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Posted on Thu 23rd Jul, 2015 in: Influence, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media by Emma Lister

If you're an SEO whizz and an expert at managing and updating websites, ignore this guide. It's certainly not for you. This is a handy beginners' guide for SMEs looking to audit their website. If managed correctly, your website can be one of the greatest marketing tools you have. If not, it can affect your bottom line. For many SMEs, the website is also their sales brochure, so it's vital that it says exactly what they want it to. I'm not just referring to the copy, the whole look and feel of your site is important. And above all, your brand proposition should be reflected throughout. Your website can impact on the way your audience sees you as a company, and how it engages with you in the future. For example, when I access a website that looks and feels great, and interacts well with me as a visitor, I'm more likely to rate that product or service more highly. Companies should audit their websites on a regular basis to check they are performing as well as they should be. If your site is old or hasn't been updated for a while, you should definitely consider auditing it to ensure it is in top shape and working hard for you as a marketing platform. Here's a checklist of key things to look out for when evaluating your site: 1. Are you meeting your objectives? Firstly, you need to decide exactly what you want to achieve, whether it's an increase in conversion rates, boosting sales, generating more leads or improving brand awareness. You need to decide this before you begin evaluating. A way to determine whether your site is meeting your objectives is by using analytics tools such as Google Analytics, which analyses your visitors, including their demographics, time spent on the site and browsing activity. It's really easy to use and delivers a breakdown of all the key stats you need to determine your site's activity. You should also be using Google Analytics to check the bounce rate, which represents the number of people who enter a website and then leave straight away. If you have a high bounce rate, it means people aren't sticking around. It will also give you an indication of who your audience is and what pages they find most interesting. 2. SEO is king. Every company in every sector is battling to be on page one of the main search engines, and only 10 businesses can be. Search engine optimisation is extremely important in helping you rank higher in search results. So how does SEO work? That's one of Google's big secrets, but essentially it's getting every aspect of your website to work in a way that's most compelling for the visitor. Get it right, and you can find your website flying up the rankings, which will drive more traffic. Get it wrong, and your site could end up buried past page 3 of the search results for your keywords - which effectively means it's invisible. So it's definitely worth spending time and energy (and maybe some of your budget) on your SEO. 3. Content. Are you offering enough engaging and interesting content? Your website is an opportunity for you to share your brand's personality and ethos. But it has seconds to capture the interest of visitors before they disappear, so make sure what you're offering is of value. You need to remember that Google is also a key audience so it's important that you have content which appeals to the search engine, as well as your customers. Google needs to know that your content is relevant and something that people are likely to search for. It uses tools to search your site, looking for new content which contains backlinks, keywords, long, in-depth quality copy and a strong, relevant title. It also loves content which appears to be answering a particular question, e.g. how old is Brad Pitt, which internet users are searching for answers to. Fresh content goes a long way. It will keep your visitors engaged and returning, and shows that your site is active and being updated regularly. Your homepage, in particular, should be something that visitors remember even days after they've left. 4. Think mobile. With the number of mobile-only internet users increasingly rapidly, you need to ensure your website is optimised for mobile. Use a smartphone or tablet to check how your website looks. If it's not easy to view or navigate, you'll lose a lot of potential traffic. 5. Is it easy to edit? Standard content management systems are often highly technical and can be very limiting in terms of the structure and flexibility of your website. Instead, open-source tools like Wordpress and Magento are becoming extremely popular for website building, as they provide a much simpler wireframe, which can be easily accessed and developed by any web developer, and can make it a lot easier for you to edit your content. At Aberfield, we have experience of developing websites for clients as part of a wider marketing strategy. But we begin any development of a new site with a full website audit, which evaluates the performance of your site and the areas in which it needs to be improved. We know from experience that the above elements are really important in ensuring your website's on the right track. If you're not excelling in all of those areas, you may need a new website that better reflects your brand. For more information about how we can audit your website, contact hello@aberfield.com or call 0113 8800 444.

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