According to a study by internet experts Netcraft, there were around a half billion active websites in March of last year. 644,275,754 to be a little more precise. Half a billion sites, all vying for a bit of attention.
That’s a huge amount of competition, competition that’s no doubt grown over the past year too. Unless you're competing in the niche of all niches then, you’ll likely be going toe to toe with a bevy of businesses similar to yourself, each grappling to gain customers through an online presence.
Daunted and don’t know how to set your site apart? Here’s six tips to get you started…
Invest in an innovative designer
A good web designer is worth their weight in gold.
It’s become increasingly possible to take website design into your own hands using the likes of WordPress and Weebly, but you’ll largely be using templates that have been used time and time again, probably by competitors.
Instead, outlay a little and bring in an innovative designer. There’s a wealth of freelancers out there who’ll offer reasonable fees and by bringing in their expertise you’ll be able to establish a site that’s not only set apart aesthetically, but SEO-optimized and user-friendly, too.
Treat content as king
Quality content is at the crux of online success nowadays.
Google’s algorithm updates have shifted the SEO goalposts, the production of quality content playing an increasingly important part in getting your site up the search rankings.
You’ll therefore need to keep your site active on the content front, blogging regularly and offering valuable content. Nobody really knows what Google’s next move is, but by producing genuinely interesting, well-written content and things that people will want to share, you can’t go far wrong.
Get social media savvy
Integral to getting your site noticed, shared and set up apart from the rest, is giving it a social media presence.
Google+, Facebook, Twitter are all valuable marketing platforms that’ll get traffic to your site. Speaking from personal experience the lion’s share of my soccer blog’s traffic comes from Twitter and the more you can set yourself apart there, the better.
Remember the “content is king” mantra when using your social media platforms. Don’t send out spammy tweet after spammy tweet. Customers and clients won’t want to do business with you. Reflect the personality of your business and your site via your social media, interacting with clients and customers regularly. Be interesting.
Get to grips with analytics
By the amount I’ve mentioned SEO in this article, you’ll realize how integral this is to getting your site recognized nowadays.
Getting to grips with Analytics is crucial to this, as it’ll help shape your SEO strategy. With analytics letting you examine where traffic is coming from and which keywords your site is or isn’t ranking for, you’ll be better placed to act upon the opportunities and threats facing your ranking position.
The market leader in the Analytics field is Google’s offering, named Google Analytics funnily enough. It’s free, so by signing up to it then you’ve really nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
Guest post the most (for now)
As I’ve alluded to, nobody really knows what Google will do next, but at the moment its pretty safe to safe guest blogging is crucial on the SEO front.
By guest posting on other sites and linking back to yours (using the keywords you’ve identified via Analytics), you’ll be able to shift your site up the rankings. Just make sure you’re only guest posting on higher quality sites and sticking to the “content is king” mantra, otherwise you may do your site more than good, Google known to penalize so called “content farms.”
Regardless of all this SEO stuff, some targeted guest posting will at the very least spread the word of your site.
Make it mobile-friendly
According to recent research collated by Google (who else…) 72% of consumers expect brands to have mobile-friendly sites but a staggering 96% have been to sites that weren't mobile-ready.
Clearly then, a site that’s mobile-friendly is crucial and by having one, you’ll be set apart from competitors not catering to their customers and clients.
A good web developer can take care of this, so it’s just a further reason to invest in one.
Mark James is a UK based Writer who specializes in Business and Technology. He currently works in-house for Crunch, a UK online accountancy firm