With business confidence in the UK currently at its lowest level for six years, it would make sense that some entrepreneurs would be inclined to sell their venture.
The issue is finding potential buyers, of course, with even large-scale brands and corporations looking to consolidate against the backdrop of Brexit and growing geopolitical tumult.
Despite this, there continue to be large scale acquisitions and mergers that take place nationwide on an annual basis, with 2017 proving no exception so far. A total of 48 domestic acquisitions were reported during the first quarter of 2017 alone, with these deals valued collectively at a staggering £11.9 billion.
With this in mind, there is still incredible scope for entrepreneurs to scale their start-ups before agreeing an acquisition with a larger firm.
To achieve this, however, you will need to optimise the value of your businesses core assets, with its website being the single most important in the digital age.
The importance of optimising your website, and how to achieve this
This is particularly relevant in the e-commerce market, where website's play a pivotal role in driving traffic, executing sales and managing customer service.
Not only this, but many of the UK's largest acquisitions of recent times have involved the procurement of e-commerce brands, with PetSmart's recent purchase of Chewy for $3.35 billion the third largest deal of this type in history.
This highlights the value that exists in e-commerce brands, particularly at a time when online shopping is becoming increasingly dominant.
In this respect, optimising your website should now be a crucial part of scaling your venture and preparing it for a future acquisition.
This may require you to alter your perspective as an entrepreneur, as you focus on the development of your website from the start and make the necessary investments to ensure that it has appeal among future buyers. The key is that it adds value to your business, so that buyers are willing to pay more for your business just so that they can secure your website and its domain.
How to optimise the value of your website
Execution is central to optimising your website, of course, and there is no doubt that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will play a key role in developing it as a valuable asset. If you are unfamiliar with this, SEO is the diverse practice of increasing the quantity and the quality of traffic to your website through organic search results (as opposed to paid advertisements).
Service providers such as Ingenuity Digital deliver SEO practices to firms with both British and global audiences, while there are also practical steps that you can take as an entrepreneur to realise your goals.
So, here are some of the ways in which you can combine SEO with sound decision making to optimise the value of your website:
Choose your domain name wisely
As we have already touched on, the process of optimising your website starts from the moment that you begin your venture. Your choice of the domain name is particularly important, particularly with a future focus on resale and scaling the venture for acquisition by a larger corporation.
To underline this, you only need to look at some of the highest value domain names that exist in the current market. Quin Street, which is the brand that owns insure.com, made the decision to purchase the domain name 'insurance.com' for a staggering $35.6 billion back in 2010, while the company had also purchased the in-demand 'Internet.com' domain for $18 million during the previous year.
The key is to focus on creating an appealing but relevant domain name that does not have any direct competition in the market. You can also add value by selecting domains which relate to strategic keywords within the industry, as some brands will often spend large amounts simply to secure a competitive name.
Add value with the content that you publish
Content is an increasingly important part of any SEO strategy, as you must ensure that your company's blog and social media channels offer genuine value to customers. Your content must not only be original and engaging, but it is also imperative to ensure that it is relevant to both your target audience and the products or services that you deliver.
There are a number of simple steps that you can take to optimise the quality of your content and the impact that it has on your website. Firstly, you need to base ideas on keywords and phrases that are relevant to your audience, while creating a content schedule that enables you to maximise potential engagement levels through social channels.
The frequency of publication is also important, as your business should focus on posting multiple pieces of a weekly basis and sharing these across an integrated social network.
To help cope with the burden of continually trying to conceive new ideas, you should also consider documenting daily events that take place within your venture, creating video and written content relating to key commercial journeys and the production of core products.
This will add value to your site and organically boost traffic, which will have a direct impact on the cost of any future acquisition.
Facilitate the browsing experience
It is important to note that the impact of SEO extends far beyond your actual website, with the user experience crucial to sustaining high volumes of traffic over time. This starts long before a user visits your website, with Forrester suggesting that 93% of online experiences begin with a simple search.
So, in conjunction with industry experts, you need to test your website rigorously prior to preparing it for sale. This starts with simple measures such as testing your site's various URLs and eradicating broken links, which ensures that customers are able to find what they are looking for every single time they visit the website.
The navigation and readability of your website are also crucial, as is the speed taken by each individual landing page to load. In fact, studies completed by Gomez.com and Akamai suggest that nearly 50% of customers expect websites to load within two seconds or less, so you need to test your pages using independent website speed tests.
These steps, along with more evolved SEO practices that can be applied by an industry expert, will help to optimise the value of your website and reinforce its impact as a core business asset. Who knows, this could also lay the foundations for a future acquisition and one that helps you to sell your business for a lucrative fee.