Many business owners make the mistake of thinking, “I have a website…I’m doing all I can.” A plain-Jane website with a home page, an “about us” page, a “contact us” page and a “products” page is boring – and it isn’t using the web to your advantage. Just because you have a website doesn’t mean that customers are using it to buy your products or services; in fact, it doesn’t even mean that people are visiting your website!
Having an ineffective website is like being handed free advertising and turning it away. Would you turn down a free half-page ad in your city’s largest newspaper? Or a free press release delivered by a local radio station? Probably not. There are ways to drive traffic to your website, and if you aren’t in the loop, then your business isn’t operating to its potential.
Networking, connecting with affiliates and search engine optimization are the current trends in driving traffic to your website, but they simply are enough. You can have thousands of inbound links, plenty of meta tags and hundreds of people spreading the word about your business, but there are still going to be potential customers who won’t find your site. I’m not saying that there’s any way to grab the attention of every man, woman and child on the planet – but don’t you want to come as close as possible to meeting that goal?
Your website content shouldn’t just be about describing and explaining your business, products and services. It should accomplish much more than that, and in as little text as possible. Studies show that consumers don’t read websites – they scan them, which means that your text should be highlighted with the most important points.
Define Your Niche
No company does everything within its particular industry. For example, a photographer doesn’t claim to take pictures of everything, in whatever situation you desire, and with whatever equipment is needed. Photographers have a specific niche that they fill – such as weddings or school photographs. If you claim to do everything, then consumers will assume that you have no real specialty, and your business as a whole will be discredited.
Think about what you do best, and what brings in the most money. For example, if you are a website designer and most of your clients are small businesses, then that will be your bread and butter. Stop accepting clients from large corporations or from freelance home businesses, and concentrate only on small business websites. Your website will then be geared to small business needs, and you will gain more customers within that niche. In fact, if your niche is small enough, you might even come to “own” that niche.
Eventually, if you want to branch out to other areas, that will be your perogative, but it must be done in a way that doesn’t “sell out” your niche.
Why Are You Different?
Consumers don’t want to know what you do because there are probably hundreds of other businesses that do the exact same thing. They want to know how you are different; in other words, how will their experience with you be better than going with another business of the same type?
This idea goes hand-in-hand with your niche. Think about the area upon which you have chosen to concentrate, and build on that by determining what you will do differently than others. For example, maybe you offer a guarantee for your work. If the customer is dissatisfied with the finished product, then they don’t have to pay for it. This is a very effective selling point that might transform your business from mediocrity to superiority. If you decide to offer a guarantee, post that on your website in plain view of the consumer.
There are an infinite number of ways to make your business stand out among all the others. Think about your own special skills or ideas and promote them on your website. The content on your website should be indicative of what consumers will receive once they become a customer.
Don’t Write a Novel
People browsing the web don’t want to be hampered by miles of text and graphics, and if they see that your site contains too much copy, they will probably head back to Google. Your home page should contain approximately one and a half screens including graphics. Use the homepage to direct your customers to other pages on the site that might explain particular products or services in more detail, but don’t bother explaining everything on the home page. Consumers that visit your site are most likely searching for a very specific item – lead them there.
On that same note, don’t bother with tons of catchy graphics and bright print. People don’t want to have to squint to read what you have to say, and they don’t want flashy animations popping up everywhere they go. The simplest websites are the most effective – you aren’t trying to sell your design skills, but your company. The only exception here would be a web designer – but don’t go too overboard.
Make Your Point Immediately
Your home page and every subsequent page should get right to the point. Don’t try to lead your customers into a trap by waiting to spring high prices until the end of a long sales pitch. Consumers appreciate up-front prices and straight-forward marketing. If you try to deceive them, it will look like you have more to hide than just high prices.
Write Catchy, Keyword-Dense Copy
Search engines penalize website copy that is too keyword-dense, but you should still try to make your content searchable. Choose three-to-five keywords and spread them out among your text using catchy, engaging sentences that captivate the reader. If necessary, hire a professional copywriter to do this for you. The rates are usually very reasonable, and worth it to gain traffic on your website.
Why do you need articles on your website? The reasons are infinite, to be perfectly honest, but I’m going to try and make the point as succinctly as possible. Articles will bring traffic to your site more effectively than meta tags, keyword density and networking combined.
Inform Your Customers
Consumers know that you have a product or service to sell, they know that it’s on the market and that it costs a certain amount, but do they know why they need it? Take a wedding planner, for instance. Most people know that wedding planners exist, and that they could hire one if they felt the urge, but they probably don’t know why. On a wedding planner’s website, I would encourage the planner to have a section for articles about planning weddings, finding the perfect dress, hiring caterer’s, organizing the reception and sending out invitations. This shows brides-to-be how much work goes into planning a wedding and why they should put up the extra expense to hire a wedding planner. I would also encourage the planner to write an article about how he or she can save money for newlyweds through industry discounts and product knowledge.
This goes for any business, large or small. You can have the best customer service and the coolest product, but if people don’t know why they might need it, they aren’t going to buy.
Search Engine Optimization
Not only do articles present a continual forum for keywords and meta tags on your website, but they also provide searchable topics for which consumers are constantly looking. If you have the right titles and just the right amount of keywords, your articles will turn up when consumers look for information, and not just when they are looking for products or services.
Become an Expert
If you are writing articles for your site – or buying articles from a third-party source – people will begin to recognize you as an expert in your industry or niche. Providing unique, interesting articles that inform your customers will identify you and your business as experts in the field, which will result in more sales.
At the end of your article, post a short bio and a link to your products/services page. Then, let customers know that they can reproduct your article as long as it is copied in its exact format and includes your bio and website address. This can increase how many people hear about you, and will consequently result in more sales.