Aligning Your Website With Your Business Goals
Turning Website Visitors into Customers!
In Conversion Optimization Part 1 – Website Visitors Into Customers – We covered “Building Trust” with your website. In this article, we’re going to cover how to align your website with your business goals. After all, what good is it if you build a great website, build trust instantly with your visitor and get them to request more information…but it’s more information about something you don’t sell?!?!?! Not good right? So let’s take a look at how we can align our business goals and our website to make sure we maximize our branding and sales opportunities.
Obviously the first step in aligning your website with your business goals is completely understanding what your business is and what it is not. Only you can as a business owner, manager, executive can decide that. Once you know though, the hard part is finished. This is not a post about “how to define what your business is”, however, I will offer a few pointers that are important for your website strategy going forward.
- Include all stake holders are included in these goal definition processes. There is nothing worse than you and the other key personnel giving conflicting marching order to the troops.
- Make sure your employees are well informed about the companies goals, mission and direction and initial plan on how you are going to get there. The more informed/educated they are, the more apt they are to help you get there.
- Stick to what you know! This is especially true of start-ups. Branching out into vertical markets and offerings only makes sense once you establish yourself as a player in the primary market of choice. It also helps keep your business goals, employees and marketing efforts aligned and manageable for a longer period of time.
Once you have the business goals outlined, the entire team onboard and ready to serve your customers, it’s time to get to work on your website and making sure you align the site with your goals. This may seem like a “no brainer” but trust me; there are a TON of sites out there that fail to match the message on their website with overall business objectives and goals. Some quick bullet points about this step:
- Match the website design and color scheme to your existing (or new) marketing efforts. The llok and feel of the website should match and align with your Logo, Letterhead, Business Cards, TV Spots, Radio Spots, etc.
- Be consistent with your branding message (beyond logo and color scheme).
- If you custom build landing pages for Adwords Campaigns (or other Internet Marketing), be consistent with color schemes and branding there as well. Landing Pages get a little flexibility as you need to A/B Test and adjust, but color Scheme and LOGO should not vary across multiple platforms or campaigns.
- Be sure to us Headings that clearly explain your value proposition “or” what problem you solve with your product and or services. Again, be sure to match your business goals here. [#SEOTIP – Do some solid Keyword research before or during this phase and inter-weave your best keywords into your headings, content and alt tags]
- Be sure to use “plain language” on your website. Yes we covered this in Part 1, however, it’s too important not to mention again. Some people don’t even know they your services yet while others not only know it, they are hungry for your products and services. Make sure everyone can understand you and maximize your exposure and sales.
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Google wants you Online Virginia
You may or may not have seen an email, webpage, blog article or other news media source that Google itself is pushing out. The crux of the message is ”Virginia, Get Your Business Online!”. The message is a pretty simple one, Google wants all small businesses to get online and publish a website. According to Google it’s an easy, practical and FREE way to promote your business. Google has gone so far as to come into Virginia communities with a small team of Google representatives and met with business owners to give out this free advice. They even point you to ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) that Host a website for one year for FREE and provide free website templates that can have even the most non-tech savvy person configure and launch a website within a couple of minutes and start to be found by the throngs of searches that are looking for the small business product or service you provide. Everything they say is 100% true. Of course, truth can be a relative term.
What do I mean by that? I’m glad you asked. You see, Google has a vested interest in having every small business create and then maintain an online presence via a website. Have they spoke the truth though? Is it possible to put up a live, fully functional website within a few minutes for FREE? Yes, it absolutely is. So if it’s true, then what’s the problem with this scenario? Well from a distance nothing. Google has stated the unequivocal truth and they will undoubtedly stand behind their message with a “we just want to help small business harness the power of the internet” statement. If that’s true, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, as an internet professional who earns a living evaluating, fixing and promoting websites, I have some pretty serious concerns with this kind of message. There is no way a “non-tech savvy” business owner with zero internet marketing experience is going to be able to launch a website within an hour that is even remotely visible to the search engines, not to mention actually promote it.
