2015 was a rough year for Alberta’s economy. Unfortunately, 2016 is shaping up to bring more of the same. Much of the ongoing market depression is being linked to the ongoing downturn in oil and gas prices market-wide.
But while forecasts predict gloom and more gloom, opportunity yet exists for those who continue to put their best foot forward, especially online. In this article, learn how to present your best business website in 2016.
Not All Alberta Industry is Suffering
Unless your company fortunes are tied directly to what happens in oil and gas pricing, there is much hope to be had in other industries. Agriculture, tourism, forestry, education, healthcare and other sectors are holding steady and may actually experience upswings in 2016. Alberta is a province of many resources, of which energy may be the most prominent but is certainly not the only player.
Businesses with an online component stand to gain the most simply due to increased range of opportunity. By reaching out beyond Alberta’s borders, such businesses gain easy access to still-thriving markets in other areas.
Invest for the Long Haul with an User Friendly Website
The first step to putting your best website forward despite the economic downturn is to ensure the following five essential features and functions are in place on your site.
NOTE: Keller Construction’s newly redesigned website offers a great example of how to implement these five essential features and functions to best advantage.
Feature #1. Your website is mobile-friendly.
Google now gives precedent to mobile-friendly websites in search engine results. If you overlook this critical element, you stand to miss out on as much as 84 percent of customer traffic. But if your site is mobile-friendly, you can look forward to increased visitor-to-customer conversions in months and years to come.
What to do: Take Google’s free mobile-friendly test to find out how your website scores on mobile friendliness.
Feature #2. Your website loads quickly on multiple browsers.
If your site pages do not load in under two seconds, you stand to lose up to 80 percent of all site visitors – including many who will never return again. Conversely, if your site loads quickly and visitors can get what they need and be on their way, you may just find yourself earmarked for a return visit.
What to do: Use Pingdom’s free mobile speed test to see how quickly your website loads compared with similar sites.
Feature #3. Your website is seeded with appropriate keywords for high search relevance scores.
While Google’s latest algorithm updates have been significant enough to brand them “Mobilgeddon,” Google has not yet abandoned relevance scores in how it displays search engine browser results. In fact, if you participate in Google’s inexpensive and effective AdWords program, relevance can net you higher rankings, lower prices when your ad shows and even free ad displays.
What to do: Use Google’s instructions to check your Quality Score (relevance score) within your Adwords campaign desktop.
Feature #4. Your website e-commerce function offers secure check-out.
Google wants all websites to have SSL and customers will shop more if they feel secure entering their sensitive personal and financial data on your website. If they don’t feel secure, there are plenty of other places online where they can shop. These are two very good reason to secure your website.
What to do: You want to be sure you have SSL encryption (resulting in an “https” prefix) and that you display trust badges and security seals to let customers know you take security of their personal data seriously.
Feature #5. Your website is simple and intuitive to navigate.
Today’s web infrastructure is simple and intuitive, gently and invisibly leading you from one page to the next until you reach your destination. Many of today’s websites are so intuitive they seem to know what you need before you do (this is called “responsive design”). This type of design expedites mobile functionality, load times, site security, and overall speed and ease – all customer “musts” in today’s competitive online marketplace.
What to do: It may be time for a web face lift. If this is the case, you don’t have to break the bank to get there – many drag-and-drop website builders (WordPress is a good example) can have you into a new design in a day or two.
By taking the time to sit down and evaluate your current website using these five critical criteria as your guide, you will gain the intel you need to present a website your visitors and customers want to return to again and again. Even better, you will stand out next to your competition, showing customers that you are working hard to make good things happen for everyone in Alberta and beyond.