It’s hard to believe 2017 has already come and gone, but here we are preparing for the new year. Many businesses take this time to refocus and regroup their business and marketing strategies to propel growth. One area that shouldn’t go overlooked in your planning session is the current state of your website. There will be some massive changes that can help make or break businesses. Never one to withhold valuable information, we at Horton Group have come across some must have features your website will need in order to compete in 2018.
Mobile Responsive Websites
We’ve talked at length about the importance of having a mobile responsive website. This is not a new trend. This is a requirement! Developers and marketers have been working on improving mobile and tablet interaction for over ten years, but the truth is most websites’ responsiveness is only considered after all the work has been completed on the desktop version. In 2018, there will be some changes that will impact websites that aren’t set up for mobile response. The hamburger navigation bar (the three bars you see in the top right/left corner) is a popular option to provide website developers with clean/uncluttered organization and users with clickability to other pages. Unfortunately, there are still many organizations who haven’t adopted this trend and are using traditional navigation bars on their homepage. If proper mobile responsive design isn’t utilized on traditional navigation, it can be very difficult for a mobile user on your website to get where they want to go. The more difficulty an individual encounters, the quicker they are going to abandon the page or website altogether. Any form or CTA available on a mobile site should be large and interactive. The most significant concern regarding website development is to build both the desktop and mobile version simultaneously. If increased bounce rate isn’t enough to get you to rethink your mobile design, maybe the next trend for the new year will.
New Changes to Google Index will Play a Role in Mobile-First Indexing
2018 is the year Google is projected to make some massive changes to the way they index websites and this will have a considerable effect on mobile sites. Marketers and developers have been preparing for this change, and just this month Google decided to go ahead with a soft roll-out of mobile first indexing on a few sites. Google has been very open about these changes because it doesn’t want to surprise anyone, but if you haven’t heard let us give you a little crash course.
We should all be aware of the bots that currently crawl web pages and indexes websites. Right now these bots are designed for the desktop version. This creates issues for those who are searching on mobile devices. With over 60% of searches taking place on the phone or tablet, the limitations of the current bot aren’t helping web users. What does this mean for your website? If you aren’t hosting a mobile-first design, you won’t index on mobile searches. At all. Don’t worry. Google has provided some tips to help ensure you are prepared by:
Making sure the mobile version has the same high-quality content.
Ensure URLs within structured data are updated to include the mobile version.
Include metadata in both versions of the site.
Confirm your hosting service provides enough space for the increased crawl rate on a mobile device.
Optimize Your Website for Voice Search
After you prepare your website for mobile optimization, you’ll want to check your SEO is ready for the rise of voice search. So many consumers are utilizing Alexa, Siri, Google and other platforms to retrieve the information they are looking for online. These queries range from “how to change a tire” to “what time does the mall close?” Your SEO strategy should be prepared to take on all kinds of orally spoken search queries. The most significant reason voice search is different from a typed search is oftentimes a question asked vocally is action oriented and uses complex sentences. Rather than an archaic form of keyword searches like “Nashville BBQ Restaurants,” consumers will ask “Where is the best BBQ place?” and expect Siri to know their location and respond appropriately.
SEO is ever-changing and its trajectory for the new year is changing hugely, but to stay in the game, you’ll need to adapt to this new form of question and answer style consumers will use. The best way to prepare your website is through the development of topic clusters. The idea of topic clusters is that information revolves around a single pillar of content. Think of it as the central hub of information where you’ll keep all of the answers to your customer’s questions. Subsequently, “cluster topics” will support your pillar page by providing value through link building. We’ve talked a little about link building and having quality links referring back to your site helps your search ranking. When you begin to point blog posts and service pages back to your pillar, you’ll build the credit you need to increase your visibility and add value to the questions asked by your consumers.
Find a CMS that Improves Your eCommerce Strategy
The right Content Management System (CMS) is vital to the success of your website, and HubSpot has proven to be a leader in delivering a system that’s reliable and relevant. In 2018, they’re upping their game with an integration of Shopify. This new feature allows businesses direct access to product management, applied keywords, and reporting tools all within one location.
The new integration allows you to sync customer and order data directly from your Shopify account to HubSpot where you can use the data to drive sales and increase growth. Analysis of the data helps you segment customers by different values like lifetime revenue, average order, and purchase totals. The information you glean from this can help direct your inbound marketing efforts into a strategy the delights your consumers. You can create personalized emails that generate awareness and cater to individual purchase habits of your customers.
Ensure Your CMS Promotes Customer Conversations
Another avenue that sets HubSpot in front of other CMS platforms is their new website integration for social conversations. Consumers across the globe are changing the way they interact with the brands they love and how they shop for goods. Now, more than ever, they are communicating with businesses about products and services on a 24/7 basis. If you want your website to be ready for 2018, you’ll want to have a CMS system like HubSpot that allows you to keep up with this trend. Because the world doesn’t expect companies to have 24/7 business hours, an automated system allows for quick responses to routine questions for things such as delivery windows, office hours, and primary product/service information is critical. This next level of interaction keeps customers satisfied and helps them feel engaged with your brand.
Have more questions? At Horton Group we are experts in website development and can provide you and your business with a strategy that will enhance your user experience in 2018. Contact us today to learn more.