[CHECKLIST] Four Website Requirements to Survive 2017

Keeping your website properly maintained can be a real challenge, especially if you aren't up to date on current internet trends. The web is constantly changing, platforms and technologies are consistently improving. Small business owners need to adapt to these latest changes not only to survive, but to thrive.

Follow these tips to ensure that your WordPress website is performing flawlessly.

1. Make Sure Your Website Is Optimized for Mobile Users

Mobile internet trends are only growing, and each month more and more people use their phones to access the Internet.  This is no surprise.

If your website is not easily viewable on a mobile device (or tablet), you are ignoring a huge chunk of users, and you're probably being penalized by the search engines.  Not good.

The good news is that there are several popular WordPress plugins that will help you streamline your website for mobile users. It isn't incredibly difficult, it doesn't take a lot of time, and it helps your website perform better.

A better way to fix this problem In fact, nearly all new WordPress themes are designed for mobile users. When thinking about a new theme, make sure you get one that is responsive.  This means that no matter what size display the visitor is using, your website will format nicely to fit their screen.

If your website doesn't utilize these plugins or uses an outdated non-responsive theme, it is time for an upgrade. Taking care of your mobile users will help to maximize the performance of your website.

Oh, and you won't be penalized.

2. Update Major Code Releases, Plugins and Widgets

As simple as this step is complete, it is often overlooked by many website owners and developers. The consequences of not doing this step, however, can be tragic to your site's health.

The very first thing you want to do is to make sure that your website is using the latest version of WordPress.

To get your version, simply log into the back end of your site, scroll to the bottom and look in the right corner. Your version will be listed there. Then compare that with the currently available download version at WordPress.org

If you are using an outdated version, you lose many benefits and features of the new release and also leave yourself vulnerable to a host of internet security threats. Being hacked and having your site offline for any amount of time can drastically affect your bottom line. Not good.

The same holds true for smaller pieces of code like plugins and widgets. There is the potential for bugs and security holes to exist in these as well, especially since most are written by unknown (and untrusted) third parties.

So spend the time to update your code often!

Don't Have Time? Our WordPress Maintenance Program keeps your site up to date AND backed up to an offsite location!

3. Respect Your Users’ Bandwidth

Bandwidth technologies are only improving with each passing day, but remember, not all of your users are on a gigabit fiber connection.

This is especially true for mobile users. Keep this in mind when you are designing your pages. If your pages are loaded with ads, graphics, videos, and other bandwidth hogs, your audience might have to wait an intolerable amount of time for your content to buffer. According to studies, the ideal load time for most internet users is 3 seconds or less. Anything more could very well make your bounce rate skyrocket.

For those users, make sure you install the Accelerated Mobile Pages plugin - part of Google's AMP project.  As a bonus, you may also want to install Facebook's Instant Articles plugin, which does the same thing for that platform (here's how).

Another issue related to your visitors' bandwidth is the overall speed that your site loads.

Much like mobile accessibility, site speed is another determining factor that Google uses when ranking your site.  A slow website can mean poor rankings.

Many times a website is slow simply because of the hosting company you're using.  GoDaddy, for instance, is notorious for having very slow servers. If your server is slow to respond, it could be because there are other websites on that server that are 'resource hogs' - they take up all the memory and disk space, leaving your website code waiting in line to get to your visitors.

If you're on a slow server, we encourage you to check out our sister company, Lighthouse Technologies. They've been in business since 1997 and are very reliable (and they're fast, too!).

Bonus Tip: Use the free Google Page Speed Tool to see if your website can pass the test. Plus, use their free tips to improve your site's speed.

4. Add More Value Than Your Competitors

There's nothing better than a repeat visitor - they're already familiar with your brand and understand your expertise.

Creating ongoing content that teaches or demonstrates your products or services is a smart way to get them to return. Smart business owners know that a great content marketing strategy will get them more visitors and customers in the long run.

"But... why should I share my secrets? The competition will run me over!"

That line of thinking was tossed out the window years ago. Today's smart business owners understand that giving a ton of great information up front benefits their brand. It causes them to be seen as 'subject matter experts' in their industry, and causes immensely positive brand experiences.

Value up front.

I've written a lot about content, and for good reason - it's one of the best ways for a small business to get exposure, gain new clients, and boost their overall search engine rankings.

Also see:

BONUS TIP: Leverage Your Social Media Accounts

There are many ways to drive traffic to your website including SEO, paid ad campaigns, traditional print advertising, and radio or television commercials. However, social media offers benefits that older forms of marketing do not.

For instance, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn allow your business to engage directly with your target audience. Additionally, when you create content, you and your users will be able to share that information across many channels.

Tip: Check out the Social Automation Blueprint from Andrew McCauley - this course is awesome and we definitely recommend it for any business owner that wants to automate their social media.

 

About 

Will Hanke owns Saint Louis' top independent Internet Marketing firm, Red Canoe Media. In addition to helping some of St Louis' most recognizable brands with their online marketing strategy, Will also is an Amazon bestselling author, speaker and teacher.

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