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There are several different areas you should concentrate on when creating your website, each of which are important to ensuring your business operates at peak efficiency and profitability. Understanding each thoroughly, and implementing the proper solutions and methods, is a great way to give yourself an immediate edge over much of your competition.

Website Content

No matter how excellent and affordable your products or services are, you are likely to have difficulty making money if the content on your website is either incomplete or subpar. Customers may flee to your competitors if they have difficulty finding the information they need, or the content itself is misleading or boring. As such, having your content shine is a good place to start.

There are a number of different tips to help optimize your content as much as possible, including:

  • Quality and Original Content: What your website says, and how it says it is, obviously, going to be one of the most important considerations. This holds true for which information you include, and how it is structured and presented. Open things up with a strong headline and introduction, and use stories if available and applicable. Above all, never copy what you find on another website, as this can lead to both a poor reputation, and penalties in search engine rankings.
  • Be Accurate: One of the top ways to lose customer trust and resulting business is to have inaccuracies on your website. This can range from a blog post written with the wrong information, or inaccurate product or service descriptions or prices. Check each point multiple times, and include source material when possible. If you are simply not sure, leave it out.
  • Beyond Simple Text: One of the best ways to help a prospective customer learn is by providing a visual medium, in addition to your text content. Images, videos, and infographics aid many viewers in getting a better handle on the information you are trying to relay. Even just an image here or there can transform simple text into something with much more pizzazz.
  • Update Consistently: No matter what type of online business you have, updating and revising content on a regular basis is a must. Whether it be correcting outdated information, or adding new posts to a blog, it is important not to procrastinate or ignore this duty altogether. Not only do viewers like to see new content that is completely up to date, search engines rank websites that are constantly attended to much more favorably.

Security

With the multitude of threats roaming the internet these days, a strong focus on security is no longer just an option. A hacker can steal your precious data, compromise customer account and financial information, or bring your site down entirely, if you are not careful. Making sure your site is secure in all ways is the only way to make sure your business is not subject to potential problems in any way.

There are a few simple steps you can take to make sure every area of security is covered. Chief among these are:

Always Update Software

New exploits, or ways that a hacker can use to attack your site, pop up virtually every day. Many of these take advantage of a specific holes in reputable software that the developers are previously unaware of. A patch, a piece of code that fixes these vulnerable areas, is usually created and distributed by the developer as soon as it is discovered. If you keep all of your software up to date, be it things on the server or application side, you can eliminate most of the threats out there altogether.

Use SSL

SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer, is one of the most popular ways to secure common actions like creating an account or performing any transactions. SSL encrypts the data that passes to and from your customers, thus ensuring that no third party can sneak up and monitor, or even intercept, the data that is traveling the web. A website that uses SSL is easy to identify simply by looking at the very beginning of a URL for “https” instead of “http.”

SSL operates using digital certificates that are passed between website servers and visitors. These certificates validate the connection and generate a session key that is used to encrypt and decrypt any data. However, it is important to note that not all providers of SSL certificates are equal, with some more reliable that others. Some of the top providers of SSL certificates include:

Use Security Plugins

Whether your website uses a CMS (content management system) like WordPress, or HTML pages, security plugins are usually available that can secure your specific platform most effectively. Some platforms may have certain areas that are most vulnerable to attack, and these plugins directly address and protect you from harm. Examples of popular security plugins include:

Website Analytics

Web analytics is an excellent class of tools you can use to optimize a wide number of areas in an online business. Web analytics take all of the virtual data available from your business, and analyzes it to come up with improvements designed to increase profits, enhance customer service experiences, and streamline the way your business runs. The sheer power of online web analytics tools is staggering, and can provide more insight and advantage than any other time in history.

There are a few key types of data that can benefit greatly from the use of web analytics. These include:

  • Traffic: Gives detailed information about where visitors to your site come from. This data allows you to optimize who you concentrate your advertising efforts on. The most common types of traffic are search engines, directly entering your URL, and links provided by referring customers.
  • Users: This type of analytic provides information on the users of your site, such as where they are accessing your website from, their age, and gender, to name a few. This can help you tailor your content and presentation to the types of people most likely to visit your site.
  • Behavioral: This measures what a visitor does on the site, in terms of navigation and site interaction. Behavioral analytics help determine which features and content generate the most interest, so you can tweak things to make them more effective.

As mentioned, there are a whole host of online tools you can use for web analytics that are geared specifically with the virtual business in mind. Some of the top service include:

  • Google Analytics: The starting point for most online businesses, this is an extremely effective tool for many different types of analytical data. Combine this with the fact that it is free to use, and it would be one well worth looking at.
  • Clicky: Also free, Clicky provides historic and real-time data in a very simple and easy-to-use dashboard. Has a Pro version for $9.99 a month.
  • KISSmetrics: An excellent advanced tool to use primarily with e-commerce businesses. However, it does carry with it a hefty $150 price tag each month.

Payment processors

One of the few downsides to operating a business solely online is the inability to take one of the most popular forms of payment, cold hard cash. However, the number of digital payment processors, also called payment gateways, that have sprung up over the years have made this limitation obsolete by providing easy, secure, and reliable alternatives that virtually anyone can use.

There are a number of key areas to focus on when selecting which processor you will use with your online business:

  • Payment Options: Determines which methods of payment a customer can use that are supported by the processor. The widest variety is best, and includes such mainstays as credit cards, ACH (automated clearinghouse), and wire transfer.
  • Flexibility: The capacity to grow or change your service as your business evolves.
  • Security: How far the processor goes to secure your customers’ personal and financial data. Look for things like the use of encryption, SSL certificates, and digital tokens.
  • Fees: Always find out all fee information up front. Excessive fees can easily make the processor selected more expensive than other options.
  • Customer Service: Being able to handle problems on either the customer side or your own, as quickly as possible, is essential. Find out who your account manager is and how often they are available to assist you.

While there are quite a few payment processors to use, there are a few that really stand apart. These consist of:

  • Paypal: The oldest and most used and respected processor, Paypal is likely to be used by most online businesses. Paypal can be used as a primary or secondary processor, and integrates with virtually every payment platform. Paypal can also be used in over 200 countries, and supports 26 different currencies.
  • Stripe: Extremely customizable. Accepts Bitcoin in addition to credit and debit cards, and can be used with over 130 different currencies.
  • Payline: Allows you to accept payments in a real-world store, online, and using a mobile app. Excellent customer service, and extras like the capacity for cash advances, make this an excellent option.

Understanding all of the different facets that go into creating a successful online business is crucial in enjoying the very height of success. Dedicating the necessary time and effort to these important areas is the best way to make your professional dreams come true.