By Nardo Kuitert, U-C WEBS
[Published in The Wellington Advertiser, March 2010 for the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce]
More and more small businesses are getting a website, even the ones that primarily focus on a local market like Centre Wellington. But that does not mean that sales automatically go up. I say this a lot: “A website is not a magic bullet.” And something else that I say a often: “Your website has to be easy to find, and easy to use.”
Let’s start with the first part of that last sentence: “easy to find”. There are a number of things that you could, no should do to bring more (targeted) visitors to your website. First of all there is offline promotion: mentioning your domain name on business cards, print ads, flyers, etc. For better recognizability, get an email address that is [email protected] – then you will be promoting your domain name with your email address. Using a hotmail or gmail account is a missed opportunity. I know of websites that have been able to attract thousands of website visitors just by having great offline marketing and promotion for their website.
But online marketing and promotion is another great way to reach out to potential customers. Where do people go if they are looking for a company to deal with? Some will visit local directories such as the one from the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce, but many people will just turn to Google. They type in the product or service they need, possibly with a geographical indicator such as “Fergus”, and work their way through the search results. Question: if you do this for your product or service, let’s say “dentist fergus” or “clothing elora” – does your website pop up? Are you visible on the first page of the search results?
If the answer is “no” then you should devote your attention to improving your visibility in Google: Pay-Per-Click advertising (Google Adwords), where you can get your ad on the right-hand side of Google’s search results, or improving your rankings in the normal search results. This last option has great long-term benefits, as well as a branding advantage: people will see you as an expert in your field.
Step one in making more money with your website is to be found. The second step is to make sure that your website converts well once people have found it. Apart from things like an uncluttered page and clear navigation, you should think about the information itself. What will people be looking for?
- Is your contact information easy to find? Having your phone number front and centre on every page makes it a lot easier for people to contact you.
- How about your opening hours? Are they on your website? You don’t want people to come and visit you when your business is closed…
- Does your site show an address at all? There are many websites that do not have proper addresses on them – only a contact form. When your prospective clients want to deal with a local company, you better make your address obvious to everyone.
Having a successful website means that you get enough targeted visitors, and that people that do enter your website find it easy and engaging enough to use. Traffic + Conversion = Profit!