Perhaps, once upon a time, your bare-bones-basic one-page site was a perfectly fine way to represent your company on the Internet. But with just about everybody taking their business online, it’s getting tough for those bare-bones-basic sites to compete.
Maybe you’ve got prospects saying they can’t find you when they run a Google search. Or maybe they’re saying your site doesn’t give them the information they need. Or maybe you’re getting no feedback at all – and in this case, no news is not good news!
Whatever the reason, you’re getting the message loud and clear – it’s time to give your business a real, functioning site, with content that will bring customers to your door.
I’m talking with increasing numbers of clients in this situation, and they’re facing many of the same questions. So…here are some quick answers to help you get started:
Can I just copy the text from my business brochure onto my site?
Generally this isn’t a good idea, as there’s a distinct difference between copy written for a brochure and that written for a website. While a brochure is read in “slow time” – it may be tossed into a desk drawer, picked up, scanned, filed, pulled out, put down, etc. any number of times before it finally inspires your prospect to call – a website needs to capture a visitors’ attention right now. Research indicates that you have roughly seven seconds for your site to make an impression; if your content is compelling, visitors will stay and look around; if not, they’ll click away, and you’ve lost them. Very rarely will someone return to a site that did not grab their attention. So the tone of your website must compel attention from the very first moment.
How do I decide on the information to include in my site?
For most businesses, five pages – Home, About Us, Products (or) Services, Frequently Asked Questions, and Contact – are plenty to start with. If you’re planning to sell your products online, you’ll need an e-store setup, and every business site needs a blog – this is how you provide the fresh content that will keep your visitors coming back, and your site ranking high in the search engines.
Some clients ask – what about a membership site, or an online community? Generally, unless you have an existing following, these are web-development expenses that won’t pay for themselves anytime soon. Your best bet is to invest in an autoresponder/newsletter service such as AWeber (yes, we’re an affiliate – and a longtime user) or Constant Contact, which will keep you in front of your prospects without any effort on their part.
Should I have a blog? Isn’t that just extra work?
Yes, having a blog does involve some extra effort (unless you choose to hire a ghost-blogger on an affordable retainer). However, the payback is more than worth it:
- Better search engine rankings due to constantly updated content
- Increased site traffic
- Repeat visitors to your site with blog subscribers
- Increased credibility and public trust (“expert” status)
- Opportunity for syndication in readers and social networking sites – i.e., increased exposure)
Should my blog be part of my website, or should I just use the free blogging platforms?
Thanks to WordPress.com, the answer is Yes – you can have both. In fact, your site can be part of your free blog!
If you are absolutely strapped for cash and cannot afford web hosting, you can have your WordPress-based free site at any domain you control, cutting your costs to the $10-$15 necessary to register a domain (such as www.example.com). You can set up your registered domain to automatically redirect visitors to your blog URL. Then, when your bank account is a little plumper, you can upgrade to a “self-hosted” site, for which you would download the free WordPress software and run your site from a paid webhost’s servers. Ask us and we can recommend our own green-powered webhost, who offers an all-inclusive package more affordable than many of the big guys, with truly extraordinary tech support.
I hear a lot about RSS feeds – what are they and what do they do for me?
An RSS feed – “Really Simple Syndication” – is the way each new post on your blog can show up across the web, showing up on subscribers’ Google, Yahoo and similar home pages, as well as blog readers and email programs. While WordPress (and any other blogging platform) offers RSS, there are plenty of ways to enhance your feed, such as Feedburner, FriendFeed, and assorted other third-party products.
What’s the deal with SEO?
SEO – short for Search Engine Optimization – is a way of raising your placement in the search engine rankings. This is usually a complex process, and can involve a 365-day cost-intensive strategy, which we do not offer. If this is the level of optimization you need, we’ll be happy to recommend solid, well-rated vendors.
Your Words’ Worth offers keyword optimization: an affordable process of identifying and adding high-ranking keywords to your metatags (the title and description of your site that display on search result pages) and the content on your site. You may contract with us to do this one time, as part of your site’s content development, or monthly, quarterly, biannually, or annually.
How do I find the best keywords?
The best keywords are used in a large number of searches (more than 100/day), and are used on few competing sites (fewer than 100,000). We identify these by using a software package called Market Samurai, which we also offer as an affiliate (we were using and recommending this software long before we could profit by doing so). You can also find them, free of charge but with less detailed information, using the Google Keyword Tool.
I want to have a newsletter on my site. Can I just use my Outlook or Gmail accounts?
Absolutely not! Using your personal (or even your business) email account is like asking to be labeled as a spammer…if not by your recipients, then by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or email service. Losing your ISP is an almost certain consequence, and that’s just the beginning of the troubles you could incur, thanks to the CAN SPAM Act.
To send a newsletter safely, you need an autoresponder, provided by an email marketing service such as AWeber.com or ConstantContact.com, and a conversion form (see the upper right corner of this page for a sample). You start by setting up the conversion form on the service site and then copying the code to your website. When visitors enter their information, your autoresponder receives the opt-ins and verifies them through a confirmation process to prevent spam complaints. You can then adapt or design a template on the email marketing site, add your content and send out your message.
Some people have said I need an information product to help boost my opt-ins. What is that?
Because many companies are offering newsletters, and just about everyone’s In-box is overloaded, you’ll probably need to give your visitors a special reason to want you to stay in touch with them. Of course, you do this partially by the quality of the content on your site. You can also add some further incentive, however, by offering an information product such as a special report or e-book as an incentive gift. This gift typically answers a frequently-asked question, displaying your expertise, solving a problem for the visitor, and putting a sample of your work directly into their hands. Ideally, your visitors will want your information product for its own sake, and so opt-in purely to get their hands on it.
Sound like a lot? Let us help!
Yes, setting up a full-fledged website can be a complex process…but it doesn’t have to make you crazy. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation and we’ll help you to identify what you need, how it should be developed, and how to order each step of the project. If you’d like more information, check out our Zero-Headache Content Makeover Package!