Invest time, not just dollars, in your web presence…
…it is not just a pretty face.
Other than look good, what should a website do for you?
- Generate leads
- Persuade to conversion
- Drive traffic to your store or service
- Build loyalty
- Encourage return visits
- Relieve pre or post sales support
- Reduce repetitive calls and emails
- Provide you with valuable market research
- Be the hub of your business
Far short of a redesign there are many low or no cost things you can do to improve the impact, usability and search engine results page (SERP) rank of your site.
If you (re)build it… (make sure it is ready before) …they will come. Increasing traffic to a site that repels or confuses users is a waste of your time and budget.
Here are a few tips and some no cost, or low cost considerations to whip your business hub into shape and get it truly working for you:
- Think about your site – who is it for?
– Seems obvious – but far too many create from within, without a realistic view of customer needs or experience.
– Help your prospects get what they need.
– Understand their buying process – ask them!
– Make the right offer at the right time in their process – don’t get in their way with sales to soon.
- With many solid free tools available, the enlightening time investments of keyword research and competitive research pay off well beyond onsite SEO value. They inform marketing position decisions, Social Media and other promotional strategy and are the cornerstone to developing an inbound marketing strategy.
- Fresh, relevant, informative, readable content gives users a reason to keep coming back and organically benefits your site’s “findability”. So, increase your site’s relevant searchable content; case studies, articles, newsletter content, updated site content and genuinely relevant, beneficial inbound marketing links and optimize to make the most of your online investment. “Tricks” will come and go but honesty truly is the best policy for the long term health and growth of your site. It pays off and you can sleep at night without investing many hours and many dollars keeping up with “what works” today – risking drop or complete loss of your ranking later.
- Give your users a easy way to follow through to requesting your service or product as often as possible. Don’t get in their way with sales initially, but through the site include a call to action at appropriate places. Make it easy and often. Call to discuss how simple tactics like this, which are commonly ignored, may improve your site’s success.
This usually yields disappointing results. It is one of the places not worth scrimping on budget. However, if budget dictates that you must write it in-house keep these content tips in mind:
- Be succinct, emphasize benefits, focus on what your customer needs and wants to know, with a reasonable volume of text for Search Engines.
- Write first for the reader then tweak to include relevant keywords. Keep it sounding natural – don’t overdo it.
- Optimizing copy for SEO is not something every writer can do. The best scenario is an objective experienced web copy writer writing about your business.
A good writer will convey the message better than you or any of your experienced staff ever could.
- Start small and keep it realistic. Similar to making the decision to start a blog – be sure you are ready to committ to regular distribution – not less than once a month. Keep your voice true to who you are and what you and your business represent. People like doing business with people. Keep email news in a professional but personal tone.
Build relationships, be consistent, succinct and offer genuine value. Build loyalty and your database – even if in the beginning you may not be certain how you want to utilize email to support your business. Drive subscription through every touch point.
- Boost sales
- Generate leads
- Strengthen relationships
- Increase Website traffic
- Build brand loyalty
— Susan Ward (@boostbiz) May 13, 2014
- Continually working to create solutions to the proliferation of spam and the growing problem of deliverability. Email marketing service providers create and continually refine effective solutions to spam and deliverability concerns through a combination of legislative advocacy, technological development, and industry standards.
- Minimal or no Flash:
Flash adds overhead, distracts users, and it’s text content is lost to Search engines – not to mention that statistics state saavy users see it as time-wasting.
if used incorrectly it can destroy your rankings. Flash has benefits for aesthetics used sparingly, where it is appropriate. The possibilities for design are great, but SEs don’t like Flash.
- Trash the Splash pages unless they are incredibly relevant to your business.They add an unecessary click and, like Flash comments above; add loading overhead, slow visitor experience and are considered “arrogant” by Web Saavy users. If Flash it is also wasted on Search Engines and can actually stymie them – reducing rank.
- Predicatble, perhaps even boring, usability most often reigns over slick and stylish (unless your business is about the ability to create slick & stylish). Give them what they expect and they will use it more, easier, faster, more happily and be more likely to share it.
Which reminds me…
Make your content easy to share by adding social share buttons – ones to let them find and follow you where you are active and ones to let them share the content they like wherever they are active.
- This will not necessarily be the starting point for your users but treat it as most likely. Who are you? What will you do for me? Confirm I am in the right place and load in less than 3 seconds.
- Use your users’ words not organizational categories or industry jargon or brand names, horizontal navigation is best, keep important information above the fold and accessible – visually and culturally cognitive.
- Focus on one keyword per page and use intuitive, relevant URLS – not complicated, or computer generated. Populate your Title, Meta Description and image Alt Tags on each page at a bare minimum.
- Consider your audience – test in the most popular browsers & operating systems at least.
Stats from early 2014 = Chrome 60%, Firefox 25%, IE 9% Safari 4%, Opera 2%.
