How Effective Is Your Company’s Website?

We live in a world where the Yellow Pages will soon be a relic. Today’s customers increasingly rely on online searches to access basic information and to gather data that will influence their buying decisions.

Having a website and having one that is effective are very different things. While one size does not fit all, the following questions will help you determine whether your company’s site is getting the job done.

When was the content last changed? If the text on your site is not being updated on a regular basis, this is a problem.

It might not be accurate, but a static website sends the message that nothing of note is going on at your company. Also, neglecting the site means that your search ranking will plummet. Search engines such as Yahoo, Google, and Bing use “spiders” to constantly assess hundreds of thousands of websites. If they detect no new content, they begin ignoring the site. Let’s say that you are a local bike shop. If your search ranking suffers, this means that viewers who have entered “mountain bikes, Longview” in the search box will not see your site on the first, second or third page.

People are impatient; they are unlikely to click through more than a couple of pages before making their choice. If your site is static, you are automatically making yourself invisible to many potential customers.

You may have already been approached by someone selling “search engine optimization” packages. This can be a good option for large businesses with national and international markets. However, the best way for small businesses with local or regional markets to optimize website visibility is by adding relevant content on a regular basis.

Is the site easy to adjust? Too many companies focus only on having a website developed; they don’t consider how it will be maintained. In some cases, a volunteer will be asked to handle website updates (“Janine from human services has agreed to deal with website changes”).

Two problems. First, Janine is usually overwhelmed with other tasks; once the novely wears off, the job will be one more thing that she doesn’t have time for. Second, if the site is not built to be user-friendly, no one other than the webmaster will be capable of changing it. This can be expensive, and – too often – the changes are not made in a timely manner.

Are photos and videos easy to add?
You don’t need sound effects or fancy flash presentations, but the ability to add video clips and photos is essential. If you are trying to highlight an essential service or product, you may want to hire a professional videographer. However, even an amateur can create short video clips that inform clients about new products, equipment, and processes. And in many instances, relevant videos can be downloaded from Vimeo or YouTube at no charge.

Is the website part of your marketing plan?
A website can have more than one function. For example, it can – and should – deliver basic information that customers need, including hours of operation, necessary forms, etc. However, the site should also be viewed as an essential part of your company’s marketing plan.

If you advertise, the site can be used to supplement the ads by providing more detailed information about particular products or services. When sending an email to a potential client, you should be able to direct the person to a URL that clicks through to a  page on your website where key selling points, photos and/or videos are provided.

Your website isn’t “an extra.” Don’t treat it as such.
Insist on a site-build that provides easy user access and the potential to quickly insert photos, videos and news stories. And, when the site is up and running, have a plan in place for keeping it active and making sure it supports your marketing plan.

If you are interested in having your website upgraded or in improving your site traffic, contact me for more information.

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