Keeping website visitors coming back for more

As business owners we are all aware that in this day and age every business needs a website. No longer can we argue that “it doesn’t suit my business” or “I don’t think my customers use the internet” or “we don’t have the budget for a website” There are just no excuses any more, and just to prove it, below is a short list of reasons why every business should have a website:

  1. Your competitors are probably already on the Web
  2. Your customers and potential customers are already searching the Web
  3. Your web site will promote your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  4. Your customers can buy your products and pay for them while sitting at their computers
  5. Your web site gives you a much bigger advert for less money
  6. You can change the information on your website whenever you want
  7. Your website can reach potential customers locally, nationally or worldwide – at no extra cost to you
  8. Your website can save you a lot of money
  9. Your web site can convey a professional and-up-to date image
  10. You can test out new services or products instantly
  11. You can use your web site to provide information on a regular basis to your company employees
  12. You can broaden your market by educating and appealing to totally new sectors

So, we either do the website ourselves or hire a web designer (who should have years of experience and knowledge in this field, knows the latest trends and techniques and is friendly and approachable – like us, hint hint!) to put together a website that will help bring in new clients or increase sales of your products.

So you spend hours and hours compiling content for the site, some of it you write from scratch, some is cribbed from some old brochures you found in the filing cabinet. Some from other people’s articles you found on the internet – of course you have completely rewritten it – you would never use someone else’s work would you!

Finally the website goes live and except for putting your website address in your signature lines of your emails, on your promotional material, and occasionally mentioning it when you get a chance, you just leave it sitting there gathering dust and hoping that it works it’s magic.

Of course what you have to remember is your website is a piece of advertising that is always available to be seen so it needs to be kept up to date. It’s the shop window to your business. It represents everything about your business. Would you walk into a shop that never changed it’s window dressing? If the products on display never changed what would you think about the inside of the store?

fresh-contentWebsite owners need to understand that a website should NEVER stand still. Apart from the reasons above, search engines will visit your site less and less until eventually they will realise (just like your website visitors) that the site never changes and will stop indexing it. From then on your website will start to slip into obscurity and drop lower and lower in the rankings until one day the only visitor it ever gets is you!

As small business owners, we should always be looking for new ways to impress existing clients and encourage new ones. As website owners, we should be thinking the same way. We need to offer new and interesting content on our websites.

Below are a few ideas that you can try to keep your website looking new:

1. If you write articles about your service or products that you sell, be sure to archive them on your website. The same holds true if you publish a newsletter. People will continue to sign up for your newsletter, if they have read the archives and are suitably impressed, so that they are sure to receive the next issue automatically and won’t have to worry about remembering to head to the website to find it.

2. Add a Twitter feed to your homepage. This will allow tweets to be included on your website with very little effort on your part. Use it as a news feed or special offers or forthcoming events – anything you can think of. This will add fresh content to your site.

3. If you have something new or exciting happening in your company, add that to your homepage. If you have won or are nominated for an award or even if you have just registered with your local Chamber of Commerce, be sure to mention it on your website. It doesn’t have to be a whole page of information, just a little highlighted box that stands out.

4. If you are featured in a publication or on any other form of media, or if your articles are published, be sure to have a page on your website to list these accomplishments. Then, each time you are in a new publication, you can add those to your website.

5. If you repair things or build stuff take lots of photos, before during and after. People love to see before and after photos. Build up a gallery of projects and add to them every time you start something new. Before long you will have a great archive of previous work/projects to impress future clients with. Not only that it’s a useful record for your business in the future.

6. Add testimonials… these are extremely important to your company’s reputation. Be sure to have either a page dedicated to those kind words or scatter them throughout your website in a way that they will stand out when your visitors are going through your pages. Then, as you get new testimonials, you can replace others or add to them. Just ensure that the testimonials are real. If possible ask if it’s OK if you mention their name and town. People will take much more notice of a testimonial if it looks genuine.

7. Every few months check that the website is a true reflection of your current business. All businesses are constantly evolving, make sure your website reflects this too. Are you still offering the same range of services? Are you offering a new service or product? Have your prices changed? Has your staff changed – is the staff page up to date. Have you taken new photos to replace the dull grey ones you took in the winter?

8. Check out the competition! If you run a business you should always be aware of what your competition are doing. Have they got special promotions? Have they cut their prices? Are they doing something innovative? Have they copied your latest great idea?!!

9. Use Social Media to it’s advantage (just don’t be a slave to it – you have a business to run remember!) – Invest a little time in learning about Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. They can be useful for certain business if used correctly. Try to get your web designer to add links to your social media pages. Remember, social media should be used to compliment your website but not be a substitute. Your website IS your shop window, FB and Twitter are merely adverts in the post-office shop window!

There are many other ways to keep your site up-to-date… alternate your graphics, update and add links, create a special offers box and change it every month, provide a page of downloadable forms or data sheets – the list goes on.

Use your imagination and remember that the more information you offer on your website, the more likely others will want to have a link on their site that leads to yours. And this will help increase the popularity and relevance of your site and increase it’s position in the major search engines

Finding the time to make updates can be a challenge. Try to schedule an hour at the end of every week and devote it to keeping your website fresh. If you really don’t have the time consider hiring a web marketing company to devise a list of content updates that would suit your business. They could then manage the updates on your behalf or send suggestions through to you on a monthly basis leaving you to make the updates. Fees vary depending on the company, location, amount of work you have asked them to manage, size of your website and whether they are managing the updates.

In summary, never leave your website to gather dust. Think of it as your star employee – it works for you 24/7, never complains and costs a lot less than a real person – so treat it well and it will bring great returns to your business success.

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