Thinking about building a website? The web is littered (literally) with millions of websites (billions of webpages). Year after year, business owners are constantly being told by us Internet and web folks that a website is a “must have”.
Web designers sell business owners on how a building website will help their business, increase their sales and gain them new customers.
I have heard of business people spending between $500 and $10,000, with $5,000 being the norm for a basic website that does absolutely nothing for them. Is it any wonder that most business owners report that a website is a complete waste of time and that they wish they hadn’t bothered to build one.
Why Did their Website Fail Them?
My guess is that the web designer they hired didn’t build it right. My guess is that it was slapped together by the designer without any thought about what it really takes to build, optimize and promote a website. Perhaps the person that was hired to perform the SEO was an idiot, there could be many reasons.
This is not an article about slamming web designers and SEO’ers, it is an article about taking the necessary steps to building a website that drives traffic to your business.
Bottom line, building a website doesn’t guarantee anything. In the end, all you have is just a website, Unless… Your website has been optimized to drive customers to your business.
A Successful Website?
In order for a website to be successful, it needs three (3) things:
- A functional web design
- Search Engine Optimized to rank well in the search engines (i.e. Google)
- Provide useful “Value Added” information to the potential customer
Without these 3 things it will be very difficult for your site to be successful.
1. A Useful and Functional Web Design
Often how well people can use your website, not how cute it looks determines whether your website is successful. The fact of the matter is that most websites that are created are usually created to impress the business owner not benefit the customer.
Many web designers get impressed with themselves and want to build sites with the latest flash and dash, sometimes forgetting that a potential visitor to the site may not have enough computing power to display all that jazz (so-to-speak).
Things to Consider:
- Is the site easy to navigate?
- Is everything clearly laid out?
- Is the text easy to read? Is it large enough for older customers?
- Is there at least one clear “Call To Action“ on each page?
In the business world, When people have a problem and are looking for a solution, they are not impressed with glamour, they want information they can use.
CrowdSpring has a great article on “Best Practices” for small business websites – http://blog.crowdspring.com/2010/07/web-design-small-business/
2. Search Engine Optimized Site that Ranks Well
Many business owners and web designers think that once the site has been created, the work is over. That’s a bad assumption, it takes a lot of ongoing work to ensure your site shows up well in the search engines. What good is a website if nobody ever sees it.
In order for a site to be seen, it has to rank well from an Search Engine Optimization (SEO) perspective. SEO is all about tweaking a website so that it is search engine friendly. What does search engine friendly mean? It means it ranks well in Google, Yahoo, Bing or Ask.
Many web designers claim that they also offer SEO services. That’s fine if they can really deliver on that promise. One way to ensure that they know what they are doing, check the Alexa ranking of some of their clients or ask them to explain their SEO process. If you are not satisfied with the answers, you might want to look for an actual SEO consultant to perform the work.
While each search engine utilizes their own set of factors to determine if a site should be ranked well, the basic concepts still apply for all of them. A true SEO consultant/Company will know what steps to take to optimize your site so it ranks for the keyword phrases that define the core services of your business.
Another issue to be on guard for is that some SEO firms have damaged the industry’s reputation through unethical tactics, promising more than they can deliver and the outright scamming of businesses.
3. Provide “Value Added” Information to Customer
In the business world, When people have a problem and are looking for a solution, they are not impressed with glamour, they want information they can use. It’s important that businesses do not lose site of this. This is an opportunity for the businesses to provide an experience that is greater than what the visitor, who is also a potential customer expected.
A few ways to do this is to:
- Keep your content fresh and make sure that it is solution oriented.
- Give away freebies, such as e-books with a purchase.
- Encourage them to sign up for a weekly or monthly newsletter.
- Solicit their feedback and and avenue for them to ask questions and receive answers.
The list can go on and on, but I think you get the point.