“Google could be starting the next great thing by helping every small business get an inexpensive website, or they could be setting themselves up for a never ending stream of paid search dollars.”
So what is Google’s motivation for this push? Is it to share knowledge and promote the internet market place? You see, in order to answer that question, you have to understand exactly how Google earns its revenue. It does so by selling advertising and paid search results (the top three highlighted links returned on nearly every search). That’s right. If you want to be on TOP of Google, all you have to do is set up and Adwords account and be willing to pay XX amount of dollars per click that they get you on their ad and BOOM, you get your website listed at the TOP of Google.
Don’t get me wrong, paid search advertising has its place in this world and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. However, I will take issue with Google (or anyone) who proclaims that any small business owner can get on line for little very little cost and then be at the top of the search engine results pages without an investment of some sort. In order to be at the top you must be willing to invest in one of the following:
- #1 You Invest Your Time – Self education in internet and organic search engine marketing. Expect to spend about 3-6 months just learning what to do and how to do it the correct way. Once educated, then you can start marketing your site and you can expect to spend anywhere from 3 to 24 months on that full time effort, depending entirely on the competitiveness and difficulty of the keywords you are trying to rank for.
- #2 Invest in Organic Search Engine Marketing – You can hire an SEO Services Company and you can invest in an SEO Services Package that will market your company and help you gain the trust and authority you need to rank well in the search engine results pages. This assures you actually get results, that you get those results in a timely manner and that you get them in an ethical and search engine friendly manner (very important, lest you be banned from the search engines altogether for doing it wrong). All this of course, is based on you hiring the right SEO agency to promote your site. The benefits of a properly optimized and promoted website can have lasting affects with minimal cost to maintain the rankings once you’re at the top of the search engines.
- #3 Invest in Paid Search Results Advertising – Quite simply you just need to open a Google Adwords account (or Yahoo/Bing account), register your site,, give them your credit card, spending limits (daily, weekly or monthly), select and bid on your keywords, select your target market segments and then write your ads and publish them. If you have done everything correctly, you can have traffic at your site within a few hours. How much traffic and how much revenue can you get this way? That depends on your keywords, your bids and how good your website is.
So although it’s true, that Google can help you get online within minutes, the likelihood it will change your business that quickly is pretty slim. Just like anything else worth something in this world, if you want quality traffic that is going to affect your business, you will have to spend an investment (in time or money) marketing it. The question about the quality of the site, the quality of the traffic and how you market your site, is up to you.
We would love to hear what the professional web design and internet marketing community think of this Google initiative also. So if you are an internet professional, please feel free to chime below in the comments section. Also, if you are a small business owner and found your way here, please feel free to chime in your opinion as well. We would love to hear what you think.
click-finders is a full service Internet Marketing firm that offers Affordable SEO Services, PPC Management, Social Media Management, Web Design and Development, Reputation Management and more. Contact us today for a FREE, no obligation SEO analysis of your website and find out how we can help get to the top and stay at the top of Google!
A guest post by a good friend and colleague, Mr. Scott Kindred.
Akin to the simple “lather, rinse, repeat” instructions on your shampoo bottle, the analogy of good hygiene works well with good website strategy: Following simple instructions can produce a website that is clean, fresh and attractive.
In order to practice this principle, some very basic building blocks are needed for a successful website or business blog. These 3 items are essential to the cleanliness of your website: Domain Name, Website Hosting and Website Platform – read more in the bonus tips at the bottom of this post. They allow you to build and operate a professional website that works to grow your business.
I say cleanliness because if you do not get the right domain name, hosting and platform, you’ll end up with a messy situation that can be costly to clean up. Suggestion: go with trusted sources who provide trusted recommendations based on their own experiences. Avoid going with the cheapest or most popular just because they are cheap or popular. Remember, this is your website. Your business. Invest in it wisely.
Now back to the shampooing.
Professional appearance can make or break your website’s effectiveness. Expect to get less-than-desirable results if your website was built by the neighbor who loves making webbies as a hobby, for example. If you subscribe to the theory that you can “just throw up a web page on the Internet thing,” then you will get commensurate results. So make yours clean and crisp let your customers know you’re serious about them.
