Common Mistakes Businesses Make in Web Design & SEO.
Companies have long used magazines, newspapers, buildings, signage, billboards, vehicles, radio and TV to reach their target audience and build brand awareness. Internet and search engines have opened the door to reach out to customers and changed the nature of marketing forever. The majority of Australian businesses are failing to make the most of this shift, either because they haven’t given web marketing the attention it deserves or they haven’t found a web marketing company who can provide the right advice and expertise.
I have set out to explain some common mistakes both large and small businesses make when investing in marketing their business online.
Firstly let’s look at 5 criteria you need to fulfill to take full advantage of Internet marketing:
- Does your website appeal to your customers?
- Does your website create trust?
- Can your customers find your services?
- Does your website convert customers into sales?
- Does your website generate enquiries from phrases other than your company name?
No company would invest in any marketing without clearly defined objectives, scaled against KPI’s and a projected return on investment. It is amazing how many times companies enter the world of online marketing blindly overlooking the 5 key elements outlined above. Poor site architecture, archaic CMS systems that are not able to be indexed search engines, and out-dated design are all commonly seen. To be successful online your company needs to encompass everything from persuasive web design, search engine optimisation (SEO), mobile phone usability, and reaching out to your customers through social media channels such as Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.
1. Does your website appeal to your customers?
Does the content and images you have used on your website match your customer’s needs? You need to view your website as a machine to create leads. Your content should take into account your customers buying motives, how they are feeling, what emotional attachment they have related to your service and how you can convert that into sales or enquiries. If your customers see that you understand their needs they will be more likely to reach out to you for advice.
Many companies overlook the importance of keeping their website up to date, technology moves incredibly quickly and you need to consider setting aside a yearly budget for keeping your site looking fresh. For most customers it will be the first impression they have of your business.
2. Does your website create trust?
Many companies still invest heavily in magazine and newspaper advertising, but are you keeping your marketing effort consistent across the board? Does your website support your other marketing activities? What is the bounce rate for your website? For example, your bounce rate can show how well your customers are engaging with your content, products and services. It is important to create, maintain and update your website and to be aware of the metrics that demonstrate its success (or otherwise).
Are you finding ways to reward loyal customers? You might know your company is the best at what it does, but are you portraying that to your clients, how do they know who does and who doesn’t offer a good service? With a growth in social media and company blogs, you have to opportunity to reach out to your customers and engage with them, you can offer hints, tips and let them know of new developments within your company, products and services, while building a brand and trust online.
Many people who search online will initially be carrying out an ‘uneducated’ search meaning they have a problem and want to find a solution. If someone visits your site from typing in a phrase related to your services, what impression does your website give of your business?
If you are an online retail shop trust is a huge factor in converting customers. Prominent phone numbers, easy to access contact forms, returns and shipping information and secure checkout is imperative.
Design, layout and imagery should all be personalised to your target market.
3. Can your customers find your services?
The most important point here is to try and understand search engine optimisation (SEO) and why it is important to invest your money in it. SEO is about making your website great. It is not about tricking search engines and achieving quick results.
The most successful SEO campaigns involve establishing a brand online, and stable search positions long term. This will always require time and effort. Many companies will relaunch their website and then consider SEO. This is a huge mistake. A website has to be built with SEO in mind. The site architecture, design and structure needs to satisfy you as a business owner, your customers and with equal weighting search engines.
A company would never plan to open a retail store with no parking, that isn’t easily accessible to your customers, and establishing if there is a market for your product and service in that area, the same stands with launching a website. Integrating SEO into your website design will allow you to identify your competition, how competitive that area of the market is, your target market and what you could realistically expect to achieve online.
Assuming you can put your website online and it will be found is a very common misconception. For your website to generate you enquiries / sales you firstly need to be found for phrases that relate to your services. There are two types of SEO campaign, the first being a national campaign this type of campaign tends to lend itself to online shops and large companies in the service sector. The second type of campaign is a regional campaign, where companies are targeting a local market. Only through identifying keyphrases people search for and ensuring your site appears on page 1 in the search engines will your business succeed online.
4. Does your website convert customers into sales?
Google Analytics is a brilliant tool that allows you to track how many visits and from where your website has received. Without this it is impossible for you to assess your sites SEO performance and ROI, the most amazing aspect of online marketing is you can measure everything.
Google Analytics will give you insights into keyphrases that people are finding your website through, if you are an ecommerce store you can track where you are losing people in the checkout process, find which pages that people are landing on and leaving immediately (bounce rate) allowing you to look objectively at your website and make improvements.
Using the information in Google Analytics you can:
- Find ways to improve conversion rates
- Establish which keyphrases convert into sales or leads
- Find where traffic is coming from, search engines, branded, referring sites e.g suppliers
- New keyphrases you can target
- Establish which pages of your website are not engaging with your clients.
Google Analytics is a fantastic tool with almost limitless information that every website should have in place.
5. Does your website generate enquiries from phrases other than your company name?
There are certain elements used by some design companies that will make your website look fantastic, but a search engines will not be able to pull the information they need in order to present your site to your potential customers. If a search engine cannot associate the content on your website with a specific query they will not give you a suitable ranking.
Search engines love content and they need content to answer people’s questions. Most companies will naturally rank in search engines for their company name, this will be due to the domain name of your website, it is also likely that the page title, meta description and first heading on the page will have information containing your company name.
Brand related searches will always be important to any business, but a successful website and internet marketing strategy is more than this, it is lead acquisition, and can greatly increase your company’s revenue. Without an effective SEO campaign that targets specific keyphrases your company will never see the full benefit of owning a website.
A successful website is completely reliant on visibility across the web. If you are in the process of re-launching your website be sure to connect with an experienced internet marketing company for advice and guidance, they can explain how best to structure your website to adhere to search engine best practices and potential keyphrase opportunities. Without being visible your website will never show its true potential.