Is Your Web Presence Credible? Effective?

Is Your Web Presence Credible? Effective?

OK so your company has grown more than you ever could have dreamed and you're now well established. One morning you wake up to the realization that the website that looked awesome five or ten years ago now looks dated and unprofessional, and to boot it gets hardly any traffic and most of that isn't even relevant.

What should you do?

Ten years ago it was excusable and not surprising if even a fairly large corporation didn't have a website at all. Now there can be no doubt: any entity that doesn't have a respectable Web presence is seriously lacking in credibility.

The more successful your online presence, the more successful your business is likely to be in real time. This means your website doesn't need to simply look pretty, although esthetics are important. It should provide valuable information to your visitors: they need to find what they're looking for.

This is achieved with great content and correctly-used keywords. Paying a professional to conduct your keyword research for you is well worth it at any price. Next, you need exposure. Correct keyword use can do this for you to a certain extent, but you should also be thinking 'social media' for a really satisfying online presence.

To have a website that's optimized within an inch of its life you need to start at the design stage. Now there's simply no excuse for relaunching with a design that still has such SEO no-nos as tables, large amounts of Flash or JavaScript, or other design features that cause your site to take ages to load despite our new fast connections. Beware of a designer who tries to talk you into a design that's largely flash or JavaScript, because despite claims to the contrary, search engines still don't read these well.

So what do the search engines like?

  • CSS-based design whether you have a static site or a content management system (blogging software like WordPress or TypePad.
  • Content management systems like WordPress--in fact especially WordPress. Remember to also pick themes that are CSS-based and you can pick SEO-compliant designs for WordPress that will give you a significant head-start over your competition who aren't so vigilant.
  • Optimized title tags.
  • Optimized H1 and H2 titles.
  • Incoming links.
  • Your best content should come above the fold, and high up in your code: take a look at the source of your page. If the content is only visible after you've been scrolling for some time, it's seriously time to rethink your website.
  • If you have a WordPress blog, make sure you have it all configure properly. There are two sites I recommend for step-by-step help. Joost de Valk and Noupe 13 WordPress Tricks for Speed and Performance. These two are a mine of information. And there's my recommendation for WordPress plugins too.

Links are the lifeblood of your site!

Incoming links are not measured the same way they were a while back though. Time was when a link-was a link-was a link. But now it matters greatly where that link comes from. Just as two years ago we started to take care not to have any links coming from or going to dodgy sites, we now need to cultivate links from busy social media sites or hub sites for a given field. And be very, very careful if you're going to purchase incoming links to your site. Google has severely penalized otherwise perfectly compliant (and successful) sites just on the strength of circumstantial evidence of paid links.

If your link comes from an ordinary site, (not a hub or a social media site) it is even more important that it is compatible with your site's content. For example, a link from an adult site to a site that sells baby goods is not a convincing fit!

Lots of links coming from social media posts indicate to us and to the search engines that the page contains material that people regard as a resource.

A largely overlooked source of links is deep links within your site. Linking between your posts and from page to page is a valuable source of linkjuice. Make it a habit to check out all your previous, possibly-relevant posts before you finish the post you're working on. I love Roy Tanck's Cumulous tag cloud for WordPress to help me do that.

Taking your marketing to the Internet

Around five years ago the vast majority of companies were using their online web presence more as a sort of online business card or information resource. It would be a huge waste to do that today. If you do it right the internet can be the best sales and marketing tool you could ever imagine--far stronger and more far-reaching than your offline marketing efforts, even with the best team in the world. You can go global with the same effort as selling to your local market.

If you've been relying solely on your offline marketing strategies up till now you might bet nervous about your move. Ian Lurie has some tips for a smooth transition to online marketing.

So what about the social media? I'll be revealing all in my next post. Stay tuned.