January 11, 2023

A Custom Website Is the First Step to Success

By: Mary Hiers

Having a beautiful custom website is an accomplishment in itself. A custom website can elevate your brand and fuel greater success.

But a great custom website isn’t enough to maximize and maintain success. Having a website is only step one. Here are the other steps to ensure your content marketing fulfills its potential.

Ensure Your Website Is Technically Sound

The greatest website won’t get attention if search engines cannot crawl and index it. Your website’s robots.txt file notifies search engine crawlers of the URLs on your website that they can access. 

Does your website have a robot.txt file? Is it set up with the proper syntax required by search engines? Ask your website developer if you’re unsure.

Likewise, creating an XML sitemap is essential. This file lists the essential pages on your website and ensures that Google can find them all and crawl them. 

The XML sitemap also clarifies your website’s hierarchy and structure to search engines. It is a way to ensure that search engines crawl every page of your website.

Keep User Experience Front and Center

People simply do not use websites that are confusing or slow. Speed is easy to test with numerous free online tools like Google’s Page Speed Insights

Your sitemap and navigation can give clues as to how easy your website is to use. But there is no substitute for having actual people use it and give you feedback. 

If non-IT people in your organization use your website and express confusion, listen to them. This is especially true if multiple people point out the same issues. 

Don’t let the mobile experience be an afterthought. If anything, you should prioritize the mobile experience over the desktop experience due to the prevalence of mobile device use. 

Responsive web design is absolutely critical if you don’t plan to write a custom mobile app. Test navigation and site speed on mobile devices before declaring your custom website design success. 

SEO for Humans, not Machines

Search engine optimization (SEO) is somewhat of a misnomer. Though it has “search engine” right there in its name, it’s really about the human using the search engine. 

Search intent is paramount today as search engines become harder to trick and better at matching content to queries. Approach SEO from a human perspective rather than an algorithm’s perspective.

The best way to do this is to deliver well-written, well-organized, original, fresh content. Your content may consist of text, images, videos, or a combination of them. Each element should be optimized. 

This means taking care of details like optimizing your headers and title tags. Optimize images and videos as well.

Addressing these critical details pleases search engine algorithms and the people who use them. It also improves website accessibility, which automatically improves SEO. 

Understand Your Competitors

While it’s natural to want to blaze your own trail with your custom website, it’s also important to know what the competition is up to. Identify your main competitors and make notes on their websites. 

Learning which keywords your competitors rank for gives you a starting point for your own SEO efforts. The most successful competitor websites can help you build a library of short- and long-tail keywords that can boost your success. 

There is no reason to try to imitate your successful competitors’ websites. You can build the success of your own custom website in your own way. But knowing what the competition is doing is a great way to ensure your website stays on a successful path. 

Use Analytics for Your Custom Website

“You can’t improve what you don’t measure” is a cliché for a reason. But don’t be overwhelmed by the sheer range of analytics available to you. 

Learning what the basic analytics are saying is a great starting point. How much traffic is your site getting? Where is your traffic coming from? 

How is traffic trending from week to week and month to month? For which keywords is your site most successful?

Analytics can tell you much more than this, and as your expertise grows, you can use more advanced analytics. Don’t ignore them because they help you avoid what doesn’t work and emphasize what does. 

Periodically Audit Your Custom Website

So you know how to manage your custom website’s moving parts and enjoy watching your numbers improve. That’s great, but you’re not done yet.

Search engine algorithms evolve, as do keywords and user behaviors. What works swimmingly right now may be all wrong next year. 

In addition to monitoring the analytics for your custom website, you must periodically audit your site and learn whether more major changes are necessary. This is to ensure continued success.

You can do a quick SEO audit with any number of free and paid SEO site audit tools. This is great for ensuring that your keywords are on point and your competitive position is strong.

Additionally, your web builder should do a technical audit of your website to ensure that technical issues aren’t holding performance back. Part of this should be an audit of user experience on mobile and desktop. Don’t let slow loading or flawed navigation annoy users into going elsewhere. 

It is rare to need to remove content completely. But occasionally, you may notice content that is completely out of date and that could misinform your website users. Other content may need to be updated due to changing search algorithms or user trends. 

As you and your tech people audit your custom website, list the things to be fixed and check them off as you go. This will help you avoid missing any necessary fixes. 

Auditing your website once a year is wise. If your business changes direction, you may need to audit your website more frequently to avoid misleading site users. 

The Success of Your Custom Website Matters 

It’s only natural to be proud of your custom website going live. But you must do more for it to reach all the people you want it to reach. 

A well-designed website is essential for any business that wants to succeed online. If your website isn’t performing as well as you’d like, or if it’s not ranking high in search engine results, set up a call with our team

We can help you build a website that looks great and functions even better while helping you climb the rankings and get more customers.


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