For many small companies, the commission of a website can be an ordeal. Here, I share my thoughts on making the task easier.
Firstly, ignore those adverts that claim to make the whole thing easy. These hosting and template sites are more than likely going to raise your temperature than serve your needs.
The problem with many template website services is that you will get the website they dish up, not the website that you want. They are often not as user-friendly as they make out and heaven help you if you need to contact customer services (do you enjoy those tunes they play while you are kept waiting?). I have helped to fix the reputational damage (and lost opportunities) that some of these template services have caused for some of my clients. Seriously, it just is not worth it.
What to do?
Get hold of a good, friendly, website developer. A new, bespoke, fully functioning website is not that expensive. The money that you may pay a developer will be worth it and it will give you complete control over the finished product. Besides, with the template websites, the monthly fee adds up over time and you end up paying much the same – if your website is likely to be around for a few years. It is much like buying a car or renting one over and over again. In time, you end up out of pocket and with little or no ownership of the website you created.
The one thing that you need is for your website to be visible to the public. A website developer will optimise your website for the best results when people search for you. Search-Engine Optimisation (SEO) – which usually translates to how easily Google can find you – makes all the difference to the success or otherwise of the website – and consequently, the business. When a potential customer searches for something related to your business, Google uses an algorithm – a mathematical rule-book – to decide how relevant your site is. The better the site is optimised for Google, the higher up the results your website will appear.
Template sites will often promise an easy SEO facility with your website, but some of these are woeful. Very often, they will decide what ‘search terms’ are relevant to your website based upon what content you have entered. Sometimes, they can be way off the mark and you will be stuck with them. Even when they do allow you a little more choice, the result can often be the same. It helps to know exactly what Google is looking for – what the algorithm is likely to respond to – in order to ensure visibility for your website. Any website developer worth their salt will know these rules and will ensure that your site is optimised properly.
Top Tips for Optimising your Website
Number One Top Tip – Fresh New Content
Make sure that your site is regularly updated with new and interesting content. Google detects this and promotes your website up the rankings. The easiest way to do this if you have a blog on the website, or if you add articles, case studies, news items and the like.
Number Two Top Tip – Links to your Site
If your site is interesting, then people will want to link to it anyway. Google sends out what it calls ‘crawlers’ – that detect links and view them as approval for the site by other sites. This is especially true if the site linking to your site is important in itself. Google is able to distinguish between what it calls ‘natural’ links and those that have been set up in a close network of sites in an attempt to fool the crawlers.
Number Three Top Tip – Easy Navigation
Make sure that the site is designed in such a way that it is easy to navigate around and that each page is accessible by at least one static link. Think of it like a well-designed building, with ease of access to all floors, a simple layout and good direction signs so that you can find the room you want with ease.
Number Four Top Tip – Optimised for all devices
These days, a website might be accessed on a PC, a laptop, an iPad, a tablet or a phone. As it turns out, accessing the web by phone will soon overtake access using all other devices. Google will promote those sites that are well optimised for all devices. Web Developers understand this. The Template sites still have some way to go to make this a reality.
Number Five Top Tip – All the other stuff (that I don’t understand)
There is so much more that a web developer can do to optimise your site for Google. Using tags, meta-tags, anchor text – lots of technical stuff at the back end of the website – and administrative things like notifying Google. If you trust the Template sites to do all that for you, good luck. Also, there are all sorts of underhand practices that people used to use to try and fool the algorithm – cloaked content, crawler-only pages – but Google is wise to these tricks and will punish those who use them with lower rankings. A good web developer will use only the best acceptable methods to raise your website’s profile.
The Importance of using a professional
I work closely with a number of other marketing professionals including graphic designers, web application designers and website developers. I know the difference that these professional can make. With well written content and the technical skills of a website developer, your business can benefit from a well search-engine optimised website. After all, it is your shop window for the world. If you had a real shop window (maybe you do), then you would not take the risk of filling it with junk (bad content), leaving the displays there for years (no fresh content), disorganised (no ease of navigation), visible from only one spot on the pavement (not optimised for all devices) and poorly lit (without the technical stuff that allows it all to be seen).
Who do I Recommend?
I am often asked to recommend website and software developers. In my experience, nothing beats someone who is local, trusted and technically brilliant. For me, that means that I have little hesitation in recommending Martyn Durrant. He created this website and many others that serve their businesses very well indeed. Martyn is not only a website developer, he is a business application developer. He is based in the Bristol area but serves the M4 corridor up to and including towns like Reading, Newbury and Swindon. To check out some of his work, click here. The link takes you to his website, where he showcases some of his recent projects. Your website could not be in better hands.