Website recommendations for 2013

Website recommendations for 2013

Here are some important things we think you should know about for 2013...
technical-heads-up

The start of a new year is a good time to look over your website and decide how you’re going to improve it. The internet is always changing and growing and it’s important to stay up-to-date with the big changes going on. Here are some of the important things we think you should know about for 2013.

A year for responsive design

Mobile devices are becoming more and more popular, and with major search engines like Google releasing their own recommendations for mobile webpages [1], the concept of responsiveness in web design is a really hot topic.

A responsive website changes its appearance and layout based on the size of its viewing area. For example a site’s buttons might be optimised to fit the full width of the iPhone or text might be made larger for better readability.

You just need to look to Windows 8 to get an example of how computing is evolving. Windows 8 is the latest Windows operating system and at its core it’s been designed for tablet devices as much as it’s been designed for traditional machines. As well as the release of Windows 8, Microsoft’s new tablet device, called Surface, runs on a stripped-down version of Windows 8, to compete with Apple’s iPad.

The number of mobile devices on the internet was set to rival the global population by the end of last year, and by 2016, it’s predicted that there will be 1.4 mobile devices for every person alive [2].  The BBC conducted a survey last year in which 45% of people said that they frequently browsed the internet on a mobile device, compared with 31% in 2010 [3].

Take a look at your website on a mobile device to get an idea of what a steadily-growing portion of your visitor-base will be seeing when they visit your site. For an example to compare your website to, check out dreamsmiledental.co.uk, one of our latest websites that was created to be responsive.

Social media

Last year Facebook saw 845 million people log on each month [4], and Twitter grew by 1 million accounts each day [5]. You would be silly not to tap into this market.

If you maintain a blog on your website, use Facebook as your comment system, allowing viewers to comment on your articles as well as post that comment to Facebook for other people to see. Whenever a person comments on your page it is published to their timeline for all their friends to see.

A growing number of people are turning to Facebook and Twitter as a way to complain about companies [6]. You should encourage unhappy customers to complain directly to you via your Facebook page rather than to their friends and followers. This gives you the opportunity to publicly reply, correct the relationship and build up a level of trust based on your honesty.

Consider showing your latest tweets on your website as a way to provide the latest news and information to visitors easily. This will advertise that you’re active on Twitter, which will encourage people to follow you.

SEO

Location, location, location

Google made at least 65 changes to its algorithm in August and September last year, and 3 of these related to improving results to show websites from local companies more frequently [7].

This is great news for business as these changes will make you more visible to people within your region, who are likely to be your target audience. Therefore, make sure that your website has a clear address present so that Google can recognise it.

You could do even better by using microdata though. Some sections of your site will benefit from the addition of microdata – contact us if you would like it added to your website. Employ microdata around your website and start using Google Places to ensure that Google knows as much about your business as it can.

Author rank

Since the launch of Google+ – Google’s social media site – the search engine has used it to find out more about the people behind the website, and takes this data into account when ranking results. If you blog, create a Google+ profile if you haven’t already, and link it to your website. To find out more, read our article on authoring your content. Google will then start to rank you as an author, and by writing good content and blogging frequently you can increase your author rank, and that will benefit your rankings.

Freshness

Last August and September Google also made changes to how they deal with what’s called “freshness.” [7] This refers to the age of the pages on your website, and a page that has not been updated recently may be penalised for that. Blogging is important for a number of reasons, but one is that it ensures new content is frequently added to your website to keep it fresh. As well as blogging, it’s important to update the content across all of your pages when you can. A website is never ‘complete’ – always try to improve the usefulness of each of your pages.

Keywords are dead!

Well not quite, but they are less important than they were even a year ago. Google no longer just matches your keywords to the words that people search for, it’s now much smarter and tries to ascertain the searcher’s intent [8]. Perhaps the searcher is trying to buy a product and not find information on it for example. Now that Google can more intelligently work with search queries it becomes more than a game of simply matching words, and your content tells Google more about your website than any keywords in the title or headings will.

Instead of focusing on your keywords, think more about the purpose of the page, what you want it to provide your visitors, and how it fits into your site as a whole – i.e. is it out of place? Once you have decided that, you’ll be in a better position to write content that achieves that goal.

HTML5 & animation

In the old days – before the iPad – websites relied on Flash to give them that ‘wow factor.’ Unfortunately Flash was not sustainable and is no longer supported on a number of mobile devices.

In order to compensate for this, slideshows and rotating banners started appearing on websites. However, the popularity of these are waning and research suggests that they are not as effective as you might think [9].

In comes HTML5. HTML5 is essentially the new Flash, except it is more lightweight and works better. As time goes on more and more websites will subtly use HTML5 to make their sites more interesting – perhaps pop-ups may grow and fade in, or steam may gently coil out of a chimney. The main difference between HTML5 and Flash is subtlety. The effect should be a pleasant surprise and not a user-interaction disaster.

If you want to give your website that ‘wow factor’ then HTML5 may be for you.

Multimedia

With the average home’s internet speed increasing year after year, the amount of content on a website can also increase. In 2012, the average size of a webpage increased by 30% to 1.25MB, with media such as imagery experiencing the biggest increase in size [10]. As well as plenty of imagery on your pages, this year I suggest you look to video too. Having a professional video made to showcase your business is a great way to get your message across to your visitors. If a photo is worth 1000 words, then a video is worth many pictures, and many websites are still very text-based and uninteresting because of it.

It’s also a year to move away from stock imagery, and have your own professional photos taken instead. Stock imagery is convenient, and that’s also its biggest problem. It’s become so popular on the internet that you begin to notice the same images across multiple sites, and they all start to look similar because of it.

References

[1] googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ch
[2] techcrunch.com
[3] www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14731757
[4] www.searchenginejournal.com/stats-on-facebook-2012-infographic/40301
[5] www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/twitter-statistics-2012_b18914
[6] www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18081651
[7] insidesearch.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/search-quality-highlights-65-changes
[8] searchenginewatch.com
[9] conversionxl.com
[10] www.sitepoint.com/web-page-weight-2012

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Samuel Claxon
Author
Samuel Claxon
Developer

Published:
12th February, 2013

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