Steps to Website Success

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Steps to website success

In the beginning, there’s a plan.

Now that you’ve made the decision to put a shiny new business Web site among the tens of millions of others on the internet, you’re no doubt in a hurry to see the face of your company looking back from the screen – slick, professional, inviting, with eye-catching graphics and exciting text that just begs new customers to check you out.

There are a number of ways of promoting a site, however any webmaster worth his salt knows that search engine referrals are where you are going to win the majority of points. Link building is hard work, and it is much better to simply create content which will serve two purposes – generate search engine traffic, and act as link bait.

Like everything in life, the more effort you put in, the more results you get out. The results you achieve will also depend on the level of competition online, your audience and your subject matter, but overall you should be able to obtain a steady stream of SERP related traffic within 6-12 months.

Content.Content Content.……..is KING

Start researching ideas for content, thats actual spider diagrams with topics, subtopics articles and anything else you think your visitors will appreciate. Get it into Microsoft Word, typed and ready for distribution on your site, and on article sites. Never forget syndication is a great way of getting links back to your site. Don’t be tempted to go for filler content, that is useless. Really bulk it out with hard hitting subject matter, and is extremely well written. If you have the budget for it consider hiring a professional copywriter. Make sure you put your best content on your own site, and distribute about 10% to others until your site starts pulling in traffic.

Recognize that social commerce isn’t new
“Social” has always been part of “commerce,” even when Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist. We listen to our friends’ recommendations and tend to buy more if we know a merchant personally.

So social media sites like Facebook and Twitter didn’t invent social commerce, but amplified it greatly. They introduced a convenient, easy and fast way to communicate with friends and others, and deliver “social messages” much faster and to a larger audience.

Fully utilize today’s powerful e-commerce tools
Merchants can now easily create f-commerce storefronts in minutes and make their offerings more targeted: e.g. show a discount on a particular book to all customers who like the book’s topic. This makes store offers more friendly, so social customers are more open to them.

Development best practise..

Again keep it extremely simple, search engine robots want your content as fast as you can feed it to them, so make sure that you have developed using CSS layouts. Tables = bloated code. Bloated code = less frequent spidering. That also goes for widgets and fancy graphics. Cut it down to a slimmer size, lose the flash banner if you can, lose the javascript, in fact trim any of the unnecessary things from your code. that includes comments, and html spacing. Google saves a shed load of bandwidth by compressing HTML code, removing comments, and generally tidying up their code. Run your site through something like Lynx to see how it performs in a text based browser. When you see what the spiders see, this can help you reshape your content. Your actual text should always outweigh your HTML content.

Test. Test. Test There is absolutely no excuse for developers not cross browser testing in this day and age. Whilst in makes little or no difference to Google et al, it does mean that some of your visitors e.g. the Mac and Linux users will be put off. The number of these visitors out there online is bigger than you think, and is growing.

Speed

Speed is extremely important, even in the age of broadband. What made Google grow so quickly overnight? They removed any fluff from their pages, compressed everything down to its simplest form, and waited for the viral marketing (word of mouth) in this case to hit.

Decide what your unique social media strategy is
Most brands understand that they need to communicate with their customers, but many are not clear on what the conversation should be. A Facebook page is always a two-way communication, so if you’re not ready to engage your audience with a particular theme or approach, you won’t be successful.

This may involve trial-and-error, but eventually you’ll find a sweet spot of engagement. Also, always talk honestly and without marketing slang.

Freebies

People love freebies, consider running competitions to give them away, in exchange for links. Even running a competition can attract links in itself.

Purpose

Websites are sales tools and need to offer value to your business. A good website offers a route to market for your information (and products) directly and quickly.

So, with that in mind, your website needs to be built for the user, but, with your clearly defined business goal in mind.

Whether you want them to buy there and then, sign up for a newsletter, contact you, etc.; your website needs a defined purpose and the appropriate build to fulfil that purpose.

What is your most important “Call-To-Action”? ie. What is the button you want them to press, the action you want them to take?

All website paths and call-to-actions should lead to delivering that goal.

Usability

A website needs to be usable, not by you, but by your customer and every visitor to your website will be different.

If you pick up a book you start at page one. But you can not guarantee the entry page or the path through your website that a visitor will take, especially if the navigation is not logical and your purpose (see point 1) is not clear for the user.

What you can do though is smooth the path of ‘logic’ that each of your unique visitors chooses to take through your site. Can they find what they want, when they want it? Is the call-to-action in the right place?

Your web pages need to be built for your audience in terms of design, content; even down to size of text.

Flexibility

Your website, and your attitude towards it, needs to be flexible.

A good website needs to be updated regularly to attract attention so it needs to be easy for you to manage.

However, if your website is built with a restricted number of pages and the linking is shoddy, it will be much harder for you to go back to your website and amend it.

Also, adding new sales messages across a well built website becomes easy. Your website can grow with you.

You need to take this flexible approach to your flexible website because things do change – very quickly.

Manage Existing Content

Even the most basic business Web site should be regularly refreshed with new information, images, promotions and services. If you have an e-commerce site, it’s obvious that your offerings will – or should – constantly change.

You’ve seen “stale” sites – never-changing, never improving, blah. That’s not what your new business Web site was so carefully nurtured to project.

Whether you hire out the work or do it yourself, keep these tips in mind:

  • Some Web developers are willing to negotiate a fee for maintaining your site. If you hired one, ask.
  • Include easy-to-use feedback forms on your site and monitor replies every day.
  • React quickly to critical comments and suggestions from your customers and employees, fixing any problems and making necessary upgrades or improvements. Give priority to any trouble with usability.
  • Don’t let old topical material stay online. Event dates and calendars, promotional deadlines, seasonal specials and products – anything with an expiration date should be archived and immediately replaced.
  • When you update your Web site, check for “orphaned” pages – a result of breaking the links to them when you make changes. Your analytics software can help you spot these floaters. If an orphaned page is no longer needed, delete it from your host server. 

If you follow the above bits and pieces, you will start to see vast improvements in both your subscriber count, and your website visitors over the next year. Continue to build great content, at least one page a day, by next year you could have on your hands around 400+ pages of quality content.

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