Following on from 12 Essential New Year Resolutions for Your Website – Part 1 published last week, here are the final 6 priorities you should be focusing on this year.
7. Harness Creativity to Stand Out
Social media is rapidly reaching maturity. With active Facebook users now in decline in the UK, some would argue that we have already reached full maturity. 3 years ago your competitors probably weren’t on social media, and if they were, they probably weren’t doing it awfully well.
The key to organic visibility lies in knowing your target audience and in your ability to produce novel and creative content, that resonates with them.
In the coming year you can bet your life that all of your competitors will be using social media, and in a space increasingly dominated by big brands able to buy newsfeed dominance, it will only become more difficult to stand out. Your customers are increasingly distracted by the sheer volume of messaging they are bombarded with, so capturing their attention will become even more of a challenge.
A big budget to pay for social media advertising is not the only way to stand out however. The key here lies in knowing your target audience and in your ability to be novel and creative in a way that resonates with them. It will become more important that you are able to come up with campaigns (either specific engagement campaigns, sales promotions or competitions) that are well thought out, capture your customers imaginations and fit with your brand.
There are various tactics you can use to help you do this, from running fun competitions, crowd-sourcing content to share, through to newsjacking. A great example of which came in late 2013 when Waterstone’s publicly responded to Amazon’s drone delivery PR stunt, which you can read more about here.
8. Understand & Utilise Microdata
Microdata is a way of labeling or tagging different sections of information on your website. These labels give search engines more detailed information that help them to better understand the content on your website.
Rich snippets highlight key information about your business, helping you stand out from competitors and drive more closely targeted traffic.
Better understanding of your content means that search engines and some browsers, can choose to display what’s known as ‘rich snippets’ which help to highlight key information about your business. This can help you to stand out in search listings or can add more information to PPC adverts for example.
The beauty of Microdata is the ease of which it can be implemented. One way to do this be by using Google’s data highlighter tool, essentially a simple WYSIWYG editor that allows you to select existing content and tag it. A more powerful option is to manually tag the code in your site, similar to the HTML markup developers will already be familiar with.
9. Build Relationships
Building strong relationships with your customers will help to keep them engaged with you brand and it will also increase the chance that they will buy from you again. Nurturing relationships with your customers is critically important. With more choice than ever, a customer can easily choose to shop with a competitor instead of you. Making them feel valued, demonstrating outstanding customer service and personalising the shopping experience are all going to become more critical in helping you will retain their custom.
Customers are faced with a plethora of choices and options. Building close relationships and providing high levels of customer service, will effectively help you to differentiate your business.
Building time into your day to have conversations with customers on social media, or picking up the phone to give them an order update or simply to ask if there is anything else they need help with, is a great way of making a customer feel like you care. Send customers an unexpected discount code, give them a gift voucher on their birthday or reserve your best deals for existing customers instead of chasing new business.
Loyal customers are happy customers, and as such they are much more likely to spread positive sentiment about your brand and use your services or shop with you again.
10. Embrace Reviews
Love them or loathe them, there is no getting away from the fact that customers are judging your product / service and leaving reviews. You need to be on the ball, as a bad review can be damaging to a business’ reputation and can have an adverse effect on sales.
A good review can help to swing the purchasing decision in your favour.
With so many websites selling so many similar goods and services, a good review can help to swing the purchasing decision in your favour. It will also help to generate positive sentiment about your brand, helping you grow and maintain the authority of your business.
Many review websites will allow you to sign-up as a business, letting you post rebuttals to any negative reviews or show your appreciation for positive reviews. Monitoring and actively posting in response to reviews, is vital part of online reputation management that shouldn’t be ignored.
11. Optimise For Mobile Devices
You only need to glance at the stats of the average website to see the ever increasing share of traffic being referred by mobile devices. As smartphones continue to get smarter and tablet usage continues to grow, the number of customers accessing your website from a mobile device will continue to rise next year.
As more and more people view websites on a range of different hand held devices and across multiple screens, responsive design (design that adapts depending on the users device) will become increasingly important. What’s more, Google is shouting loudly that this is the way to go. So if you are considering a website redesign, then make sure you invest in a responsive site.
Learn more about responsive design in the Smashing Magazine article Guidelines for Responsive Web Design.
12. Change Your Approach To Link Building For SEO
Link building can be manipulated in a number of ways, from commenting on blog articles through to submitting sites to link directories and Google is very clear on its stance when it comes to link building.
Even guest blogging, once regarded as ‘safe’ and effective, is under increased scrutiny. If you still leaving spammy comments on other peoples blogs or paying a company to get your website bulk submitted to directories, you need to stop this immediately.
Artificial link building practices (also known as ‘black hat’) will harm your chances of ranking well in search engines. You can still seek links in directories (sparingly!), but only if they are highly relevant and authoritative (for example, the human edited Dmoz directory), trying to inflate your link popularity by placing links here, there any everywhere, will pick you up a Google penalty sooner or later, so now is the time to stop.
Focus instead should shift to creating quality content that people will genuinely want to share, talk about and link to.
Read more about adopting a Quality Content Focused Approach to SEO.
Whilst the worst of Google’s changes are hopefully now behind us, the new year will provide its own challenges, and staying on top of technological changes and trends will continue to be important. Competition will increase, so grabbing the attention of your customers will get harder and maintaining visibility in organic search will become increasingly tricky.
With so many considerations, start off by choosing just one thing a month to focus on, and you’ll effectively improve your chances of achieving online success this year.
Need a hand with anything we’ve mentioned above? Get in touch, we’d be delighted to help.