I’ve written a few columns for a new local magazine here in Florida called “The Business Report of North Central Florida.” I figured, why not share it here as well? So here you go:
So much attention goes into developing your business’ Web site, but all too often the focus shifts after it goes live. The result: Your Web site can quickly become dated. Seeing out-of-date content is a surefire way to turn off both potential customers and search engines.
If you want to generate sales for your site, obviously, you need to keep it fresh. But you also need to market it to make sure people see it. Otherwise, it’s like investing in a well-designed billboard and then putting the billboard in the garage. So what can you do to effectively, and cost effectively, market your Web site? Here are some suggestions:
1) Put your Web site’s address on all your materials. That means business cards, print advertisements, even a bumper sticker on your car! This may sound obvious, but I’ve seen business owners neglect web site promotion too many times to count. You need to remember that savvy Internet surfers are much more inclined to browse your site than to pick up the phone to learn about your business. Besides, a visitor to your site is one less phone call to answer!
2) Make your site attractive to search engines. This will increase the chances surfers will find your site when they conduct an online search. Your first focus should be on building links to and from your site. This is one of the most important factors that Google, far and away the most popular search engine, uses in determining your site’s “page rank.” And page rank directly translates to the order in which your business appears on Google when someone does an online search. While the quantity of incoming leads you get will help improve your page rank, you should focus on quality as well. A link from another site with content relevant to yours and a high page rank will carry more weight that a link from a poorly ranked, off-topic page. If you’re a member of any associations, make sure they provide a link to your site from theirs. Also, offer to share links with vendors or colleagues, and always post your link on things like blog comments and forums you participate in. Don’t expect improvements like these to generate results overnight. Not only do most search engines take several weeks to index your site, but they automatically rank sites higher that have been online longer.
3) Update your content. While providing new content obviously is important in encouraging people to return, it can actually play a significant role in your site’s rankings. If a search engine detects new content, it categorizes your site as an active source of up-to-date information in your industry, rewarding it with better rankings.
4) Pay special attention when creating titles and link text. When determining where to rank your Web site, search engines weigh section headers, or “title text” as it’s called, more heavily than paragraphs of information. So, you want to choose title text that contains descriptive words and phrases that surfers might plug into a search engine if they were looking for your type of business. The second most important type of content is “link text,” which re phrases that visitors can click on to jump to another part of your site. Again, you want to use descriptive copy rather than generic phrases like “click here for more information.”
5) Limit text within graphics. Search engines are not sophisticated enough to see words on a picture. So if your page’s content is embedded in an image, the search engines will see the picture and they’ll simply move on. The same goes for screen readers designed for the blind.
With a little effort you can make a big impact on your Web site’s results. And, if you focus on these tips you’ll not only save money on marketing, but you could see significant returns from your site.