Running a Successful Website in 2019 – What You Need to know.

The options to get your business online and the marketing channels available are growing and evolving.

Anyone can set up a website, but what do you need in 2019 to run a successful website?

(short answer) Offer the best product/service on the market, and make it easily available and to as wide an audience as possible i.e. across the growing list of channels – website, apps, PWAs, social networks, market places.

People are fussy about how they consume, so market yourselves in your user’s preferred format (blog, video, images, mobile apps, social media or audio reader).

(long answer) Choose the area you want to improve in 2019:

Have the best website

The usual suspects

Aim for a lightening quick website with outstanding content, tailored to each individual device (PC, smartphone, tablets).

Do you have an outstanding website

Speed has been an important ranking factor for years. Analyses suggests that you have just 3 seconds to impress the average user before they disappear to another website.

Outstanding content is important because the web is so competitive. If other sites offer better content and market it well enough, then they will get the top spots in organic search and more shares across social media platforms – a notable competitive advantage.

In 2019 your website will still need all of the usual features – a great design; ease of use; search engine optimization (SEO) is as important as ever; use schema to highlight your products and services; and of course you need a responsive design.

Fix all broken links and make sure your coding is error free.

Unless you’ve been sheltering in an bunker for the past 10 years, you’ve likely noticed that many major websites have been hacked – LinkedIn, eBay, Playstation, (its a big list).

Hackers are continually testing for security flaws – and unfortunately we’re all fair game. Make sure your software is kept up-to-date and that you have firewalls and security checks in place.

New for 2019

2018 was the year Google switched to mobile first indexing, meaning the mobile (rather than desktop) version of your site is now used for search rankings.

Audit your mobile website. Make sure you offer a great mobile experience – fast loading pages, search friendly and easy to use.

Accelerated mobile pages - AMPConsider offering accelerated mobile pages (AMP). These are essentially simplified versions of your webpages served to mobile users that load almost instantly.

PWA Progressive Web AppsProgressive Web Apps (PWA) are becoming very important.

PWAs are essentially versions of your website that look and work like a native mobile app. They have an icon on your phones home screen, and do push notifications – both greatly increasing your visibility. Like native apps, they download to the phone and so are available offline – great for news sites and blogs.

Voice search is taking off30% of search is predicted to be voice by 2020. To take advantage of this, make sure your website content is geared up for voice search. Short, simple, concise answers to all the important questions regarding your products, services and areas of expertise is a good start.

Due to advancements in programming, Web Apps are popping up everywhere and will be huge in 2019.

Web apps are customized applications that allow users to interact with other websites, data services and APIs; making calculations, providing real time information in a 100% customized way. Examples are loan calculators, live currency conversion, a map of live earthquakes, parcel delivery tracking, etc.

Developing a web app can open new doors for your business. Aim to bring a unique and valuable service to your users that cannot be found elsewhere. The technology is there, with endless possibilities, the trickiest part can be just finding the right idea.

User experience

The usual suspects

Users expect your website to be quick, extremely easy to use, and tailored to their device. Your mobile site should have a simpler interface than desktop, even if under the surface there is much more going on.

Keep things simple. Each page should have clear goals (registration, newsletter sign up, social shares, generating a contact, or making a sale) achieved with clear, colorful call-to-action buttons. Here are some good examples.

The business end of any website is the form used to obtaining contact info or make a sale.

Keeping fields to a minimum will improve completion, but using exquisitely designed forms will really set you apart and boost completions – because people inherently trust well-designed forms.

Multistep forms, progress bars, encouragement, live validation and autocomplete add to a positive user experience.
National geographic forms

National geographic completely disguise their forms – replacing monotonous check boxes, radio buttons and drop downs with images and graphics, enticing users to take part.

New for 2019

Here’s one of my favourite ways to stand out…

When a user completes a form, they expect a bog standard thank you message and confirmation email.

In reality, this is the absolute best time to sell or offer something else. You’ve done the hard work of attracting them to your site, guiding them down your sales funnel, and they have completed your form – so strike while the iron is hot!

Do something unexpected – instead of the standard thank you message, offer a freebie, a month’s subscription, a discount, fidelity points, access to exclusive content etc.

Augmented reality in eCommerce

Finally, Augmented Reality is becoming the next shift in eCommerce. Find ways for consumers to experience your products before they buy, this could be something like virtual try-ons for clothes or seeing how furniture would look in their house.

