You've Built a Better Website. Now What?
Tips to Attract Terrific Traffic
Websites Designed to be Remembered
You have finally bitten the bullet and hired a great website design company to develop an Internet presence for your business. It has cost you a whole lot of time, a whole lot of money or, quite possibly, a whole lot of both. Now that the your new website is complete, you are hoping it will make your sales and profit graphs leap skyward so you can sit back and simply wait for the profits to start rolling in. Unfortunately, however, your new webpages, no matter how well designed aren't like the sign in front of your store that remains unchanged for many years. Your site must be a dynamic, constantly evolving, representation of your company for it to attract visitors.
If my Website Is So Great, Why Must I Market It?
In order for your potential customers to find you, you must market your website to make it as visible as possible. There are many ways to increase your online business profile and most of them have to do with improving your search rankings in Google, Bing and Yahoo. Believe it or not, there is a whole industry behind the science of what they call "Search Engine Optimization" or "SEO". We will look more closely at ways to improve your rankings without getting too involved in the jargon and theory behind it.
One of the most important behaviours you can adopt to attract more visitors to your site is to update your website constantly. Adding something new on a daily basis would be the ideal but it is difficult when, like most other business professionals, you already have so much on your plate. Reprioritize your website updates to a less demanding rotation if you must, but you shouldn't leave it for more than two weeks. The reason for this is the Google bots that decide where in the search results to place your website, love new content. These web crawlers scour the Internet daily looking for fresh, original content to inform them as to how 'alive' your site is. The more often you give the content robots something new to look at, the more the bots will boost your site.
Website Care Made Cheap and Easy
Constant care of your website to keep it fresh sounds a little daunting but it doesn't have to be. You don't need to change the entire site to keep the robots interested; just tweak it here or there. For example, maintain a weekly blog discussing your products and your industry on one of your pages, Blogs are quite easy to update and important to keep the conversation with your clients going.
Another simple idea is to have a promotional page that you use to highlight different products on an ongoing basis, much like how grocers manage their end cap displays. Keep changing it up like the stores do. You won't get many repeat visitors if they see the same site and read the same information over and over. Nobody likes reruns.
Because your website is well designed with an uncluttered layout and lots of bright, attractive images, another way to freshen it up is to change those images on an ongoing basis. Make sure they are relevant to your message and that when you hover your cursor over them, the ALT descriptions include lots of specific keywords describing what the picture is all about. Google-bots only read text so they won't be impressed with your images, no matter how stunning, if you haven't explained them in text form.
Picture Perfect: Ensuring Images Are Copyright Compliant
When using images for your web pages, it cannot be stressed enough that you must only use photos that are royalty-free or be willing to pay for their use. Downloading pictures from sites like Google Images certainly appears convenient enough. Heaven knows it seems everyone on Facebook and other social media sites do it all the time, but if you use them for your company site, you are playing with some serious fire.
Every image on the web is owned by someone, other than those pictures so old they are in the public domain (pre-1928 images, for example). Using someone else's photos without their permission, even if the picture has gone viral and covers the social media landscape a foot deep, unauthorized use of it is an invasion of copyright. There may have been times in the past where you've already rolled the dice and posted an image that is "just perfect" for your use and nothing bad happened. Be aware; this practice could still cost you dearly down the road. It might take months but one day a lawyer-ish looking letter may show up on your desk, advising that you have stolen their image and want you to make financial restitution. Not getting approval ahead of time can cause the price to inflate by many times its original worth.
Take Care To Avoid Being Taken to Court
The best way to avoid getting pricey snail-mail in stern legalese, besides paying for every image you use, is to establish the rights associated with that image every time. If you don't know who owns it, don't use it. To be safe, choose an image site like Flickr.com and, in their 'advanced search' option, check off the 'Creative Commons' box to narrow the search to images that are royalty free. You still have to take care to display the rights for each image as they change subtly from pic to pic.
Some, for example, allow people to reuse the image but not to manipulate or 'photoshop' it. Others allow you to use the image any way you wish as long as it is not for commercial use. Only the ones specifically tagged as being allowed for commercial use are safe to use. They must have a rights page called, "Attribution 2.0 Generic" that lists the following rights: "You are free to:
Share - copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format Adapt - remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially. The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms."
When you find an image with such a designation, you still have to employ due diligence to make sure that you're not only safe now, but in the future. Only by capturing and storing screen prints of the original image, along with the links to the rights page, can you be assured of ongoing safety. There have been cases where this was not done and the image was later sold, changing the reprint rights without any warning. Unless you can prove you used the image legally, originally, you may still be on the hook for its use if you don't maintain accurate records.
How to Use Alt Tags and Descriptions
You can choose to pay for the pictures you use on an image-by-image basis or purchase a suite of stock photos. That way you will have a large selection of images to choose from and be able to change your graphics often, which is mission-critical.
The other option is to take your own photos. This is easily the least expensive and safest method as there is no question who owns the photos and there is no need to pay a photographer or image company for the rights.
However you obtain your pictures, however,make sure they have 'alt tags' to inform the Googlebots what the images contain and how they're relevant to your message. Employ Alt descriptions so a caption will appear over pictures explaining what is contained in the image. to It is a great opportunity to use these tags to increase your SEO by including keywords judiciously, and for no extra cost.
What Other Updates Would Maximize My Website's Reach?
Another option at your disposal for keeping your site dynamic is to link your site to other websites that have information or content that would be of interest to your own clients. If you are re-selling a product or offering a value-added service to an existing product, consider linking your site to your suppliers and manufacturers' sites. This will allow your customers to get the straight information on the products without you having to duplicate it on your own site. It will also count towards your "click-through-rate" which is vital for optimal ranking purposes.
You can also link to sites that discuss similar products or that describe the best way to use the products. The important thing is that the links you use must be relevant to your clients and your products to impress the web-bots.
Change Is Good (and we don't mean your coin collection).
The most important thing to remember about keeping your site fresh and dynamic is simple; don't let it sit idle like a sign in a window. As with every other part of your business, it needs ongoing attention to be effective. Changing images, adding new text and creating relevant hyper-links on a steady basis will make all the difference.
Oh, and One More Thing...
Have fun with it!