One of the most important components of any eMarketing strategy is to have a web site that conveys professionalism and confidence. Gone are the days of 1999 when you could throw up any kind of funky looking site and get visitors and sales. Today, web site design requires a bit more thought. In this article, you’ll learn 10 issues to consider when creating a website yourself or having it done by a professional web designer.
1. Website designers are not marketing experts. I know this may come as a shock to you, but most web designers have backgrounds in graphic arts and know very little about marketing. They certainly have been trained on how to create beautiful mascots, color schemes, buttons, and banners.
However, just because a website looks good, doesn’t mean that it will be effective. Part of designing a website is to address the needs of the people who will be visiting it. There are a number of questions that must be answered before going forward with any web design project. For example:
– Is the website laid out in such as way that visitors can get the information they want?
– Is it easy to navigate?
– Is contact information easy to find?
– Does the design match the type of product or service that you offer?
– Is the site designed in such a way that it guides the visitor down a path that ensures you get your “most wanted response” whether it be a phone call, online sale, downloading a report, providing an email address, etc.?
A web site designer who doesn’t have any marketing experience will only be thinking about getting your site to look as cool as possible. It will be up to you to make sure that design does not come at the expense of purpose. If you check out a website such as PlantationFLGuide.com, you’ll notice that the designer does a good job of making local visitors feel at home. The background contains recognizable imagery and navigation is clean and straightforward.
Of course, your site doesn’t have to look like this one. Just keep in mind how the designer is attempting to relate to the audience and build trust.
2. Make sure your site is coded properly. When designing a website, there can be quite a bit of programming involved depending on how many bells and whistles you incorporate. You may have heard of programming codes such as Flash, HTML, ASP, and PHP.
The notion behind these types of programming codes is to ensure that the web site will function the way you want it to. Some codes are better for certain types of projects than others. For example, asp programming uses a lot of data bases which may be good for sites with lots of data and catalog items and load times need to happen quickly. But it’s important to layout these databases properly or you’ll defeat the purpose.
Flash is behind a lot of the programming where the website has dancing bears or objects that fly around or change colors. But the problem with flash is that the search engine spiders won’t be able to read any words that may be part of the flash objects. This means that the search engine won’t really know what the page is about, and they will likely have a very difficult time trying to rank it for a search term.
PHP, JAVA, and HTML are all safe programming languages that the search engines like. The one you should use will depend on the complexity of the project. The simplest of the three is HTML.
3. Test your site for bugs. This won’t be much of an issue if you use a standard WordPress template. But if you hire a designer to build your site from scratch, make sure they test it for issues. If you’re doing the testing yourself, one very good tool that you can use is Get Metrix. It will identify problem areas and let you know if your site is loading too slowly which can hurt your search engine rankings.
4. Allow others to review your site. Before your site goes live, get some people to review it. Ideally, you should seek out people who fit the profile of your ideal customers.
And when you find these people, give them some review instructions if you can. Remember the questions I raised in item 1 above? When you give a general request for a site review, human nature will cause people to tell you the parts they like and resist the urge to hurt your feelings.
To avoid this, tell them that the website is under design and you want to make sure that the web designer gets everything right. Also ask them to address specific questions like those in item 1.
5. Get the on page optimization right. The pages on your website are going to consist of words. It is those words that will help the search engines figure out what your site is about and where to rank it in the search engine results.
On page optimization means that you have enough of the right words on the page to make things easier for the search engines. So when creating a page, you should identify the specific keyword(s) that you want to rank for and mention the term on the page at least once. For example, if you’re a dentist in Plantation, Florida and want to rank for Plantation FL dental services, you should mention that term or something very similar on the page. You should also include it in the title tag for the page.
The title tag is the title that you see atop each result that shows up when you query the search engines. This tag is not necessarliy the same thing as the headline for the page article. The title tag is strictly used for the benefit of the search engines.
6. Don’t spam the search engines. Spamming can happen in a number of ways. But what this means for your website is that you don’t want to upload tons of articles that are useless gibberish. This will hurt your search engine rankings.
7. Keep adding content. These days people’s attention spans are very short, so they will get bored unless you keep feeding the beast. Add interesting and valuable content to your website on an ongoing basis. Set a schedule and stick to it. If you can post content 4 times per month, then do that every month.
8. Establish a link building strategy. Quality and relevant links are the currency of the Internet. One way that helps Google and the other search engines to determine who should rank number one for a search term is the quantity and quality of links pointing to your website.
So create a strategy for getting other relevant websites to link to yours. When you do this, people from the other sites will click on the link to learn more about your services or products. And as mentioned above, the incoming links will help your site rise in the search engines, thus attracting even more traffic.
9. Don’t worry about search engine noise. From time to time you’ll hear about Google changing things in its search engine, and the entire Internet will be buzzing about the impact. People will be screaming about how the Google Penguin or Panda or whatever update has hurt their rankings.
You shouldn’t try to keep up with all these shenanigans. If you’re not doing anything to game or trick the system, you most likely won’t be impacted. The search engines are constantly tweaking things to fight spammers, tricksters, and black hatters who find little ways to manipulate the search engine results to their favor.
10. Have a marketing strategy. I alluded to this in item 1, but it can’t be said enough. Don’t make the mistake that when you build your website, visitors will flock to it right away. “Build it and they will come” is a classic movie line, but it doesn’t work that way on the web. You’ll need to develop a plan that incorporates all aspects of marketing online and offline.