Note: This post was originally published on our company blog here.
When it comes to their websites, most business owners focus on the wrong things. And it's not that the things they focus on are bad. They just aren't the most important features of their sites to really help them attract new customers with their sites.
Generally speaking businesses focus on how their website looks
rather than how it moves them closer to their marketing goals. After that sometimes they'll focus on bells and whistles like little animated gadgets. Majoring in the minors is a recipe for website ineffectiveness.
Function of Your Website
It is important to keep in mind how your website can support your business and what it is supposed to be doing. I think the most important things your site should accomplish are:
- Attract new visitors to raise awareness in the marketplace
- Bring back repeat visitors to build trust
- Generate leads for qualified prospects
There are ton of other things your business site can do for you. Unfortunately when you look at most business sites, they are just online brochures that don't do any of these things. Sure they're pretty. But pretty without fulfilling these functions is just window dressing on a window that faces a back alley that hardly anyone ever sees.
I'm not saying that websites need to be ugly by any means. It's just that the way they look is secondary to how well they work for your business.
Features that Support Proper Function
So that said, here are seven features that your business website should have to be effectively marketing your business.
Regular New and Updated Content
Your website should have new content added to it regularly, ideally multiple times a week at least. This is a big factor for building search engine rankings. The search engines value sites that produce original content, especially those sites which publish new content on a regular basis.
New content can include things like
- Blog Posts
Not only will this help in the search engines but it will give people a reason to come back to your site over and over again. And that helps build trust which will move people towards buying your products or services.
Page depth is just a technical way of saying, "how many pages on your site." Generally speaking, when it comes to page depth, more pages are better.
Think about it. If your business website just has a handful of pages - for example: about us, our products, contact us, etc. - and a visitor can look through them all in one sitting then there is no reason for them to come back. Every time that happens you miss out on opportunities to build trust and by the time they are ready to buy they've totally forgotten about your business.
Having more pages on your site is a good thing.
Your website should have some way to capture leads. You should have a built in way to reach out to the folks who are most interested in what you have to offer.
It should have some sort of systematic marketing funnel that moves people along a logical process towards doing business with you. That might be as simple as an email newsletter
sign up or involve inquires about quotes which will get a call back from your sales force.
Not only should your website have new content added to it on a regular basis, but that content should also be syndicated, for example via RSS
That way your content is packaged in such a way that it can travel all sorts of places on the web. As it gets syndicated out it should generate buzz and attract people back to your site. All that can help your site rank better in the search engines, which in turn brings even more people to your site.
Attracting Inbound Links
This is perhaps the holy grail of websites. Inbound links (i.e. other websites linking in to your site) are arguably the single most significant factor in strong search engine rankings.
Did you realize that some types of sites tend to attract more inbound links than others? It's true.
For example websites with blogs attract 97% more links
than sites without them.
Many of the features I've listed all have search engine optimization implications. When they are added to your website they strengthen SEO.
In addition your site should have strong on page optimization as well.
SEO is critical for businesses to even hold their own on the web these days. If your site doesn't have it, your competition is going to trounce you. Soon.
Your business site should have some way for visitors to interact. Even the big news outlets are adding commenting features to their websites.
If you business website has a blog on it then you have this covered because most blogging software has commenting features built in. No problem.
Interactivity keeps people on your web pages longer. Not only that, but it also encourages them to come back to your site multiple times as they look to see if anyone responded to what they said.
WordPress Has That And More
All of these features added together is one of the reasons I am such a big fan of WordPress for small business websites. WordPress has most all of these features built in. When set up correctly your site should be a significant source of new leads for your business.
And if your site is missing these features, you might consider converting your website to WordPress