5 Top Tips to Improve Your Website Right Now

In a perfect world, we’d all have unlimited budgets to lavish on our websites & related online efforts. (Also in a perfect world I’d look like Angelina Jolie and have an unlimited designer shoe budget—but that’s another post.) Alas, those of us living in the real world need to deal with pesky things like cost and time constraints.

That means we sometimes (okay, usually) need to scale back our lofty ambitions for top-to-bottom redesigns, custom application development, whiz-bang widgets, etc, etc, etc. But the good news is, you can do a heck of a lot to improve your web strategy on a modest budget and an aggressive schedule. The key is to focus on what will give you the most bang for your buck; that is, what makes the most sense for your business goals.

Here are five ways you can quickly improve your web efforts:

1. Test your competitors’ sites.

Before you start revamping your own site, take a look at what your competitors are doing. After all, as usability guru Steve Krug has asserted, your competitors have gone to the trouble of building fully-functional prototypes of what you’re trying to do. Check out what other companies are doing right, and what they’re getting wrong. Better yet, do a few rounds of testing with real users. A single round of testing on competitors’ sites can yield a wealth of ideas for improving your own.

2. Analyze your web stats & do an SEO review.

You’re site’s doing you no good if nobody can find it–or more to the point, if the right people can’t find it. Analyze your current web statistics to find out not only how many visitors you’re getting, but how they got there, and how long they’re staying on your site. If you’re getting plenty of eyes on your “About Us” page but nobody’s hitting your product pages, it’s time to figure out why. A good first step is to do a comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) review. Do all of your pages have clear, consistent titles? Are you optimizing on the right keywords? Do you have a strategy to cultivate inbound links? Developing and implementing a robust SEO strategy may help you just as much—or even more—than a comprehensive redesign.

3. Revamp your email strategy.

If you use email to reach out to your target audience, make sure those efforts are yielding the best results they can. There are a variety of methods you can use to enhance the effectiveness of your emails—from changing the layout to testing different subject lines to investigating email list buys. And if you’re not directing all of your outgoing emails to custom landing pages that focus on customer conversion, well, you need to. (Happily, once you have a landing page template set up, it’s fairly easy to tailor it to tweak it and use different versions for different messages.)

4. Develop a social media action plan.

Social media is the current great big shiny object everyone’s focusing on right now. Your boss may have already come to you and said, “We need a blog!” or “Why aren’t we on Twitter?” But whether you’re just dipping your toes into the roiling waters of social media or have already done a cannonball straight in, you need to have a thoughtful, fully articulated strategy that includes, among other things, your company’s “rules of engagement” on social media, the channels that you plan to use, who will be responsible for providing your content, and how you’ll track the success of your social media efforts.

5. “Redesign” your content.

Time and again people say that “Content is king” on the web, but more often than not it gets short shrift. The truth is, your site’s success will rise and fall on the quality of its content (and by that, I mean not only text, but also audio, video, and graphic assets). And quality content requires constant care and feeding.

Be honest. When is the last time you really looked at the content on your site? I’d be willing to bet most people couldn’t tell me exactly what’s on their site right now, much less what their plans are for developing new content.

If that sounds like you, then get thee a content strategy. Identify your primary business goals and objectives and analyze the degree to which your current content is helping you meet them. Then, develop a plan for removing or archiving old or useless content; creating newer, more effective content; and maintaining content once it’s online. This is a hefty effort to be sure, but it’s much less costly (in terms of time and budget) than an full redesign. And really—can you afford not to do it?

So there you have it. Five ways to pump (–clap–) YOU UP on the web. They all require some effort, and may require some money, but they’re all far more cost effective than going for a gold-plated, diamond encrusted redesign. Oh, and if you need some help executing any of these ideas, I know of a fabulous, award-winning agency that would be happy to help!

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