Making Your Website Work: It’s All About Content
If you are any one of thousands of business website owners who are experiencing difficulties seeing tangible and quantifiable results from your website, then hopefully this article will help ease some of the disconnect between the idea of simply owning a website and the practical application of making a website work for you and your business.
One of the major hurdles in the website design and development industries is expectation versus result. Many business owners make the assumption that when a new website is put up on the internet, that all of a sudden the customers are going to just start flooding down the pipe, or that their new website is going to advertise itself simply by existing on the internet. Even for the better website-educated, experienced or well-researched website owners may not be getting the full breadth of power and potential from their website investment that they could be.
“I paid $5000 for a website two years ago and we haven’t seen one damn sale or customer from it”
Sadly, it’s a popular statement, and we hear it from quite a few new customers and business owners we talk to almost every other week. The price and the number of years might vary greatly, but the fundamental issue exists; they invested in a website with no discernible results. Unfortunately, for professional website designers it usually means working with a customer who is looking for a new website, but they’re already jaded with half or less the budget they had for the original website, and they usually harbor some resentment toward web designers or the process and value of website development in general. Very understandable outcome, given their negative first-hand experiences.
It is crucial that people investing in a marketing vehicle like a website understand that updates and attention will be required, and not just the updates to the system and architecture on which the website is constructed, but actual content updates.
Website Post-Launch Care & Feeding
Once you’ve paid for and launched your new website, the fun has only just begun! Now you have to nurture the website into becoming the full-powered marketing machine it can be. You don’t need to continuously pound money down Google AdWords throat to achieve high search engine rankings, nor do you have to plug thousands of dollars into online and social media advertising to achieve sales.
Helping your website evolve to its full potential requires following a fairly basic set of instructions.
· Update your website, as often as possible.
· Update your website using original, relevant and quality content.
· Advertise your content, not just your website.
Seems, pretty basic, right? Let’s review these items in detail.
Update Your Website Often.
Once your website launches, especially in the case of Content Management Systems (CMS’s) such as WordPress (currently the most popular CMS development platform on the market), it will require checkups, updates and the occasional backup, lest you find your website suffering an outage at a crucial time of business. Many of these updates can be automated, but for best results and peace of mind, updates are best applied sequentially, and then verified as having had no negative impact on the website itself, since many third party plugins also require a bit of ‘cooperative updating’ from the other plugins and the website architecture itself, and often breaks can occur. Better to install one plugin at a time, to verify and know what broke, than to rip through ten automated updates and then try to sort out which of them caused the rampant destruction of your home page.
Most average-sized business websites can get by with a plugin and system update checkup once per week, sometimes less, and the update and verification routine takes an average of 10-15 minutes to perform a site backup and run through them all, if nothing breaks. If 10-15 minutes per week is too much for you to handle, then it is strongly advised to hire a web developer that offers easy and affordable website update packages that ensure your website doesn’t experience crucial lapses in archiving or upgrades, and that someone experienced is on-hand in case of breakages due to plugin conflicts or update failures.
Fact is, that if your website is left to it’s own devices, plugins, automated updates and other third-party integrated technologies can experience breaks that can lead to website instability or even serious security issues. Websites that let vital updates lapse can suffer ‘hijacking’, whereby a website can be utilized for spamming and other malicious intent by less than scrupulous hackers, completely unbeknownst to the owners. Keep things up to date, for everyone’s sake.
Don’t Just Update; Create.
Simply pasting some links from another website or re-posting an article written by someone else won’t cut it. Google, and your customers, are more discerning audiences these days, and they require the mental nutrition of quality content in order to retain any interest in your website at all. Keep things relevant, to your industry or to your customer base, and don’t just prattle off some nonsensical sales-pitch about how your services will save them, instead try to relate to their needs and provide information that can help ease the decision making process or facilitate an easier sales process for you and your customers. Create useful FAQ’s that answer common questions and [hopefully] some more uncommon ones, write meaningful articles that provide additional information to your customers or even to other people in your niche or field of expertise. Become a resource of valid and important information on the hot topics plaguing today’s customers in your industry. Try offering tips and tricks for your customers to either save money, or to make their (and thereby your-) life easier.