Build a library of outstanding content

The usual suspects

Unique, well-written content is the most effective way to dramatically increase organic traffic. As a rule of thumb, it only needs to be better than your competitors.

Blog posts, product guides, long reads and informative evergreen articles all work well. Interested – here’s a case study.

New for 2019

If Your Money Your Life (YMYL) websites are an early warning indicator of future SEO trends then this one could be big: many small business websites or home bloggers offering advice in areas such as health, law and finance have seen their organic visits plummet in 2018.

The reason?

A google algorithm update with stricter rules on what is deemed credible and newsworthy.

Although the update is about dealing with the fake news problem plaguing the web, many popular websites appear to have suffered collateral damage.

Aim for high quality, informative content that you can back up with reliable references.

Readers are fussy about how they consume. Make you content available in a variety of media formats – classic blog articles, infographics, video and consider using a content reader. For example if your market are gen Z, you certainly want some of your marketing through in video.

To make your content stand out further, find ways to make it interactive. Use micro-animations to make browsing your site a memorable process and guide users to where you want.

Website credibility

Although fake news has been around since day 1 on the web, the 2016 US election and UK Brexit, brought it under the spot light. Ever since, and for the foreseeable future, Google, Facebook et al have been developing algorithms for weeding out misleading news.

Proving your website as an authoritive and credible source is fundamental in 2019.

Whilst a trustworthy website helps convince clients and increase your sales, if your website is deemed untrustworthy or worse, a source of misleading information – be warned – you are likely to experience a serious drop in traffic coming soon.

The usual suspects

Make sure your articles are of interest to your clients, relevant to your products, well written and of course true!

Client reviews can demonstrate reliability and breed trust

You can improve website credibility with customer reviews, author profiles in your posts, testimonies from celebrities, showing your team on your website, building a large social network following and getting your social media profiles validated.

Regularly authoring articles on major industry websites will further boost your web presence and show that you are an authority within your niche.

New in 2019

A powerful way to boost your credibility and profile is to get your major articles peer reviewed or co-written. A health article peer reviewed by professionals from 5 top health websites oozes credibility. Teaming up with major players may also allow you to leverage their followers.

Win win!

I also like the idea of teaming up with colleagues to cross-post on their social media channels to grow both of your followings. This works well when their followers find your content interesting, but you are not in direct competition.

Live chat

Are live chat popups annoying or do you use them? The answer to this probably depends on the context in which they are used. I often use them on product pages for quick pre-sales questions – a good way to clear up any lingering doubts.

Social network marketing

The usual subjects

This is not my realm, so will just mention what I have seen over the past year.

Social media continues to be a great place for interacting with users, sharing information and keeping in touch with industry news.

Try to understand where your users hang out? Choose the right social networks for your business.

New for 2019

Facebook is going down route of sponsored posts so businesses are getting far less organic visibility in Facebook feeds.

Brands with large Facebook followings have seen their organic reach plummet over the past few years so don’t expect lots of free Facebook traffic to your site in 2019.

I would point you towards video, which gets the best user engagement and the new Facebook Stories feature which at the end of 2018 is relatively underused (= less competition) yet often at the top of the users news feed (= an opportunity).

Pay per click (PPC) advertising

Google Ads, LinkedIn and Facebook advertising are all extra channels to complement your websites organic traffic.

If you consider that the top 4 Google search results are often paid ads, then in many industries PPC ad campaigns are a powerful if not essential online marketing channel.

Google Ads

With PPC, you pay a small amount for every new visitor who clicks through to your website. If your campaign is to be economically viable, you need to make more sales than you pay out for ads. So it is essential that your ads are correctly optimized and that you have carefully studied landing pages created by a landing page expert.

Anything short of this, and your campaigns will NEVER be economically viable as you will not get a high enough conversion rate to cover the cost of running the campaign.

Get this right and you can up you campaign budget and watch your business flow.

Conclusion

So there you are – exactly what you need to know to run a successful website in 2019.

Obviously you can’t do all of this – pick the most relevant to your business and implement them.

Many of these innovations are still in their early stages, and only the forward thinking businesses have adopted them. They are relatively underused and adopting one or two of them will help get you ahead of the curve and give you a competitive edge.

If you any questions or need help with any of this, we are a professional web agency with a track record of proven results here to help you.

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