Avoid These Website Blunders

There’s little doubt that a website has become an integral tool of doing business in the 21st Century. It’s estimated that 80 percent or more of all buying decisions — including finding service providers — begin with an Internet search.

Thinking about a new company website in 2014? If you expect 21st Century results – like potential customers and clients finding your company on the Internet – avoid these five big blunders that will sabotage your website.

You spent too much

You’ve spent $15,000 on a website, which seems quite reasonable compared to the $25,000 you probably spent a decade ago. And after that kind of cash outlay, you’re going to lay low on your marketing spend because you can’t afford anything else. Unless you are a large corporation with multiple locations, have the need for exceedingly secure purchasing transactions or more money to spend than what you know what to do with, the need for a $15,000 or even $10,000 website is questionable. A website professional who is familiar with one of many content management platforms (WordPress or Joomla are both good ones) can create something both amazing and functional for a fraction of that cost. Building a beautiful website and not doing anything with it (like a marketing strategy that includes back links from your social media site, other industry partners, blogs, etc.) is like buying a luxury car and leaving it in the garage – you really don’t reap the rewards and no one knows you have it. You must budget for a marketing effort that will drive folks to the site. Yes, if built properly, as detailed below, you will receive organic searches through Google and other search engines. But businesses need to be cognizant of driving traffic to that site through measurable marketing program.

You didn’t spend enough

(aka, “Your nephew developed your website during his spring break.”)

Not that there’s anything wrong with your nephew or his technological prowess. However, it’s highly unlikely he’s creating a website that is in line with your measurable objectives of success for your business. There’s a big gap between, “This is cool” and “I generated 50 percent of my business from my website.” While a student is capable of building a website, it’s doubtful that it will be cost effective in the long run.

What is SEO again?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the way in which websites are detected by search engines (like Google, Bing and YouTube) and placed “in order.” So if someone is searching for “widget maker Carmel Indiana,” they are provided a list of closest results. Typically, those companies landing closest to the top have the best chance of attracting potential customers.

The best way to achieve this goal is to 1) do keyword research before creating your website 2) create specific website titles and meta descriptions and 3) (really important!) regularly update the content of your website with blogs and social media interaction.

Laymen’s translation: When you look at your “about” page on your website, the URL at the top shouldn’t say, www.widget.com/about … It should say something that describes your company (that the search engines can find) like, www.widget.com/custom-widget-production-carmel. Likewise with your meta descriptions – these should be filled in with unique, page specific info. Confused? Theoretically, this is why you are going to hire a professional to do this; but if your professional tells you it’s not needed, get a new professional. And don’t fall prey to random solicitations of companies promising a front-page ranking!

Mobile, shmobile … really, who uses their phone to look at my website?

According to a Pew 2012 survey, 31 percent of mobile Internet users mostly go online using cell phones; and mobile traffic is estimated to increase by 3.5 percent per month. The good news: You don’t have to have a whole separate mobile site built! Using a platform like WordPress or Joomla, a mobile plug in is as easy as a flip of a little (free) button.

You’re an Internet Tease

You don’t want a lot of information on your site — you want potential customers to contact you. Just tease them with some superficial information, make them download even more superficial white papers to get the information they seek, and then put their contact information in a database so you can send them incessant emails until they unsubscribe.

You know better than this, right? This just isn’t the way folks want to engage with companies any more. They are looking for valid content and information — and so, by the way, are the search engines. Regularly updated informational content — including case studies, white papers, blogs and videos — are the way to attract customers. And remember, the content needs to be informational, not just pushing your products!

Managing Multiple Social Media Accounts

So, Pat, how do you do it?

Well, I eat right, get plenty of sleep, exercise and take that daily vitamin per the doctor’s orders. Oh, wait, you mean how do I manage all those social media accounts?

Well, that takes more than a vitamin.

If you are a company that wants to connect with and engage your customers, you are undoubtedly using multiple social media and Internet marketing platforms. A majority of my clients are running Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn as well as email blasts through MailChimp or Constant Contact. How do you keep them all straight, or know who’s doing what?

First back to basics. Let’s hope you have created a strategy and determined measurable objectives for your business on which your social media presence is based. Then, social media accounts are easy (and fun … no, really they are!) to use to promote products/services, to gather customer feedback or establish a general presence. However, managing multiple sites can be tricky and overwhelming.

There are several different sites you can use to help manage multiple online accounts. Many offer free trials of their services (usually for a period of 30 days). Other sites are free up to a certain number of gigabytes or they have a set fee per month. No matter which plan your business decides to use, it can help you be less stressed online. Each of these sites helps you to improve productivity and see all of your accounts on a single dashboard.

  1. HootSuite: Our manager of choice here at Pickett&Associates. It’s compatible with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, WordPress, MySpace, and also features the App Directory which allows you access to YouTube, Constant Contact, Tumblr, Flickr and Mailchimp. The free profile allows up to 5 accounts and the $8.99/month profile features unlimited accounts! A word of caution … if you have chosen to “link” accounts (does your Twitter push to Facebook?), don’t “double post.” Only enter your post at the “primary source” for your feeds or you will end up with (annoying) duplicates.
  2. TweetDeck:  compatible with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn , Google Buzz, Foursquare, and MySpace. This site is free and allows you to manage unlimited accounts!
  3. Media Funnel: compatible with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, WordPress. $5.95/user/month for the basic package which includes up to ten accounts.
  4. SproutSocial: compatible with Google+, Facebook, Twitter. The standard packages starts at $39/month.

There are many other ‘platform’ sites you can use to manage all of your online accounts. Make it easier for you or your business to interact with customers and get the most out of your social media experience!