5 Ways to Leverage Your Web Investment

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5 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 7 μήνες)

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5 Ways to Leverage Your Web Investment

If you’re like most small businesses, your web site is an investment. And like most
small businesses
,
you’re
also
looking

for a nice return on that investment over time. But unlike
other

investments, your
web si
te doesn’t gain any value if it just sits there untouched


you have to
maintain it and re
-
invest
in it
from time to time in

order for it to grow in value and
produce
big

returns

for your business
.

So if your web site isn’t currently getting the results y
ou’d like, here are five ways
to

leverage your web
investment
to

help

your site

raise its rankings
,
convert
more
customers,

and boost your bottom line!


1.

Redesign if it’s time
. Let’s face it, web technology changes constantly, but small businesses often
l
aunch their web site
s

(with a giant sigh of relief) and then forget about
them
. If your site hasn’t
been updated in more than a year or so, it’s probably time to bring

it up to current standards
.


Upgrading to “current standards” involves more than just
updating the HTML code and CSS styles.
It also means adding the standard web functionality that today’s users expect when they visit a web
site.
Common technology like blogs, video, web widgets, mobile applications, geo
-
tagging,
podcasts, and sophisticated

drop
-
down navigation systems are just some of the
features

that
differentiate today’s
updated, progressive
web
sites from their outdated counterparts.



2.

Optimize for the search engines
. It
probably

goes without saying, but

I’ll say it anyway. A

non
-
optim
ized web site simply cannot compete with the millions and millions of other sites on the web


many of which have already been optimized.



Your web site is one of the most important marketing
tools

that your small business has, but if
customers and prosp
ects cannot find it, you are missing out on the traffic, new leads, and additional
sales that an optimized site can produce.


At the very least, m
ake sure your site
correctly uses meta data, head
ing tags, and link anchor text.
You can also build up your i
nbound links by taking advantage of industry directories, your Chamber
of Commerce, and
business
-
related organizations that allow you to add your link to their web sites.
Also,
you should
always create unique, optimized landing pages for your email campai
gns,
advertisements, or pay
-
per
-
click campaigns to

help boost your search engine placements, as well
as

maximize the potential of
converting your

web
visitors into paying customers.


3.

Fix your navigation
.
To have a

well
-
organized, usable web site

you must h
ave

an easy
-
to
-
use
navigation system that allows users to quickly find the information they are looking for. Make sure
that
your site’s

navigation system is consistent on all your web pages, and that information is never
buried more than 2 or 3 clicks dee
p anywhere on the site.


Consider implementing a menu with

mouse
-
over

drop downs
or

sub categories that
are

visible
without having to click, so users can see their choices without wasting clicks to unrelated pages.
The faster users can find exactly what t
hey are looking for, the faster they can

convert into new
customers.


4.

Get Blogging
.

If you don’t already have a blog on your site, get one, and update it on a regular
basis. This will boost your site’s search engine rankings,
help
build
trust

with your
web visitors
, and
increase

user

loyalty and return visits to your site.


Recent reports show that almost half of all North America
n companies already have a blog, and
this
probably

include
s

your competitors. Blogging has really become quite mainstream,
a
nd it’s
a
great way to reach your target audience

while improving search engine positions
, increasing traffic
to your site, and improving
customer engagement

and participation
.



5.

Be a trusted resource for customers
. If your web site is little more than
an online “brochure,”
consider adding some features that visitors will really appreciate. How
-
to articles, web widgets, a
newsletter archive, feedback forms, free downloads, and RSS feeds
of

useful

resources are all
examples of

web

features that users lov
e.


When you reward web visitors with features that are useful and
provide

value,
you are establishing
yourself as an expert who cares about helping them solve their problems. And isn’t that what
customers are really looking for? They don’t care so much
about your company or how long you
have been in business, they care about solving their own problems! (Marketing 101.) So
use your
web site to
demonstrate that you are more interested in providing
visitors

with value than tooting
your own horn, and you wi
ll be rewarded with motivated, interested customers who already trust
you and are ready to buy!


Changing the Channel


Adding

SEO as a

Key

Marketing Strategy


Your small business probably already uses multiple marketing “channels,” whether you think of th
em as
channels or not. Print advertising, email campaigns, pay
-
per
-
click marketing, direct mail, banner ads



all
of these are different types of marketing channels that you may already be using to promote your
products and services. But
although most
sm
all businesses know that Search Engine Optimization
(SEO) is important for their web sites, not many use SEO as
one of their strategic

marketing channel
s
.

So why consider SEO as a key marketing strategy? Because like it or not, search engines (especially
G
oogle) are going to remain the most predominant method of driving traffic to web sites. Period. So if
you want to capture some of that traffic, SEO should probably be included


or even prioritized


as a
strategic
marketing channel in your marketing pla
ns.

Here’s what makes SEO
such
a good
channel

for small business marketing:

1.

