In the creation of your website you are investing time and money in creating an internet presence visible around the world. But the question arises, who are you creating the website for? There are plenty of websites out there. It is more than likely that there are more than one or two promoting similar things to what you are planning to promote. What will it take to attract and keep visitors coming back to you?
The First Great Sin
One of the things consistently seen when going through the internet looking at different websites is a lot of self-promotion. Most websites on the internet are giant infomercials with little usable content for the visitor. Remember your website is not a vanity press. It is there to promote your business in a way that brings visitors to you not repels them away. Provide an area to sell yourself, but don’t make it the only thing the visitor sees, particularly not the first thing they see.
The Great Disconnect
I was recently considering the purchase of a tablet computer, not necessarily an iPad. Over the years I have learned that just because a product has a “name” does not make it the product I need. When I tried to find information I ran into a wall. The problem was I didn’t know what other brands made tablets – I didn’t even know to call them tablets. This is true of many of the unfulfilled web searches that occur every day. Visitors don’t know the language and search engines as well as content providers don’t speak doohickey.
First and foremost, the desired audience of your website should be your focus. Are you speaking their language? Are you providing a solution to their problems? Are you demonstrating in any way how your company and its products or services can help them in an honest and real way? Is your site something that is worthy or recommendation to friends, family, and neighbors or is it perceived in the same way as the snake oil salesmen of years past?
Consider the following when developing or updating a website.
Have you defined your goals?
The goal of having a website is to reach people, to draw them to your business and encourage them to become involved with it on some level. Even if you are not looking to sell them something right then, you are looking for them to become interested in you, to spend time looking around at your website, and interact with you. So the first question to ask yourself is “Who is going to come to my site?” and the second is, “What do I want them to do once they are here?” Answering these two questions will go a long way in determining the look, the content, and the usability of the site you want to develop. Being clear on these goals will set the platform for design, navigation, content, search engine optimization, social media involvement, marketing strategy and more. Taking time to set your goals will save time and money in the long run.
Changing An Existing Website
If you already have an existing website, when was the last time your look and information was updated? Just as you don’t really want grandma’s avocado green refrigerator in your brand new kitchen, your visitors can tell just by the look of a website how fresh it is. Remember new businesses show up on the internet every hour of every day. Some will be in direct competition with you. Appearance is important.
As you develop your website, look at creating paths of activity for your visitors to follow, causing them to be more involved with you and your website. Move them along with relevant calls to action or trigger points on every page of your website, not just on your homepage. Don’t make it too gimmicky. Relevance is vital because no one likes useless actions that end in a feeling of “Why did I bother to spend the time?” Make sure that when they leave after spending time on your site they don’t feel it was a waste of time, even if they didn’t buy whatever you were selling.
Having a blog as well as social media presences (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) is becoming a standard of operation for many businesses with internet sites. Your online presence in these arenas gives visitors a sense of who you are. You can use these tools to speak directly to your visitors in your own voice. It also becomes a place where you can educate and update those visitors regarding elements of your business. Also, if you provide a place for the visitors to comment (recommended) you can gain much insight as to what is working right or alert you to potential problems. This will build trust as well as lend a sense of personality to your web presence. We love helping people, but we understand that no one’s pockets are deep enough to have us change things for them on a daily basis in order to keep content fresh and give visitors a reason to visit regularly. Your active involvement with social media can bring freshness on a regular basis. Your website can be linked to these elements streaming fresh content into your website without needing a tech person on staff.
Use Your Own Voice
It is important not to sound like everyone else, to use your own voice on the website. The most memorable websites convey the personality and perspective in their homepage content, and this is the very thing that sets them apart. Their style permeates the site and even if you didn’t see a logo you would know that it was tied to a particular brand or individual. There are things that set you apart from everyone else. Use your uniqueness to propel your website forward. If the words of any text cause others to think of you without having to dismiss your competitors, you are doing it right.
Have You Optimized Your Site?
Optimizing your site allows search engines to find your site and will help them rank you higher without people necessarily knowing your name before starting their search. Are keywords being used, not only in the hidden places, but are you crafting your pages around words that are key to your industry? Are you taking advantage of opportunities to link descriptive keywords back to related pages within your own website? This helps search engines understand what your site is about.
Measure Your Website
Knowing how traffic is moving through your website can help you understand better the visitors using your website. What words are they using to find you? What web browsers and search engines are they using? What pages are they most interacting with? Some content on websites is not meant to be interacted with, but other content is. Are the visitors finding those pages and interacting with them? Google Analytics provides a lot of information that can be used to determine the answers to these questions and more. Using the information gathered can help you determine where and what you may want to modify.
So take some time to determine your goals. Decide who your desired visitors are and how best to engage them. With that information in hand, look at your web presence. Does it look professional, relevant, and current? Have you given them a reason to go beyond that initial page they came in on? Have you given them a reason to want to come back? The answers to these questions will determine what you need to consider in making your website more visitor friendly.
You know who to ask for help if you need it.
Till next time
Mary Ellen Higgins
Photo Credit: Girl at Computer by Africa
- 5 Things You NEED to Know About Your Website Visitors (bloggingtips.com)
- Social Media and SEO: 5 Ways They’re Working Together (vendio.com)
- Ultimate Ways to Generate Web Traffic (ronmedlin.com)