This article was originally published by Gregg Murray for Elance.com.
The number of website strategies you need to implement for an effective online presence is a real head-spinner. I found it much easier to navigate once I created a list of the most important website strategies. Focus on these one or two at a time. As you do, you’ll find the process of creating or recreating your web presence much less stressful.
From the design of your website to the amount of content on the page, keeping things simple is one of the best things you can do to make life easier on yourself. A website with a clean design, simple navigation and ease of use is what will provide the safest solution to your web building dilemma. Not only will you save time, you’re also likely to save money. Even more importantly, your visitors will thank you.
Use my “Uncle Leo” test method to find out if your website is user-friendly enough to use. This is where you find the least technically-savvy person you know (I use Uncle Leo), have them go to your website, and ask them to find a specific piece of information or to take a certain action. If Uncle Leo can do it, then you know you’re on the right track. And that means you’ve done your job well. Here are a few more tips on keeping your website simple.
2. The Sales Funnel
Your website exists to help you build your business. By seeing your website as a potential sales funnel instead of just a flashy online brochure, you’ll generate more web leads and more opportunities for new business. The sales funnel process begins with driving potential customers to your site, keeping them there with a professional look and compelling content, inviting visitors to join your email list (throughout your site), and finally – following up with them to build trust, authority, and a bond. Once you have the sales funnel process incorporated into your website, you’ll find more potential customers reaching out to do business with you. Learn more about using your website as a sales funnel here.
3. Words That Connect
One of the most frequent mistakes I see solo-preneurs and entrepreneurs make is creating web copy that doesn’t connect with real people. This happens most often with us business and marketing folks over 40. We have a habit of taking our old media thoughts on copywriting and applying it to new media. In other words, we are more likely to keep things a bit stiff and stuffy instead of writing our web copy in a conversational tone. The Internet is the ultimate personal medium, and it’s important to keep the copy we feature on our website a bit more casual and conversational. If you can pull this off, your website visitors will feel more connected with you, and thus… BINGO… do more business with you. Here are some pointers on creating website copy that connects with your audience.
4. Make SEO Easy
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the key to being found online. Problem is, there’s information overload. People write books (really, really long books) getting into all the minutia of getting ranked higher in Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. The good news is that the 80/20 rule plays out big time with SEO strategies, and that means there are just a few things you need to do to achieve higher search rankings. This includes making sure your keywords are incorporated in your page title and your page description and are scattered at a 3-5% ratio throughout your web page. And if you’re targeting locally, always incorporate your city or town name as one of your primary keywords. Finally, take every opportunity to have your website linked to from other websites (and the bigger the better). Do just these items and your search ranking will make a huge leap. Need some pointers on SEO? Check out this free SEO lesson.
5. A Touch of Email Marketing
Emailing your clients and prospects is a dance of moderation. Send your peeps more email then they expect and they’ll leave you. Don’t email often enough and they’ll forget about you. So, what’s the right mix? For most entrepreneurs, once to twice a month is usually the sweet spot. Just remember that the key is to always provide helpful information up front in your emails and keep the pitch as secondary. If you do want to send a specific pitch to your email list, never do it twice in a row. A little bit of moderation will go a long way. Learn more about maximizing your email marketing.
6. Get Social
Without exception, I can’t think of a single business that won’t benefit from incorporating social media into their website strategy. The big three are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Facebook is perfect for most small businesses, especially when you’re wanting to reach a local audience. Twitter is excellent for connecting with those that spend more time than most online. And LinkedIn is a great connection tool for any business professional. Pick one. You’ll love it… It’s easy, and it’s free. Get more out of your social media with this guide.
7. Blogs Required
You gotta’ have a blog built into your website. A blog allows you to easily create single page posts about events, specials, tips, and company information to your website visitors. Not only do you get the benefit of keeping your website content fresh, you are also creating new content that search engines are on the lookout for. It’s a big win-win. A blog post every week is great for entrepreneurs, but once every two weeks or even once a month will still serve you well. Learn more about business blogging here.
8. Google Tools
If you don’t have a Google account, get one, it’s free. Yes, you’ll have to get a Google email address, but you don’t have to use it, except as your login name to get the other free Google goodies. Once you have a Google account, you can access some super important free tools that will help increase your website traffic. My faves include Google Places, Google Analytics, and Google Webmaster Tools. Even if you don’t know how to use these tools yet, go get your free Google account now, so you’ll be able to incorporate them soon.
9. Staying Connected
The biggest problem those of us have that already have a solid website is staying connected with our website visitors and those that are on our email list. The best advice I can give you is to always stay connected enough so that you’re not forgotten. That comes back to creating new and engaging blog post content several times a month and distributing great email content several times a month as well. I can’t tell you how often I’ve received a new and repeat business because I always find a way to stay in touch with my clients and prospects every 2-3 weeks. And with the quick access of Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, you can stay in touch with your social networking audience in no time as well.
10. Managing the Madness
Once the website is done, the email marketing is rolling, the blog is being updated, and the social media is in place, you have to manage the beast. Don’t beat yourself up. The secret to managing your website and online presence is “chunking.” That means instead of going to your website several times a week to do little things that can wait, keep a list and do it all at once as needed. My list every week usually has 3-5 things I may want to update. When I do them all at once, it saves my time and gives me more peace of mind… and those are two things no website owner wants to be without.
About the Author:
Gregg Murray is an award-winning website consultant, online marketing manager, and certified SEO. He is the author of Website Blueprint: The Beginners Guide for Small Business Owners and director of Website Elementary, an online home-study course for newbies. For more free website help, download Gregg’s Small Business Website Checklist.