Would you do business with yourself based on your experience with your own website? – By Mike McCarron
The panic set in two weeks before the industry seminar on personal branding I was scheduled to moderate. While reading some promotional material on the event I saw that my bio didn’t include a web address for my new company.
Then came the sudden realization that my new company didn’t have a website, period.
Knowing what an idiot I would look like in a few short weeks, I quickly moved into DEFCON l-mode to rectify things. My personal brand needed some attention!
A website is the delivery system of your business’s brand. A good website attracts and increases traffic over a sustainable period of time, converting suspects into prospects into customers.
The last time I thought a peep about website strategy was back when I was still using a Blackberry 850. My company had a team of people who could put a site together and keep it up and running. It was their full-time job.
Now I’m on my own. It was time to bone up on things.
Once I realized that the color of the navigation bar is not the place to start, here is what I learned about building my new website:
Is it Mobile?
Americans spend an average of 2.5 hours per day on mobile devices accounting for 60 of total digital media time; 57 of them will not recommend or use a company that looks bad on their mobile device.
Make sure your site is mobile-and tablet-friendly. Every person who has an interest in your company will eventually visit you on the fly. If your site doesn’t look good or function well on a phone, people are going to turn off your brand and there’s little chance they will return soon.
Your website should make it easy for people to find you. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a way of using code, text, graphics to increase the odds that your company is at the top of the list when someone searches the internet.
SEO is a very complicated puzzle and no one piece can guarantee you high industry rankings. Since 90 of buying decisions are now based on internet research it’s important to piece together an SEO plan. Higher rankings plus more site visits equals more customers.
Domain age is one factor that will affect your SEO rankings. Search engines give preference to old domains so it’s critical to keep the one you’re currently using. Changing your domain address is like starting from scratch, like I am doing.
Effectively managing your site’s keywords will give it a boost in its search rankings. I went through a few hundred words before settling on the 25 I am running with. Like everything else SEO-related there is no perfect number of key words.
It’s also savvy to think like your customers when picking keywords. Google AdWords is a good place to start determining the strategic keywords for your site and SEO copy.
Converting Your Guests
Converting website suspects into sales leads is no easy task. It takes time, patience, and mucho perseverance. Most of all, you need to know who’s knocking on your door.
Very few people have individual IP addresses so it’s almost impossible to know precisely who is visiting by looking at traffic statistics alone.
If your site doesn’t look good or function well on a phone, people are going to turn off your brand and there’s little chance they will return soon.
You need content-rich landing pages that encourage people to give a little information about themselves-an email I address-in exchange for something valuable I like a white paper or access to a compelling industry blog. The day you hook them is the day they become prospects.
Minding the Store
At minimum, I’m hoping everyone reading this will do a quick audit of their website strategy by simply asking some basic questions. How often is your content updated? Is there any reason for a visitor to come back to your site a second time? Do you know what pages people are looking at and for how long? Would you do business with yourself based on your online experience?
Ask who is minding the store? In too many cases it’s Frank the IT Intern who isn’t remotely qualified to manage the epicenter of your brand. Managing a company’s website strategy is a huge job even for the seasoned marketer.
I quickly realized it was impossible to get an effective website up and running in two short weeks. I also realized that since the business is less than three months old a “Coming Soon” landing page would suffice as a “brand band aid” until I got my act together. It allowed me to downgrade from DEFCON 1 to DEFCON 5 but it didn’t let me off the hook. On my agenda now: website design!