Creating a website is relatively simple, and in most cases can be done with minimal tools and no prior experience. Easy-to-use templates have opened up the web to virtually everybody, and the majority of businesses have long been operating in the virtual sphere. However, with the online market busier than ever and continuously growing, setting up a website is just the tip of the iceberg. In order to remain competitive, it is crucial to review your website on an ongoing basis, ensuring optimal performance at all times.
Understanding how both search engines and consumers alike engage with your site is important, and with a few simple tweaks, you can ensure that your site continues to stand out. Here are some of the primary factors to consider when optimizing your website.Here're the 8 Ways to Optimize your Website for a Competitive EdgeClick To Tweet
With so many websites at their fingertips, consumers are somewhat spoiled for choice. Security is therefore a major deciding factor for online shopping, and if your site is not instantly recognizable as trustworthy and secure, it will no doubt lose out to those that are.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protection is necessary for encrypting sensitive information as it travels across the web, ensuring that only the intended recipient is able to read it; this is especially important for safeguarding usernames, passwords and credit card details.
An SSL certificate also protects against phishing, making it much harder for cyber criminals to impersonate your website. The visual cues provided by an SSL layer – a padlock icon and the appearance of your URL as “https” in the browser – instantly telling customers that your site is secure and can be browsed safely.
2. Optimization for Mobile
With mobile taking over desktop in terms of internet usage, optimization for the smaller screen is more crucial than ever. Responsive design ensures that your site can adapt to fit a variety of devices, providing a seamless user experience at all times.
Your mobile site needs to be lightweight and minimalistic, so prioritize the content in such a way that only the most essential information is featured on the landing page. Large call-to-action buttons also help to make your site more easily navigable on mobile, and text should be clearly legible.
Finally, in order to cater to variable screen sizes, ensure that your site scales to both landscape and portrait views. As mobile increasingly becomes the device of choice, optimization is the only way to ensure that slow loading times and poor performance do not deter potential customers.
As the internet eliminates the need for human interaction between vendor and consumer, it is extremely easy for online businesses to appear somewhat faceless and impersonal. However, with trust impacting heavily on a customer’s decision to use an online service, integrating personal elements into your site can greatly improve its competitive edge.
Adding an “About” page with photos and ensuring that contact details – including a physical address – are clearly visible are some simple yet effective ways to show the human side behind your online business and win over consumer trust.
4. Ease of Navigation
Browsing online should be nothing less than a smooth, hassle-free experience, and simple navigation is key to keeping potential customers onsite.
Streamline your site by incorporating a prominent link to the homepage throughout, and consolidate navigational points into as few sections as possible – too many options can be off-putting.
Additionally, a search function is especially useful for ecommerce sites, enabling users to filter products. The easier a site is to navigate, the easier it is for consumers to find what they are looking for, greatly increasing the chances of a conversion.
5. Clear Calls-To-Action
No matter how obvious it might seem to you as the site owner, guiding the user with clear call-to-action buttons is the simplest way to ensure your site serves its purpose.
Identify one main objective and present this in the form of a prominent Call-To-Action on the landing page; a blog might want to focus on getting people to follow, whereas an ecommerce site may prompt users to start shopping. Whilst it’s possible to have several calls-to-action, simplicity is key – prioritize the most important for optimum impact.
In an increasingly competitive market, customer reviews can make the difference between winning and losing business. Collect feedback on an ongoing basis by asking customers to complete a quick survey or provide a star rating, and use this to your advantage: positive testimonials should be featured on the homepage or at the point of purchase, and negative feedback should be used to implement changes and improvements.
Integrating genuine testimonials assures other customers that your service is worth using, and will give you an edge over the competition.
7. Language and Tone
When it comes to business, it’s not only what you say but how you say it, and tone of voice is paramount when making that connection with your target audience.
Adapt the language throughout your site to ensure that it aligns with both your company image and the demographic you are trying to reach; a more informal tone may befit a younger audience, whilst a business-to-business service may call for a more professional style. Whichever voice you choose, ensure that it is consistent throughout.
8. Search Engine Visibility
Human factors are not the only thing to consider when it comes to site optimization; in order to attract visitors in the first place, it is crucial to ensure visibility is strong in the eyes of the search engine.
Valuable content is key to ranking favorably in search results, but this does not only apply to new content; optimizing what you’ve already got can go a long way to enhancing your website’s performance. Go through your existing content with a fine toothcomb, integrating links to other internal pages where relevant, and adding alt and title tags to all images – without them, they will not be visible to the search engine.
Another simple yet effective way to improve your site’s organic rankings is to customize the title tags for every page. Title tags tell the search engine what each page is about, and, in addition to containing the relevant keywords, should be fairly short (50-60 characters including spaces) and unique to every page.
These are just a few things to consider when optimizing for search engines – more information on how Google determines website ranking can be found here.
Site optimization is an ongoing process, and site performance should be assessed on a regular basis in order to maintain a competitive edge.
Before you start optimizing, using a website checker tool such as this one from 1&1 will enable you to see which elements of your site are performing well and those that could be improved. The tool will evaluate the most important aspects of your site, including presentation, security, and search engine visibility, and will provide recommended actions to help you tailor your optimization strategy accordingly.
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