A successful internet marketer friend of mine once said that being a success on the web isn’t necessarily about doing or selling something different, it’s about providing that product or service – better than everyone else.

Internet consumers are agile. They are informed and impatient. In most cases, when looking for something specific online, they will be given the opportunity to choose from a vast range of competing outlets which not only profess to have exactly what they’re looking for but at the very best price available.

If, for now, we remove the separate and multi-faceted, subject of how to get people to your website in the first place and assume they have typed your company URL into their browser and are presented with your website, what are the secrets that will get them to stay, to buy and to return again?

  1.  Make sure your homepage is ‘outstanding’

That’s not to say that you’re very proud of it and think the text you’ve written is witty and clever – that is to say that it stands out, that it’s impactful and gives a stylish and efficient demonstration of your company and what it offers.

This is not the place to write long winded descriptions of your products or services, nor is it to begin selling your products. A homepage is the place to be all things to all people who have found their way there. Keep the language of the content simple.

The purpose is to keep your visitors on the site and learning about your company’s products and services. For the benefit of new visitors there must be an easily decipherable message about who you are and what they can do on your website. For returning visitors, there must be logical steps to especially popular or useful pages as well as notifications of new developments or current items of interest.

  1.  Know your customers

These days, by utilising the ever more comprehensive analytics software packages on your website, you can track and analyse seemingly unlimited details of visitor patterns and behaviour. How are your customers finding you? Which country are they from? What time of day do they visit? What pages do they dwell on and which do they leave immediately? By studying this data, you will start to build up a vivid picture of who your customers are, what they like and more importantly what they don’t.

  1.  Know your competitors

Research, research, research. Unless you’re selling the elixir of life which grows only in your back garden, you are going to have competitors. As I said before, success on the internet is about doing things better than others in the market, making the experience for your potential customers as engaging, efficient and satisfying as possible. What better way to start than to educate yourself on what others in the field are doing, both poorly and brilliantly.

  1.  Stay on top of it

Websites are never finished. The most successful are commonly those which are nurtured, tended to consistently and respected as an integral part of the business. A high street shop owner would of course be ill advised to have out of date styling and décor in their store but the difference is that if a customer is put off, on a high street they can’t instantly go to a competitor.

Fresh and relevant content updated regularly is what we all look for when searching online and it’s also no different for search engines. Updating a site regularly with fresh content hugely appeals to search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo and, as these are your potential conveyor belt of customers, it’s a necessity to be as appealing as possible.

  1.  Build a mobile optimised version … now

With a recent study by American banking powerhouse Morgan Stanley predicting that, based on the current rate of change and adoption, the mobile web will be bigger than desktop internet use by 2015, having a mobile optimised version of a business website is becoming an essential.

Normal websites don’t always look right on mobile devices and can be time consuming and confusing to navigate. By having a mobile optimised version which is a slimmed down, single column width version, anyone visiting the site from a handheld device is automatically redirected and able to view clearly laid out information, together with mobile-convenient features like click to call buttons, maps to your business location etc.