Neglecting your website health means lost customers and lost income. Just like ignoring your body’s health is very risky and can result in you feeling lousy, ignoring your website health is something that risks your business success….that also feels bad.
For you to remain healthy, it’s important that you take care of yourself, put only healthy things in your body and be vigilant for symptoms of health problems. It’s also important that, on a regular basis, you visit a doctor because, of course, doctors can detect problems you don’t notice…yet. They head off issues before they become problems. Website health care works similarly.
Your website’s health and hygiene is critically important…to your business’s overall health. There are a lot of forces out there conspiring against it, including time itself. Even if you don’t do anything to your website, technology changes taking place on the internet and within your hosting server can leave your website in the dust and things can “break.”
If you’ve got a typical website, you have a number of different types of components working at once. You have the hosting server and its software, you have your website platform software, you’re likely using a theme and, chances are, you’ve got plugins adding features and functions to make your website do what you need it to do. All of these items are developed by different entities and, believe me, they’re not always on the same page. Sometimes when updates happen, some of those items stop playing well together.
Let’s visit some of the factors you need to consider to make sure your website working for you, not against you.
Does your website reflect your business and its goals?
You have goals for your life, you family, your future. (Don’t you?) Well, it’s important that your business have goals as well. And, as your website is your business’s face upon the world, it’s important that your website is in harmony with and moves you towards your business goals. Does it?
Important questions (best asked during planning, but it’s never too late) will identify your value proposition (a clear concise message about what it is you’re offering), what makes your business unique or special and the key points about your business you wish to convey to your visitors.
Does it speak to your audience?
Critical to any business website is that you have some understanding of your audience. You can’t speak to them if you have no idea who they are or how to talk to them. What motivates them? What problems do they have, what solutions do they need? What industry or lifestyle do they come from and how do websites look and communicate in those worlds? What does a great, modern website in your audience’s world look like? How does IT communicate? Who is already successful at marketing to your audience and how do they do it? What do they say? What do they offer? What do they give away?
Also…understand that you may have more than one distinct audience. You may have a service or product, for instance, that is of interest directly to a particular type of consumer and that will require a certain path and information. But then, you might also have visitors that are corporate buyers…planners, contractors or providers who may be seeking on behalf of their clients. They may respond to a different “pitch.” Great website design does a good job of identifying these types of visitors and makes sure each gets the information they need and has an intuitive path to it.
Is it well organized and is navigation intuitive?
Clearn navigation is key to your website health. When visitors arrive on your website, make sure you give them clear paths to follow to the information they need to solve the problems they have…and get them there quickly. Make sure that the navigation is also designed to funnel visitors towards the products or features that you wish to sell and they need to buy.
We’ve all gotten lost on websites…it isn’t fun to have your time wasted. Poor navigation isn’t clear and the information we’re looking for is nowhere to be found. Worse than this, I’ve seen websites where I can’t even really figure out what it is they’re doing, selling or trying to achieve. Don’t have that kind of website. Regularly put yourself in the shoes of a new visitor…someone who DOESN’T know your wares as well as you do OR your website. Make sure they don’t get lost and make sure they get great information…quickly and easily.
Does it motivate your visitors to act?
One of the things that still surprises me is how many people treat their website like an after-thought. Their website is just an extension to their (usually not great either) business card or simply the ability to check the “get a website” box…and little else. This kind of thinking is tremendously self-defeating and represents a terrible waste of an opportunity. Especially in a growing, competitive world of the internet, where smart marketers are willing to spend good time and money on their marketing, this sort of lack-luster effort results in poor outcomes and not much business.
You need strong calls to action and conversion strategies to attract traffic, engage visitors and turn them into clients or at least prospects for down the road.
Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re hiring a salesperson for the express purpose of going out and knocking on doors and beating the bushes to bring in new business. You’re going to make sure that this salesperson knows how to sell, knows what is you do, understands your company’s mission and goals, knows how great your products and services are and you’ll give that individual great information and materials to communicate to potential clients your best message. You’ll want this person to get in front of the right people and you’ll want your representative to close sales.
Your website ought to be a 24/7 great salesperson who gets in front of the right audience, presents your offerings in their best light, asks for the sale…and gets it. Or, it can be an archaic after-thought that turns away business and costs you lost opportunities.
Are you able to easily update and manage your own content?
Website health depends on excellent, healthy content. Your marketing ought to be responsive and dynamic. There are a lot of moving parts and things change at a fairly brisk pace. The days when your website could sit unchanged are long over. Search engines will deny you traffic and send visitors to websites that grow and change.
Most entrepreneurs today turn to content management systems (CMS). A CMS is user-friendly, not requiring advanced training. If you can write a letter in Word or upload images to your Facebook page, you’re quite a way down the road to having all you need to manage your content with a good CMS. This means you don’t have to pay a website developer each and every time you need the smallest thing adjusted or changed.
When it comes to content management systems, the leader by far is WordPress. More than 25% of all websites in existence and in excess of 60% of the sites that use a CMS are WordPress websites. WordPress, like any great tool, is simple to use and is transparent to the process. You’re not bogged down in the nuts and bolts of the technology, so you can focus on the creative part of the process. (The part that makes you money.)
Are you regularly adding relevant, useful content that engages your visitors?
It’s important to give visitors a reason to come back again and again. Adding new, useful content regularly will make you a favorite destination. As we’ve seen, a good CMS makes it relatively easy to make changes and updates. But none of that does you any good if you don’t use it. And, in fact, you can find that your ranking in search engines deteriorates. Search engines want to provide their users with great content. If you’re not great content…they won’t send you traffic.
The best thing is for you to regularly publish information that is beneficial to your audience…whether or not they buy…because that’s the best way to get them to like you, trust you and…eventually…become a loyal customer. Like the rest of life, you have to give to get.
Using an excellent CMS like WordPress means you don’t have to be bogged down in learning website design or agonizing over the intricacies of website development. You can spend your time improving your ability to market, creating or acquiring great content. We live in an age of sharing content. People love us to share their content on our websites and blogs…IF we do it right and give credit where credit is due. There’s all kinds of great content that you can add to your website and benefit your audience, the content creator…AND your bottom line.
Are you able to see how your website is performing so you can adapt and respond?
It’s unbelievable…really…how many website owners have absolutely NO idea what is happening to or on their website. How can you respond and adapt your marketing if you have no idea what effect it’s having? This is the information age…and believe me…there’s a ton of information available to you that can help you make changes and decisions.
For example, are you using Google Analytics? This is one of the most powerful tools available to give you insight into your website’s performance and your visitors’ behavior on your site. You can see where your traffic comes from along with all kinds of demographic and other information so you know if your website is talking to the people you want it to talk to. Best of all…Google Analytics is free…zip…nadda. They even teach you how to use it, with classes offered for beginners through advanced.
Time to ask the doctor about your website health?
You wouldn’t drive your car without maintaining it…that’s bad for your car’s health. Similarly, you ought not allow your website to languish without maintenance. And, most people are a whole lot better at changing their own oil than maintaining their website health, so from time to time, you need to talk to a professional to make sure your website is healthy, updated and your marketing is in harmony with your goals.
Brass Ring Multimedia is in the business of building excellent WordPress sites. Our process involves thorough marketing analysis so we can not only build the right website, but also put together a plan to market effectively using WordPress as the hub of a business’s marketing efforts. We then train and coach our clients to ensure they know just how to perform the tasks necessary to keep their website relevant and their audience growing. Contact us to discuss how we can help raise your game online…making sure your website is right for your business, your audience and your goals.