- If you put all control of your site access in the hands of your web designer or developer take some fundamental control back. Ask your developer for at least domain registration and FTP access information.
- Also, if you do not have a site that is built on a Content Management system such as WordPress or Squarespace, consider a solid, off- the-shelf Content Editor such as Adobe’s Contribute. Applicable to most websites, a tool like this will allow you to edit and control your website regularly updating your page copy. It is easier and cheaper than you may think.
- 100’s of directory submissions – stick to the fundamental directories.
- Link buying – run, don’t walk from any suggestion of paid links.
- “We will get you on the front page of digg and drive a bunch of traffic…” aka A team of people mis-using social media to vote your article to the top.
- “This will trick Search Engines…” it is a safe bet that Google engineers and evolved algorithms are smarter than the everyday SEO consultant trying to sell you “tricks”. It is very hard to claw your way back into search engine ranking once out. Keeping up with what might work today demands a commitment to continual vigilance. It is expensive and risky.
- How will it benefit visitors?
- How will it benefit your business?
- Who does it serve?
- Are you ready to support it properly?
i.e. a Blog, done well, is a significant, regular, time commitment.
– How will you measure success?
- Without metrics what is the point? How do you know how well your site is doing? The tools are accessible and free so, why not?
If you put it up or mail it out and never know if it is read, or trashed, skipped through, misunderstood, or what is most popular, what is the point?
Begin with a baseline – measure your site’s current state before making improvements and watch what works.
“How can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.”
– Malcolm X ?
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
~ Arthur Ashe
- Decide which platform is most suited to your market – where would your ideal client be most active.
- Watch the conversations in your niche and decide on your voice, your differentiator.
- Avoid ‘Selly Selling’ unless you are very upfront about it (reference: Chris Brogan).
- Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself but change it up a bit each time.
- Inject a little personal with the business – people who feel they can get to know you will be more apt to connect or approach or, who knows, perhaps even buy your product or service.
- Take the pressure off yourself by writing when the inspiration strikes and not when you need to post. Create an editorial Calendar; plan ahead for your next five or ten posts on whatever platform(s) you are participating.
- Reduce time; try out some useful Social Media Management tools like Tweet Deck or my favourite Hootsuite allowing you to create and schedule posts on multiple platforms ahead of time, monitor activity – listen – engage – measure – collaborate – secure.
If you are sceptical or feeling pressure to participate take some time to truly investigate each or call Boost for some consultation time to define and decide which is right for you and how to approach participation.
- For Example;Twitter is so much more than what you had for lunch…
It is a powerful free vehicle to rapidly distribute or amplify your message. Use it to find, connect with and engage your tribe or find resources for building your business or potential partners whith whom to cross promote your SMB. There are classic examples of its incredible reach, like the person who snapped an iphone picture of the US Air river landing while on the Hudson river ferry and an hour later was live on CNN.
It is also, an equally powerful free vehicle to rapidly distribute negative news – always keep in mind, particularly when you openly represent your company on Twitter, that it is a public communication medium and everything you write is a permanent part of the Twitterverse.
and underlying it all…
Bluehost is my go-to Web Hosting company– Their service is incredible, they offer a robust set of features in their Control Panel and are reliable and competitively priced – a basic account for less than $7 USD/ month is plenty robust enough for the most of average small business sites. Bluehost offer round the clock support by email, phone or real-time chat and go further to help without additional charges than any other host I know. They are very pro-active with up-to-date features and security.
Some other reasons to choose Bluehost:
(Full disclosure – this is an affiliate link from which I earn a small commission. However, this is one of only two on this entire site as I fully stand behind both services)
– One free domain name registration for the first year.
– Recommended web host by WordPress since 2005.
– Simply excellent US-based Technical Support- available 24×7.
- Saving by finding a “cheap Web designer” (all sites are not created equal) then having compromised performance, being penalized for sketchy SEO practices, being left with a site you do not understand or cannot edit or control or requiring many more hours spent improving or salvaging the site.
Many SMBs have websites built like a paper brochure just sitting online to send people to. Many even feel it is worth the money saved to write all copy in-house without optimizing, or taking time to understand and write for their customers, cutting the “unnecessary” cost of professional copywriting, editing and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO is not just about keywords but attention to accessibility, readability, good usability and several other factors that make your site more easily found, crawlable and ‘sticky’.
These outdated, static, rarely updated sites are given little or no attention by search engines, have low traffic levels, do not encourage return visits, and do not enable or track activity – particularly the critical activity of conversion.
Of course we take all of these things into consideration, and do all of this for you when you bring your project to Boost. We are high on understanding our clients’ needs and budget and low on technobabble Call Boost to discuss making the most of your current site, easing into Social Media, starting a brand new project or just to book an hour or two of consultation to better understand your options and help you strategize a realistic approach to making the most of your online presence within your time and budget constraints.