A website is a must for all entities doing business in today’s interconnected world.
For many first-time website owners, the work to establish their online presences seems done when they received their brand new website. They rely on aesthetic to make a judgement call whether the site is working well. They fail to look under the “hood” as we say it. This is forgivable as most website owners are themselves not webmasters, just like most drivers are not car mechanics.
Beyond the aesthetics, there are however many other things the newbie website owner need to be aware of to ensure the website is good to go.
Below are the top 10 must have for a professional website.
#1 A human & SEO friendly domain name.
A good name can make a difference in life. That saying also applies to your online presence too.
If you have a name that is neither human or SEO friendly, you are making things difficult for yourself from the get-go.
Remember your brand name, as well as the domain name, is the first ambassador of your business.
You want to make sure it communicates how you intend your business to be.
#2 Linking to the search engines.
While search engines are smart enough to locate a website’s presence without much effort from the website owner, they are however unable to understand the structure and pages within the website.
The website’s structure needs to be communicated to the search engines. Once this is done, only then can the pages within your website be able to appear on a search engine result page.
In another word, if your website is not properly linked your website will be one of the Internet best-kept secrets.
Think of your website has a physical shop.
The search engines are like people walking past it without truly understanding what’s inside unless you invite them to understand what’s within.
With effect from Jul 2018, Google, a major search engine, has announced with the release of its latest Chrome browser, sites that do not have a SSL certificate or https would be labelled as unsecured.
Search engines, like Google, wants its users to have a more secure experience.
From the search engine ranking perspective, https has been given a major boost as a ranking factor.
What this means, is that your website without https would rank lower than one with a similar site with the https prefix.
#4 Website Offline Alert.
Not many understand that websites do go offline from time to time. This happens even with the best of hosting providers.
What do you will go through the minds of your visitors when they are greeted by a blank page instead of your nicely done up website?
When your website goes offline, you want to be in the know immediately. The last thing you do not want happening is not to be clueless about the situation.
You want to be able to monitor the situation and know when it will be back up.
You also want to know how long the offline situation lasted.
With an alert mechanism in place, you will be able to aware of the issue and subsequently monitor its status.
#5 Missing meta tag information.
Search engine next needs to understand what your web pages are all about.
For that, the search engine relies on meta tags like the title tag.
A title tag is a HTML tag that describes the content of the webpage. The title tag is the first thing a search engine crawler sees, so it is important to get it right.
The title tag is also the first thing a user sees in a search engine result page.
Another important tag is the h1 tag.
Whilst both meta tags tells the reader what the webpage is all about, the h1 tag only appears on the webpage itself.
The text enclosed within the h1 tag announces the content on the page.
Missing tags will make it difficult for the search engine to effectively understand your website.
This will adversely affect your site ranking.
#6 Meta description.
A meta description is what you see on search engine result pages when a query has been submitted to a search engine.
Meta description gives a brief description of the content of the page. It is for humans to have a better understanding of the web page content.
A website with a missing meta description is unlikely to not show up.
Even if it did, the user is unlikely to click on the link as it may deem dubious. They would rather click on a link with a description of the page.
A website with a poorly written meta description is unlikely to be clicked if the description hasn’t been correctly thought through.
Hence some effort is required to understand what would make the prospective visitor click on the link to your webpage.
Continuing with the physical shop analogy, imagine your website is like a large retail store with different sections (pages). Each section within the shop promotes different items. If you are in the kid’s department, you will see items relating to kids. If you are in the women section, you will items relating to women.
Similarly, different sections of your website will be communicating different things. Hence different messaging with different keywords will be required.
It is important to use the appropriate keywords, the appropriate number of keywords, the use of lateral keywords, contextualisation of keywords etc on each page.
Having a backup strategy is important.
This is especially so when you have a website with many pages or a website that collects user information.
Without a sound backup strategy, you can expect to have some downtime and have to do a lot of recovery work if something goes wrong.
So what can go wrong you might ask?
For one, you might get hacked. Once hacked, you might not have access to your website content.
Secondly, you might have installed something that is not compatible with another component on your website.
Thirdly, any software update might cause incompatibility issues.
So it always best to have a backup version of your website.
Last but not least a website is like any asset you may have, you would need to protect it.
There are malicious web-bot constantly roaming the Internet looking for unsuspecting websites
Any successful attack could potentially have a negative impact to the company’s image and reputation.
I am a small company, I am an unlikely target of these web-bots
The web bots created by the cybercriminals have one primary objective and that is to look out for vulnerabilities.
They are not programmed to determine the status of the company, whether it is a small or large entity, profitable or not.
Once a vulnerability is detected, a payload can then be sent to compromise the website. A ransom could then be asked, or the web server on which the website is hosted could be used as a platform to launch an attack from.
In most cases, once a site has been breached, not much can be done. You will then be at the mercy of the cybercriminals.
Hence when it comes to cybersecurity, prevention is always better than cure.
After all, the cost of prevention is but a fraction of the cost of clearing up the mess later.
#10 Website Performance.
Last but not least is your website performance.
After implementing all the necessaries to get your website running and well protected. One of the very last things to do is to optimize it for speed.
As more and more things get added to the website, it tends to get “bulkier” and slower.
When a website is not downloading fast enough, it will be penalised by both humans and the search engines.
Human visitors will quickly move on to another website if the website is downloading too slow.
Search engines will rank the website lower to a similar one with faster downloading speed.
The above are but some of the major considerations a newbie website owner needs to take into account to have a good start.
If you are planning to create a new website or revamp a current one, let’s speak so that you can implement the best practices to create a professional website.
Remember, it’s not about looks all the time!