2020 is almost over (Thank goodness, right?), but that just means that a new year is about to begin. Many use the first of the year as a time to do things like lose weight, be more active, or start a new hobby. This time of year is also a good time for business owners to review their website and ensure that it’s ready for 2021 and beyond.
This list is not all-encompassing by any means, but if you use this as a checklist, you can determine if your business’s website is falling short in any key areas.
In 2016, mobile web traffic was greater than desktop traffic from the first time ever. Even with the pandemic and more people working from home, that trend will likely continue for the foreseeable future. It’s very important for companies to have websites that render properly on smaller screens so that users don’t encounter distorted images or have a bad experience using the site. In the past, having a separate version of the website for mobile users was considered the norm. Now, responsive design is the standard. We’ve highlighted 4 reasons to have a mobile-responsive website:
Studies show that mobile visitors tend to abandon web pages that take longer than three seconds to finish loading. If a site isn’t mobile-responsive, it will also take more time to navigate. This can frustrate customers to a point of no return.
Lower Bounce Rates
This is directly connected to the reason we just highlighted. A site that is mobile-responsive provides a much better user experience for the visitor. A good user experience means that visitors are likely to stick around for a longer period of time and explore different areas of your site. As a result, those engaged visitors are less likely to bounce.
Higher Conversion Rates
Creating a consistent user experience across all devices is very helpful to converting new customers. Having a single secure website that looks professional and operates smoothly, no matter which platform or device one is using, makes users less likely to get frustrated or seek out a competitor.
An SEO Boost
While better bounce rates can translate into higher search rankings, there is a confirmed SEO benefit for mobile-friendly sites. Back in 2015, Google stated that Google Search would be expanding the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.
As part of its basic functionality, any website has to have things that give Google the information to rank your website. This includes things like:
- Unique page titles and meta descriptions for each page and for each product (if you have an e-commerce site)
- Schema markup for location pages and for products (if you have an e-commerce site)
- Solid internal linking structure
- Clear and easy to use website navigation
- A logical website hierarchy – meaning that pages are organized in a proper and orderly fashion that makes them easy to find, both for search engines and for your users
According to Sophos Security Threat Report, on average 30,000 websites are hacked every day. While many big brands and websites tend to be targeted, malware and other software can be deployed on a website, once it has been determined to be vulnerable or compromised.
So, what can you do to protect your website against hackers? Actually, you can do quite a bit yourself.
Keep Your Software and Plugins Updated
Content management systems used to build websites (like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla) regularly update their software. Many times, you will need to log into your website admin interface and install the upgrade. Updates are usually done to add additional protection to your website from the latest virus or malicious code, as well as any other new features. This is also true for any themes or plugins that your site uses. If you don’t feel you have the time or don’t feel comfortable monitoring these yourself, contact us. We can do handle website management and maintenance for you.
Regularly Change Admin Passwords
Take the extra time to create strong passwords that are tougher to guess or hack. Strong passwords tend to have at least 8 characters (though 10 or 12 is better), and use a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols.
Also, regularly change your passwords every 60 to 90 days. I know that can make it tough on remembering your password. That’s why we recommend using a password manager service like LastPass.
Have an SSL Certificate
An SSL Certificate shows that your website has an encrypted connection. Even if you aren’t selling items on your site, it’s considered standard practice by many to have SSL certificates installed for new sites. Visually, a padlock symbol will appear next to your domain URL along with ‘https’ at the start (instead of just ‘http’). Additionally, back in July 2018, Google started marking non-SSL websites as ‘not secure’ – visually warning visitors to acknowledge before continuing on to the site.
Having an SSL certificate won’t prevent a cyber attack, but it can help minimize attempts. Also, it shows your clients that your site doesn’t leave their data vulnerable to hackers or phishers.
Also, HTTPS has been a confirmed Google ranking factor since 2014, so switching to HTTPS has an SEO benefit.
Professional Look and Feel
Whether the look of your website was updated a few years ago or if your site looks like it stepped out of a time machine from 1999, having an outdated website design can drive potential customers away. Consider these facts:
Many Judge a Company’s Credibility Based Only on How the Site Looks
According to a study by BJ Fogg at Stanford University, 75% of users judged a company’s credibility by website design alone. What does an outdated design make you think about the company? Do you question their products or services? Do you wonder if they’re still in business? Perhaps you search for a competitor and look at their website for a better answer. Just like many chefs will say that oftentimes we first eat with our eyes, the same can be said for websites and how we gather our first impressions based on what we see.
First Impressions are Everything
According to a study from Google, it only takes 0.05 seconds for users to form their first impression of your site! In that instant, users don’t have a chance to read your site or click on anything. That fast first impression can determine a lot and that first impression is based solely on the visual design of your website. Another popular phrase rings true here. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Bad Designs Can Cause a Loss of Traffic
A bad web design can do a lot more than just damage your credibility. It can also drive away potential customers. According to a study from Adobe, 38% of people will stop engaging with your website if the content or design isn’t pleasing to the eye. Many people don’t want to see cluttered information or something that looks like it hasn’t been updated in 20 years. If your site is unattractive, it could be costing you leads or sales.
This may seem like a lot, but don’t worry. SEO Rocket can help you with any or all of these concerns. We can handle everything from website redesigns to regular maintenance, hosting and much more. Contact us today to see how we can help you.