Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How To Make Your Website Work For You, Part 1

The reason you have a website is for it to work for you. It has the capacity to do that 24/7 . . . or not. In this series, I will discuss ways your website can make a major difference in your business.

In this time, when many people think of a website and what it can do for them, the first thing that comes to their mind is search engines. Well, they don't usually use the phrase search engines, they usually use the phrase Google. So great is that word in this time that it has become not only a brand, but a phrase, a noun, a verb, an adjective. We find it on Google and look at the top of Google and of course, I am writing this message in a Google-owned tool called Blogger.com. People want to know that they are on the first page of a Google search, they want to get found on Google. That is a marvelous goal, but what does it mean when they find you?

Once your site is on the first page of the search, when then? I can assure you of this: you won't be the only one on the page. Think of it this way: You look in the Yellow Pages for a plumber and you heard of this one called Down the Drain Plumbing. You scroll the list and find the name and phone number, but they don't have an ad on the page and on the two pages that are open, there are 15 or 20 ads for plumbers with photos and hours of operation, website info, things they specialize in and so on. Maybe there's even a discount offer in the ad or some other incentive to try them. You can't help yourself and you look around and read each one. By now, you've probably forgotten about that other company. . . what was their name?

What's the point? Content. The ads are all about content. Of course, in the ad, the content costs money every month. The good news about the website is that content is cheap! However, content is king. I know that when I am looking at the ads, I find one that works for me, but the ones who don't have an ad do not get the business. I'm looking for information that I can relate to. When I need a plumber, I want the information. Who cares about all those with just a name and a phone number? They might as well be music stores. Since I don't know any of them, I use the best information I have to make a decision--the content in their ads.

This is the same kind of thing that happens on the search engines. People will type in plumber, city and see what comes up and then they could look at many of those on the first page and will most likely make their decision from the information on that page.

So, what will the information say about your business when they search and find you? Will they find a name and a number or will they find a story, testimonials of satisfied customers, information about your services and how you perform them, why you started this business, how long you've been doing this business, your passion for this business, your great rates, your guarantee of satisfaction, your incentive offers, your highly mobile fleet, your 6 hour turnaround, your clean and respectful employees with their names and photos that back up that statement. Will they find things that will help them make a good decision and buy from you? It will depend almost entirely on your content.

Remember this: the search engine is searching words. That is the content. Prospects type in a word or a phrase that we might call keywords. The search engine then looks for those words. If those words are not on your site, there is no way the search could bring up your site. How could it?

A website can be a very powerful tool for your business. . . or not. You can have a small site with 1-5 pages that is pretty much just a business card--a line listing in the yellow pages. The website just gets you into the Yellow Pages, but it won't get you found. But, you can have a website that has 50, 60, 200, or 2,000 pages of valuable information. The odds are with you there, aren't they? You don't do that in a week, you do that as a process over time. Growing your website will be one of the most important things you can do in your business. It will also help you get found on the first page. You can also have a smaller site and get found by combining your website with a blog and a number of other Internet tools that can work together to get you found.

The search engine is really a beneficial thing, but it is only one aspect of the value of your website. There are many ways to make your website work for you. See our next installment for more ideas.

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