Developing either a personal or a business brand online is virtually impossible without a website. For retailers, for example, the value of a website increases proportionally to the number of active online shoppers, which has reached 1.12 billion in 2014 and is expected to grow to 1.32 billion by 2016.
However, this is not the only industry where it is beneficial to have an online presence. In fact, online visibility has become a priority for the greatest portion of modern businesses, half of which think a company website is critical for strengthening their brand. Namely, a 2014 global survey revealed that 48% of companies believe a search-optimized website is one of the top five resources for generating market demand.
Similarly, individuals with a personal website or blog can open doors for different business or professional opportunities, which is another reason why this medium is expanding so rapidly. For those who are planning their online expansion, below are several success factors to consider.
1. Obtain a domain name that adequately represents your idea.
Although the very process of registering a domain name is simple, choosing the right one could be quite difficult. Apart from possible legal issues that you need to consider, you should also think about a way to turn your domain name into an idea that will be appealing to your target audience. In fact, this one-time decision is something that can either make or break your online identity, since choosing a domain name is a long-term commitment. Therefore, before you actually register something you are not too comfortable with, consider these tips on how to choose a perfect domain name to avoid making the wrong decision.
2. Find a hosting plan that suits your needs.
For amateur bloggers, free hosting platforms such as wordpress.com or wix.com can be an excellent way to start exploring the online world. However, as your audience grows, you will need more disk space, bandwidth and website customization options that are only available in premium web hosting packages. Although the current web hosting offer is quite rich, you need to find a provider that will be able to support your growth any time. In relation to this, you need to consider the following:
– Company’s reputation. The best way to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable web host is to investigate reviews about the company on third-party websites, in order to get an idea about previous client experiences.
– Customer support. Any service disruption may translate into lost revenue or dissatisfied visitors, which is why you want a web host that offers round the clock support. This ensures that all potential website problems or server-side issues will be addressed in a timely fashion.
– Scalable plans. As your website grows, you’ll want to offer more to your audience, which is why you may want to check how easily you can upgrade to premium plans once you have exhausted basic resources.
3. Define a content strategy at the very start.
With over three billion active websites out there, you need to make sure yours will deliver something truly unique. Content strategy, therefore, should be your key to ensure future success. This is particularly critical in the business realm considering the importance content marketing is acquiring today – just consider the following facts:
Evidently, what you give to your audience defines you as either a resource people trust or just another set of web pages to stumble across. By defining who you want to address, what topics you need to cover and how often you need to publish new content, you ensure your website’s dynamic growth.
4. Design with a target visitor in mind.
In 2012, a research by Forrester revealed the alarming fact that 97% of websites fail to deliver excellent user experience, which clearly emphasizes the need for a customer-centric approach in web design. This mostly refers to achieving a proper balance between customized templates and an intuitive layout to help your visitors navigate across your pages easily. To do this, one needs to understand some general findings about the online behavior of users:
– Speed is critical: people close websites that take longer than three seconds to load (Kissmetrics study).
– Being mobile-friendly is now more important than ever.
– High quality photos improve user experience (MDG Advertising study).
Therefore, everything from your website’s structure to the overall aesthetics needs to be adjusted to your target audience’s preferences. Additionally, properly planning the structure to include separate landing pages for each of your goals, product categories on ecommerce websites, calls to action and blog widgets should all be a part of this step.
5. Boost your presence.
Believing that thousands of people will simply find your website on Google and share it with the world is nothing but wishful thinking. With immense competitiveness present in every industry, you need to take some steps towards making your content searchable.
– SEO. If Google cannot find your website, no one can. Only properly built websites with relevant content can count on reaching the first positions in Google search, which is why all website owners must be acquainted with some SEO basics.
– Social media. Content distribution via social media is an excellent way to interact with your target audience and promote your content. Given the possible reach social media can have, this is certainly an opportunity you shouldn’t miss if you want to build a truly popular site.
– Email marketing. Content distribution via newsletters is another tactic to promote posts and offers that might be relevant to your visitors. The greatest challenge here is, of course, to motivate people to engage further with your content, which can only be done if you deliver great stuff regularly.
Jump-starting a website may be easier today than ever before, but making it successful is a matter of strategy. By considering the five growth factors described above, you can create a better development plan and build your online brand more easily. Of course, each of these steps should be planned based on your own goals in order to achieve truly remarkable results.