Tremendous ROI



Often, it doesn’t take a huge investment to improve your search engine results.
Adding a few simple strategies each month can add up to great results over time.

But if you’re
looking for faster results, a complete optimization of your web site will produce the greatest results
in the shortest amount of time.

And compared with the returns that an optimized site can
produce
,
investing in SEO

(either time or money
or both)

is a great value for your business.


2.

Higher Brand Visibility


When your business and/or brand
shows up

in the top search results,
you
gain web

visibility every time someone searches for your terms. The sheer repetition of seeing
your business
co
nsistently
listed
at the top

creates

not only visibility, but also credibility and
brand
recognition. I’m sure you’ve heard that consumers need to see or hear a message at least three
times before they pay attention to it, so the more they see your busine
ss in the search results, the
better for you

and your business
.


3.

Accurate Tracking and Measuring



With all the web analytics tools available today, it’s fairly easy
to capture data that can help you
determine what’s working on your site and what’s not, e
nabling
you to make adjustments and constantly improve your results. If you’re not tracking what happens
with your web site each month, how can you know if it’s
truly
helping your business?


4.

New Leads and Sales

Generation



Since users turn to search engi
nes almost 80% of the time to
find information, there is virtually

an

inexhaustible supply of new prospects and potential customers
searching for the types of products and services you provide. SEO can help your
web site

show up
when people are most likely

to visit


while they are in the process of actively searching

for your
information!


5.

Pre
-
Qualified Traffic



By optimizing your web site, you
can

attract the types of visitors that are
important to your business

by using highly
-
targeted keywords and phra
ses that directly relate. For
instance,
a law firm with a non
-
optimized site
would likely

attract all types of clients, even
when

the
practice specializes in family law. By optimizing for “family law,” the site is much more likely to
attract pre
-
qualifie
d clients looking

specifically

for this type of service.



As a small business, it’s important that you take advantage of the marketing channels that make the most
sense for your business.
And

by considering SEO as a
strategic
marketing channel, you open

up your
business to a whole new world driven by the

web and its

mighty search engines (
and
yes,
I mean

Google)
.

This new channel may help you discover
some
new and untapped benefits

that will

help your business
grow
and thrive

well into the future
.





Social Work


Get Busy
and Get

Social
!


Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Social Networking and
how important

it is

to your small business

web presence
.

Really?

Not too long ago, all you needed for an online presence
was

a web site, maybe with
some
online shopping capability, and email. But now that Social Networking
has blasted onto the scene, there are new technologies that are becoming so popular that you may not be
able to ignore them for much longer!

So yes, it’s t
ime to take the plunge and learn about Social Networking.


Social Networking is described by expert John Jantsch as “
the use of technology combined with social
interaction to create or co
-
create value.” This technology includes blogs,
micro
-
blogs (like Tw
itter),
RSS,
social search sites (like Technorati), social networks (like Facebook), and social bookmarking

sites

(like
de.licio.us)



all designed to make it eas
ier

to connect with others through social interaction on the web.


But one of the frustrating
things about social networking is that like most new things, it takes time to learn
and understand before it can become truly useful. So to h
elp you tackle the “social work

of learning about
Social Networking,
here are some suggestions for learning the b
asics:




Read
other people’s
blogs
. If you don’t already have a list of regular blogs that you read, use a blog
search engine to find and subscribe to a few blogs

you are interested in
.
Look for

industry

blogs, blogs
from experts, and even read your competi
tors’ blogs.

This will help you understand how people in
your industry use blogs, which will

in turn

help you become better equipped to write blog posts on your
own company blog.




Use Social Bookmarking
.

Social bookmarking sites like de.licio.us allow us
ers to ta
g interesting
pages or articles,
put them in specific categories,
and
then share them publicly. Be sure to bookmark
your own articles that you find on the web, or
pages

that mention your business, and ask others to do
the same

for you
. These book
marks
are

similar to “votes”

for your content

and can also
help build

inbound links, which
is critical for boosting

search engine rankings.




Try Twitter
.

One of the new social sites creating a lot of buzz is Twitter, which is a micro
-
blogging
platform tha
t allows users to keep in touch using short, 140
-
character “tweets.”

Five Sparrows
recently added Twitter to its regular marketing routine with clients as a way to

instantly

provide them
with useful, interesting information and special deals or promotions
. Twitter has a lot of potential as a
mobile marketing tool
since it allows

small businesses to reach customers wherever they are; whether
they are at their computers or carrying around t
heir cell phones (and at least for now, it’s free!).



NOTE: If you’d

like to receive
valuable

web tips, free resources, special deals, and other useful
information, you
can
follow F
ive Sparrows on Twitter here
.


There is of course a lot to learn wi
th Social Networking,
especially
since the tools and technologies
continue to change and evolve all the time. But with a little effort and
some basic understanding, you can
add some Social Networking strategies to your marketing routine and start improvin
g your overall presence
on the web. Eventually, it will lead to increased organic, natural traffic and better search engine rankings

for your web site.