Business owners – you know that there are a million-and-one things that need doing that are unconnected with what the business actually does. From accounting, to recruiting, to legal compliance, to managing staff and marketing … it goes on and on. It all conspires to eat up your time and drive you slowly crazy. But most of these non-core activities are best left in the hands of specialist professionals. This includes growing and managing your online presence.
Often the online side of business is delegated to employees who have to take time out from their official roles to send out a mailshot or tweet a few things from the company account. This achieves little and could be using up valuable employee time.
The answer is to outsource digital marketing to a specialist who can push your business forward on a number of fronts. But where to start?
Here are five elements to online success that you should not ignore
Although many business owners have a surface understanding of search engine optimisation (SEO), it would be risky to plan a strategy with limited knowledge. There’s a huge amount of misleading or out-of-date information about SEO on the web. SEO really needs a dedicated professional to deliver growth and avoid disaster.
“SEO works on a rather technical level and requires information that can take time to get to grips with” says Gordon Smith, Director of UKcentric.
“The world of SEO changes constantly so for any strategy to really work you need someone working on it at all times.”
See our beginner’s guide to SEO for more tips on what your website needs to stay well placed in Google search results.
Paid online advertising can take many forms – from Pay-Per-Click systems such as Google AdWords to boosted Facebook posts and promoted Tweets on Twitter. Which is best for your business and how do you make sure it delivers ROI?
“PPC is a big area. In AdWords alone there are five professional Google exams that are recommended to be taken before somebody is unleashed on a real PPC account.
We’ve sadly seen customers waste thousands of pounds on PPC because of a lack of experience. Specialist PPC companies can see what works across a wide range of businesses and bring that knowledge to you”, says Gordon.
Make sure you’re dealing with a qualified professional before handing over any money. Ask your partner company how much ad budget they currently control on behalf of their customers and what success stories they have had.
3. Good hosting and data backups
Making sure your hosting package is robust enough to cope with the demands of your growing business is essential. It’s not just about speed and availability. For example, when was the last time your site was backed-up? If you don’t know the answer to this question your business is at risk.
Don’t make the mistake of believing that because you pay for web hosting, your website cannot be permanently deleted. This happened in 2016 to thousands of UK companies when 123-reg deleted dozens of web servers by accident. Many of the cheaper hosting packages do not offer any backup service, so it is essential to make sure you pay for one that does.
The quality of hosting packages also effect website speed and level of customer service.
“If your main audience is in the UK you don’t want to host in America,” explains Gordon. “The time it takes to load your website could be up to a second slower if it’s hosted elsewhere. The drop-off rate is very significant for a page that takes two seconds to load versus one that takes three seconds. Increasing that page load speed by one second can be the difference between gaining a new customer and having them fall into the hands of the competition.
See our beginner’s guide to web hosting for more information.
4. Social media
Social media can be a fantastic marketing tool. The common business adage of getting in front of customers seven times in seven different ways is definitely helped with social media.
Social media should be well planned with plenty of research to be really effective. The buzzword of this year amongst marketers was all about creating ‘snackable content’ – short and easy to understand from just a quick glance. Social media is the perfect place to come up with some short, pithy ideas that customers will enjoy reading, or watching as they scroll down their news feeds.
“The key to a good social media strategy for a business is to choose your channels carefully to ensure a good fit with your business needs,” says Gordon. “Focus on high quality engagement with a small number of channels, don’t spread too thin across many channels.”
“Once you’ve chosen your channels, deliver a healthy mix of snackable content, timely news-related material that’s relevant to your customers’ needs, and marketing material. And don’t forget – social media is all about engagement, so make sure you’re monitoring and responding to your comments and that you’re fully engaged with your community.”
Companies with a marketing budget will can take advantage of paid ads on social networks that boost your content to potentially thousands more people to drive more clicks to your website. This year we have seen many successful Facebook boosts.
5. Website support and maintenance
Not to be confused with desktop or hardware support, website support is vital for any company with an online presence.
“Fixing and updating websites can eat up a lot of time and the results are rarely impressive”
Gordon recommends checking your website to see if any of the following are there. If they are, your website may be in much need of a vital makeover to bring it into 2017.
- Copyright notices: websites usually have a copyright notice in their footer, appearing on every page of the site. If your website has an out of date notice like, ‘Copyright 2009’ across the bottom, it will create the impression that it is a little neglected.
“The number of websites I come across whose copyright notice is out of date is remarkable,” says Gordon. “It’s such a small detail but one that is so important for giving the right first impressions of a website.”
- Broken links: there are few things worse on a website than clicking a link that doesn’t work. Checking for broken links is a very important part of maintaining your company’s web presence. We don’t recommend doing this manually. It will take far too long and you won’t catch all the broken links anyway. Install an automated link checker or use a tool such as Screaming Frog to get an automated report.
- User experience (UX): Bad or confusing navigation, typos, missing images or inability to use a website on a mobile phone are issues that need fixing to make sure your website is a good advert for your company.
All things considered we strongly recommend finding a reliable partner to help you to grow online whilst avoiding the potential disasters such as deleted websites or search engine loss. Of course UKcentric provides all of the above services so please do get in touch to discuss what we can do for you.