Q: We're in the process of redesigning our company's website and want to make sure we're current with today's web functionality. What are some of the key elements we should incorporate?
— Penny Sottile, Rent-A-Wreck, Baltimore
A: Redesigning your company’s website gives an opportunity to not only update your company’s look, but also to improve functionality, increase booking efficiency and improve search engine optimization.
When we look at our Google Analytics reports at the types of devices accessing our website, we have a 40% increase of visitors accessing our website from phones and tablets in the last year. With this large number of customers accessing from mobile devices, it’s critical to have a mobile-friendly website.
The term “responsive design” refers to cutting-edge, vector-based design standards that allow your website to be optimized no matter what device is used to access it. This means the same website can be viewed on a phone, tablet or desktop — with no need to maintain content separately for mobile and desktop environments.
Use Mobile-First design standards such as placing phone numbers in the upper right hand corner of every page, which are coded to allow one click calls. In addition, use standard menu iconography and collapsible menus so customers can easily access your website content and contact information, as well as book reservations.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization goes hand-in-hand with any website redesign.
While transitioning from an existing design to a redesign, you need to be careful to not lose ranked pages. To send the rank and traffic of an existing Web page to a new page in a search-engine friendly way, utilize redirects.
Web Confs (http://www.webconfs.com/redirect-check.php) provides a utility to test redirects and proof that the redirects are being managed properly.
To increase the search optimization of your website, consider adding relevant content where possible. Using proper title tags and writing user-friendly content also reinforces the search terms that drive your content.
Remember to emphasize specific geographic place names — that are relevant to your operation — in your page text, title tags and in the structure of the URLs.
Utilize Google Analytics code on every page of your new website. This code will give you insight into your website visitors, traffic sources and the overall performance of the site.
During the launch of your new website, Google Analytics can also provide you with real-time data regarding any 404 errors (HTTP standard response code) from orphaned pages lost during the transition.
By emphasizing Mobile First responsive design, adding layers of search optimized content and carefully transitioning the website to avoid losing ranked pages, redesigning your website gives you a wonderful opportunity to maximize your revenue for the next five years.
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Jason Manelli is the director of marketing and communications for Rent-A-Wreck of America.
Email your car rental operation-related questions to Auto Rental News care of Chris Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.