An Online Presence Is More than Just Having a Website
You hear many start-up business owners saying “I need a website” which is great, they understand that their company needs a presence online. However I see it time and time again when companies don’t think about why they need the website or how they are going to attract visitors.
Your website is there to give your business an online presence, although many companies get by on offline advertising and word of mouth, if you want to really excel you need an online presence. The Total UK online population stands at 46m (source: UKOM Sept 2010) which shows that there is a huge market to be exploited there. One thing that surprises me is that many people think that as soon as they start a website they will be generating large amounts of traffic. How is this meant to happen if no-one knows of its existence? Having a website is not like having a high street store, people won’t be walking past the door every day, think of it more like a village shop located on a secluded street. You wouldn’t expect many people to know it’s there so the only way you can get its whereabouts and existence known is to get the word out. We’ll go into this more later on.
I always like to compare a website to a shop, think of your homepage as the shop window and the internal pages as the different sections of your shop. You want to make sure people come into your shop so you have to make the shop window look good, perhaps even with promotions in the window. The same principles apply on your website. If you make slap-dash website using basic site creators you will end up with a messy, amateurish look, much like one of those market shops that sells cheap clothing and smells like meat from the butchers they are located next to. No-one wants that!
It is important you invest money into your website as it will be the foundation to online success. Look for a great designer, all website designers have portfolios so you will be able to see the quality of their work. Freelancers generally don’t cost as much and can spend more time on your project so try and find one if you can (Twitter is a great place for this). Here are some tips for your website homepage.
- Keep the content concise and understandable (7 +/- 2 is a good rule to follow in terms of amount of information)
- Make call-to-actions clear, you want people to perform the action so make it obvious
- Display promotions and pricing ( not necessarily a detailed price list but guide price e.g. from £39)
- Contact and about details need to be reached within one click from the homepage
Having a great website without visitors is like owning an Aston Martin but not having a driving license, no-one is going to be able to see it. With the foundations in place you need to start thinking about generating traffic. There are many mediums to direct people to your site.
The most important one is SEO, this will generate the most traffic in the long run, provided it is done right. Make the effort to learn the basics at the very least or if you don’t have the time look to hire a professional like ourselves. SEO is a long term strategy and won’t bring you instant success but it is ultimately the most important thing you can do.
Adwords is the most common Pay Per Click platform and will probably generate the most traffic. PPC is instant unlike SEO, however it can be very expensive with costs per click costing on average around £2-3. PPC is a great starting point whilst you are building up the SEO.
These are free tools to promote your business but will take time to build up and become effective. You can create a Twitter profile and build up your followers and spread the word about promotions and services. A Facebook Fan Page is also a great way to reach out to existing customers and also gain new ones. Keep it updated on company news, offers and industry news.
Magazine and Publications
Although this is a more traditional method, they still have a large reader base, try and include your website in all editorials and you should see many direct hits from it.
Sites such as directories and profiles are a great place to put your website link. Not only is the linking great for your SEO but the links should hopefully generate some referral traffic, try and get your website link included everywhere you can.
Hopefully this information is enough to understand an online presence is more than just having a website and applying these tips should give you great success online.