It's been reported that a staggering 80% of start-up businesses fail within the first 18 months. To avoid becoming a part of this sad statistic, new businesses have to not only have a survival strategy but also a USP that will allow them to flourish beyond the first few months of operation.
The obstacles to success are somewhat different and perhaps even trickier for an online business. For example, it can be more difficult for a customer to stumble upon your enterprise without a physical storefront to walk by.
So what steps do you need to take to ensure the success of your online start-up?
Research from Moz shows that a huge 52% of users will click through to the site presented at the top of search engine results, with click through rates dropping rapidly the lower down a site appears. Therefore you'll want your site to be as visible as possible when your customer searches for a product or service that you supply to attract clicks.
To do this, you need to implement an SEO strategy. This involves improving onsite content to match key terms and resources that match your customersÈ search queries and promoting your site via appropriate content. However be wary of black hat tactics such as keyword stuffing or using link directories as both of these will earn you penalties from GoogleÈs Penguin and Panda algorithms which target sites with unnatural backlink profiles or offer thin content. Being hit with a Google Penalty means that itÈs unlikely that youÈll see your website on that coveted first page of search results.
You can use the Jellyfish Penalty Checker to test if your siteÈs visibility has already suffered at the hands of a Google penalty, learn more about what it means and how to remove it.
As smart technology becomes an ever-increasing part of the home, businesses must consider how their site will appear on devices other than just computers. A recent report indicates that mobile and tablet traffic is set to surpass desktop traffic for the first time during 2014 so it's vitally important to any business that their website can be accessed by a wide variety of means.
A Christmas shopping report conducted by Accenture in 2013 found that 19% of people would research or buy products online via a tablet device, and 18% would do the same using their smartphone. This therefore shows just how important it is to ensure that your website is responsive to work on different devices, otherwise you risk losing out on a significant portion of potential sales.
Making a website responsive can be complicated, and best left to the experts. Enlist the help of a development team to implement a responsive design as soon as possible to ensure that no time is wasted or any more potential sales lost.
As well as ensuring that your site is accessible to different devices, you need to ensure that the site is accessible to people with different abilities. Companies such as Netflix and Target have lost court cases where it has been ruled that the companies websites didnÈt meet the accessibility requirements set out by the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
To avoid a similar fate for your start-up, incorporate accessibility as an integral part of your website design. Adding features such as audio description or resizable text will not only make your site compliant with legal guidelines but also prevent you from alienating a whole sector of shoppers.
This accessibility strategy should also be applicable to every customer - it is imperative to remember to maximize user experience for every single user. This can be as simple as ensuring that your site is simple to navigate, the payment process is smooth and there are no broken pages.
YouÈll find guidelines for making your website accessible within the Web Accessibility Initiative over on the W3C website.
ItÈs easy to be wrapped up in the excitement of a start-up and just focus on the present, but looking to the future is essential especially when deciding what serve package you will host your online business on.
Shared servers are quite common as theyÈre relatively inexpensive and low maintenance, but are limited in terms of resource. CMS software provider Joomla state that if several hundred sites share a server and just a few of those start to see a significant increase in traffic, it can shut the entire server down.
Therefore it is worth considering your potential future growth have you seen a steady increase in traffic and do you have healthy projected sales? If so then it may be worth looking into investing in a dedicated Virtual Private Server (VPS) or semi-dedicated hosting. An alternative is to start off with shared hosting then switch to a more dedicated service before you encounter any issues with down time caused by a traffic overload.
By following these steps you will be putting your online start-up in the best possible position for success.