I randomly dropped into a conversation the other day with someone who had just had a “beautiful” new website built for them. They were very excited about the site and awarded a free Adwords campaign. Being diligent about their business and loving their new “pretty” web site they were excited about taking advantage of the campaign and driving traffic to the site, they have picked excellent key words targeted the correct market and built a strong strategy for driving traffic from the campaign.
unfortunately there are a few, well maybe a bit more than a few details missing. I’m dividing the following information into basic and advanced. Lets start with the basics.
1) Make sure that you own the URL.
2) Have the web site hosted on a server that will be accessable to you directly and any other professionals that you might decide to use to replace a previous vendor.
3) Make sure you have a unique user ID and password that you do not have to share with your vendors and if you do have to share the id and password change it after the work is complete.
4) When referring to a web site you’ll often here the term “look and feel.” This means that a web site has to look pretty but also “feel” pretty. You want your web site to be easy to use. The main menu should be accessable from every page on the site.
5) The background on a web site should be flat and bright. If you have white text on a patterned dark colored background you are going to turn people away.
6) There are too many free easy to use content management systems out there to pay someone to build you a static site that you have no control over and can not add content to easily. A content management systems allows you the business owner to easily add or change content on existing pages or even create new pages without much effort and with minimal knowledge.
7) Understand why you are building a web site. The web has changed in the past five years. You can no longer throw up a brochure and expect to get business from it. Actually this type of web site has never really worked period. At a minimum your web site should bring the customer one step closer to making a purchase. That means you need to get the customer to giver you their contact information in a form – Don’t expect the customers to call you just because they visited your web site. They aren’t even lead until they’ve given you some type of information. You can encourage customers to give you their contact information by asking them to fill out a form for a free consult or by offering a free newsletter of some sort. You can even just say if you’d like me to contact you please provide your information here.
8) measure the success of your site. How long are users staying on your site? What pages do they click on most? Which pages don’t they see? Which pages do they see? Where are your customers coming to your site from? Where do they go when they leave? All these questions can be easily answered by a free program from Google called Google Analytics. There are other web stat tracking programs available as well. The fact is that you need to know this information if you want your site to drive business.
9) Just putting a web site on line does nothing for you. You will not gain any traffic especially if you haven’t created a web site that meets feature 6 above because search engines won’t like your site. Here I’m going to offer a word of caution. You don’t need SEO. It helps buy you don’t need it. As a small business the cost of SEO can be too high. But you obviously still want to drive traffic to your site. This is where paid search, see my article on Adwords, and social media make the big payoff. You can also read my article on Tweet Strategy Conversion and measurement for more detail here.
10) Make sure that whomever creates your web site also goes to the effort of submitting the web site to the search engines. You probably want to be sure they have submitted you on the local search functions as well as the general search.
Never hire someone to build your web site that can’t articulate an understanding of the principles expressed in this blog.
September 18th – Seth Godin just wrote an excellent blog that is well worth reading about building web sites. The questions he posses are of primary importance. You can find his article here here.
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