This is also important for improving the search engine optimisation (SEO) of the website, as Google is gradually shifting towards a mobile-first index.
This will mean that your website’s position in search engine results will depend on the content available within the mobile site.
9. Modern Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Methods
For a business website, one of the most important factors to consider when attracting traffic is the site’s ranking on search engines.
A great website design is worth nothing if your target customers cannot find the site.
In the past, effective SEO was based on using targeted keywords, high-quality links and meta descriptions.
However, today SEO is ALSO connected to a business’s digital marketing strategy.
The first step to improving on-page SEO is to create a Google Analytics and Google Search Console account.
These will show you where your website traffic is coming from, how visitors move through your site and assist with basic on-page SEO.
There are simple aspects such as creating an XML sitemap and a Robots.txt file which will help search engines such as Google find, crawl and index your website. Many websites today are built using WordPress, which will automatically create a Robots.txt file.
There are also useful plugins for WordPress sites, such as Yoast, which will help you control the XML sitemap and other key SEO features such as descriptive meta descriptions.
But let’s be clear, SEO is a minefield and not for the feint hearted.
Hours, days, weeks and more can be wasted if you’re not sure what you’re doing – don’t be afraid to get some professional SEO help.
10. Research Targeted Keywords
Although keywords are not the most important aspect when planning SEO, they are still essential when it comes to achieving a great ranking.
Google provides a useful tool, the Keyword Planner, which will help you research which keywords customers are using and the competition for them.
Instead of stuffing your content with the keywords, aim for a density of 2% to 2.5%.
It is advisable to use the main keywords in the title of the page, sub-headings and the URL (permalink).
11. Optimise Your Images
The use of images can boost a website’s SEO, however, they should be optimised first.
To maintain the site’s speed when there are large files on a page, compress any images to the minimum size possible without compromising on the quality.
As many people will be viewing the images on mobile devices, bear this factor in mind when positioning and sizing the image on the page.
The image should also be saved and labelled with alt text containing your targeted keywords, as this can boost your site results in image searches.
12. Create Effective Content
When creating content for your website either as a page or a blog post, always aim for long-form content of over 1,000 words.
This will improve your SEO and also encourage visitors to stay on your website for longer.
The longer visitors stay on the site, the higher Google will position your site in search results as it will show that your website contains high-quality relevant content.
To create valuable content, you need to understand who your target audience is and their buyer persona. By knowing exactly who you are creating content for, you will be able to write valuable content which educates your potential customers.
Through providing something useful to your visitors it will help build brand loyalty and encourage them to purchase a product or service from you.
Every page on the website should have a clear message which captures the attention of visitors.
The content should draw the visitor in and encourage them to visit more pages of the site, or follow a clear CTA.
The homepage introductory paragraph is one of the most important sections of content on the site.
Aim for content which is clear, precise and interesting by quickly summarising the overall business.
Most visitors will only spend a couple of seconds on your homepage before deciding whether to leave the website, or look for further information.
13. Maintain a High Level Of Readability
Most people will only spend five seconds visiting a website, before deciding whether or not to stay.
When developing the content of the site, consider its level of readability. Always aim to use clear fonts, short paragraphs, bullet points, clear headings and sufficient spacing as these aspects will all improve readability.
14. Site Speed Is Critical
Another ranking factor which Google considers as part of effective SEO is the site speed, on both desktop and mobile devices.
If a page loads slowly, visitors will look elsewhere. This will give your website a high bounce rate, which will have a negative impact on SEO.
To improve your site speed, ensure the website is hosted with a reliable company with a fast server speed and a high uptime figure.
In addition, Google has produced page speed guidelines which advise website developers to leverage browser caching, optimise images, prioritise visible content and minify resources.
15. Off-Page Link-Building Strategies
The most common and effective way to boost SEO off-page is to build high-quality links to your website.
A link-building strategy is a long-term part of the digital marketing strategy, as links will be added overtime and provide a continual boost to your website.
Establishing backlinks through working with other businesses and influencers is a great way to boost the credibility of your website.
Another method of building links is to submit your website to business directories and add your own useful content to other blogs and forums.
The quality of the link will depend on the other websites domain authority, so it is important to link to high-authority, popular websites which relate specifically to your industry.
16. Voice Search Results
The latest buzz around website SEO centres around the rise in voice search and voice assistants such as, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Microsoft Cortana and Apple’s Siri.
These smart speakers allow users to ask questions, which are answered instantly by either a voice result or search engine result page.
The results depend on the featured snippet, which is on average 29 words long. This means that to rank in the possible answers your featured snippet must be simple, concise and quick to read.
As a relatively new aspect of SEO, voice search optimisation is an amazing addition to a business website.
17. An Effective Digital Marketing Strategy
When establishing an awesome business website, an effective digital marketing strategy is required to guarantee the site is found online.
The aim of your strategy should be to engage with your target audience, which will in turn help you build a relationship and encourage them to visit your website.
This can include everything from regular blog posts and active social media accounts to email marketing and Google advertising.
Search engine marketing through paid campaigns on Google Adwords is one of the fastest ways to drive traffic to your website.
When establishing a new website, a pay-per-click campaign will give your site traffic an extra boost, which is useful while you establish organic traffic.
18. Include a Chat Integration Tool
If your website is attracting traffic the next stage is to convert these visitors.
One of the most effective methods of interacting and converting your visitors into customers is to add a chat integration tool to your website.
Instead of relying on visitors contacting you by phone or email, ask them to do it there and then.
There is no requirement to have a dedicated member of staff monitoring the chat tool around the clock, as a bot can be programmed with pre-selected questions and answers.
The tool can be designed to pop-up to a visitor asking if they require help, or just start a conversation if the chat symbol is clicked.
By connecting with your visitors while they are using your website it creates a more personal and user-friendly service.
19. Ensure There Is Security In Place
Security is vitally important to all businesses, so it is important to ensure your website is secure and well protected.
Your website should protect your visitors and any sensitive data which was provided to you from access by unauthorised people.
An SSL certificate is required for your website to be served over HTTPS, as this will guarantee the connection between you and your visitor is encrypted.
As security becomes an increasingly important issue, Google has announced that it will soon start labelling websites as dangerous when they do not have an SSL certificate in place, which could reduce the amount of traffic.
An SSL certificate is especially important when your website requires customers to provide you with their payment information.
By encrypting the data across a secure connection, it will build trust in your website as a whole.
Hopefully these key factors will help you in your quest for an awesome business website.
With so many aspects to consider, we can help you work out exactly what will boost your business. We can build an amazing website design and create a brilliant marketing strategy, so your business will have the tools required to attract customers.