When people go to your website they are there for a reason' to find information of value about your business, products, and services. Your goal is for the visitor to make a purchase, refer a friend, ask for more information, leave a review, bookmark your site, or Opt-in to receive updates when you have a new blog post or news about your business.
Your website should be appealing, interactive, and easy-to-navigate. Here are some suggestions that can help make your website the "Go to Place" in your neighborhood.
Think of the architecture of your website as the plan an architect would use to design a house. The plan includes where you go once you enter the house; the hallway, living room, kitchen, bedroom. The same goes for your website architecture. You want to make it easy for users to get to the topic of information that they are looking for.
Matt Cutts , Head of Google's Webspam Team, suggests using a tree like architecture so that everything branches out in nice even paths and is broken down by topic.
Make sure those topics match the keywords you expect users to type in when they try to find your page.
- Take Away: structure your site into topic areas (folders) matching what your business does and what people look for
- FOLLOW-UP READING: How to Organize and Structure Your Website Content for SEO & People
Appealing and easy-to-navigate
Your website needs to be easy-to-navigate. For example, your main navigation menu could include Home, About, Products and or Services, Blog, and Contact Us . Under the main menu pages, you can include the sub menu pages. Under "About" you may have a page called "news" or "our team"; under "Contact Us" a page called "free consultation" or "Directions".
Create a site-map but above all make it easy on your potential website visitors to almost instantly go where they want to.
- Take Away: all links on your site should help your visitors get to where they want to go, do what they want to do, and buy what they want to buy as fast and as easy as possible.
- FOLLOW-UP READING: The 6 Easy, Actionable Tips For Navigation Gold
Engage visitors with fresh, original content
Content, Content, Content. True, original content adds tremendous value to your website. Google frowns on duplicate content - don't look for the easy way out. You need Fresh, original content on your website. It not only helps visitors but your rankings as well. Take the time to engage your visitors.
- Have a great About page. Tell your story in a paragraph or two, list your accomplishments, memberships, education, and add a photo of yourself. You can have separate page called "our team" with their photos and bios.
- Your products and services pages should include what they are, what you do, and the end result. Add an intro paragraph, then using bullet lists with other information to make it easier for the visitor to read.
- A video demonstration or a video about a product or service - people love videos.
- Create a resources page with items specific to your industry.
- Have plenty of pictures relevant to your business - products, services and your team.
- Call to action items that lead to a page are great. You can make these in Photoshop and there a plenty of resources out there - Creative Commons, Google Images - get creative or hire a consultant.
- Event pages can be fun with photos and good copy - make sure it's always up-to-date. Add a calendar.
- Ask a colleague or friend look over your copy to ensure there are no spelling or grammar errors.
- Employees know the business well - enlist them to help with copy if needed.
- The other alternative is using a marketing consultant to write copy and create graphics.
- Take Away: content is the essence of a web site. Without your own, original content you just have a meaningless URL.
- FOLLOW-UP READING: Get Your Own Content Development Process With This 4 Step Action Plan
A great blog stirs interest and keeps visitors coming back for more. If you are new to blogging, have no fear; write what you know, remember you're the expert. "How to" "Tips" and other informative problem solving posts are the best. Opinionated blogs posts don't go over as well.
Be trendy, think about what's going on in your industry and write about it. Use your blog as a place for people to go and learn about your products and services, include your personality; have fun with it.
Formatting your blog is important too. It's not rocket science. Make sure to use headings, add some images. If you add any links, make sure they open into another window. Add a video every now and then. The title of your post should match what's in it; it's like the title of a book.
Set up rel=author so that your photo appears next to your post(s). Here's a perfect example - I typed in Google search "how to setup rel=author" and my post on Search Engine People appeared with my picture along side. Pretty cool - you can do this too!
- Take Away: blogging is good for business, traffic, ranking, and readers. Keep your blog real and make it attractive.
- FOLLOW-UP READING: Here's Why We Tell You To Blog
Build your email list using Opt-in Forms. Mail Chimp is a good example.
Opt-in means the visitor signed up to receive news and updates from you. You can set it up so that when you publish a post, an email goes out to those people who filled out the Opt-in form on your website.
- Take Away: build a list of names and email addresses. This can be a huge business asset.
- FOLLOW-UP READING: 9 Things To Include in Every Email Newsletter You Send
Call to Action Items
Call to action items are a must. They capture and engage the attention of your visitor. Some ideas for action items include:
- Coupon offers
- Free consultation
- Special events and workshops
- Refer a friend
- Buy now!
- Take Away: calls to actions tell visitors what you want them to do. Examples: "Subscribe Now!" or "Add To Cart"
- FOLLOW-UP READING:7 Characteristics of Compelling Calls to Action
Reviews by users
Encourage customer feedback, for example with WP Customer Reviews . Asking for reviews is tough for some business owners. Having the option on your website makes it easier for everyone.
For clients or customers you know well, direct them to your website via email, collateral, or a receipt of payment. Ask them when they are raving about the product they just purchased or the service you just provided.
The plugin allows you to have a couple of reviews on your homepage and then create a separate page for all reviews and testimonials. We love the plugin and use it ourselves. Here's what one of our reviews looks when published on our website.
- Take Away: reviews provide social proof before a purchase and may show up in search results
- FOLLOW-UP READING: A Four Step Plan To Get, Monitor And Respond To Online Reviews
(Local) Search Engine Optimization
Now that you have created an easy-to-navigate, appealing, user friendly website with well thought out original content, users need to find your site. Take the time to double check and make sure you haven't missed anything. While doing some research I came across this great video produced by Rand Fishkin from SEOMoz.
Rand's video checklist is for businesses to use for a new website. It doesn't matter if it is a WordPress website or not. I found the information can be used on current websites that have not been optimized. The checklist includes:
- Keyword targeting
- Content quality and value
- Design quality and usability
- Social account set-up
- Link building
Take Away: dot your I's. Good, modern SEO isn't about one "trick" or buying into a "secret"; it's hitting all the right notes. Make it right the first time.
FOLLOW-UP READING: Your Site (Re)design Checklist
Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics
Once you feel your website is in great shape, go on over to Google Webmaster Tools, sign up for an account if you don't have one (it's free), and add and verify your new website. If you have any questions, they are more than happy to help you.
Don't forget to add Google Analytics to your website so that you can monitor and analyze statistics. See if you are getting a return on your investment and also what's working and what is not.
- Take Away: Google's free tools allow Google to directly communicate with you via Webmaster Tools, if something is wrong, and provide you with a rich source of insight of what works and what doesn't.
- FOLLOW-UP READING:Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools Make Helpful Insights
There's so much more I could mention, but I think this is plenty to digest in one post. Remember use your website as the "Hub" - build a sense of community, and be the expert "go to place" in your neighborhood. I have my favorites - for example I don't miss Mike Blumenthal's "Understanding Google Places and Local Search" and I'm always over at Phil Rozek's Local Visibility Systems website. Phil has the most entertaining informational blog and some excellent free resources.
Once your website is a "GO", use social media - Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to get the news out about your new website.
Please send along your comments and suggestions - they are always more than welcome!
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy New To Internet Marketing? So Was I! Get My Tips And Resources From The Trenches
- You can find many of Matt's videos on YouTube where he answers questions and provides tips. I'm a big fan; who better to learn from than Matt Cutts! ↩
- use Microdata Format to mark up your contact information like business name, address and phone number. See also: "Using Microdata on Your Website to Get Your Business found" ↩