New year, new website?

FireworksMany people use the festive break to refresh their website. Here are some of the things you need to do, to make the sparks fly in the new year.

Analyse where you are today

Look at your Google Analytics (or other webstats) to see:

  • How many unique visitors your site already gets
  • What keywords they search to find you
  • Which page they initially land on
  • How long they stay
  • Which is the last page they look at

Even more importantly, establish how many enquiries, leads, sales, newsletter signups etc. you get from your current site.

This sets a benchmark that you can compare against when you launch your new site (be sure to measure using the same tools so you are comparing like with like).

Check out the competition

Look at your competitor websites to see what they’re up to. Chances are, they’ve also had a redesign since last time you looked! Decide what works and what doesn’t, and how your new site can stand out from theirs.

Set your objectives

Are you redesigning your website because you want to achieve a particular goal, or is it because you want to escape a certain problem? When you’re clear about what you’re trying to achieve, you’re more likely to achieve a successful result. If you don’t know why you’re doing it; there’s no point!

To paraphrase what the Cheshire Cat said to Alice: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

To increase conversions you might want to attract more traffic (that is, more site visitors) and reduce bounce rate (that is, people who immediately leave your site because they don’t find what they want straightaway).

Be clear about your brand

Offer a product or service that’s in demand (if not, it’s almost impossible to sell it!)

Be consistent about the look, feel and tone of voice you use to present it, and ensure they are a good fit with your target market.

Construct your key messages in simple language, to explain why your customers should choose you.

Know your customers

Segment your market into clear customer groups, and write for each one. No-one is likely to read your whole website, and it’s hard to write a single page that appeals to ‘everyone’. Instead, you can construct separate landing pages for different segments of your audience. Your aim is to convince them they are in the right place, that you understand their needs and can provide what they want, and then convince them to order.

Consider the search engines

If your existing pages are getting good site traffic, you’ll need to set up 301 site redirects. Make a list of the old and new URLs (web addresses) to ensure you don’t miss any. Otherwise, all those visitors will get a 404 ‘not found’ page and you’ll miss out on their interest. Not only that, but it boosts your search engine ranking to have a page with lots of inbound links. If you lose the page, you could lose the ranking too.

Identify what new keywords/phrases you want to be found for, and set up separate landing pages for each one. It’s hard to optimise a web page effectively for more than two or three keywords without it looking ‘clumsy’ to human readers. For more on this, see my previous articles about SEO.

Adapted from an article I originally wrote for Fresh Business Thinking at the start of 2013.

photo credit: 237 Candles via photopin (license)

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