There are a few key things you should understand about the web, that combine the service you choose, your content, and some of the other elements we’ve already learned about that are vital to your success.
The following are placed in order of importance (as much as possible):
- The address of your site matters – as we discussed the domain name you choose is important (and plays a role in hurting/helping you rank for various keywords) so too does the site name you choose. For example, in some of the services above your website may be what’s called a sub-domain. Using our example of Steve’s Pizza and one of the services – WordPress.com – you may choose to select “bonitapizza.wordpress.com” in order to both use this free service for your website AND to help you rank for “Bonita Pizza.”
- The address of your content matters – This brings us back to a few elements we already discussed. The LOCATION (within your website) hurts/helps how your content ranks as well. This is where both our keyword research and sitemap play a vital role in helping us to determine not only what content we need to put on our website, but also how to organize it to help maximize your website’s long-term marketing benefit. For example, continuing with WordPress – a page where we might feature details about our “cheese pizza” could be – “bonitapizza.wordpress.com/cheese-pizza/”. This page would then feature details about cheese pizza and would help us rank for things like “Bonita Springs Cheese Pizza.”
- Title tags are important – Most of the services you’ll use (and to my knowledge all of the above services) will make the title tag of the page you create the same thing as the headline of the page.
- Links are important (in and out) – A link is a connector between two document, pages, or websites. From a code perspective a link literally looks like this: “<a href=”http://www.google.com”>Google</a>” (without the quotes). This will appear to you in the browser as Google. We’re telling your browser to “go to” that other page or website when you click on the link. We’ll come back to links in the marketing section. For now, understand it’s very valuable to receive links – have other websites link to you. If the local newspaper has an article on their website with a link to you for “best pizza in bonita” that’s a good thing!
- Don’t forget imagery and non-writing content – Although I feel copy comes first in terms of impact content has on a visitors’ experience and receptiveness to your message imagery is also very important. Most small businesses have TERRIBLE imagery. Your cell phone’s camera is not acceptable for imagery on your website. For our example, Steve’s Pizza should create all of their pies/pizzas, lay them out, and pay a professional photographer to come in and take some shots. On average a professional photographer runs anywhere from $100 – $1000/hour, but is well worth it considering these images will be luring visitors for YEARS to come and will be used for menus, brochures, and the website.
- Social – Personally I feel social stuff is not that important for most small businesses. However, there are exceptions. In particular if you’re a local restaurant – like Steve’s Pizza – it may be advantageous (and effective) to setup a Facebook account and use it to communicate offers, deals, and specials to loyal customers. The important thing here however is, make it easy for your audience to participate, lead them in the direction you want them to go (say Facebook as opposed to an email newsletter) and be consistent. Social is ineffective if you don’t use it and realize it takes real time and effort to manage.
- Analytics – Tracking is extremely important. Make sure the service you choose has a great tool for tracking traffic – or allows you to implement an outside service like Google Analytics easily. We’ll discuss specifics on setup in the tracking and marketing sections.