How to build an effective Website
How to build an effective Website
Your website should be the centre of your digital world and is perhaps the most important element of your whole digital marketing strategy but to become truly valuable the traffic that you generate must be converted into opportunities or sales. Traffic without conversion is just a waste of resource and a drain on your internet bandwidth.
To ensure your website converts it needs to have a smooth, intuitive customer journey that solves what the searcher is looking for as quickly as possible. So bear this in mind when considering the following key steps for developing an effective website:
Planning – think about what your users will be searching for and what they will expect to find to address their need when they arrive on your site. A key element of this is optimizing your landing pages with the keywords that your users are typing into the search engines making them relevant to the users search. For example if you have a sporting goods online store and the user is searching for a Nike VR Pro Driver make sure when they arrive on your website that they land on the very page where this club can be purchased or at the very least a page full of golf club drivers to choose from. Try also to limit the amount of visitors that land on the home page – unless they arrive to your site by typing in the URL.
Catchy domain name – try to include a keyword in the domain name. Whilst limited these days for search engine optimisation (SEO) purposes it does make it more obvious to the user what your website is about. If it’s a domain name that’s catchy and memorable then that always helps.
If you want a global audience don’t settle for anything less than a .com domain but if you are targeting your local market a local domain (.us, .co.uk etc.) is absolutely fine but I would suggest only registering a domain where you can by both local and .com. There is nothing to stop you buying multiple domains and pointing them all to your main website.
Hosting – try to choose a hosting company that is based where your primary target market is; make sure they are reliable with a 24/7 support package and a reliable disaster recovery plan. If you can obtain some references from other customers and absolutely shop around for the best deal.
Design – The two key areas of website design are usability and accessibility:
- Usability is about taking any frustration out of the customer journey by making the site work intuitively and removing barriers to the user carrying out a transaction.
- Accessibility is about ensuring your website is accessible to everyone. For example you should make sure your website can work on all types of digital technology that could direct traffic to it e.g. mobile, laptop, tablet, Mac, PC. Try having text alternatives to images or ensure your website resizes depending on your user’s web browser preferences to help the visually impaired.
I know this is obvious but if you are planning on hiring a web designer have a look at their own website and criticise it for look, feel, functionality and customer journey. Examine their existing portfolio on the same lines and check their customers sites are ranking well and easy to find and ask for recommendations.
Content – make sure your content is created with two things in mind: your conversion goals and what your customer needs are. If you do this the chances are that your site will attract relevant customers, hold their appeal and convert. Also think about the keywords your users are using to find the solution to their problem and use the same keywords within your general content but do not compromise on the quality of the content as a result. You shouldn’t develop your content to satisfy the search engines over the needs of your user, plus the search engines these days reward well-constructed content and can penalise your site for trying to cheat the system.
Testing – before you deploy your website to the world make sure everything works as it should. Put yourself in the shoes of the user or better still get a customer or someone you know to independently test your customer journey and overall experience. Your site will never be perfect but irradiating annoying glitches should reduce users bouncing prematurely from your site.
Launch – When you launch your website for the first time it can take weeks or months for the search engines to crawl your site and for it to start to rank for certain keywords. So you need to work at driving as much traffic to your site as you can as early as possible. Make sure your site is synchronised with your social media channels and has a subscribe function (preferably email) so you can begin to develop a following and pull them back to your site with new content or promotions. Comment in topical blogs (or guest blog), forums, and social media pages where your target market spend time. Lastly, if you want to give your website a kick-start and have the budget try pay-per-click advertising which can help your website generate traffic immediately for certain keywords.
Evaluation –this is a critical and a significant topic area in its own right. Make sure you link your website to at a website analytics tool such as Google Analytics which is free and a good starting point. Set up some goals for your site, measure how well your traffic is converting, where they are coming from and where the issues are e.g. where do people leave the site. Keep refining your site and re-evaluate the results.
I hope you enjoyed this overview of the key stages to consider when developing an effective website.
Look out for my next post on SEO and key word search.
Happy digital marketing!
PS - If you are looking to see how you can improve the performance of your website I am giving away a free website evaluation tool for all new email subscribers of my blog
Posted on March 20, 2013, in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and tagged Google Analytics, Search engine optimization, SEO, Web search engine, Website, website design. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.