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Why have a website as well as a Facebook page? Security updates and website maintenance

Apologies for being remiss last week in keeping you up to date with the news in the heady world of websites! So this week’s news round up is actually a fortnight’s round up.

Why have a website

One of the many questions I get asked is why people need a website when they have a Facebook page. Lots of small companies design a Facebook page themselves and they get a reasonable amount of business from it, which is a cheap and cost effective way to gain business. However, depending on your business, potential clients will require the reassurance that the business is bone fide and look to find a website to provide that comfort. Basic websites are not expensive to design and create (especially with Content Management Systems such as WordPress, Weebly etc), but what is vital is making sure that the website represents your business the way it should and that it doesn’t leave any data open to attack. Plan your website properly with your marketing strategy always in the back of your mind.

Website Security

The main focus of the news over the last two weeks has been security (as always). It seems that hackers are always one step ahead – whether they attack your code maliciously or just bombard your site with loads of stuff causing it to slow down. The trick is, and always has been, to keep your site up to date. Providers of software continually update and provide those updates (mostly free of charge depending on the system) both to bug fix, but also to patch security holes that make sites vulnerable. It is really important that those updates are installed all the time. If you don’t have the time or you don’t know how to do it, then get a professional to do it – it will be money well spent.

Network World published an article stating that there was a study by Sucuri, who “found that over half of the WordPress platform sites (56 percent) it attended to were using obsolete software.” SC Magazine also ran an article based on a study by RiskIQ “More than 300 websites belonging to the UK’s top 30 biggest companies contain vulnerabilities in their content management systems (CMS).”

Why is it important you may ask? Many articles, including The Sequitur state that the speed of download of a website is one of the many components of ensuring your customers have the best experience of your site. How frustrating is it when you are pointed to a website and it takes ages to download. Most people just close it and move on. Don’t let that happen to your site. Also listed is the look of the site, how easy it is to navigate, the right information you are looking for and whether it is up to date.

The factors of a good website above are re-iterated in Accounting Web. Although aimed at accountants, the principles are the same for all websites. Your website is your ‘shop window’ and thus must reflect your business and showcase what it does. If it’s drab, hard to navigate and out of date then clients will just close the page and go somewhere else.

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However, you need to get people to your site in the first place and this is where the maintenance of your site comes in and broadcasting it in the relevant arenas is vital. The first rule of marketing is to know your audience and that is even more true when it comes to websites. Getting a ranking on search engines is one of the first steps, but it isn’t a one off job. You need to put yourselves into the shoes of your customers and think about how they would use Google. For example, if I were looking to buy shoes, I wouldn’t Google “Shoe shops” as the return would be millions. I haven’t got the time, nor inclination, to sift through all the results to find one close to me. So, I would probably type into Google “Shoe Shops in Bideford”. So, if I ran a local shoe shop, one of my tags on my site for Google to find me should therefore be “Shoe shops Bideford”. However, what if there were twenty shoe shops in Bideford (my mother would be in ‘Shoe Heaven’), but I may not bother with that return….I may want to drill down even further by searching for “Flip Flops in Bideford”, if I run a shoe shop in Bideford that specialises in Flip Flops……that would be one such tag.

Articles re-enforcing this are written practically every day… to improve your SEO, how to stay ahead in Google etc. It is a continual job to analyse what people are looking for and how you can match your website to show that you can offer that. Other major factors come into play also, such as discussed above, i.e. the speed of your site, its design etc, but the main factor is that your site needs to be kept up to date and regularly. Nigeria today has a well written step by step guide on factors that should be taken into consideration if you want to increase the number of quality visitors to your website.

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