Why do you have a website?
Do you ever ask either of these questions? I mean, do you have a website for the same reason you first got a fax machine? Is a website what all businesses should have? Don’t get me wrong, I personally believe that all businesses no matter how small or local should have a website. It’s just that I also think to make that website useful you should know what you want it to do.
So do you know why you have a website and more importantly do you know what you want your website to accomplish? At this point most of you who have a product or service that you can sell online will probably say something like ‘make sales’. Those who want people to come to the bricks and mortar address will probably say either ‘phone me’ or ‘come to the shop’.
Still others ( and probably the majority) will say ‘ummmmm, well, uhh, no idea really, but everyone kept telling me I needed a website, so I got my nephew, daughter, brother, sister or uncle to do one for me’.
One thing I’d bet on is that no matter which answer you gave, you’ve not really paid attention to one of the most important things about your website. When someone visits your site what do you want them to do? What action do you want them to take?
Here’s a few of the actions you might want them to take, either just one or a combination.
Buy, sign up, join, donate, comment, share, review, connect, suggest, upload, download, answer a question, ask a question, fill out a questionnaire, take part in a poll, bookmark.
I’m also sure that there are many other things people may want visitors to do when they get them to their website, after all if Google gets 10 billion searches a month and 25% of those (which is 2 ½ billion searches) have never been done before and most won’t be done again, it’s pretty certain that no one person can come up with all uses for a web page.
We’re not concerned with all those though, we’re talking about your website. Have you got an answer yet as to what your website is for? Without this answered, how can you formulate an SEO plan? If you don’t know what you want your website to do how can you determine what content it should have?
Without knowing what you want your website to do, how can you decide what pages it needs, whether it needs an email sign up form, membership section, or so on? Without knowing what you want your website to do, how do you know what links you want, what social media (if any).
For your website to be successful and help your business in some way you must have a clear idea of what action you want a visitor to take, even if that’s just hanging around long enough for you to show them a lot of ads. To do that you need content – even a shopping site has content other than the items in the shopping cart.
Once you know what you want your website to do and what action you want visitors to do, you can then start to plan your content. To attract visitors you need to some or all of the following.
- Answer a question
- Solve a problem
- Stimulate a question
If you do any of these with your content then you are well on the way to having a successful website that does what you want it to do.
A question often asked is ‘what is content?’ and it’s a good question because it really depends on who or what you’re creating the content for. Search engines prefer words, text that they can parse or read. People on the other hand can find a lot of text intimidating and boring, so for them pictures, video’s and podcasts are more enticing.
You can cover all bases by having text as PDF files for SE’s then make a video or record a podcast for visitors. A slide show of images with brief explanations is also another option; the important thing is that you provide content for ALL visitors both mechanical and human. That way you get the best of both worlds.
One more thing before we close, a lot of people think that having a website is costly and difficult to maintain. While this may have been true once, today it’s so far from the truth as to be a myth.
You can have a website on many platforms where everything is free, Word Press, Typepad and Weebly to name just three. What you can’t do with these is have your own domain name but unless you want to build a huge web presence it’s not totally necessary. Especially if the only reason you have a website is because everyone says you should.
If you just want a place on the web for people to see your contact details and don’t want to be on Facebook, a free site is the answer. No need to know how to do ‘code’ because they all use an easy to use editor that does most things automatically for you.
So now you can think about the questions asked here and start to plan the perfect website for you and your business.