Wednesday, 12 October 2016

How To Boost Your Website’s Performance

The online world is flooded with millions of websites with content on every topic or product imaginable. This alone is incredibly daunting to those that have entertained the thought of launching a website, with the very reality of being a drop lost in the digital ocean, which then causes the idea to be abandoned completely. Especially for those with a desire to wade into the world of e-commerce, and small businesses creating an online store. However, never forget that globally billions access the web daily; many of which looking to make a purchase. The traffic is there, and the good news is that there are many valuable tips and tricks to improve any website’s success. Fortunately, many of these tricks are very fast and easy to achieve.

The first strategy any web builder must focus on is content. Creating quality content is what attracts visitors, yet creating mindful quality content is what attracts search engines and gets the visitors to your site in the first place. This refers to writing keyword rich SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Even the BBC allows its Journalists to write two headlines for their articles, one shorter for the main title and the other keyword rich in the content for the digital version. Whatever your business is, it is important to include in your content wording that is included in the most popular searches. There is an art and science to this as, on one hand the content needs to be general enough yet on the other very specific. For example, simply writing “Florist in London” in your content will have you competing with hundreds of other companies and you risk being on page 15 of google search results ranks (i.e. virtually invisible to organic searches). A more carefully crafted sentence would be “The best Wedding florist in London’s Piccadilly Circus with the lowest prices.” This is both specific, broad, and is likely to catch tags of what most people google when they search. In the next sentence, you could include keywords of other occasions for flowers such as “Birthday” or “Anniversary” “bouquet gift baskets”, and all these keywords are now included in your website and match when people google them. A bonus is to include keywords in the back end of images (known as alt tags), so that these will also appear in results – especially for google image searches.

Another impact on SEO and on your website’s performance overall is to ensure it loads at a fast speed with no crashes, broken links, or 404 errors. Google automatically ranks slower websites lower as they are simply unattractive to visitors. In the digital era where load times are lightning fast, people can easily become very impatient and may leave you website or cancel their check out if they have to wait even 5 seconds. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure your website has a fast speed. Make sure that there are no images that take up massive amounts of space and, if they do, resize or reformat to smaller dimensions. Many people get carried away when designing a website and include fancy animations or flash effects, all of which can slow down the loading speed and may not work on certain browsers or devices.

Speaking of compatibility, it is essential that your website is cross checked on all different platforms such as Safari, Firefox, Chrome, as well as on various devices such as laptop, desktop, and especially mobile. What often occurs is that the website may look amazing on desktop using one browser, but then on smartphones images and content get cut off or disappear or the entire website does not load because of issues with formatting for the browser. For online stores, it is important to make the checkout process as quick and as easy as possible, often with a clearly visible button that states ‘Order here’. Further businesses cannot ignore the fact that many customers may be purchasing via their mobile device. This is why major companies go to great lengths to ensure that their websites run smoothly across the board and that even the mobile view is specifically suited to smartphones. For example, online casino sites like Kong Casino are very innovative in creating a seamless gameplay for their slot games whether enjoyed on a smartphone or desktop. These online slots, or mobile slots, have easy controls to spin the reels – often with 5 reels, around 4 wager rows, a set number of payways, and features including bonuses that award many ways to win real money. The great quality of these slots is that their graphics and gameplay are just as immersive on mobile as on all other devices, and there are a variety of themes to choose from. Some popular online slots include Eyecon Gaming’s ‘Fluffy Favouries’, Yggdrasil’s ‘Baron Samedi’ or ‘Easter Island’, and Microgaming’s ‘Lucky Leprechaun’. As a business model, these sites and developers have taken a mobile first approach to ensure full compatibly. As virtually everyone owns a smartphone it is important to check how your website appears and performs on mobile.

Reviewing a website this way is referred to as a User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) test. Often it is the small details that can make all the difference. For example, many internal links on website change to a completely new page whereas it is important to code the link so that it automatically opens in a new browser or window so visitors do not navigate away from and lose your website. Once your website is up and running, the next step is to find an audience, engage with them, and attract them to visit. While paid marketing and advertisement is effective when done correctly, often strategic social media management is able to grow web traffic at no cost at all. Social media accounts like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, as well as posting on sites like Reddit or specific forums are all great ways to stand out and bring people to your webpage. Spending time creating beautiful posts, and especially ones with a call to action (such as a Sale or contest) prove the most successful. With certain web building platforms like Shopify or Woocommerce, building a website has never been easier. What is even more exciting is that there are many (free) apps that provide tools to improve the overall performance of your site.

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