Congratulations! You have made the first step in getting your business online with an effective lead generation and branding tool – a website. Before you get too excited and go launching that new website make sure you have optimized your website first to achieve maximum results.
Check out our post on How to Get a Website if you are still stuck without a website or you have found yourself stalled in the website design and development stage.
There are two types of optimization that you need to be aware of before you go launching your new website:
1) Search Engine Optimization
2) Conversion Optimization
These two things are absolutely vital in assuring that your website not only starts off on the right foot with the search engines, but also converts your website traffic at the highest rate possible so you are not wasting valuable marketing dollars.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of implementing necessary elements and guidelines that the search engines have laid out so that they can more easily crawl, index and rank your website. The search engines rank websites based on relevance, authority, popularity and legitimacy. These four factors are not always easy to attain, but they are absolutely necessary with any and every website.
Here are some very basic search engine optimization “must-haves” that you need to consider before, during and after your website launches:
Content – Relevant, unique, quality content (text, images, video) that proves your website as a true resource for the related terms and phrases that you want your site to rank for when someone uses Google, Yahoo or MSN to search for your product or service.
Links – Authoritative, quality inbound links from other websites (preferably relevant ones) to prove to the search engines that your website is popular and resourceful for the terms and phrases you want your website to rank for in the search engines.
Usability – Easy to use, accessible website elements to show the search engines (and your visitors) that your website is well structured, clean, and easy to use for just about any visitor.
RECOMMENDATION: If the company who built your website is not familiar with Search Engine Optimization or that is not their specialty, then we recommend that you hire a professional SEO and/or company to optimize your website for you before you launch it. This investment will be one of the best ones you make for your business.
WARNING: There are tons of “shady” search engine optimization companies that WILL rip you off. Make sure to do your due diligence before hiring any SEO company. If someone guarantees you rankings on the search engines, run. No one can directly control where a website will rank or how quickly it will rank so don’t fall for this sales ploy. Ask us for a reputable SEO company if you would like as we will be more than happy to recommend someone that fits your budget and needs.
One of the most overlooked forms of optimization and web development is conversion optimization. This form of optimization is made up of the following elements:
Call(s) to Action – An effective website must have at least one clear, strong call to action. A call to action is simply something that you use to entice your visitors to do what you want them to on your website (ex. Sign Up for Our Free Newsletter, Call Now and Receive 20% Off).
Site Structure – Webmasters often forget that they can control the path a visitor takes on a website if the proper planning is put in place. If you specifically want your visitors to view your most popular product then plan out the path that you want a visitor to take on your website by making this product very prominent and easy to get to from every page on your website.
Assurance – Simple things like testimonials, certifications, credentials and logos that show industry affiliations or awards can go a long way in keeping visitors on your site. These elements of support can also play a huge role in getting your visitors to buy from you as well. People like the feeling of security and assurance before they decide to spend their money.
Usability – Stressing this again, your website needs to be user friendly. Remember that your visitors come from all walks of life, which means that your website must appeal to just about everyone. Stay away from loud, annoying colors, music, sounds or other design elements. There are very few businesses where these things might work for your business, but 9 times out of 10 they only chase people away so do yourself and your visitors a favor and leave them off.
RECOMMENDATION: Like Search Engine Optimization, we highly recommend that you employ a conversion optimization specialist to assure that your website is sticky and converts your visitors at the highest rates possible. The good web design and development companies should already be familiar with conversion optimization and should be incorporating these things into your website. However, always make sure to ask questions about what is being implementing.
If your website is not optimized for the search engines, your visitors and for the highest possible conversion rates, then we can guarantee that you will waste valuable marketing dollars on an ineffective website. The web holds so much opportunity for businesses of all sizes, but like with any other business, your first impression is usually your last as well. If you are going to take the time to implement a marketing plan for your website, then be sure to take the time to plan out and optimize your website as well.
Your website can and will pay you back tenfold if you plan accordingly, use professionals to help you and keep refining things on an ongoing basis for maximum results.