Friday, September 3, 2010

I Have a Business Website - Now What?!


So you have a website for your business, now what?

I've worked with thousands of clients who are either just getting started, have dabbled a bit with online marketing, or who have quite a bit of online experience. Although they all have different backgrounds and knowledge about internet marketing, most usually seem to have one thing in common...

They don't know what they really want their website to do.

What can a website do for my business?
  • Makes Sales: Products, services, memberships, information, affiliate products, advertising space, cross promotions - what CAN'T you sell online? To me, if you have a website and you're not selling something (even another companies products, services or ad space), you're missing a source of business revenue.
  • Generate Leads: A website is the perfect place to build a database to market to over and over again via email. You can also create leads to contact via phone or direct mail and share valuable content to get visitors to continue coming back over and over again (this can also be known as "online reputation management").
  • An Online Resume: This is a no-brainer. Your website should share information about your business, answer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and show directions and contact information. If this is your only reason for having a website, I strongly suggest you find a way to integrate one or both of the first two suggestions in to your online marketing plan - otherwise, you're definitely not using your "online real estate" effectively.
Once you've answered the first important question about what a website can do for your business, the next question is probably even MORE important:

What should I do NOW to make my website most effective?

This question can be broke down in to two categories:
  1. Short-term

    vs.

  2. Long-term
If you're looking for short-term results, which most businesses are, here are a few things to consider in order of importance:

1. Make sure your website is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly:
  • Use keywords effectively to get you the right traffic;
  • Customize meta info: title tags, meta descriptions, meta keywords, page names and category names for all pages;
  • Follow friendly URL rules (ie. http://utahcountyreviews.com/tag/provo-utah-restaurants/ = friendly vs. http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=115 = not friendly)
  • Create an internal linking strategy so all pages have a chance to be indexed by search engines
These are core strategies that, if done right, will help your website so much down the road. They are really a short and long-term strategy that can't be skipped over.

2. Create a way to capture names and emails
  • I use a couple different options for this: Aweber or Constant Contact.
  • There are pros to both of them
  • They are known as email auto-responders
  • Aweber has a $1 sign up for the first month and then a $19 monthly fee after that (it's the one I use most)
  • Constant Contact has a 60 Day Free Trial (I've used this one a little too)
  • Even if you don't have products to offer for sale, capturing a name and an email can be extremely valuable long-term
  • Here's what an invitation might look like:
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Like the first recommendation, this is both short AND long-term. What I've found, though, is that the sooner you have invitations like this on your website, the more accustomed your visitors will get to it.

3. Pay per click campaigns
  • You'll need a budget for this, although it can be small at first
  • Again, keyword research is ESSENTIAL - going after phrases like "attorney" or "lawyer" will break the bank in a few clicks and it WON'T get you the targeted traffic you want
  • There are a few different places to test PPC campaigns - Google, Facebook, and maybe Yahoo are the three I recommend
  • Hiring an experience professional will save you lots of "trial and error" money (if this is something you're interested in considering, contact me)
These first three steps for short-term results may seem a bit overwhelming; however, if you get off on the right foot by following these steps, you'll be well on your way to both short and long-term results with your business website.

What questions can I answer for you?

How did this article help you get a better picture of what you want your website to do for your business?


Next I'll talk about HOW to do some of these things!

Nate Moller offers online marketing consulting to small to medium sized businesses. He specializes in on-site search engine optimization, keyword research and implementation, email marketing, and pay per click marketing campaigns. For more information, contact Nate on Twitter or add the Moller Marketing Fan Page to your Favorites on Facebook.

4 comments:

  1. Totally agree. Those three points are some essential concerns when working online.

    I would add that you want your site to have good design practices: intuitive navigation, readable and attractive.

    You also need to make sure YOU can use your site, not just that your customer can use it. Your site needs to be build on a easy to use content management system. You need to be able to get in and add content, edit pages WITHOUT needing to know coding or having to go to a designer every time.

    Along with PPC, I would build landing pages to which you can direct your various campaigns. These pages need to answer the question the visitor has when they decided to click on your PPC ad.

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  2. Hey Nate! You're right on the mark in my opinion about most people, even experienced online marketers, not knowing what they really want their website to do ahead of time before they launch it.

    I would venture to say that most people also spend money on a domain, web hosting, software, and other services they "think they need" even before they have their online business plan of action put together. I know that I experienced this the hard way when I started out building business online in 2006.

    The truth appears to me that most people starting a business online end up spending more time mapping out the course of action for their next vacation their going on than they do with the business they are wanting to operate that would fund multiple vacations to come :-)

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  3. In regards to creating a "search engine friendly URL" do search engines differentiate between the use of "-" versus "/"? For example is it better to create a URL such as: "arizona-bankruptcy-attorneys" versus "arizona/bankruptcy/attorneys"?

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  4. Thanks for the comments - the new post will be coming TODAY!

    In answer to the last question, I recommend the "-"

    "/" usually are an indication of categories and folders (I won't go more in to it than that.)

    If you are simply creating a "friendly URL" for a specific page, separate the keyword phrases with hyphens "-".

    Keep the questions coming!

    Nate

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