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Ten things you can do to improve your website

With so many people using the internet to get what they want, people often get their first impression of you or your business from your website. If it's going to really WORK for you, your website needs to be ready for both human and search engine traffic.

Here are ten things you can do to help improve your website.

1) Set Goals for your Site

Why did you build a Web Site? Was it to; Sell product? Generate leads? Promote your business? Get the word out? All of the above? State these goals in terms you can measure, like revenue $, number of leads, number of site visitors, number of forms downloaded, number of people who called after visiting your site.

2) Measure your site’s Results

Once you’ve established goals, measure your success. With revenue, leads and visitors, that’s straightforward. With phone leads, that’s more difficult. Be sure to ask callers and inquirers how they found you, and if they visited your web site. Become familiar with your web site’s logs. Compute Key Performance Indicators that reflect your goals, like # of Visitors, # of Leads Acquired, Sales Dollars, Return on Advertising Investment and Conversion Rate (the percentage of people who reach some predefined goal, like purchasing a product, completing a form, or remitting a coupon).

3) Know the Formula

Visitors x Conversion Rate x Avg. Sale Price - Advertising = Profit

If you don’t sell product on your web site, the formula looks a little different:

Visitors x Conversion Rate - Advertising = Results

On the surface, it really is that simple. If you double the number of visitors to your site, there’s a good chance you’ll double your results. If you double the Conversion Rate, you’ll double your sales. If you double both, you’ll quadruple your results.

4) Make sure your site is fresh, up-to-date, and reflects your offering

This sounds basic, and it is. Not only should your site promote things that are clearly aligned with your business, it should reflect an awareness of current trends in web design. Upon first viewing your site, people will make a snap decision (within the first few seconds) whether they should continue into your site or move on to the next site. They will do this based on the “look and feel” of the site (whether it’s up-to-date or not) and whether they see what they are looking for. People will compare your site to your competition. People who leave reduce your Conversion Rate. People who find what they are looking for, stay on the site and improve your Conversion Rate.

5) Use on-site encouragement and reassurance to help people reach the goals

Browsers need to be shown what to do. Make sure your site always helps browsers along to reach some goal. Incentives like “Free Shipping” or “Free Top 10 Tax Tips when you sign up for our Newsletter” will encourage people to purchase or fill out your contact form. Have you won any awards? Are you a member of a recognized group? Do you have an outstanding track record? Do you have customer testimonials? Industry recognition? Can you offer coupons? All of these things will build confidence, and improve Conversion Rates.

6) Use lots of text in your site

While people like a variety of text and graphics arranged in an aesthetically pleasing way, search engines don’t care much about the look and feel of your site. They care about the distribution of words. Well written text (300 to 500 words per page) that focuses on key phrases for which you want to be found (phrases for which people will search) will make your pages more relevant when being searched for those terms. More importantly, search engines can’t read graphics; they only read text. Failure to incorporate sufficient text will eliminate your chances of being ranked highly in search engines because they will not know what your site is about.

7) Avoid Flash, graphical text, improper META tagging, and “Black Hat” techniques.

All of these things reduce your relevance in the eyes of search engines. If your text is contained within Flash, some search engines may not be able to read it. Search engines can’t read graphics. If you’re over-using META tags, you may be penalized by the search engines. And if you’re using Black Hat techniques (such as “keyword stuffing” or “site cloaking”), you risk being banned by the search engines altogether.

8) Encourage inbound links to your site

Search engines think more highly of web sites that others link to. The more sites that link TO yours, the more likely the search engines are to display your site toward the top of the search listings.

9) Advertise your Website

Web site advertising should be part of your overall marketing strategy. Whenever possible, promote your web site; in business cards, in-print ads, in your “on-hold” music … everywhere. Can you create an e-mail newsletter? Can you write press releases? Wherever you promote yourself, promote your web site. It’s all advertising for your site, and therefore for you. If you have the budget for it, consider a Paid Advertising campaign to boost your search engine rankings for selected key phrases. Because you are monitoring your success (or failure), you’ll know quickly what paid advertising methods work for you and what do not.

10) Repeat

Web sites are dynamic tools. They can and should be changed regularly. They are perfect for quickly testing different marketing techniques. Change something … monitor the results. Keep those things that improve results and abandon those things that don’t. Change … monitor … improve … It’s the circle of life for a healthy Web Site.

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