by Iain Wilson
Another year upon us, and another year where we need to look at our websites and wonder how we can possibly keep up.
It can become overwhelming when thinking about how to improve your site, so here are 4 tips on what you should be thinking of in 2014.
None of these need necessarily be expensive to do, and could make a big difference to your website's performance.
If your website's been around for a while, there's a fair chance at least some of it might be starting to look a little dated. Does it need a complete redesign? Maybe, maybe not.
Design fads come and go, but if your site has been built correctly it may just need a few enhancements here and there. In fact, continuously and progressively enhancing your site has a whole bunch of benefits.
Not a day goes past now without a story in the press about the increased use of mobiles and smartphones to access web sites. I know from looking at the stats of the Blot website that just under 50% of access is from mobiles and tablets.
Now, your site may look just fine on a mobile device (it should if it was developed properly), but that's not the same as being optimised for mobile.
Optimised means that the pages respond and adapt themselves to the smaller screen, so they are much easier to operate and read, without needing to be resized. The Sportsmans Charity website is a good example.
So, if you've got a site with a lot of reading, visual content or perhaps an ecommerce site which needs a fair amount of user input, it may well be worthwhile optimising it for mobile.
SEO can get pretty complex, but one of the simplest and biggest bangs for the buck you can get is by having good titles for your pages. This is the text that goes between the <title> </title> tags on a web page.
Search engines love this text and consequently rate it highly, but often web designers and owners completely negate its value by having text like 'Welcome' or 'Home Page' in the title tag.
Use it to describe the key messages about the page. Imagine someone knows nothing about the page and will only understand what it is about by reading the title. Try to include :-
For example, for an Edinburgh company selling chopped liver:
"Chopped Liver in Edinburgh - Call Now - Acme Butchers"
Or a blog article about liver
"Why liver is good for you - Acme Butchers, Edinburgh"
Aim for around no more than 11 words.
Add a meta description that is a couple of narrative sentences, summarising the page and including a geographic context. This is the page description that Google will show in the results. Alternatively, you can omit the description entirely, and Google will work something out from the content on the page.
Oh, and while we're talking about meta tags, if someone tells you to get good search rankings you should put lots of keywords in the meta keywords, please ignore them. This is outdated rubbish, and won't help at all.
Flash animation was a fantastic technology a few years ago. We had websites with all sorts of beautiful animation. And it was the only real way of putting streaming video on websites.
Things have moved on now, especially as mobile devices don't support Flash. This means if you have a website that uses Flash, the Flash content is not viewable by the every increasing number of mobile users.