Twenty years ago when we were just starting out, just having a website put your business at the head of the class. It set you apart and gave you automatic status as a leader in your industry. Ah, the good “old days.”
Now having a business website is about as commonplace as having an internet connection—and expectations for those sites are higher than ever. Put simply: why create a business to have a business website that doesn’t do anything for you? That isn’t coming up in potential customers’ search engine listings? That isn’t giving your customers the information they need and bringing in inquiries?
If your website isn’t meeting any of those expectations mentioned above, and getting you the response you want from customers, you’re in luck. We’ve compiled a list of the most common reasons why websites don’t get noticed (by customers and search engines).
Your website content (writing) sucks
We hate to be so frank, but the internet is littered full of websites with terrible, terrible writing. Writing that isn’t targeted at potential customers (doesn’t include what they want to know), writing full of grammatical errors and typos, writing that isn’t divide up into short, easy-to-read paragraphs and sections. Even if your website writing just fits one of these categories, your website content isn’t going to perform to its full potential.
If you want to create a better, more readable website that decreases your website bounce rate, hire a professional (or professionals) to create an affordable website with well-organized content that draws website visitors in, gives them (and search engines) what they need to know, and an easy way to contact you if they have any questions or needs.
You haven’t integrated your marketing
It’s amazing how many business owners see their website and their offline communications as completely separate, never to be connected in any way. However, your in-store and on-phone communications play a key role in promoting your website. To bring the two together, create signs and cards with your website and social media printed on them (other ideas for integrating your marketing here). Talk to your staff about promoting your website as they interact with customers. If you are building an email list, give your customers an incentive to sign up for your email list.
To integrate all your different sales and communications into a solid strategy, create a communications plan that times all your messages (both online and offline) so your customers are getting regular interactions with your brand. (We’ve given you instructions on how to build a solid marketing plan here.)
You’re not using local SEO
Local search engine optimization (SEO) for a local business only makes cents; after all, if you’re trying to reach local customers in local communities around your local business, SEO technology and tactics gets your website at the top of your local customers’ search engine listings. Local SEO can get you at the top of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20, or 50 mile radius. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, integrating search engine optimization is a smart marketing strategy because the internet is where people are searching for products, services and information (and don’t get us started on the effect of mobile devices on search traffic).
Statistics back this trend up; today 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore). Ninety-five percent of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011). The numbers are equally as impressive for businesses that have included local SEO in their marketing strategy. A local flooring company saw their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. The flooring company receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package.
Your website stays static
Your job is not done when you publish your new (and hopefully well-organized, aesthetically beautiful and functional) website. Your job has just begun. To continue to feed the fire that’s hopefully erupted by your new website, update your website with information relevant to your audience. It’s called content marketing, and, if executed properly, can get the attention of both your target audience and search engines.
The goal of content marketing is to build trust with your audience so don’t fill it full of sales pitches. This isn’t advertising. It’s a series of well-written content that answers your customers’ questions with timely, relevant topics. For example, if you’re a travel agent, your blog is going to answer common travelers’ questions and give them information about their next trip. It sounds easy, but many a business has run out of time when trying to execute a flawless content marketing strategy; be realistic about the time you have available and don’t be afraid to consult the experts. Pair that with a solid content promotion strategy, and your content marketing is going to be hit with your potential customers.
There is a secondary perk of content marketing. Search engines scan the web for content relevant to use in users’ searches. They also gauge your website’s validity and the strength of your pages based on the content you produce. By posting regular content, you are showing search engines that your content is updated, quality and relevant—three criteria they use to rank websites for search engine users.
Your contact page is lacking
This is where knowing your audiences (yes, plural) really pays off: potential customers and search engines. The perfect contact page makes it simple for your customers to contact you (both in-person, on the phone, and via email) with an accessible contact form that is easy to fill out. The perfect contact form is a fine line: a form with just enough fields that you can get the contact information you need to contact the customer but not too many fields that your potential customers aren’t intimidated by the form.
In addition, your contact page needs to have a second purpose: to make it easy for search engines to scan the page and include it in their search engine listing. Statistics have shown that more searches are being done on mobile devices than on desktops, and many of those searches are targeted at finding the location of local companies. Make sure your hours, phone number, and address are included on the contact page for search engines and customers.
You aren’t promoting it through social media
Your social media sites (here’s how to determine how many social media sites are right for you) and website should be on speaking terms, both literally and figuratively. Actively promote your website on your social media channels, and make it easy for users to share your content on social media. Links to your social media sites should also be conveniently located on your website so potential customers can check out your social media reviews and posts.
You aren’t linking back to your website in your emails
Email marketing is a tactic with one of the largest return-on-investments in marketing. Every email should be strategically sprinkled (sprinkled, not overrun) with links to your website. Don’t just send out an email with your website in the footer; instead show your readers how valuable your website can be to them. If you are creating new content on your website, tie these two tactics together for a strategy that’s sure to get your business noticed.