Phil Laboon, DECEMBER 16, 2013
If your company depends on its website for sales, you need to follow Google’s lead when it comes to site development and strategy to stay competitive.
All good businesses must find a balance between short-term needs and long-term development plans. If a company website plays a role in sales or branding efforts, business owners need to be aware of effective strategies for online visibility. Google continually upgrades its algorithm to handle different issues, such as fraud, technology and Web page updates. Companies that use outdated online practices are gradually edged out of competitive rankings.
A good business is agile in establishing long-term standards while allowing for enough flexibility to handle changing customer needs and major changes in online best practices.
Follow Google Algorithm Modifications
The goal of Google is to match relevant content to customer keyword searches. It’s continually attempting to master this business model. The most relevant site is given the highest Page Rank. With almost half of all website visits resulting from organic search traffic and 80 percent of search traffic coming from Google, websites need to take advantage of online marketing to have a good Web presence. The search engine knows what people are looking for and how they will find it.
Google is continually improving its product by attempting to penalize or even block out sites that are fraudulent, spam-filled or not very well-constructed. Fortunately, Google is quite open about what it considers online best practices so website owners can provide the most user-friendly content to match its rigorous standards. Entrepreneurs, especially ones whose businesses rely on their websites, need to pay careful attention to changes in effective online marketing strategies.
A good way to follow these changes is by subscribing to the Google Webmaster Help channel on YouTube. This channel provides a wealth of knowledge on Internet best practices, algorithm update clarifications and official Google recommendations.
Adapt Quickly To New Technology
A company must handle the changing technology developments of its age. The Web was a revolutionary development that placed key challenges in the way of brick-and-mortar stores. Now, websites themselves are losing out to mobile browsers found on smartphones and tablets.
A good plan to tackle this development is to think “scalability” when it comes to technology and your website. When considering website development, the scalable option (responsive Web design) may cost more, but will be more cost-efficient in allowing your business to grow. Ultimately, the usability of a website for a particular device is a factor that Google considers when putting together its results pages. If a mobile user is searching for your type of product or service, you will want to have a mobile-optimized website to have a better chance of showing up in the SERPs.
If you can’t afford to hire a Web design team to custom-build your website (often a challenge for starting entrepreneurs), make sure that any service you decide on has “responsive” features. “Responsive” has been a hot term in the industry for the past couple years since Google officially announced its preference for responsive design. Any business that offers it will definitely advertise it. Sites like Squarespace and Weebly offer responsive design, while others, including Wix and Homestead, do not.
Satisfy Immediate Customer Demands
Over time, large companies can develop significant advantages in terms of assets, brand recognition and clout. However, they tend to become very bureaucratic in the process, losing their agility.
The faster your company can respond to changes in consumer demand, the more business you can take in before competitors swarm the market. Service and product plans should have staple offerings, but no business plan should be so solid that it can’t respond to changes in the market. This is especially true for online businesses.
As developments occur in your market, be ready to create or replace new services or products to stay ahead of new industry demands. Dropping one service and adding another will require inside research, product testing, and contract updates and renegotiation. However, the ultimate mission of the company always takes priority over the steps you take to get there. As markets change, agile companies will pull ahead of those bogged down by increasingly outdated products.
Refocus Long-Term Plans
No business can predict the future. At times, it must adjust its long-term plans to accommodate new developments. One lesson entrepreneurs learn is that after a point, they can’t plan too far in advance. Many SEO companies had to learn this the hard way when Google released its Panda and Penguin updates. High-traffic websites were bumped out of the top 100 rankings literally overnight, and they had to seriously rethink their online marketing strategies, their website structures, and even main product offerings.
Companies first need to build up their “core competency.” To establish themselves in an industry, they must create all products and services around this key area. However, after a while the long-term strategy must adjust to industry changes, competitor actions, and even new market opportunities. Change needs to be embraced to survive as a business, regardless of the industry. Otherwise, more innovative competitors will edge their way into your clientele.
Every quarter, conduct a thorough analysis on changes in sales and client reviews, the growth and product changes in your competitors, and industry trends. Are you still relevant to your market? Are they looking for something else or something more now? Relevance is rewarded in the search rankings, so providing for your users is a major advantage in the eyes of search engines.
Follow Best Practices
A company can only control a finite realm of its existence. It must adapt to the changing circumstances around it. It pays to carefully review Google’s best practices because it can show where the market is headed, what actions are least likely to be penalized later on, and even guidelines for a more user-friendly experience. An agile startup will provide the product or service that the public needs while also building up a community of followers through organic SEO and engaging social media outreach.