Others want to innovate on their existing website to cater to the changing expectations of their market; more customers want to use ecommerce, use price comparison sites, watch video demonstrations of your products or services etc. Website innovation is important and they can differentiate you from the competition, but the biggest differentiation is whether your customers are able to find you or not!
Is Your Website Designed and Developed for Marketing Success?
Your website could be the most sophisticated (and expensive) bit of web technology on the web, but how effective will it be if no one has the faintest idea you exist. eMarketing, short for electronic marketing similar to ecommerce, needs to be taken seriously if your website masterpiece is to get the clientele it deserves. When shopping for a website developer, you’ll find that many firms either don’t offer SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) or Internet marketing services, while others may offer it but it is offered as an afterthought or tell you the website is built to be “search engine friendly”. Having a website that is search engine friendly is a good start, but it does not make a marketing strategy. Having a web marketing professional involved from start to finish with a marketing plan that is executed at strategic stages of the entire process means that your website has the best chances of getting customers as soon as possible. Considering eMarketing after the website is built simply extends the time it will take for your website to get traffic and therefore sales.
Marketing is especially important for new businesses, and that goes triple for online businesses. The formula for success may vary in detail, but the fundamentals generally remain the same. SEO is usually the best long term strategy for ongoing targeted traffic, while other forms of marketing build your brand visibility and loyalty.
Understanding Your Target Audience
In order to have an effective website, as with operating any business, you need to understand your potential customers and their expectations.
• Your website marketer or SEO consultant should also understand who your potential customers are so that the most appropriate search terms are targeted that will attract the right audience.
• The design of your website will depend to an extent on demographics. If your customers are primarily female between 16 and 45, for example, you would want a design that appeals to that demographic.
• The website needs to build a customer experience that is not confusing, confounding or counter intuitive. A distinct call-to-action should grab the visitor’s attention so that they have no misunderstanding of what or where they need to click in order to step through the sales or lead generation process.
• The website needs to build trust in the purchasing process and in your products or services at every opportunity.
Content Is King, Queen, Duke and Court Jester...
For SEO, the quality of your content cannot be stressed enough. Most SEO experts will tell you that content is king when it comes to getting good positions in Google search results. I would say that content is king, queen... all the way to court jester! Strategic use of search terms within your text and headings will have a big impact on the success of your website. It’s not just a matter of repeating keywords everywhere though, for best results you need a professional copywriter that can communicate your product and service offers effectively. It’s not just the essentially robotic Google web spider that you need to impress, you need to build a case for your visitors to buy as well. Google ranks you according to how useful and informative your website is as well. Google wants its search engine to produce the best customer experience possible for their users. Keep this in mind when considering what text to display on your website will keep you in good stead with Google.
Launching Your Website
Once your website is built and tested, it’s now time to launch your website. If your website has been built to be search engine friendly, your developer has included a sitemap on your website that is compatible with the major search engines: Google, Yahoo and Bing. Once your website is ready, the sitemap needs to be submitted to these search engines directly using their special webmaster tools. This is the fastest way to get your website indexed. Avoid manually submitting your website to the search engines from the public front end, as this will be delayed and might actually hurt your chances at good rankings. Submitting via the front door is a mistake that too many developers make.
The next step is to write a good press release and have it submitted to a number of press release submission sites. The PR should talk about how your website is unique and how it fulfils a need in your market that has up this point found lacking. If your website has a particularly unique or innovative offering your PR may be picked up by media outlets. In any case, these PR sites will provide a good start to your link building campaign by providing some initial backlinks.
While your SEO campaign gains momentum (and this depends heavily on how competitive your search terms are), you can get instant traffic from the moment you launch your website by running an Adwords campaign. By setting up an Adwords campaign, you can be appearing on the first page of Google from day one. This involves displaying paid ads on Google where you “pay per click”. This form of advertising is very effective because you only pay when you get traffic to your website and your ads are only displayed when someone types in the keywords that relate to your business. Anyone can open an Adwords account with Google and start advertising their website, but it is highly recommended that you let a professional manage it for you as they can write more effective ads and make your advertising dollars go further through effective campaign management.
Building Links for SEO
Next to content in importance to SEO is link popularity. Building links is essential for gaining positions in Google now more than ever before because competition is increasing for your search terms. The fastest way to build links is to pay the website/directory owner in question to place a link on one of their web pages with specific link text using your best keywords. The more links appear on other pages with your keywords in the text the higher Google will rank your website.
The next best way to build links is with free one‐way links, which has no cost payable to the various website owners, but it is expensive as far as time goes. Reciprocal links, or building links by exchanging links between websites is another good way to get links because the waiting time for links to go live is generally shorter and both websites benefit. The possible downside to this is that your website would need a links page displaying links to third party websites and directories.
Build Marketing into Your Budget
Many who are taking business across the electronic frontier get the website built assuming that when it is launched, it will magically produce traffic of its own volition with very little outlay beyond the website development itself. Once it’s built, that’s it. Wrong. While online marketing can prove to cost far less overall than the kind of budget needed to be half as effective using print and other “old world” media, one needs to be realistic about what it will take to get the results you want. Setting realistic goals through careful analysis produced by your online marketing firm is a good place to start. Discussing how much traffic you would realistically receive if your website achieved specific positions in Google for your list of search terms is a sensible approach so that you can factor for growth. It is also ideal for your Internet marketer to track and measure your successful conversions on an ongoing basis so that you can continually improve your visitor to sales/leads conversion rate to continually improve your bottom line.