Five things you can do to your website… without a web designer!

Some businesses neglect their websites, It’s sad but true.
But for any website to provide added value to a business, it should be nurtured, analysed and constantly improved. That’s more true today than it ever was.
And before you think that’s just going to cost you more money, there are a few fundamental things you can do yourself.
It’s important to have a relationship with your own website, and giving it some attention, will almost certainly make it more profitable for you.
Here’s five top things you can do with your website without calling your web designer.

Keep watching your analytics

Imagine a car without a dashboard. You would have no indication of speed, miles covered, fuel used, oil pressure, water temperature. That’s like a website without analytics.

Analytics can shed light on poor website performance

No indication of whether your visitors are reading the pages you want them to, leaving too soon, what they’re searching for – nothing.
There is no excuse. Google Analytics is free, reasonably easy to install (although you may need your web designer to install it, depending on your technical ability) and really does provide a mine of useful information.
Keeping an eye on your analytics can help you see your website statistics such as general traffic levels, most viewed pages, top landing pages, spikes in activity, etc.
But it goes so much deeper than that. And the information it provides can also be used to make improvements to your website. By analysing the data, you can identify what parts of your website are working well, and which are turning people off. This is something we will write about in a future article, but keeping an eye on your analytics is one of the most important things you can do.

Improve your backlinks

Whatever you know or don’t know about SEO, you can do good solid groundwork to make your site more appealing to search engines, and indeed humans.
Without going too deep into technical terms, backlinks are basically links to your website from another site.
Find good quality sites that would benefit from linking to yours. For example, if you offer holiday accommodation, find sites that tourists visit and get them to link to you.
If these sites that link to you have a good search engine ranking themselves, not only will that benefit your site in the search engines, it will also be good for your business (as a recommendation from a trustworthy site). It’s a win-win.
Be sensible though, go for quality not quantity. Try not to do link swaps as they tend to negate each other, although don’t discount it if it benefits your website users.

Drive offline traffic to your website

Not everyone will come to you through search engines. You’ll also get direct traffic from advertising, stationery, verbal recommendations.
Make the most of these opportunities. Put your website address, email address, social media links on your business cards, letterheads, and vehicles. In fact, put it on all your marketing material.
This is where you need to make sure your links are easy to remember, as they can’t be clicked in print. B&Q do this well with their simple domain DIY.com. Remember your domain name doesn’t have to be your business name to stand out.

Do some user testing

Websites have a function beyond the artwork

User testing can be very expensive, especially if you bring in a usability professional.
But there are basic usability tests you can do on your own website with your friends, family and customers.
The thing to remember is that your website is not a piece of art to be hung on the wall and admired. It is a business tool.
Don’t ask people ‘do you like our website?’ They will invariably say ‘yes’ whether they like it or not.
If you were a joiner, you wouldn’t ask your customers, ‘do you like my drill?’ you would want to know if their work did what it is designed to, and it’s the same with websites.
You want to know if your website does the job it is supposed to, so ask questions like, ‘can you find ‘x’ information, or product ‘x’. Ask them if they were easy to find. Watch them to see if they look in the wrong place. These simple tests will give you key indicators of where your customers may find minor difficulties that could lead to major problems.
By asking your friends and family, and indeed your customers, you have a small team of usability testers that will save you the cost of a professional service, while giving valuable feedback from typical users.
If your friends and family aren’t typical users, try and find a group of people from your target audience to spare a few minutes on the tasks you set, perhaps even for a small reward, discount or freebie.

Use social media and blogs

Last, but certainly not least, use blogs and social media to increase your brand footprint.
Statistically, businesses who blog, get substantially more business than those who don’t.
Businesses which use social media are able to interact with customers and potential customers, providing a live channel of engagement and support.
But it’s important that you don’t approach social media and blogging haphazardly, and with expectations too high. Social media  isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, it’s a long haul.
Budget for your time, don’t put in more effort than you can justify commercially, but rather think about your strategy for using these new tools.
We’ll try and cover social media in more details in future blogs, but while your business will continue to function without these, use them well and they can be bring a new vitality to your business.