Sometimes, among all the well-meaning advice that comes from friends, media, books and advertising, a tip will stubbornly stick. The one that’s been nagging me recently is this: Treat your website like a salesperson.
It’s a good one. My website was one of the biggest outlays when I set up my business so, of all things, it really should be showing a decent return! I need it to represent my business well and bring in clients, otherwise it’s not worth the investment. But like most salespeople, it should be monitored and supported. The best salesman in the world wouldn’t sell anything in an empty room. I have to drive traffic towards it and I need to make it a compelling destination.
So bearing in mind budget, industry sector and audience – here are five basic tips I’ve learned which should help turn your website into your own top salesperson:
1 SEO (Search engine optimisation)
SEO is a complex science which can cost you fortunes (and deliver great results) but if you do nothing else, do your keyword research. Nail five to ten keywords for your business and use them sensibly. Don’t stuff your pages with them or the search engines will be onto you, but make sure they’re on your tabs, in your URLs and scattered meaningfully through your content. When someone searches for your terms, you’re more likely to pop up, therefore increasing your traffic numbers. (One tool I’m currently trying out is the URL Tail Rewrite software)
It really does mean ‘Better Listings on Google’! A blog has the double benefit of driving traffic to your site and generally making your site more interesting. Search engines love it because it’s new content (hopefully with some of your keywords in there) and visitors love it because it shows your company’s personality. If you can’t afford PR, a blog is the second best thing for you to get your message out.
3 SOCIAL MEDIA
Pick the most relevant networks for your sector, in the quantity you can realistically manage within your schedule, and use them to establish relationships and drive traffic to your site. I love Twitter because the various search functions mean you can track down the right people to network with and the @reply/Direct Messaging functions make building friendships easy. It’s also a goldmine of news and information. The 140 character limit means everything’s bitesize and linking is easy – allowing you to drive people to your website. If your company holds regular events Facebook and LinkedIn are great places to invite people and gather feedback. A YouTube channel is a must if your industry means you can make regular videos. The benefits of social media are far too varied to squeeze in here, but trust me, it’s not something you can ignore and it will drive traffic to your site.
4 THE REAL WORLD
This is an absolute basic – tie up what you’re doing offline with what you’re doing online. Have your web address on all your printed materials and encourage people to sign up to your database/bookmark your site/set up an RSS feed – whatever you decide is the best way to get them onboard.
Most web design companies will send you a regular report of your traffic numbers – how many people came, how long they stayed, what sent them there – this information is invaluable and will tell you which approaches are working best. It’s worth learning how to read the data yourself and accessing the analytics dashboard personally, it’s your website after all and you’ll probably find it fascinating!
If you’re an SME (like me), you probably won’t have the time or the budget to devote to much more than the basics – but build the right foundations and the returns will start to stack up. That’s when the bells and whistles start to look really attractive….