Provide a clear description of who you are
Problems you solve and how you do it should be answered within the first few seconds of arrival at your website. This is your website’s job – communicate solutions to people who have come to your website purposely and also to those who are checking you out because you were seen in their search results.
A clear message will attract a visitor’s attention immediately – most studies say within 2-3 seconds – and will give you an opportunity to encourage them to stay longer.
And doesn’t that same concept hold true for any storefront business? In fact, don’t most people already know that the store they’re going to is going to help them? That’s what generates repeat business, customer loyalty and maybe even a referral because your business got described as the best place to go. Be that same thing on the web.
Depending on your market, you should know that 70 to 85 percent of shoppers make their local buying decisions online. Regardless of what end of that percentage your business falls, it’s pretty important that you reach out effectively to 70% of your customers, yes?
But remember, providing a clear description of who you are must not include a bunch of self-describing information; it needs to be formatted to include very concise information about how your customers’ problems are solved by you.
It must address the people you have defined as your target audience.
Choose a website design and look that is straight-forward and easy for the customer to use
Easy, obvious navigation and an attractive color scheme and layout are the basics here.
Creation of a sitemap (it can look much like an organizational chart) is a vital part of the first phase of any website project. A sitemap is what defines your website’s navigation structure; many people have a sitemap that includes pages called Home, About Us, Contact Us, Our Team, Services, etc. And then there may be sub-navigation choices below those main pages. Don’t get too crazy with a complicated navigation structure and dozens of pages. It is critically important that the main navigation structure remain simple and intuitive.
For those firms who are selling research services or products – or some other commodity that does require a lot of documentation and reference – not to worry, a savvy website layout can still accommodate an easy way for people to get to that voluminous content, if they want it, without having to burden you main navigation. For example, you might have a page in your main navigation titled, “Research,” and then have that page be its own directory of links to the reference material pages that you want to present. This is a good, simple way to keep your navigation bar uncluttered and easy for everyone to use.
Collaborate with your web guy – talk about your thoughts, ideas and goals and then listen to the web guy’s perspective; he’ll usually have some good experience with what works and doesn’t work and should eagerly share that with you.
Color scheme and layout
Now, this is another fun part. This is where you get to build the look of your website, its tone and overall presentation to the public. Make it fun, odd, serious, homey, institutional, colorful or minimalistic. The choices abound! I strongly favor, and specialize in, websites built on the WordPress platform. Its awesome flexibility and huge variety of themes, plugins, styles and colors make it customizable enough to fit most any need.
When working with your web guy, be prepared to provide him with at least 5 links to websites that you like. You can like them, or just pieces of them, for various reasons but be sure to make note of your likes and dislikes for each. This is a huge help in getting your website project headed in the right direction.
Provide fresh, quality content with SEO in mind
Content is what attracts your customers and prospects, and it is what attracts the search engine bots. Bingo…the bots! I’ll just make the simple point that the bots must find (and like) your content in order for your website to do well in search engine results. And once you are doing well in the search engine results, you will start to see more customers. Building and maintaining your website with SEO as a priority is not only very smart, it’s a necessity. That is the long-story-short.
Organic SEO steps can begin as an investment of your time or a combination of your time and that of a hired professional guide. Keywords and other meta tags, proper use of HTML code, social media integration and developing quality backlinks are among the basic actions you can take to begin improving your SEO, organically. Check my post for Tips And A Tool For SEO to get free help with meta tags.
The experience of SEO professionals, like Mike Glover here at Click Finders, is an invaluable asset to have on your side. When the time is right, plan to invest in your website’s SEO by hiring Mike and, at the same time, plan to handle the influx of website traffic and customers that you are going to see. I always advocate including SEO planning at the very beginning of every website project.
A business blog is the best way to deliver the fresh content and to achieve your SEO goals. Committing to regular blogging is a must. The two best ways to accomplish regular blogging is to do it yourself or to hire a knowledgeable person to do the writing for you.
