Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Budget-Friendly Web Site Improvements

by Lauren Hobson

Your web site can be a powerful marketing tool for your business, and sometimes it's the simple, inexpensive improvements that make the biggest difference in your web site's performance. Below are some low-cost and no-cost strategies that can help increase traffic to your web site, improve your conversion rates, and boost your bottom line. Don't you just love it when you can improve your web site AND stay within your budget?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Aretha is right, of course. Your customers want to know that they can trust you to not mis-use their personal information or share it with third parties, which is why it is imperative to add a "We Value Your Privacy" statement on your web site. Use this simple, four-word sentence on all of your web forms and on your Contact page to reassure visitors that you won't share, sell, or disclose their personal information or email address to anyone else. Make sure you link this sentence to your actual privacy policy and clearly state how you protect your customers' privacy and keep their personal information secure.

It's All About the Customer
Take a look at the content of your web site's home page. Does it focus on how your company helps customers solve their problems? Or does it say "Our company this, our company that...." instead? Yes, customers want to know something about your company, but what they really want to know is how your company is going to improve their lives! Considering that you have about 7 seconds to convince a web visitor that your site is worth their visit, make sure that your home page focuses on them instead of you.

You Gotta Ask
If you want a web site visitor to take some sort of action on your web site (make a purchase, contact you, sign up for your newsletter, etc.), then you have to ask them to do it! Few things are more frustrating to visitors than not knowing what to do next. Consider using links that give instructions like "Learn More", "Sign Up Today", or "Make a Purchase". Also be sure to tell your visitors how it benefits them to take action now, such as "you can start saving money today" or "sale ends September 30".

Optimize Your Web Site
Of course, the single most important thing you can do to improve your web site is to optimize it for the search engines. You may have the best web site ever developed, but if customers cannot find it on the web, then is it really doing you much good? Make sure you research and carefully select the right keywords for your market, then optimize each web page for the right keyword density and usage. Also be sure to test and measure your site's search engine positions at least monthly so you can make adjustments if necessary. Remember, you are competing with millions of other web sites out there, so optimizing your web site is not really a luxury anymore, it is a necessity.

Make a Big Announcement
One of the best ways to bring traffic to your web site is to send out a press release that links back to your site. Make sure your press release follows accepted journalistic conventions, then submit it using a wire service and/or the web-based press release outlets. If your press release gets picked up, it could mean multiple inbound links to your site, an increase in web site traffic, an article or mention in an industry publication, or even a call from a reporter for an interview! Don't forget to also submit to the major Blog outlets too, since these provide great PR and inbound links as well.

It's the Little Things...
By using any or all of these strategies, you can improve your web site's performance without spending a lot of marketing dollars. It's often the tweaking and improving that you do over time that brings the best results, so don't overlook simple improvements like the ones mentioned above. If you are persistent, your site can become a powerful marketing tool that generates traffic, brings in new leads, and increases sales for your business.

About the Author

Lauren Hobson is the Editor of Biz Talk Newsletter and the Five Sparrows Marketing Blog from Five Sparrows, LLC. Read the most recent Five Sparrows articles on small business websites and marketing or subscribe at www.fivesparrows.com/biztalk. Copyright 2007