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Marketing Your Business With Your Website

 

Your website is your most potent marketing tool - don't waste it

 

Too many businesses treat their website as nothing more than a necessary online presence - its there because everyone says you need a website.  Unfortunately no thought has gone into either the websites purpose, or how to get the website found by prospective customers.  If you really want to market your business, and who doesn't, there are some simple criteria that must be in place for your website.  This is true whether it is a $1300 fixed price site or a huge corporate site with hundreds of pages.

Content 

The first visitors to your website will be existing customers, not search engines.  Think about what the visitors will see.  They should get a clear message from the site's content that tells them what you can do for them and what they need to do next.  Use H1 headings to highlight the most important information and H2 headings to expand on that information (as above).  Follow these headings with more detailed information in your standard paragraph font.  Do use H1 and H2 and don't simply specify different font sizes.  I'll explain why shortly.

The first thing you should decide when planning your website is your call to action - what do you want site visitors to do once they have read the information you are providing?  It may be that you want them to leave their email address so that you can contact them.  If so give them a reason such as a free offer.  For example, if you register on this page you will be able to download a free website planner. Place the call to action (in this case an email registration form) prominantly on the page.  Don't hide it at the end of an article, because not everyone will read that far.

Make it easy for site visitors to find the information they want.  Create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page as a quick reference point.  Also, your site should have a sitemap to help navigation.  Even if your site only has two pages, still create a sitemap.  Why? Google likes them and Google is your most important visitor.

Most people are visualy oriented - add images and if possible a video to your site.  These will hold your visitors attention for longer than text - but having said that NEVER ignore the text.  

SEO, SEM & SEF

Website consultants have built a mystique around the terms Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Friendly (SEF) which for the most part is not warranted.

Simply put, your website should be easy to read by search engine spiders and the content should be easily classified by the spider.  Its fair to say that in the 21st century if Google doesn't read and like your website, no one else will. In practice there are four key components that should be planned into your site from day 1.

Content 

Your site content should be consistent.  Don't have half a dozen different subjects jumbled together on a single page.  If you do the search engines won't know how to classify the information.  Search engines are like any other visitor in this regard - if your message is confused they won't take the action you want. 

On the other hand, search engines are not visual.  They only read text and tags.  If your site has nothing but images it won't be ranked well by search engines.  Images should always have an ALT tag explaining to the search engine what the image is.

Keywords

Search engines will look at the keywords listed in the PAGE meta tags and compare them to the PAGE content.  Note the emphasis on PAGE not site.  Each page should have its own keywords that relate to that page's content.  The higher in the text that keywords appear the more relevant they will seem to the search engine and the higher the page rank.

H1 and H2 headings. 

The purpose of a heading is to notify the reader of the content of an article.  Search engines understand this and will look to the headings (as defined by H1 and H2 tags) to see if they are relevant to the keywords supplied. 

Layout 

The sooner a search engine spider finds keyword matches in your headings and text, they more relevent they seem and this will be reflected in the ranking.  In a typical three column layout the underlying code defines the columns first and then the main body.  This means that the content in the left column of your site is usually read before the body.  If the left column is full of advertising, testimonials or inconsequential information, this is what your site is being ranked on!  Note: There are techniques to avoid this but they are still not used by many developers.

There are lots more things you can do to improve your sites search engine rankings but the ones above go to the core design of your website.  They are not expensive at all.  In fact Websites With Purpose offer a $1300 fixed price website for small businesses that fulfill all of the above criteria.

 

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