Your Organization’s Online Brand relies on providing a positive, interactive experience for your customers on your website. Your website needs to be timely, relevant, engaging and easy to find and navigate to meet the needs of your customers and members. This year, make a resolution to give your website a little more love and your website and your customers will thank you.
Here are our top New Year’s Web Resolutions for you to create a great online customer experience and grow your brand in 2012.
1. Optimize for Mobile
Mobile search and web browsing is going to be critical to being found on the web. It is estimated that nearly 36% of the U.S. now owns a mobile device and more than 80% of of small business owners are smartphone owners as well.
What this means to you is that there is a very good chance your site visitors are using a mobile device to search for and browse your website. Pull out your smartphone or iPad and go to your website. Spend some time trying to access different articles and content from your mobile and think about how this experience compares to the traditional experience from a typical desktop PC. If you are frustrated from the experience – imagine how your site visitors feel.
Now, search Google using one of your keyword phrases from a mobile device and see where you rank. Over the next few months, even high-ranking websites may see a rank decrease from mobile searches if they haven’t enabled user agent-detection for specific devices. Google just introduced Googlebot-Mobile, a new search engine crawler that specifically looks for mobile type CSS that triggers a mobile stylesheet custom for individual users’ devices. Someone browsing the web from their iPad is going to have a different experience than someone from their Android smartphone. Google ranks mobile websites based on factors such as usability, speed, features, and overall performance.
Get started with this web-resolution and register and attend our Free 2012 Search Engine Marketing New Year’s Checklist webinar this Thursday to learn how to optimize your website for mobile search in the New Year.
2. Don’t Forget About the Technical Stuff
As the internet has become more widely adopted by the general public, websites have become easier to set-up and maintain with less technical know-how required. There are some technical truths that still hold true and taking the time to understand these facts of the web this year will help you improve your customers’ online experience.
There’s no such thing as an “Out-of-the-Box” website. All websites require customization like naming menu buttons, adding a logo and graphics, changing the color scheme to match your organization’s branding, and adding content that tells visitors who you are and what you do. All of this takes time and is an ongoing process even after your website is launched live. Your website will look very different day-to-day from the initial set-up to “Go-Live” day.
Where you host your website does matter. Your website requires a host that stores your content, CMS software, and other data on enterprise-level computer hardware (servers and hard disk arrays) connected to the internet with high capacity bandwidth making your website accessible online to anyone who visits your website url. Nowadays, this typically means a cloud environment like Amazon Web Services which offers security, expandable storage and bandwidth when your site experiences unexpected spikes in traffic, and a dedicated IT staff available 24/7 to maintain, update, and repair the infrastructure hosting your website.
Learn more about the Cloud in this great video from SchipulCon 2011 and learn more about website CMS platforms in our free upcoming webinar “How to Select the Best Website CMS for Your Organization’s Website.”
3. Improve What’s Inside Your Website – Content!
You have a beautifully designed website that takes visitors’ breath away when they stop by – but have you focused on developing and implementing a content strategy that communicates to your visitors who you are and what you do once their breath returns?
Great content is relevant to your visitors and is also what attracts search engine crawlers to boost your website’s search rankings. Content isn’t limited to just text anymore either. Add photos from recent events, upload digital training and product videos, and integrate your social media accounts with your website to give your website visitors a full view into your organization’s online brand.
January is the perfect time to go through your website and review existing articles, news releases, and other content and make sure your latest press releases isn’t from 1996. Look at your website through the eyes of your visitors and think about what is not being communicated about your organization that should be and make a list of these items. Tip: Create a weekly schedule to write new content on these topics in 2012 and you’ll see an increase in your site traffic as well as your search engine rankings.
Learn more great ways to improve your website’s 2012 Content Strategy on the SEM blog and register and attend our Free upcoming webinar “Writing for the Web” to improve your website’s content this year.
Tools for Successfully Keeping Your Web-Resolutions
Here are a few more tools and resources we’ve put together to help you succeed:
Send us your questions and come hang out with us at our Houston Headquarters or Silicon Valley, California office!