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Have websites had their day? Or are they now more important than ever?

With all the social media platforms out there to get to grips with, it’s sometimes easy to forget what the central focal point should be in your marketing strategy; and that central focal point should be your website. It’s crucial that your website defines who you are and what you do, as it is the point where most will end up after finding you on social media platforms or by search.

It’s all well and good, and great news, that you’re now tweeting, facebooking or maybe even blogging away on behalf of your business, but where do the people who read all this valuable content that you are putting out there going to ultimately end up? That’s right, at your website.

Your website is the central hub to all the peripheral content that you are producing. Your aim is to lure potential customers to your website, and then once you have them there you want them to be enthralled and, then, all you really want is for them to pick up the phone and call you and say that they’d like to meet to discuss your solution further because it just might be what they are looking for.

That is the purpose of your twitter feed, the purpose of your blog, the purpose of your facebook business page updates. You are trying to drive people to your central hub, your website, where they can learn about you, about what you do, about how you’ve successfully done the same thing for others, and how you can offer them what they are looking for. And all of that needs to be clear, concise, easy to navigate and, most importantly, kept up to date.

There are some out there who think that maybe the website has had its day, and that they are becoming unnecessary since the arrival of Google+ pages, Facebook pages et al. But the opposite is in fact true, now more than ever your website needs to showcase who you are, because with all this extra exposure you are creating by pushing additional content out there, you are going to get noticed a whole lot more. Tweeting and blogging and all of that other good stuff will increase your search engine optimisation, it will mean your website will appear in searches more often and your page ranking will increase, resulting in more people than before finding your site. And when they get there, what are they going to find?

Interestingly this recent inforgraphic on the Econsultancy website highlights the fact that 40% of small businesses don’t even have a website, and of those that do, 74% of them are not configured correctly for smartphone and tablet viewing. Although this infographic is highlighting small businesses, there are also probably a lot of larger businesses who, although they may actually have a website, have one that is looking tired, out of date, and it isn’t optimised for viewing on smartphones. There are more than 1bn smartphones in the world, and 89% of those smartphone users are using their phones every day throughout the day, and 84% of them are using them to browse the internet.

So, what’s stopping you? Most likely it’s time, and secondly it’s probably the potential cost involved in revising your site. However, that time and money will be well spent; the impression your site creates says a lot about your organisation. Although we don’t like to admit it, we do judge by appearances in the first instance, so you need to make sure your visitors don’t get put off by that first impression.

Here’s five things you can do now to improve your website:

1. Refresh the content: you don’t have to re-write it, just tweak it a little, tidy it up, shorten it, and add some updated key phrases and key words that are relevant to your business.

2. Make sure you have included and/or updated your page titles and page descriptions: use some key words that appear in your main content.

3. Add a blog: either external to your site, but linked to and from your site, or within the site itself. Create it and then write in it. Once a month is fine, and something between 500-800 words is just about enough to keep the reader’s interest long enough for them to read right to the end. Promote your blog on your home page with a display showing the headings from two or three of your most recent blogs. And if you have a twitter feed, consider adding that to your home page too. But just include your own tweets, not your entire feed as you can never be entirely sure what others are going to tweet whilst @mentioning you. If it’s just your tweets and you don’t like the look of one, you can quickly tweet again to refresh the feed on the homepage to immediately show something new.

4. Use clean URLs: make sure that your longer URLs, for example those that point to your blog topic, are descriptive and not just a bunch of letters and numbers.

5. Add an RSS feed link: this allows visitors to click and then be automatically updated whenever there’s new content on the site, for example a new blog page.

To summarise; your website is your shop, the place potential customers visit to take a look around and see what is available, and whether it suits their needs and if they like it or not.

Look after your site make sure you regularly review it and refresh it. Treat it like the shop window at Selfridges; it needs to be attractive, compelling and make people want to stop and stare for a while.

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