What does your website mean to you? Is it simply one more thing to maintain? Many business owners think of their website as a necessary evil and nuisance. Paying for website redesigns and occasional error fixes is the price they must pay to claim on spot on the web.
We’re here to tell you that an effective website should be working hard for you- not the other way around. Use these 5 tips to turn your website into an advertising machine.
1. Search Engine Optimization
Think about it, how many potential clients know your exact website URL off-hand? When shoppers begin a campaign to find which service or product will fit their need, they start by “Googling” it.
‘Search Engine Optimization’ is a fancy term for trying to rank higher in Google and other search engines. Google has a complex algorithm that ranks results based on different elements. Although we’re not going to list every factor in their equation (there’s currently speculated to be 200 of them) here are some of the most crucial:
- Number of backlinks.
- The right keywords.
- Site popularity.
- Bounce rate (visitors quickly leaving your site).
Basically, Google’s priority is giving searchers what they are looking for. If your website is useful, popular, and trustworthy, it’s more likely to be a winner among the rest. To show up in results before your competitors do, using effective keywords in your content is a big factor for Search Engine Optimization.
You can think of it like joining a massive dating website. If the only keyword on your profile is the word ‘Single’ you may get a lot of hits, but you’ll also have a lot of competition.
If you choose a long-tailed keyword, like ‘Single in Texas, loves pizza’ you may get less hits but that also means less competition. The hits you do get will be more qualified and interested in you since they probably live in Texas and love pizza as well.
2. Content, Content, Content
Write content until you’re blue in the face. If you don’t have time, hire someone who does. Content creation is often an affordable addition to marketing services, or even included.
Producing content is so important because this is where you are able to use keywords (remember, the dating website example) and boost your search engine results. Writing regular blog posts is also a way to reach your target audience and establish your business as a trusted resource.
3. Social Media Marketing
Unless you are catering to an extremely rare group of customers absent on social media, promoting your business here is essential. Did you know 78% of the U.S. population has a social network profile?
Social media is a gift to marketers and businesses. It’s difficult to find audiences anywhere else, and many users check their profiles repeatedly throughout the day. T.V. commercials aren’t as effective with companies like Netflix and Hulu around, and it’s a similar situation with radio ads, newspapers, and magazines.
4. Growth-Driven Design
Growth-Driven Design, GDD for short, is gradually replacing traditional web design. This new approach was originally limited to larger corporations. Now, it has become more widespread and smaller businesses are adopting it as well.
Most GDD processes look something like this summed up:
- 30-45 day “launch pad site” is created. This design is based on best practices, but not as in-depth as a traditional website design/redesign.
- Testing is conducted monthly.
- Updates and changes are made monthly based on testing results.
GDD has grown in popularity because it is less risky than a one-time traditional unchanging design that will *hopefully* work. Although there are fees for the ongoing process, the initial investment is lower and the reward is greater since the design is based on proof.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and an effective advertising machine needs some time and maintenance as well.
5. User-Friendly Design
So maybe you’ve been writing content day and night, posting on every social media channel, and your website is finally showing up in Google search results. You even have a fancy website design with lots of beautiful graphics! Wait- how many graphics?
If your website is too animation and graphic-heavy, you may have a problem. Although it’s important to have a professional and appealing design, it shouldn’t be the one and only focus. Websites should serve a purpose, and usually visitors are looking to learn more about your services or products.
As a general rule, the following should be convenient and easy to find:
- Contact information.
- Services or products.
- About your business and/or mission.
- Customer reviews and/or portfolio.
- Blog (If you have one.. which you should if you paid attention to Tip #2!)
Besides being a distraction, another issue is that overcrowded designs often bog down websites and increase the load time.
39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load.
If there’s a possibility that your website will be slow for many of your visitors, and if 39% of them might leave, maybe it’s time to value usability over complication. Flash websites are a prime example of this. Just mentioning the word “flash” is enough to give your web developer nightmares.
With a little bit of maintenance and elbow grease you’ll be able to kick your own advertising machine into gear. Add these 5 tips to your tool belt and enjoy the results!