“No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog.” -Chris Brogan, New Marketing Labs.
Use a fresh look for your website
Avoiding anything with misaligned photos, graphics and/or text content. I know, it sounds odd that I would even bring it up in this day and age… but when you start to take note of how many websites smell like 1995 (or older), or that have the footer’s copyright date showing something pretty stale – and old functionality to match – you will see the beauty of having your website stand out as professional, modern and user friendly.
Imagery is a very important consideration. It can include photographs, fonts, art, icons, etc. Opt to pay for quality imagery rather than using clipart, overused stock images or personal snapshots that just don’t make the grade. Know that your customer will form first impressions based on the imagery they see in that first 2-3 seconds, and beyond.
Invite them to come in! Show them others whose problems have been solved. Provide a call to action or easy way for customers to contact you.
Many websites follow the concept of having the business’ contact information on each page. I subscribe to this concept and implement it whenever the website’s layout allows for it and whenever it does not negatively impact the website’s appearance.
A call to action, such as signing up for your newsletter, entering your contest or give-away drawing, downloading your free report or coupon, or anything else that your imagination births, can be highly effective ways to reach and retain your customers.
Your call to action may see more action if it’s an invitation rather than a pitch; this is a mix of advice and personal opinion on my part. I simply despise the “Sell! Sell! Sell!” approach and will not patronize it. Are you like that, too? Think about which one you respond to more favorably and what you think your customers will prefer.
Do these 3 things repeatedly and consistently and you will see results! None of it happens overnight.
Think of this: if you don’t do the work to shampoo your hair every day, you end up with bedhead and your hair looks unattractive, right? The solution to that problem is, “lather, rinse, repeat.”
Giving your business website the same attention, regularly, will yield results.
Here are 3 quick bonus tips on how to avoid trouble with your website’s building blocks:
1. Domain name
Expect to pay $10-$15 per year. The free and cheap domain names are rarely free, nor are they cheap when renewal time comes around. Critical consideration: make sure YOU own the domain name – not the company you buy it through, don’t buy through a reseller and make sure you have full control of the administration of the domain name. This is usually accomplished through a control panel at the domain name Registrar.
2. Website Hosting
Expect to pay $100-$120 per year for quality, standard hosting. This should give you a hosting plan that includes unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage, email addresses, and the latest releases of MySQL, PHP, as highlights. Be on the lookout for plans with outdated software and for off-shore customer support. I recommend using Dreamhost to make sure ALL your bases are covered. I use them religiously – all of my personal and business needs are hosted at Dreamhost and 90% of my clients use them, too.
3. Website Platform
Expect to pay $0 (yes, zero) for the platform and expect to save hundreds or thousands in website development costs. Advocating WordPress for small businesses not only solves problems for owners and website administrators, but it also allows me to just plain help people. WordPress is free. It’s support community is huge and its themes, plugins, framework options and ever-evolving improvements explain why it is the most widely-used CMS platform in the world. Get it, use it and like it – I did!
This year marks a total of more than 14 million installations of self-hosted WordPress, worldwide.
Wrapping all three of these together as a single component to be handled by your web guy is the best way to proceed, whenever possible. It allows him to have direct access to what he needs during the build process, it gives you peace of mind that everything is properly coordinated rather than fragmented between entities, and at the end of the project – you own it all!
Find more information about the building blocks in this post on my blog: Avoid Feeling Like An Arse: Website Building Blocks
Author: Scott Kindred is owner of SafeHouse Web in Hollister, California. A trusted friend to small businesses and nonprofit organizations who want help building a professional website and productive online presence. Specializing in WordPress; a generalist in social media and organic SEO, with a sweet tooth for marketing all of it together. Contact Scott today at Safehouse Web.
Build Trust and Authority with your website!
