The beginning of the year makes for a good time to review your digital marketing strategy. Here are the top three questions you should ask yourself to make sure you're up to date on the latest techniques that will help your business survive and prosper—now and always.
What Do Users Think of My Website?
When you create a company website, you aren't building it for yourself—you're building it to meet the needs of your customers. It's common to get so caught up in trying to create a site with a modern or trendy look that you lose track of the actual goal. Take a look at your website from the perspective of a customer, and think about the following:
User Experience (UX)
Usability and the overall user experience of a website should be number one. The first aspect of which should be focusing on the download speed, or load time, of your website. If your website is taking too long to load, studies have shown that 57% of those potential customers will give up and go visit a competitor's site instead after just 3 seconds.
Related Article: How to Create a Powerful User Experience on Your Ecommerce Site
For those visitors that make it past this point, the next most important aspect is to improve the functionality of the elements on the site and reduce bounce rates. Broken links, images that don't load properly and videos that won't play will make a site look outdated and unprofessional. These all add up and may turn off potential customers.
Finally, usability means having a good navigation for users. Even if everything works properly, visitors will get frustrated and leave if they can't readily identify what they're looking for in your main page navigation. Clearly labeled links and calls to action, well-organized sections and a search feature are all important for improving the user experience (UX) of your website.
An outdated look on a website can be off-putting to customers. Styles change over time, and what was cutting edge in the ’90s can now look painfully old-fashioned. If your website has been using the same style for a long time, it's probably time for an update. Consider revamping with a new design, a fresh logo or a completely new layout.
It's also important to keep in mind that no matter what design you choose, your site is responsive and works well on all devices. In addition to improving the user experience of your website for users across different platforms, Google now rewards websites with a “mobile-friendly” marker in search results next to their listing if they utilize responsive web design on their site.
It is essential to know what your competition is doing and how their website is performing in search. Check out the websites of your major competitors and compare their pages to your own. Do their pages appear higher-quality, better styled, or more informative? Do they have helpful features and tools that your website lacks? If so, it could be a sign that you're falling behind. Keep abreast of other sites so it doesn't get overshadowed by the competition.
In this increasingly vulnerable world we call the internet, customers now, more than ever, won't trust or purchase from a website they don't deem secure. With the dangers posed by identity theft, they're naturally wary about sharing credit card numbers and/or other personal information online. If you want customers to purchase items from you online, it's essential to use SSL encryption (HTTPS).
SSL protects the security and privacy of your visitors, assuring them that your site can be trusted with their data. However, when using SSL, ensure it is set up correctly and functioning. Improperly functioning SSL will show error messages, which can be more alarming to customers than if the page didn't use SSL at all.
How Is My Brand Reputation?
Maintaining a positive reputation for your brand online is of utmost importance. Don't believe the old saying about any publicity being good publicity. On the internet, bad publicity can very much harm your brand. Too many negative reviews of your company online can greatly impact the way your business is perceived in search results and cause the searchers to click your competitor's listing instead.
Negative reviews and articles have also been shown to rank high in search results in addition to the company's own website and other pages. This, as you can imagine, can repel many potential customers and website visitors.
At the end of the day, it's much easier to keep a positive reputation online than to reverse a negative reputation. In order to do this, you should perform some basic reputation management by replying to reviews in an orderly fashion and encouraging satisfied customers to write positive reviews. Clear communication with customers can often prevent a small problem from escalating into a larger problem. In the event that severe problems do develop, it may be advisable to hire a reputation management company to minimize the impact of those reviews.
Related Article: Are You Creating a Bad Business Reputation?
Even if you aren't dealing with a reputation problem, you should be doing all you can to building a positive opinion about your brand. Consider hiring a public relations (PR) agency or in-house professional to assist you in getting the word out. Good PR involves a lot more than just issuing press releases, it also involves being active on social media.
It's also not just about your brand name. The personal reputation of top-level executives can affect the reputation of the company as well (just ask Uber). An executive with a good online reputation can be seen as a pioneer in the industry, while an executive with a bad reputation can tarnish the company by association. A PR professional can help ensure that the company's brand and executives enjoy a positive reputation and help you improve your presence across the internet.
Am I Producing Valuable Content?
It is an often-repeated adage in the SEO industry that "content is king". With the Google Panda update this past year, this statement is more true than ever. This can include having very little and/or thin content, duplicative content and machine-generated or spun content. Just putting out a lot of content won't help you either. If you want to rank high with Google, you need to produce creative and valuable content.
When writing an article or blog post for your site, don't just produce generic copy intended to give the appearance that you regularly update your blog. Write something meaty—something that is interesting or useful to readers, and something that they wouldn’t find anywhere else. Ask yourself, “Why should someone read or link to this post rather than someone else's post on the same topic?” If you can't think of a good answer, then you’re not producing valuable content.
Create something unique—that's the way to win at content creation.