Website strategy in 2016: Four things you should know

Website strategy has become a hot topic in recent years. Search, social and mobile are undeniably changing the way that we do business on a daily basis. Determining which new networks, tools and platforms are worth your while has become an important step towards finding success online.

A balanced web strategy will help you create a buzz around your offerings, drive awareness and ultimately, increase sales. To set your business apart from other businesses, you need to be creative and think outside the box. Here are four things to look for in 2016:

1: Responsive websites are no longer just a trend
When a website is responsive, this means the site will resize to fit the screen, any screen.  Website designers and administrators can create one website for optimal viewing on any device, anywhere, anytime.

With Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm changes in April 2015 (“Mobilegeddon”), it is no longer just trendy to be responsive, it is now mandatory if you want a presence on the Search Engines.  As mobile internet usage continues its meteoric rise, having a mobile-responsive website has become a No. 1 priority.

2: SEO is powerful
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process that gets your website (or any online entity) ranked on the search engines like Google, YAHOO! or Bing.  If you want to gain a presence on the search engines results pages (SERPS), you’ll need to play by the rules.

Your content and keyword strategy will dictate if the search engines rank your pages and if so, to what extent. If you can find a path that works for you, SEO can be an extremely powerful tool that will help position you as a subject matter expert and help you develop new business.

3: Success with social media starts with focus
Having multiple dormant profiles on many different social networks is not in your best interest. Think of the feeling you get when you visit a blog or twitter feed that hasn’t been posted to in six months. This is not the picture you want to paint for end users visiting you and/or your brand online.

Figuring out which social networks to focus on can be a challenge. A simple solution is to target networks where your customers (and potential customers) are. Once you have determined where they are, focus on just one social network to start. Make a concerted, weekly effort to connect with other like-minded individuals and focus on creating engaging content with strong calls-to-action.

Once you get the hang of this one network and you are starting to see a return on your time investment, then you can move on to a second or third network.

4: Create apps with purpose
Candidly, we’ve become a bit app-crazy in the last couple of years. Apps can be powerful tools to engage customers and build brand loyalty, but they aren’t for every business.

If a mobile app doesn’t offer your customers added value or an improved experience over your business’s website, and there isn’t any other specific purpose for an app, then you don’t need an app.

The best place to start is an honest assessment of your needs.  Perhaps you want to offer your customers functionality that is best suited for a native app. Or you have created content with just one specific device in mind. Or you may want to create an experience that simply looks and “feels” like an app (versus a website). Answers to these questions will help you evaluate if an app is for you.

There is no doubt apps will continue to play a big role in the future of digital. With a flooded marketplace, however, only those apps that have been created with purpose will provide real value to their business owners.

 Nate Berger is a digital storyteller and creator of award-winning online experiences. His company, KnockMedia, is a user experience (UX) agency. Visit www.knockmedia.com for more information.