At 14 Oranges, we’ve been in the website business now for well over a decade. In that time, we’ve seen the very best and the very worst of them, but when it comes down to it, we’re seeing the same website mistakes today as we did in 2009. Here’s what to do and what not to do when it comes to setting up your website.

Ensure your SEO game is up to speed

The dark arts of SEO can be intimidating, but these days, a lot of the work can be done in just a few clicks.

Many website-building platforms have built-in or free plugins that do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to SEO. For example, if you are using WordPress, install a free plugin like Yoast SEO or AIOSEO. These add-ons help you to set up your site’s title, keywords, meta descriptions, image titles – all the important first steps in a strong SEO strategy.

These tools will provide you with instructions, and sometimes they’ll give you a rating out of 100 for each page. Aim to make sure you’re scoring above 80% across the board.

Pro-tip: The most important thing to get right with SEO is how you title your pages. Getting the right keywords in your title is crucial. If you do that and nothing else, you still have a better chance of ranking for SEO. Everything else supplements that.

Your website needs attention. It’s not a ‘one-and-done’ project.

One thing we say here at 14 Oranges is that a website is a living, breathing thing. It’s not something you set up, then forget about for the next 10 years. Even if your SEO is awesome and you’re Number One on Google Search rankings, if you don’t touch it, you will slowly, but surely drop down the rankings.

You need to update your site’s content on a regular basis, and that’s where a blog can be helpful. We’ve seen this ourselves in the last year. In 2020, we took a bit of a break from blog writing in the summer. Then, we noticed our SEO dropping in September and October. Although there are a lot of variables that play into SEO, I personally think that was a big factor in it.

Consistent content is crucial

You don’t have to publish new content to your site every day or every week. Do commit to publishing new content at least once a month, or once every two months. We see sites where they have three blog posts from 2017 or 2018. At that point, it’s almost better to take it away, because the customers will see that and think, “Is this company still in business?”

With WordPress, you can schedule your blogs, events, or other content to publish in the future. If you can’t write every week, find a time when you’re not too busy – over Christmas or summer break – and just plan ahead. It shows your company is still in business and things are happening.

Secure your website … then secure it further

This one is extremely important. First and foremost, don’t use the standard login associated with your website content management system (in WordPress, this is generally ‘admin’).

Hackers know this and they know a lot of companies don’t take the initiative to change the default account. They’ll try variations of passwords to access your site. Don’t make it an easy job for them.

Because WordPress is the number one website platform out there – about 100 million websites are powered by them – it’s the choice of hackers as well.

Pro-Tip: To go even further, install a firewall and use 2-factor authentication. At 14 Oranges, we only allow access to our website management platform from certain IP addresses – so we really keep things on lockdown.

And remember: The devil is in the details

There are dozens of small, but often overlooked details when it comes to building a strong website. One personal gripe? Make sure your website has its own favicon (that’s the little icon that appears in your browser tab). When a website doesn’t set their favicon, to me, it speaks to a lack of polish or finish across the whole site. When I look at my Chrome tabs bar, I’ve got custom icons for most, but a couple still have the standard one. To me, that’s a problem.

It’s kind of like you’re walking into a store, and on the awning outside, there’s just a generic sign with Arial text. You think, “Is that the kind of experience I’m getting myself into?”

Not sure if your website is up to speed? Maybe you spotted a few mistakes here you know you’re already making. We’d love to share our knowledge and see how 14 Oranges might be able to help your organization. Get in touch to arrange a call and let’s talk.

About the author: Sylvain Marcotte is CEO and President of 14 Oranges.

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