If you offer dog-walking for instance, then don’t simply advertise your services as a professional and accredited walker of canines, go further to provide additional support materials for owners who have perhaps not had much experience with outsourcing their dog walking, and then go even further to provide other dog walkers information and tips about how to walk and care for their clients dogs better. If this sounds like you’re giving away free information to help your competition become more competitive, then you’re just not seeing the bigger picture.
Becoming a source for current, original and relevant information on a subject is a great thing, for everyone. It boosts your credibility in your niche, increases your exposure to new potential customers, and search engines like Google will recognize your business and your website as increasingly useful, thus boosting your advertising effectiveness without having to force it with cash. More and more websites will link to you the more relevant you become, and more people will be inclined to share your content on social media. While you certainly don’t want to reveal your ‘trade secrets’ or anything you feel might be giving you a competitive edge, sharing information can be much more valuable and rewarding than you think, and from an SEO standpoint, all those extra links back and forth between your content and people talking about and sharing your content are as good as gold. Not to mention that you can remain confident knowing you are contributing to the advancement of the market, rather than the stagnation of it.
Advertise Your Content, Not Just Your Website
One mistake people often make when they have a website is to advertise only the website. That is, when they post links to their website on social media or anywhere else, they post the www.yourbusinessname.com and leave their waiting and eager audience hanging with the ambiguity of not knowing where in your site the information is.
If you want to draw attention to a cause, a new blurb of information, a special sale or any other item of new and relevant content, then it is highly suggested that you create a page or section within your website specific to said content, and then post a link to that specific page on social media channels and other locations. This gets your information and your website noticed, and leads people directly to that content on your website without forcing them to search through mounds of other, perhaps less-relevant content, in order to get to what they are looking for.
Adapting to Frequent Changes
Once you’ve gotten the hang of the other items, and you start to get comfortable … stop. Re-analyze and re-assess your industry and your approach. What can you and your business offer that can be considered ‘beyond the norm’, and what can you provide customers in your niche market that no one else is? The website model should be no different than the special business model you decided on when you embarked on being a business owner; you need to do something your competition isn’t, or you need to find the need to fulfill. If you simply regurgitate the same information everyone else is on your website, without learning to adapt and innovate, then your information becomes stagnant and the importance of your website in the grand scheme of the internet begins to decline sharply.
If you’ve already invested money into your website, and hours of effort and time into building your perfect online business or project sales vehicle, then don’t waste the potential. Create quality content, maintain your website properly, and upgrade as required. Otherwise, it’s just another billboard advertisement slinging services, just like the hundreds of millions of others out there. Stand out from the crowd. Become a source of information, a go-to for knowledge, community, support and relevant content. It’s a practical and easy-to-follow model for website and business success in today’s fast-paced and competitive market.
SEO Still Matters
I would be amiss not to mention that while proper care and feeding of your business website is crucial to it’s overall success and longevity, proper SEO still matters, a lot. I won’t go into depth concerning the intricacies and applications of modern search engine optimization (there are a couple of links to other relevant articles at the end of this post), but I will add that you will get significantly more satisfaction and better results from your efforts in online advertising and search engine optimization if your content game is strong. PPC programs like Google Adwords and other online advertising platforms will cost you less for better results, and people will find you in search engine results faster and easier because your natural organic ranking will increase the more you provide original and informative or entertaining content that gives people a reason to not only visit your website once, but to return again and again, and to tell others about it, or to even add a backlink to your website from their own (analogous to the ‘gold bar’ of SEO acquisitions). That type of high-quality reference to your website is what people pay cash for, because the results last long after the PPC budget has expired.
Ongoing maintenance and the injection of fresh and interesting content will significantly help your business or project in making some efficient progress up the chain of search engine attention and exposure to potential customers, without having to pay exorbitant advertising costs to do get better long-term results.
Kelly Eros; Creative Director, Alchemy Imageworks
January 2, 2019
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