If you own a business, and you are serious about doing business, you should be on the Internet. There is no excuses for your business not to have a website. Whether you sell products online or offline or perform different services just offline, people should be able to discover you. You should be working on branding your company and establishing your company as a household name. Depending on what you’re selling, people should be able to search for your products or services and find you. If you’re not on the Internet and you have no intention of making the small investment in your company, than you are already losing to your competition. The investment in a website can be very minimal costing you no less than a hundred and no more than a grand or so. Any money that goes into your website will be worth it. You will see a return on your investment in no time if you do things right.
Whether you want to create the website yourself or hire someone, there are definitely things you should make sure the website has. Personally, there is only so much time you can vest worrying about your website. It is best to hire a professional and you worry about them getting the job done rather than you having to get your own website done and continue running your business. If your energy is focused away from your business, than your business will suffer. If you clearly outline your vision and ideas for the website and hire a professional web designer or web design company to turn your vision into a reality, than your website will be done in no time and your focus will have never left your business. If you have employees, you may want to ask them for ideas about the website for your business. They probably know more about what the website should have than you do.
If you do want to take over and try and create your website or you did hire out, you will want to make sure that your website contains a series of useful tools for your potential customers including:
A Good Domain Name — representing your company — preferably a .com domain name.
Affordable and Reliable Hosting — Anywhere from $2 to $10 a month will suffice. If you know you have a popular product or you know you’ll be featured in the the Media, consider investing in a VPS.
Domain Email Addresses — Everyone in your company should definitely have an email address with a trailing domain name.
Sitemap — Make sure your website is easy to navigate for your employees, for your customers, and even your wife. If she can understand how to navigate the website, than anyone can.
Translations — If you are really serious about your business and offer a great product or great services, consider translating your website and hiring staff who speak other languages such as Spanish, Russian, or Polish. You can tap an untouched market and further your business by reaching out to those who don’t speak English well.
Blog — If you want to reach out to your customers and become more easily discoverable, than you will want to establish a blog in which you talk about your product, information pertaining to your product, and information pertain to information surrounding your product among other types of blog posts you may want to establish over time.
Content — This goes with the blog — You want to talk about and discuss important topics in your field of expertise, whether it is controversial or news, you will want to keep up to date and even allow for a moderated comments section. In order to establish some type of communication, you may even want to suggest that your employees read the articles and make appropriate comments.
Social Media — Don’t underestimate the power of Social Media. Between Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you could expand your customer-base greatly. If you’re struggling to establish your company presence on Social Media websites, consider hiring an SEO expert or consultant. Do your research and make sure they do the job correctly. No point in wasting money on someone who has no idea how to market your company on a social media network. Take advantage of the hashtag on Twitter!
Keywords — Make sure you optimize your About Page, your Product Pages, and your Blog for a domestic and International audience. If you think your company could market to people and businesses outside of the United States, than why not take advantage of globalization if you can?
URL and Title Optimization — By focusing on your content and writing about a specific subject and staying on topic, not only will your audience understand what you are talking about, but search engines will pick you up faster because they are more capable of categorizing, indexing and understanding your website.
Images — If you are going to have images on your website, make sure they are appropriate and professional. Optimize the ALT and TITLE tags for your visitors and for search engines.
Google Places — If you haven’t already done so, you will want to list yourself on Google Places. What this does is that when people are in your area and searching for services that you offer or similar, your business will come up above everyone else because they believe you are the relevant search topic someone is seeking.
Call To Action — Most companies don’t do this, but the whole purpose of your website is for a potential customer to learn more about you and your services and be converted quickly from a lead into an actual customer. Get them in, get them what they want, get them out! That’s business!
Google Analytics and Rankings — While you should not worry about this too much when you first start, you will want to ensure that the Google Analytics code is installed on every page including a Tracking code to see who converts from a lead to a customer. You can put a separate tracking code on a “thank you” page or that will let you know the success of your conversion rates or what you may need to work on. Don’t expect results the first week. You will need almost a month for accurate results.
Inbound and Outbound Links — If you know of established websites that feature a service or product that is with compliment to your business, you may want to link to them and have them link to you.
Guest Blogs & Articles — Find popular blogs or other websites that are in your niche. If you want to write articles yourself or hire a freelancer or employee to write articles in your field of expertise, this is a natural way to acquire both fans, visitors, and links. You should never write an article with the intentions of gaining links. Instead, write with the intention of people reading content from an authority figure. That authority figure is you. For example, you will want to discuss topics of your niche, not about your company and its function. Most people reading do not care about your company and they will not care, even after visiting your website. They will start to care about your company when they start to read articles from the heart of your company. Only then will you win visitors and customers.
Mobile — Get with the times and make sure your website is completely mobile and tablet friendly. There is a large number of visitors and potential customers you will be missing out on if you do not design your page for people who use more portable technology.
Prices — Are you charging a fortune for your product? If so, make sure you offer discounts and introductory prices to get people to even be interested in what you’re offering. Otherwise, drop your prices or seek out a professional financial advisor.
International Website — If you have people from around the world visiting your website, make sure it has aspects and elements to which they will be able to relate!
The following Ebook offers plenty more advice on Website Tips for International Marketers, especially on how to optimize your website for a global audience.
by Diana Urban
Download: 50 SEO & Website Tips for the International Marketer (Right-click for save options)
Matthew Gates is a freelance web designer and currently runs Confessions of the Professions.