Make no mistake about it; in order to rank well on Google, Yahoo and Bing, your website had better be a trusted website and an authoritative web site in whatever subject matter you would like to rank well for. In fact, you can do all of the on-site SEO work you want, if your site is not seen as a trusted and authoritative website by the search engines, then none of the search engine optimization techniques used in today’s SEO world will be able to help you rank well. Let’s take a quick look at both website trust and authority so you can understand what you are trying to accomplish before you actually go out and try to make it happen…
Website Trust – Website trust is not terribly hard to get, but you do have to be careful. Here’s what I mean. Website trust refers to the intent of the web site owner. In other words if your web site exists solely to spread viruses, malware and other “BAD” stuff, then you obviously will not have a lot of trust from the search engines. Believe it or not, there are a lot of bad people out there who just want to do harm. Make sure you are not lumped in with that crowd.
“Building website trust and authority is not terribly difficult, but it does take time, hard work and some good old fashioned ingenuity.”
Website Authority – Website authority is a lot harder to establish. It basically means that others in your profession, industry and network have not only reviewed your content, but they approve of it and therefore state that in a manner that the search engines can recognize and then reward you for. Website authority takes a lot longer to establish then trust and is also a lot harder to build. Authority is based on several factors; links to your site and age of your domain stand out. Authority is measured in many ways. Google Pagerank (PR) is one. The higher the Pagerank the more authority a page is said to have. Some would argue the PR is dead, or if not dead, very low on the priority list of things to worry about. Although I agree, PR is nothing you should be losing sleep over each night; it is something you want to consistently see changing and climbing over the years as you build your web site.
STEP 1 – DO NO EVIL (sound familiar…hehe)
Sounds corny yes, but it’s true. Do no evil. This means basically that your web site should not be designed, published or hosted with the purpose of spreading malware, viruses, bad content, misleading information, slander, inappropriate content for your selected target audience, sell or provide anything illegal or immoral. I think you are starting to get the idea here. Another word of caution that most people do not know about…make sure you know who your neighbors are. That means that there are some hosting companies out there that will place your domain on the same server as some of these bad sites. Make sure you investigate your domain IP and see who else is on there. Request to be moved, switch hosting companies if you have to or lease a dedicated server and make sure your IP is secure. Websites that do evil and that are sitting on your IP can and will have a negative impact on your search engine rankings and SEO efforts.
STEP 2 – BUILD ACCURATE AND RELATIVE CONTENT
This should go without saying, however it is important enough that it’s worth mentioning again. Make sure your content (content=any web page, blog post, forum post or tweet) is 100% accurate and that the information you are putting out to the world is relative to the message you are trying to send. Let’s face it, you will never get #3 (see below) unless you build good, accurate and relative content that stands the test of other industry veterans confirming and affirming your work. It is essential. So make sure your content is always 100% accurate, original and relevant to your topic.
STEP 3 – GET TRUSTED SOURCES TO LINK TO YOUR CONTENT
Now comes the real fun, getting those darn trusted links to your site from other “trusted” web sites. That’s how the search engines verify your content is good and assigns ranking numbers (in part), by the number of and quality of links back to your site from other, trusted sites. The more you have the better. So, what is a trusted website? Well, there are a lot of opinions out there about that, so I will give you my list which, if nothing else, is an excellent place to start getting trusted source links.
- Any industry related site that is PR3 or above. Peers that link to you from already established and trusted sites is a great place to start. Also, don’t forget to not overlook the smaller sites (PR0-3). These little guys can grow into the next PR9’s if you pick the right sites.
- Any (.edu) domain link – (.edu) links are terribly difficult to get, but if you get one it is worth its weight in gold. They have such high value because the education sector is not very commercial and they truly “vet” every link on their site. They want only accurate and relevant content to link to that is not very commercial, therefore their trust level is through the roof with the search engines. I have another article I am planning on “how to get (.edu) links” so stay tuned.
- Any (.gov) domain link – Same as above. The Government sites may actually be harder to get than the (.edu) sites. But they are very worth the time, energy and effort.
So there you have it…three easy (or not so easy) steps to creating and building a trusted and authoritative website. Does anyone else have further suggestions, comments or other things we should all be looking at? If so, please add them below in the comments section below !
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