Those Australian businesses which are highly engaged online are two times more likely to be growing their revenue however only around 16% of Australian small businesses are making the most of the internet within their business. Increasing your business’s digital presence by having a website is more likely to help a business grow (Connected Small Business, Deloitte Access Economics, 2013). However, selecting a business website isn’t a simple thing to do, so here are seven things to consider when selecting your business website platform:
1. Where will it reside?
The world wide web is a very large and virtual space, so where will your business website live?
Consideration of whether the web platform is open source or proprietary software will often determine this. For example, proprietary web platforms will often be hosted by the proprietary software company, either in the Cloud or on their own servers. While open source software will often require that you either self-host the web platform on your own server or have it hosted by a third-party provider.
Both options are ok, so you will need to determine which option best suits the needs of your business eg Do you have the expertise and server to host a web platform? Will you need ongoing support with your website? Will you want to customise your website?
2. It is easy to manage?
Having a business website is very important as more people are turning to the world wide web to research, find and buy things. However, managing a website is not your core business, so you need to make sure that you can quickly and easily update your website and its content regularly.
Choosing a web platform which is commonly used by other business such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Adobe Business Catalyst, Weebly, etc means that there are heaps of resources and support to help you. Alternatively, if you decide to outsource the management of your website, you will still want to ensure it can be updated quickly and easily to reduce ongoing costs by the webmaster.
3. Can you get your content out?
One thing we know about technology is that it is always changing. In the tip above, we have shared some of the commonly used web platforms for business websites, however, at any moment the next best thing could come onto the market and blow these out of the water.
To ensure you can easily move your website content (ie text, images, files etc) to another web platform make ensure that you can easily and quickly export (or download) the content in a common digital format (ie XML) which can then be imported into other web platform which accepts this format.
Being able to easily export your website content also means you can regularly do a ‘back-ups’ of what’s on your website in case it gets lost or it becomes corrupted.
4. What SEO support tools does it have?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one key way to drive customers to your website. SEO is a complex art which is constantly changing, but in a nutshell it means that you use keywords (meta-data), uniquely relevant content, cross hyperlinking to / from other websites, and regular updating of your website’s content, to help search engines, such as Google, direct traffic to your website.
Having a SEO support tool within the dashboard of your website means that the SEO support tool will offer you suggestions about how to better improve each web page’s SEO – aka help more people find your website. It’s then up to you how you encourage the right ‘call to action’ to convert the visitor to buy from you or contact you once they reach your website.
5. Does it have a blog?
As mentioned above, having regularly updated, unique content is an important feature for improved SEO. However, you don’t want to be constantly re-designing your website to cater for this content, so have a web-log or ‘blog’ means you have one place to put up regular news items and tidbits of useful information which can draw people to your website.
Blogs also allow people to comment on your content ie asking questions, providing reviews, sharing other content. People are also more likely to share blog posts online. This activity, together with ‘ping backs’ from other websites to your website, greatly improves your website’s SEO.
6. How does it keep the spammers out?
You are not the only person interested in driving people to their website, and so with that comes ‘spammers’, ie people and/or machines wants to post information on your website to drive traffic to their website. A spammer’s sole aim is to stamp their mark across the internet in hope of increasing the SEO and ‘hit rate’ of their website.
Moderating all of these comments on your website is one way of preventing unrelated and useless information clogging up your website, but have an in-build spam filter or spam filter plug-in will save you hours of useless ‘deleting’ of these comments.
7. What other features will I need?
Every business is as unique as their owner, which means that your business website will need additional features, especially as it grows ie allow e-transactions, email list subscriptions, and embedding of calendar events, members only area etc.
These can often be achieved by ready-made templates or plug-ins, or some type of customisation of the template/plug-in, so ensure that the web platform has templates or allows plug-ins or individual customisation of the actual web platform when selecting a web platform.
You have a website, now what?
Having a business website is one key component of your business’s digital marketing strategy, but it is not the only part of your digital marketing strategy. So once you have a business website set up, what do you next to drive people there?
Join the “You have a business website – now what?” online workshop on 13 March 2014 to find out what to consider when developing your digital marketing strategy to ensure you are making the most of your business website.
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This blog post is part of our ‘Be Ahead of the Pack Business Development Program‘.