By Nardo Kuitert, U-C WEBS
[Published in The Wellington Advertiser, May 2009 for the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce]
Last month the Centre Wellington Awards of Excellence were handed out. Even though there is not a category “Best website” you should do your best to try and capture that award, albeit virtually. Your reward will be anything but virtual if you optimize your website (or even get one in the first place) as the world continues to rely more and more on the Internet (read: Google) for almost anything.
- If you don’t have a website: get one! And if money is really, really tight: at least get a free blog (on WordPress.com or Blogger.com, or one of the other free blog networks out there) or get a Facebook page. These free blogs and pages are far from perfect, but they are better than nothing. With your company name prominently placed on it, at least you’ll be found. You can link to it from your profile page on the Chamber website.
- Make sure your website is found easily. Aim for the long-term results with search engine optimization, so you will show up in the normal search results and appear to be an expert in your field. How? By making your website relevant for the phrases that you want to be found for. Alternatively: you can place ads on Google AdWords, starting at $0.01 per click (in the content network, on all kinds of blogs and websites) or $0.10 on Google search results pages.
- Use text on your site that speaks your customer’s language, not your own. Think about your website visitor’s questions or concerns, and address these on your website. This will make your site feel obvious and effortless, as it seamlessly fits the frame of mind of the visitor.
- Provide safety nets. What if people can’t find on your website what they are looking for right away? Do you want them to leave? Or will you try to engage them for a little longer? By having a Site Map, breadcrumb trails and Site Search options you give people multiple ways to explore your website in search of their particular answers.
- Context. You will be surprised how much money is wasted in advertising because of lack of context. Ads that don’t mention where a store is located. Failure to mention dates (yes, including a year). Especially on the web, information can be timeless. It may be linked to. So: be as clear as you can be. Have an About Us page, so people know who “we” is. Have a Contact Us, preferably with Directions, so people know where you are located. Even if you do not want to be visited: omitting your address will erode trust.
Congratulations to all winners at the Awards of Excellence gala last month. You have done a lot of things right in the eyes of the public in order to deserve these accolades. Follow the tips above and your future customers will shower you with compliments – and purchases!
Nardo Kuitert is an Internet Consultant with Fergus Website Development and Optimization firm U-C WEBS (www.u-cwebs.com). U-C WEBS also offers Internet advertising opportunities on www.ferguspages.com. (link opens in a new window)
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