Many small businesses do not have enough of an on line presence today. This is too bad because buyers today search for the products or services they want before contacting the company salesperson or broker. This is too big an opportunity to pass up. Small business can use a big on-line presence to not only project a bigger appearance but also get more visitors, leads and sales.
Even if you have website but it was built more than 3 years ago it is most likely out of date or at least not taking advantage of the advances in effective calls to action, forms and other tools. It is not going to be SEO optimized and may look dated. These are preventing your website from operating at peak efficiency. Web design best practices have changed very rapidly over just the past few years.
We will review some of the best practices in web design and look at some trends looking ahead. At the end of the post you will be able to download my free ebook '25 Powerful Websites Tools for Driving Traffic, Leads and Sales'
Businesses of any size can take advantage of inbound marketing and use a big web presence to attract potential customers. Even single person businesses. Most business owners know their businesses and industries inside out and are passionate about their businesses. The web is the perfect place for this knowledge and passion to show. This has worked for many types of businesses. I have witnessed it with my clients which range from parts manufacturers for hi tech, business services and medical and dental practices.
Today, the web is social and interactive. It’s not static like most websites tend to be. As such, a website can no longer sustain as its own island. We now need to consider integrating search, social media, content, blogging, and more with our websites. Gone are the days where all it took was a URL, fancy Flash graphics, and an expensive advertising campaign to temporarily boost traffic.
The reason for this shift is largely due to changing buyer behavior. Today’s buyer wishes to consume information when they want and how they want and often-times without the involvement of a sales person. And more importantly, they want to be educated and not sold to. As you can see from the following chart, websites and new forms of inbound marketing content (such as podcasts, blogging and social media) have become a considerable factor in the buying cycle.
In most cases, traffic from blogs, social media, organic and paid search end up converting into leads or sales on your main website. Without a website acting as an online basecamp, it would be difficult to attract new business to one source.
This is why having an effective website is so crucial and that it contains key elements to driving more traffic, leads, and sales.
There are 4 areas of your website that need to be optimized. They are
- Getting found
- Design & Usability
Here are some key point from each area. The ebook, available at the end does a deeper dive.
SEO has changed as much as anything. Tactics that worked just a few years ago are no longer effective. Google has gotten smarter and cannot be gamed as easily. This is actually good news for small business. Google wants to deliver the right search results so if you can prove you are the right answer you can improve your ranking.
Every website on the internet has the goal of reaching the #1 position in search engines but because there is only one top spot per keyword phrase, not everyone can make it. So what gets a first place ranking? Off-page search engine optimization (SEO) is the most important factor to increasing your ranking results.
Off-Page SEO is about building inbound links, essentially getting other quality websites to link back to you. Search engines call this authority or “link juice.” The more inbound links you have, the more important your site must be, thus the higher you’ll rank.
Link building, when done right, isn’t easy since adding links to other websites is sometimes out of your control. The ebook contains some great tips on link building.
While off-page SEO is hugely important, we can’t forget about on-page SEO. This consists of placing your most important keywords within the content elements of your actual pages. These on-page elements include Headlines, Sub-headlines, Body Content, Image Tags, and Links. Often times on-page SEO is referred to as “keyword density.”
Design & Useability
Now that you’re generating some good traffic by getting found online, your next focus is getting that traffic to stay on your website. It depends on the industry, but most websites have a 30-60% bounce rate on average. This means a large majority of web traffic entering your website leaves without navigating to any other pages. And many times they may never come back. Yikes! Here are some tips you need to consider to improve user experience and decrease your bounce rate.
Your website represents who you are and what you offer. When people see it for the first time they’re thinking
•Is this site credible?
•Is it trustworthy?
•Is this a professional company?
•Is this company stable?
•Does this site make me feel welcome?
•Am I in the right place?
You need to ask yourself all of these questions when designing your website. Now, design may not be the most important factor in a website overall and often-times folks put too much emphasis on how a site looks instead of it works, but it does play an important role in making a good first impression.
Content is one of the most important aspects of any website.
With the rise of inbound marketing, content has become front and center in the minds of marketers. It is what search engines and people are looking for. It’s what drives visitors to your site and turns prospects into leads.
Offer more than just product content. Provide eBooks, whitepapers, videos, and other forms of content that is educational. This will nurture prospects through your marketing and sales funnel until they are ready to buy, plus, they will feel as if they are receiving valuable information along the way and not just a sales pitch.
Now that you know what it takes to drive traffic and engage visitors with great content, the next step is to get your visitors to convert from a prospect into a lead. You don’t want them leaving without providing some information or else you will lose the opportunity to nurture them until they are ready to buy.
Calls to Action, Forms, Landing and Thank-You pages are all important in moving people through the sales process. Appearance and placement must be optimized to generate the most leads and customers. The ebook contains details on how to optimize each of these elements.
A business website may be the most important factor in your inbound marketing strategy, but it’s more than just having a website, it’s the integration of SEO, social media, blogging, content, CTAs and landing pages that will drive traffic, leads and sales.
After all it is these components that generate sales and revenue for your business. Inbound marketing is the key to filling your sales funnel and your website is where education, engagement and conversion take place.
Follow these guidelines and you will soon have a great website. But don’t stop there. A website never truly stops growing. Keep learning and stay tuned for more updates.
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