Website Readiness for 2014

It seems like just yesterday that we were getting over End-of-the-World jokes and presidential election burnout from 2012. Yet, here we are at the end of December 2013, with the calendar about to turn yet again into a new year. Year-end is always a good time to review the past while looking to the future across all walks of life, and online marketing is no different. Is your website ready for what’s on the horizon? Let’s take the big questions that your site must address for a successful 2014:

Does your site load quickly?

About a decade ago, Flash-based sites were all the rage. These sites looked pretty and had plenty of animation but they were bogged down with load times — load times that, as tracking metrics improved, showed to be the cause of visitors leaving the site. These days, the competition is fiercer than ever before, which means load delays, however miniscule, translate to lost opportunities. Recent studies show that a single second corresponds to a 7% drop in conversion, so every site’s goal for 2014 should be to ensure efficient and optimized loading. This is particularly true for sites with an ecommerce element, as the many shopping alternatives out there (particularly giants like Amazon and Ebay) make every second literally count when it comes to customer inflow and conversion.

Is your site mobile friendly?

Smart devices are mainstream now, meaning that mobile access via tablets and phones are commonplace. While the majority of web traffic still comes from good old-fashioned computers, people access the Internet from anywhere and everywhere: checking email in line at the grocery store, looking up funny videos while out with friends, or comparing prices while shopping for a new TV. All of this heightens the need for a mobile-friendly site — one that will load quickly on 3G and 4G networks while displaying cleanly with legible text. Every site visit is an opportunity to create a new customer, so make sure your site is capable of being viewed from mobile devices. After all, you never know when someone will get the urge to visit your site.

Are your landing pages prepared?

Pay-per-click ads continue to be one of the most cost-effective means of driving traffic to your site. If PPC figures to be a big part of your 2014 online marketing, then don’t forget about the other side of the equation: landing pages. Landing pages associated with specific PPC ads should utilize a highly specific message with a strong call to action, one that urges PPC traffic to take the next step and convert into paying customers.

Do you have a content-creation plan?

In the beginning of SEO, strong placement was as simple as a few headlines and metatags. Those days have long passed us by, and right now Google’s algorithm places a premium on high-quality content. Because of that, any 2014 online marketing strategy should include plans for regular content creation, be they short blog posts or regular articles.

By Marc Apple