In this article, the second part of a seven-part series, I'm going to identify the deficiencies of a typical office products resellers website, explain how it can be graded, what must be worked on to improve its grade, and, finally, why it's so essential this objective must be accomplished. I explained the mission-critical nature of working to improve Domain Authority (DA) in Part I. Here, in Part II, it should become clear that the DA objective cannot be accomplished unless the effort is built on the foundation of a world-class website.
- Part I - Domain Age and Authority
- Part II - Website Grade
- Part III - Backlinks
- Part IV - Traffic Ranking
- Part V - Social Shares
- Part VI - Social Authority
- Part VII - Conclusions
I'll continue to publish this series of articles over the next couple of weeks and attempt to fill gaps that may have been left from the original article, "How the Office Products Industry Has Failed the Resellers."
In a 250-unit case study carried out during 2015/16, I found the grade of a selection of sites from the office products industry averaged just 35, while the minimum acceptable grade necessary for embarking on a digital business transformation should be targeted at no less than 80.
Most business owners must recognize we're in the middle of a massive transformation from an analog to a digital world. However, these same owners may acknowledge not quite so readily that, unless they commence their digital transformation, they will ultimately not survive.
Businesses that fail to deploy websites capable of earning high performance grades will be left further behind as the digital transformation continues.
It's free and easy for small business owners to determine what grade their websites currently earn. A simple Google search for "website graders" identifies many sites with tools for generating performance grades. I'm a big advocate for HubSpot, and you can use their HubSpot Website Grader to determine a site's quality. However, many others perform just as well, seven of which can be accessed from Kevan Lee's "Indispensable Website Graders" article.
There are four essential categories of requirements underlying high-quality websites;
- User experience
These are shown in the table below, along with each of their sub-category components, all of which play their roles in establishing the website's overall quality. You will see there's overlap - for example, "Internal Links" are essential to all four categories, whereas "Incoming Links" [for example] is specific to the marketing category and not the other three.
|Internal Links||Facebook page||Incoming links||Meta tags|
|Code Quality||Popularity||Meta tags||Domain age|
|URL Format||Amount of content||Facebook page||Images|
|Page Titles||Twitter account||Social interest||Internal links|
|Mobile||Internal links||Amount of content||URL format|
|URL format||Domain age||Headings|
|Server behavior||Page titles||Server behavior|
Building a website that incorporates these characteristics requires a range of human resource skill sets, including those with advanced technical skills, proficient content writers, and skilled graphic designers. Because of the broad scope of requirements, a single person will unlikely have all the skills needed to develop a site that scores a grade at the target level.
Although numerous platforms permit amateurs (even those with modest technical skills) to build sites of a quality that would have been unthinkable just a few years back, an amateur's ability to ensure it's optimized to meet all the requirements is remote.
In typically neglecting to build and deploy high-quality sites, office products, and supplies, resellers overlook the necessity for their websites to become the foundation for their digital business transformations and that inadequate sites compromise changes from the outset.
There are over one billion websites, but most traffic goes to a tiny percentage of the highest-performing sites. Unfortunately, because most small business websites are of low quality, they grade poorly, and lack strategy, know-how, and investment. They are unlikely to meet owners' hopes and expectations regarding traffic, lead generation, and business development.
I must point out that many sites with large traffic volumes also don't score well on the grading platforms, which may make some wonder if a high-quality site is such a requirement. However, to counter this potential fallacy, I must also point out that poor-quality, high-traffic areas usually belong to larger enterprises that had already established brand recognition in the analog era and, despite their website limitations, have been able to leverage their analog brand equity into site traffic.
Developing web traffic on the back of an analog past is not feasible for a small business with little to no brand equity.
The new digital era provides a unique opportunity for savvy small business owners to level the playing field in their battle with larger enterprises and leverage a robust digital presence to help develop their businesses in local markets.