Ten Small Business Website Marketing Tips
Small business owners often struggle with the overwhelming task of managing their website. There is a lot to do to manage your website but never enough time. (Something I know about all too well). So with the challenges of maintaining a website in mind, this list of website marketing tips can help.
The following ten tips are key to maintaining a successful website. Apply these tips consistently over time and you will see results.
- No Tricks
- Quality Code
Search engines scan website content. As the search engines continue to become more sophisticated the content becomes more relevant and critical. The more relevant content on your website the more it will help you. This is not to say that any content is good content. If you sell flowers then your content should be relevant to flowers and the floral industry. If you have content about Sunday’s football game on your website this will not help you. In fact irrelevant content can hurt your website status with the search engines. Think about it, if you were Google what do you want to give people. The answer is the most relevant content for the search that someone types in their search engine. Google simply wants the best experience for their clients. If you try to ‘trick’ Google or ‘fool’ people into visiting your website you will lose.
Providing interesting and relevant content is the key to success. Good content is what Google wants and more importantly, it’s what your customers and website visitors want.
Set aside an hour per week or more to devote to adding new content on your website.
Keep your website current
Content is great but if it old then it’s not going to make you look very relevant. Even if the content is still relevant but hasn’t been updated on your website it can hurt you. The search engine actually monitor when changes are made to your website and how often and consider updates a positive thing when they index your website. The more often you make updates the more the ‘Freshness’ factor works in your favor.
#3 No Tricks
Do not try to outsmart the Search Engines, you will lose
Too many ‘website design people’ claim they have a way to ‘trick’ Google and promise they can make you number one on search engines. The truth is that I have seen some of these backdoor tricks have limited success but never for long. The search engines will eventually close these tricks and backdoors down. That is their job and they become increasingly good at it. More importantly, why would you want to trick anyone? You will always be better off presenting legitimate content for both the search engines and especially for your customers. Even when there is a backdoor exposed to help your rank anyone that offers that will charge a lot for it and as soon as the backdoor is closed you will lose that money. You are always better off to follow the recommendations of the search engine.
Links both in and out must be relevant
Everyone says get ‘links.’ Too many people are willing to blindly exchange links in an effort to gain a higher rank. Remember tip #3? No tricks! Simply exchanging a lot of links isn’t going to help you. Before exchanging links ask yourself: is it relevant?
Any old link is not going to help you much. Search engines will look at who is linking to you and they are also starting to pay very close attention to how many links you have off your website on a page. This is being done to try and drop sites with pages of links (do you have a ‘links’ page on your website?)
It is far better to have relevant links in various places throughout your website and on only those pages that specifically address the topic that relates to the page being linked.
Unfortunately you can´t exert too much control over the way that other sites link to yours but it is worth looking at how a site usually links to others before to specifically go requesting a link from them. For example: a link that is your logo isn’t very useful whereas a link containing text, listing the topic of your website, from a related website would be of great value.
Organize your website and everyone will thank you
Both the search engines and your web visitors prefer a website that is well structured. The search engines due to their very nature (being computer programs) must break down all websites into elements based on the structure of the pages. People, so frequently rushing to find the specific information they are looking for, rarely read through web pages but rather scan headings and bullied lists to find the detailed sections of interest. In both cases a well structured site will be far better received then one that is a unorganized or haphazardly thrown together. When designing a website, laying out the structure is important and should be done in advance.
This is simple to do but all too often missed. Make headings, use the correct coding tags for them, organize sections of content into groups, and use bold and bullied lists to present key points.
Keep in mind when writing paragraphs of text that most humans will not read them unless they are specifically titled with a headline that matches what they are looking for.
A website that speaks to all is better then a site that only speaks to some.
Tips #6 and #7 are closely related: The Web Accessibility Initiative
(WAI) provides a list of guidelines for how to create websites that are accessible to as many people (and systems) as possible. Think about your website. Can someone with a visual disability (perhaps even something as simple as color-blindness) still get information about your product or service? If not, how do you feel knowing that you have just excluded a vast segment of the population from accessing your website?
There are many simple ways that you can ensure your website is accessible to people with special needs. A group of simple tests for the sites content and design that ensure your product or service is presented to the widest possible audience.
#7 Quality Code
Well coded websites perform better.
Many small business owners don’t have too much control over the code used to create their website but it is still important to know how important it may be. Standard compliant code that has been checked for errors is easier for the search engines to assimilate. It is more widely visible across varied platforms (computer types) and in different browsers. Ensure your web designer is writing standard compliant code that is validated for errors. When a website is offered for “free” or “do it yourself” the code often reflects this and can lead to poor performance and many of those types of websites can hinder your online marketing efforts.
Prudent choice of URLs will impact your website´s performance
Professional web designers should already know this but if you are using a content management system to build your website, or portions of it, it is important to understand the significance of the URL used to access pages on your website.
Search engines look at the address of every page on your website and try to extract key-words from the content of the url. For example, you may have a page about "Widgets" on your website called "somewhere.com" creating the page with a filename of widgets.html will give a better keyword rank then page6.html this is also true of sub-directories on the site somewhere.com/widgets/... being better then somewhere.com/files/...
This is a fairly subtle point but makes a significant difference for most search engines. It can also make it much easier for people that are typing in a URL to access a specific page of your website.
Looks do matter but perhaps not the way you think
In the grand scheme of things the "look" of a website in the classic sense are not really that important - honestly! Once people have looked at a website for a few minutes they will quickly discard their first impression (based on looks) and move immediately to asking if this site is giving me the information I need and can I find it quickly.
So what about style? Most importantly, ensure the style of your site makes it easy to read. Avoid things like black backgrounds with white text (inverse text is harder to read) ALL CAPS (humans read by identifying word shapes and writing in all caps forces people to read every letter and quickly becomes annoying).
Selling a product - better make sure it looks good
If you are selling something that has a visual representation then professional looking photography is key. Even a multi-million dollar resort will not look good if the photographs are amateurish. If you care about what you have to sell, then it’s worth investing in some professional photographs to show people what you have. Remember, on-line people can’t get a hold of your product so you need to give them some really good photographs so that they can feel confident that it meets their needs. Taking an IPhone pic and uploading to your website isn’t typically the best representation of your product(s).