As you think about web marketing, there are some key considerations for your online presence.
Here are the top 10 things that I think you should make sure that your website design and marketing strategy includes. If your web developer can't provide all of these things... make sure that you find one who can.
Core site content.
Search engines love content. They need content to find your site. The more content you have, the more opportunity for your site to be indexed by Google, Yahoo and Bing. If you don't have compelling core site content, people won't find you.
Even if the search engines find you, people may not care if your site's content is not relevant. The older your content gets, the less relevant your content is. The easiest way to have new content is to have news and opinion (blogs) articles posted on your site.
Each page on your site should have unique descriptions. Most websites I see end up with the same descriptions on every page (if they have them at all). These should be accurate, but not too much. Limit your descriptions to about 150 characters.
The site content is key for search engines, but the graphics are key for the user experience. There is a fine line to walk here. Too many images make it harder for the search engines to fully understand what your site is about, too few may make it kind of boring. When you use images, make sure that you tag with alt tags properly to help the search engines.
There is nothing worse than hooking your customer and then letting them leave your site to learn more about your product. All of your product information should be on your site. It should be easy for your customers to find the information they are looking for. If they can't find it, then you need to rethink how you build your site.
You want to make sure that people find you. You need as many legitimate inbound links as you can get. Your partners should link to you... especially if you sell their products. If you write a blog, people may naturally link to you. However, you can also get inbound links from directories.
What is the point of having compelling content and great graphics if your employees don't even go to the site. As they get excited about the site, they will engage customers. As your customers see the value of the site, they will start to frequent the site and will have an opportunity to understand all the offerings you have. Don't think of your site only as a way to attract new people, but also as a way to help your current customer base understand all the services you offer. If your employees don't talk about it, customers won't care.
Get the word out.
Your website should serve many functions. Contact information, new information and cross selling opportunities are only a few of them. Make sure that you talk about your website. Ask people to complete a survey for a chance to win something. Better yet, provide valuable downloadable content! Have them come to the site to register for an event. Make sure that people know the website is important to you.
Remember the audience.
Remember that when you build a site, you are building it for your clients and not for you. When you look to build a new site, make sure you ask trusted clients for their opinion. You are so entrenched in your business and your industry, you are likely disconnected from the way your customers think. In the end, it doesn't matter what you think... it matters what they think. So design, content and promotions should be geared to them, not you.
Give it some time.
Obviously, the more you do to promote your site, the less time it will take for people to start to participate. If you take a very passive approach to your site, it may never really be a marketing tool for you. Your goal might be to market to new customers, existing customers or just provide a place for your sales reps to get content to provide to your customers. The most important thing is to give your site time. Give it plenty of time to start seeing organic results. Make sure that you give your clients time to find something of worth to them so they invite their friends. Just give it time.
Corey Smith is the founder of Tribute Media and serves as the Digital Marketing Strategist. He is also the author of "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter."