The Job of a Website
Everyone in the world is online all the time. At least that’s what it seems like. Did you know almost 90% of the time people will visit a company or product website before making a purchase? Based on that alone it’s pretty obvious that a generic website just won’t cut it … if you want to be competitive and really own your market.
People decide if they buy your product based on the following basic website criteria (that every business should provide):
- Was the website easy to find (i.e., SEO-friendly; did they easily find your product or service they were researching when they did a Google search)
- Did your business’ website look professional (if you’re not sure, then it doesn’t; remember, impressions are lasting and a great first impression will guarantee you the purchase almost every time)
- Was it easy to navigate and was it FAST (if the Google search didn’t take them directly to your product page, they should at least be able to find it from any page of your website in under 5 seconds)
- Was your product page able to close the sale (unbelievably, many websites fail to do this; imagine a car dealer spending all their money advertising their deals online, on TV, on billboards, and on print only to have you walk into an empty showroom with no one to answer your questions about options, price, financing, or test drives)
The above is just the bare minimum of what every business website should provide. If you’re not providing all of the above, you’re leaving buckets of money on the table … and lots of it. A good web development company with a solid understanding of branding and user experience will design a unique website that not only hits these marks, but knows how to use website elements to encourage users to do business with you. If you have competitors, working with a top web developer is key to having an online presence that makes users choose you every time.
Understanding your website’s essential functions (see bullet-list above) is a critical first step to having a winning online presence. From this point on, you should think of your website as the key salesperson for your company. You’d never hire a salesperson without knowing their function, would you? Well now you don’t have to create a website without knowing it’s function.
To that point, just as you wouldn’t hire a sloppy salesperson to represent your company on the sales floor, you also wouldn’t throw some images and copy at a semi-experienced web designer to build your site for you. Effective web design only happens when you have an advanced understanding and extensive experience with consumer psychology, principles of design, business processes, online user experience and interaction, metrics recording, data analysis, AND digital marketing (social media, SEO, SEM, reach, engagement, awareness, etc.).
One of the worse things you can do is invest in what you think is a good deal only to learn that the “web designer” you hired lacked critical skills or experience to do the job properly. Many times we know what the right decision is but it’s hard to commit because sometimes the initial cost is higher than the cheap alternative … which is why before any important purchase, it’s important to ask yourself if it’s better to invest in the right decision or spend (waste) money on the wrong one? There’s a reason the top companies in the world always invest in quality. Free or cheap always costs more in the end.
How Does Your Website Score?
We can’t stress this enough. YOUR WEBSITE NEEDS TO BE, AT THE VERY MINIMUM, THE FOLLOWING:
- Easy to find on Google
- Attractive, unique, and professional in look & feel
- Intuitive and fast-loading
Persuasive (people should be motivated to buy)
Beyond that, it’s important to regularly evaluate your website just as you would your employee(s). Depending on your industry, how frequently your site content changes (i.e., think news sites or blogs), and how people use your website, this could be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly. This gives you the opportunity to see how people interact with your website and how to optimize those engagements to create revenue. It also allows you to see what’s working so you can push resources to those strategies and increase ROI without additional spending.
It’s also good to keep images and copy fresh. Search engines love fresh quality content and will reward you with high rankings when you regularly provide your users with it. New products and services or updates on existing ones are just one way to keep your website’s content fresh and current. Updated product images and staff bios / pictures are another great way to do this (and Google loves this!).
Have you checked your website’s stats lately? Do you know how people are accessing your website? Are they on desktops or are the visiting your site on their mobile phones? Is your website even optimized for mobile? If not, they could be missing out on your site’s best features, you could be missing out on opportunities, and Google is certainly penalizing you and rewarding your competitors that DO offer visitors a mobile-optimized option.
If you’re not sure about the above, then it’s probably time to get a new website. One that’s responsive and automatically optimizes to the visitors’ device (mobile, tablet, desktop). It’s believed by some that nearly 90% of business is transacted on a mobile device. If you consider that many check emails and stay connected to social media primarily on their phones or tablet devices, then that number seems very likely and it’s no wonder search engines love responsive website design.
Social Media & Search Engine Optimization
We’ll probably get a lot of flack for what you’re about to read … but I guess that’s what the comments section is for ;).
Search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM) are the same thing
Yep, we said it. Feel free to flame us with your comments below if you disagree. We’re not sensitive anymore. Before we get into the comment above, let’s visualize the over 650 million websites that are out there already. That’s 650 M-I-L-L-I-O-N websites plus 51 million more coming u every year. If you don’t think you have a competitor wanting to jump in and steal whatever prospects you have online then think again because you’re just making it easier for them to not only steal your prospects, but also your customers! Don’t be fooled. There’s plenty of competition and even the smallest mom-and-pop shop has it.
With a unique and aesthetically pleasing website design, you’ve already got a foot in the door but if you want to push your way through that door, and you must if you want to compete, then you need to be found. As any search and rescue team will tell you, the easiest way to get found is to be where people are looking and once there, make yourself visible. Stand out. If you were stranded on a jungle island, you wouldn’t expect rescuers to find you in the middle of the dense jungle. You’d be on the beach where they’d be looking and place your markers (SOS) on the sand so they can see it.
Digital marketing is very much the same. You have people going out searching for the exact thing you offer but if they can’t find you, nothing happens. You remain out there lost and not found with stranded sales. On the other hand if you’re out there, where people are looking (Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and you’re able to make yourself stand out, you’ll get found every time and your website becomes a customer-generating machine.
Everyone searches online. It’s what we do. How many times have you heard someone tell you to “Google it”? Having a website that’s designed to be SEO friendly and social media optimized is key. It ensures you’re where you need to be when the searchers come looking for you on the search engines like Google and Bing and on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Beyond that, there’s a ton that a good web developer can do to ensure you’re not only where you need to be but also found … but that’s for another post ;).
Google was a social media company well before Facebook
What we will say is that search engines and social media platforms have an intimate relationship. Anyone who doesn’t realize that is not doing so at their own peril. In it’s simplest explanation, search engines rank pages / sites based on social queues. It’s been like that since way before Facebook or Twitter. The more you shared or linked to a website, the more social authority it got and ultimately, the higher it ranked. Search engines were the beginnings of social media. They set the groundwork for data sharing and online communications. Search engine optimizers, originally these were the engineers that worked for the search engine companies, developed algorithms to prioritize all this social data with the idea of providing the most useful and relevant info first. Years later companies like Facebook and Twitter come around to create new mediums (technology) for communicating and being social. Now search engines utilize social media to help determine importance and authority of information and authors and rank them accordingly. Did you know Google and Bing uses your social profiles to create your search engine results pages? Your results will be influenced by who you follow, what you like, and who your friends are (among other things) and anyone that’s looking at search engine optimization and social media marketing as mutually independent is doing both themselves and their clients a disservice. Yahoo! and Google were social media companies well before Facebook and Twitter were.
The Bottom Line
A website is just as much a requirement as a business card. In fact, having a great website even more important than a business card because without one, you’re missing out on opportunities, sales, revenue, customers, reach, awareness, engagement, etc. It’s expected and it’s a major factor when a potential customer is deciding whether or not to buy from you. Even when people learn about you from a trusted referral, advertisement, networking event, or meeting with you, they’ll make their final determination after going on your website.
What’s the lasting impression you want to leave in this make it or break it moment? Your website is a valuable tool to reach people you’d have never been able to engage with otherwise. No other method will build relationships and authority the way a great website can.
You wouldn’t trust just any old doctor to perform a surgery or any old lawyer to prove your innocence so don’t let just any web designer determine the fate of your business.
Source: DORAL 360