Developing a Web Presence

  • November 24, 2014

Recommendations from family and friends go a long way when it comes to making decisions about virtually anything. Whether it be buying a home, which school to attend, or what to have for dinner, many of our decisions are heavily influenced by those around us whose opinion we value and respect. But what is the next step taken in the decision-making process? We gather more information. Most people turn to the Internet and browse the website of the product or company in consideration. Is your website up to the task of being the persuading factor in that final decision?
 
Consumers spend less than 15 seconds on average determining whether a website is worth the time to continue browsing or if they should move on to the next site in a long list of search results. With this in mind, it is essential to immediately establish a rapport with your audience and provide them with the information they are searching for or the tools they need to dig deeper and obtain answers. Capturing your audience as soon as they enter your website is important. Create a well constructed landing page that is sure to showcase your website as a whole in a positive light. Consumers’ time is valuable and with so many distractions these days, it is easy to lose a customer before you even have your hook in them. An easy-to-navigate website compels consumers to remain on your page and continue searching for the information they originally sought, or to search for new information since they have found your website to be a valuable resource. Avoid complex, overly programmed components of a website that are hard to use and simply get to the point. Nothing is more appreciated than being clear, concise, and straightforward when you are trying to find clarity on an unfamiliar subject.
 
However, providing an easily accessible website will only get you so far. You still need to provide the information that originally drove the consumer to your website. Developing relevant content is not easy but it is incredibly important. Not only does it allow you to establish yourself as a knowledgeable resource on the topic, but it also increases your SEO (search engine optimization). Higher quality SEO means your website will appear higher in a list of results when the topic is searched for online. Use keywords that will assist search engines in determining the topics of your articles and landing pages. But avoid keyword stacking at all costs. Search engines such as Google know when a website is using the same word repeatedly simply to help their SEO so stick to professional content. Don’t overload your website with nothing but keywords and rethink naming that landing page “Mortgage, Mortgage, Mortgage!” The more traffic you are able to drive to your website and page views you accrue, the higher your website link will be displayed in search results. The Internet has opened the competition for search result listings to anyone with a website. All the more reason to ensure your content is relevant, useful, and accessible. Don’t just write to write. Make it valuable and keep your audience engaged.
 
Having recently been part of a couple new website launches, the best advice I can give is to create a detailed plan and develop a spectacular website based on your perfect website architecture the first time around. Sounds easy enough, right? The truth is the development of a robust website takes time, dedication, and many revisions to get it just right. Be ready to make adjustments if something isn’t working. If a tab is hard to notice, move it. If a page is cluttered and full of too much information, cut it down and clean it up. Be prepared to spend hours editing your website for the optimal user experience. How often have you left a website because you were frustrated with the layout, overwhelmed with tabs, or got lost trying to navigate to a specific page? Don’t be that website! I highly recommend setting aside a two to three week period for testing. Allow a set group of users to click around the website and provide feedback without any direction from you. Other audiences won’t have instructions on how to navigate your new website so the test group should not either. They will catch things you don’t since you have been staring at it so long. Take their feedback and make revisions. Edit until your red pen runs out of ink and the final touches ultimately makes the new website completely different from the original plan.
 
One of my pet peeves is going to a website and finding the information to be ridiculously outdated. Don’t lose credibility by having incorrect or old information posted. Continuously updating your website is a must. Keep your eyes open not only for the latest content that should be posted but also on website features that could be implemented. Technology is constantly improving. By keeping up with the latest trends appropriate to your product and audience, you establish a positive reputation with the consumer.  They view you as a proactive, reliable, and trustworthy resource they will continue to return to for the most recent information, the information that will help in making that final decision. Prove your dedication to providing relevant and pertinent information by remaining on top of your game.
 
I have found a successful website launch to be pulled off with the utmost professionalism and a touch of grandeur. Whether you’re going for the build-up to an ultimate surprise launch to the public or revealing new website features as you go, make sure your audience knows! Email current customers and subscribers of your latest feat and encourage them to give it a look. Blast the website link and highlight improved features or new information on social media. Be proud of your new website and make it known you are ready and able to be an expert in your field by providing your audience a quality experience with knowledgeable content and information. Enjoy and relish your accomplishment while at the same time knowing and understanding that your celebration is just for the initial launch. There is a long road ahead of maintaining, updating, and improving the website as time goes on.
 
While developing a strong web presence may appear to require too much time and money, you are ultimately establishing your brand and voice. Your presence on the Internet is not something to take lightly. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by when it comes to having a conversation with your customers and being where your customers are. Staking your spot in the industry and sharing your knowledge and expertise on your specific subject will allow you to develop a voice in your field. It is known that customers will turn to the Internet to explore their options and find more information before making a final decision. Take advantage of this opportunity by taking the time to expand your web presence in a professional and sophisticated manner. Before you know it, you will be the go-to resource for information.
 
By Ashley Lubey
NMP Magazine November 2014 E-edition. View this article in its published form here: http://bit.ly/1uX0RSw
 

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