Question: Does your website actually do something? Or is it just an expensive piece of marketing collateral that you refer people to from time to time?
Unfortunately a majority of websites don’t really do anything for a business owner, which many business owners are resigned to accept. Then why spend the money to design and develop a website?
Answer: A well designed and developed website that is search engine optimized and has a strong marketing strategy can be a 24-7 sales machine, bringing in prospects and sales in a continuous, in-bound, even passive manner.
The Problem: Principally the problem is understanding how web design, development, SEO and internet marketing all fit together. More often than not websites are designed and developed from a single focus standpoint, typically either heavy emphasis on design or development.
The Fix: When creating or redesigning a website, the following assets need to be employed into a synergistic strategy. This I call the 8 Pillars to Web Success.
• Strategic Planning
• Web Design
• Web Development
• Search Engine Optimization
• Internet Marketing
• Content Creation
• Social Media
• Strategic Planning: I put Strategic Planning at the top of “The Fix” list because all website work should first start from here. Strategically, what does a company want to gain from its web strategy and most importantly, WHY? Get the strategic What’s and Why’s taken care of right off the bat, otherwise, the web project is destined for failure, or best, sub-par results. Unfortunately most web firms aren’t skilled in strategic planning, or they just simply ask what a company’s strategic plan is (face value question). Good consulting is necessary to get at the pivotal issue of strategic direction and focus, which should then be translated into the web project (something a lot of web firms can’t do, struggle to do well, or not qualified to do).
• Research: This plays off of item 1, strategic planning. Good research upfront is necessary to determine a viable web strategy, taking into consideration a company’s strategic plan. Research is way more than determining some keywords. Keywords are really the last thing to be developed in the research process, they are the end game. To get to the end game good research is undertaken to really figure out what products and services to feature (and why), what features of those products to highlight, what geo targets are best (and why), what type of website will work, so on and so forth…all the things that help build a foundation from which good keyword research can be made.
• Web Design – Development – SEO: I included all three of these together because they must be developed in unison for a website to be effective. If a designer knows little of development or SEO, or has no access to those pivotal project development factors, then the website may look nice but will have fundamental issues coming out of the gate which will hamper its ability to rank for the determined keywords. Design-Development-SEO are the three biggest keys to successful web deployment. They must talk together and have an agreed upon strategy from the outset, otherwise, the three will work against the other, defeating the purpose of web design to start with. Look at them as a web success triad: Development makes the design work and function. Design makes the sales happen. SEO ties it all together. SEO must be intimately tied to Development for a website to rank well and succeed. Good development infrastructure ensures SEO success.
• Internet Marketing – Content – Social Media: I grouped these together because the common and important thread between the three is CONTENT. Good content makes internet marketing and social strategy really work. Content is the cornerstone of good SEO. Without good content a web project is dead in the water. Content in my opinion should be developed once the strategic planning and research is completed, BEFORE web design and development takes place. Content should be evaluated in the design and development, otherwise, the two are out of sync. The content development needs to be created around the developed SEO strategy.
What to Do: If you are not confident in your web company’s ability to handle the above referenced 8 essential pillars of web success, then consider hiring a business consulting firm that has web experience and all the necessary assets to ensure project success. The consultant can interface with the web designers, developers, SEO experts, content creators and social media strategists to ensure your web project achieves its goals as set forth in the planning stage.
My Challenge to You: Quit using your website as an expensive brochure and turn it into a sales machine, opening new revenue streams and breathing new life into your company! Good web design/development/SEO will pay for itself often very quickly if done right. It is a sound investment, particularly in these turbulent economic times.