Unfortunately, many business owners and online marketers alike assume that if they have a great website they’re good to go. An effective website is essential for companies to remain competitive today given the number of consumers who shop online, but it isn’t a solution all on its own. The fact is, deciding on a new website with the hopes of providing a boost for your business before you determine the most effective marketing strategy is like putting the cart before the horse, so to speak.
Who is your target audience, what key terms and phrases are they using in search, and what goals do you hope to accomplish with your website and marketing efforts? These are the types of questions that need answers in order for your website designer to create a website that is effective and accomplishes its goals. A website should be the cornerstone of your online marketing plan, however it is not a marketing plan.
Weaving your overall marketing objectives into the design, layout and structure of the site is essential; your website designer should be able to create a site that is not only SEO friendly, but that meets the needs and expectations of your target client from the very first word and the very first line of website code. Here are a few factors that should be considered:
A clear purpose. A website should be one component of a measurable and integrated initiative to create a solid link between your clients and your company, products, and brand. Have no doubts about your purpose, who your audience is, your message, and call to action. Ultimately the goals of your website should be compatible with the urgent or immediate needs of those who visit your site.
Performance over appearance. Sure, you want a website that is visually appealing to your target audience, but performance should be your top priority.
Effective communication. Design elements absolutely help business owners communicate more effectively with customers. In fact, nearly every element of design is communicating a message or making a statement. From page content and layout to colors, images, page titles, headers, social media sharing, a blog, etc., your website should be a powerful communication tool.
Thorough, effective keyword research. By knowing precisely who your target audience is and what you want your website to accomplish, your web designer can perform in-depth keyword research, essential for both SEO and attracting the right audience via search. Content that is informative, valuable, and engaging is key to online success today – and keyword optimization is important both in terms of the content your visitors see, and the “background” coding throughout your site.
Your web designer should be “in the loop” in regards to any and all marketing ideas. What first impression do you want your pages to make? What message should your site communicate? All of the essential questions should be answered before the design of your website ever begins. Many companies get it all wrong by building a website first, then trying to determine how to develop leads or customers. Choose a web designer who is skilled in both design and online marketing – and it’s also a good idea to learn how and why the strategies you use to market your business on the Internet impact your website’s design, architecture and capability requirements.
When it’s all said and done, a website cannot overcome inferior products and services or a lack of a marketing strategy. To put it in its most simple terms, a website is only as effective as the planning and preparation behind its execution. Business owners and marketers who believe simply having a website will lead to success have unrealistic expectations. Make sure your web designer is “in the know” in regards to your marketing plan, and you will get a website that not only looks great, but has the best chance to become the online lead machine that you need it to be.
About the author: Phil Singleton is the owner of Kansas City Web Design®, a web development firm specializing in SEO-friendly WordPress websites and custom website applications; and Kansas City SEO®, a full-service Internet marketing services company that provides organic search engine optimization and other online marketing services. Contact Phil on his Google+ page.
Bill Brelsford Small Business Marketing Consultant