Continuing my checklist of recommended website features.
Search Engine Optimized: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is almost an industry all its own. A professional web design service may concentrate on building sites and refer clients to a dedicated SEO expert. It takes constant work to manage a site so it has the right code, tags, content, and links so it shows up at the top of search rankings. It also takes several months for the work to get results, so you have to take the long view. There are dozens of tools, both free and premium, that an SEO professional can take advantage of. If you’re a WordPress aficionado, like me, the first and last name in SEO is Yoast. It’s a plugin app that coaches you in writing good content and tags, and does the work of submitting your pages to the search engines for consideration. Its developers are always studying the cutting edge, ins-and-outs, and strategies of Google.
Analytics Tools: A web analytics tool is software that tracks the traffic on your site. Usually, it’s a line of programming that you can copy and paste into your site’s code. Analytics packages will tell you where your visitors are coming from, which of your pages they visit most often and for how long, how many of your visitors follow your Call To Action, and so on. Here’s a list of Top Web Analytics Tools. Google Analytics is the leader for its price tag (free), its ease of use, toolbox, and network of support. But there are plenty of worthy contenders for the top spot; it’s good to have alternatives to keep the top dog honest or that have niche features that no one else offers.
Social Media Links: Not only should you have your own site, you should have pages/profiles on your favorite social networks. It’s standard to have a Facebook business page. A Twitter profile lets you reach a large audience of fans. LinkedIn is good for Business 2 Business interaction. If you sell products, you can post them on Pinterest.
Social media lets your site reach a wider audience. I like to think of your website as a hub that branches out into other networks. It should be obvious these days for your site to have links to your social profiles. If you update your site with a new promotion or blog post, you can announce it in your networks.
You shouldn’t depend on just one network. Facebook is the most widely used, but it can control which of your posts are seen by your friends. Facebook makes their money by selling advertising, and their strategy is to target niche audiences. This can be either good or bad depending on your viewpoint. It makes your marketing budget cheap and efficient, but it can also prevent reaching new customers you hadn’t considered before. You can reach separate audiences on the other networks like Twitter. The competing platforms have different business models, so their newsfeeds and bulletin boards work differently. A smart marketing strategist is open to a variety of channels and not afraid to experiment.
Social Proof: Social Proof is outside recommendation of your business. Traditionally, testimonials from existing customers are common, and they’re effective on the web, too. You can have them in a separate section on your homepage or “About” page, or you can place testimonials throughout the site strategically. If your clients have their own websites or social media profiles, it’s a good idea to link to them, with their permission. This way, visitors know you’re not just making things up.
Customers can also rate your business on social media or Yelp. You can share the favorable posts on your site. Some sites have a Facebook or Twitter newsfeed displayed on their pages, directly bringing comments from their profiles.
Stay tuned for Part 3