Build a Great Website for Internet Marketing

01/01/1970 12:33 AM | Sky Stebnicki

Once you have a solid brand and company name/url, the next thing that needs full attention is your website. This really is one area where you cannot afford to skimp or cut corners. Your website is your home base - which makes it your single greatest sales tool. Your social media efforts will drive traffic to the site, but it is your website that will close those leads and turn them into sales.


In nearly every other area of internet / digital marketing you can do things yourself, but if you are not a gifted designer it is more than worth hiring someone with proven expertise in this area to make sure you get this right. You have less that 4 seconds to make a good impression. These days, more than ever, a poorly built website can be the difference between the failure and success of your business.

What Makes a Great Website

A great website stands on four essential legs: content, design, usability, and SEO. If any one of these are missing then the site will probably never be as successful as you would hope, which is endlessly frustrating. Whether you are building the website yourself or working with a designer/firm, make sure your site handles these four areas exceptionally well.


Relevant Content

In our internet marketing foundation article we spent considerable effort defining who you are, what you do, and how you are different. The next step is to put this information on your website. Just like when a user first encounters another person, when they see your site for the first time the primary question they have is "who does this site represent?" and they expect to find the answer immediately. Put your "Who you are and what you do" right on your home page, maybe even in the header of your site. Make it sweet and short, then define why you're different - either on the home page or in the "About Us" section.


Once the basic questions of who you are, what you do, and why you're different have been answered the next thing is to make sure your site has content that is of interest to your target users. This includes inventory, reviews, blogs and information pages.


Aesthetic Appeal

The site needs to look good and be professional. It surprises me how many companies have websites that look like they were built in the mid-90s by their grandson over the weekend using Microsoft Word. In most areas you can get away with a DIY approach if you have the desire and the time, but when it comes to design it it more than worth paying someone to do it right. The reason this matters so much is because you have less than 4 seconds to make a good impression before your visitors leave and the very first thing they will notice is how the site looks.


Usability

It does not matter how great your content is if nobody can find it or use your site. Things need to be easy to find and organized logically in intuitive places. The art and science of organizing and labeling information is often referred to as Information Architecture. This is one part of usability or UX (user experience) but it also makes sure that users have calls to action everywhere and ultimately is responsible for converting users into sales / leads.


The best way to test if your site is usable is to sit down with some customers and watch as they try to use your site. Can they find what they need? Once they found what they needed was there anything that called them to take the next step in doing business with you?

SEO - Search Engine Optimization

SEO is all about making sure people can find your site when they search for related keywords in any search engine. If you have applied the first three principles above then you already have a great head-start because having relevant content that is laid out well is the most important part of SEO.


Beyond that make sure that you or you web developer do the following at a bare minimum:

  1. Structure links and URLs in a search-engine-friendly-way so bots can crawl your site easily and your URLs have relevant keywords.
  2. Create xml sitemap that is updated dynamically and submitted to search engines.
  3. Be sure pages are validated for using the W3C Validator just to make sure there are no major coding issues.
  4. Add "alt" tags to your images and have an H1 tag on (nearly) every page defining the title/main subject of that page.

The next step is to create a keyword strategy by predicting or discovering what words your target customer would use to find you and then writing content with those words. Building a keyword strategy is a complex subject that we will be exploring in further detail in a later post.

Parting Words: Don't Skip This Step!

The days where having a nice website was an optional luxury for business have ended. Without a great site don't even bother trying to build your internet marketing campaign. It will be a waste of time that will end if frustration and mediocre success at best, but more likely utter failure. Take the time and make a serious investment in your site.

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