By Nick Leech, Digital Marketing Director, 123-reg.co.uk

The UK is Europe’s largest online retail market, ahead of Germany by almost £10bn in 2014. Year-on- year, it grew an estimated 19.5% to £17.4bn for the Christmas period alone. With shrinking high- street sales, a renewed focus on your website strategy should be at the top of your to-do list. Here are a few gems to help you grow your online presence ahead of another predicted jump in internet sales:

Learn new web design tricks.
Web design templates are popular with new businesses as they are
user friendly for the less tech-savvy and allow you to focus resources
on other business areas. However, if you have a specific look and feel
in mind, it may be difficult to find a template to match. This year,
make a resolution to learn some new design skills so that you can
adapt or create your own templates, matching your website to your
ideal brand vision. 

Expand to new domains.
Expanding your domain real estate offers greater choice and
differentiation in a crowded marketplace. Secondary domains are
becoming increasingly common, with geographic domains, such as dot
London, dot Scot and dot Wales all being launched in the last half of
2014. Adopting one of the new gTLDs allows businesses to clearly
show they are part of their local economy and community while
building their online presence. Take a look at your target demographic
and select a secondary domain to help you expand your customer
reach and connect with new audiences. 

Increase your Google ranking.
The fear of dropping down Google’s search results is enough to keep many business owners awake at night, since the higher you rank, the more likely potential customers are to visit your website. There are a few basic steps that you can take to increase your Google ranking in 2015: 

- Include popular keywords in your website content - you can check Google Trends for the most used phrases.

- Name your website pages to avoid a link appearing as ‘untitled’ in a Google search result.

- Choose your hyperlinks carefully as Google looks at the words you use in links to help determine the content of your page.

- Search engines rely purely on words so make your graphics search friendly by attaching a short description, called an tag, to each image.

Optimise your website for mobile viewing.
According to a recent survey by Salesforce, 70% of people search for information online via a mobile device. Optimising your website for a mobile experience should be a key goal for any small business. To start the process, or improve on your existing mobile design, there are a few key considerations you should take into account: make sure your content is simple; the design is logical; the branding elements match your standard site and always allow users the option to visit the full site.

Use content to your advantage.
Don’t underestimate the power of promoting your content. A blog is a great way to self-publish and self-promote your business and expertise. Posting industry news, informative how-to guides and featuring customer testimonials are all ways to develop fresh content. Publishing relevant and useful information is a great way for your business to engage with website visitors and develop greater brand personality.

A website strategy should be an integrated part of your overall business plan, and the earlier you take action, the sooner you will grow with the market. Your website is the window, shelves and cashier of your business and by exploiting this fact, you will be well on your way to increasing your business revenues and expanding your online presence.