Web Marketing Resolutions for 2011

Resolution #1 - Homepage Check-Up

On the homepage of your website you have less than a second to make a great first impression. Resolve to make your homepage count. Be sure that it communicates who you are, what you do and whom you serve. This message can happen via your tagline, text on the page, or visually (photos, videos) -- or a combination of all three. This critical information needs to be "above the fold," meaning a visitor does not have to scroll to see it. Example: If you are a mechanic in Knoxville, Tennessee, this can be communicated by having your address visible, the opening text header can spell it out (Acme Mechanics of Knoxville, Tennessee) and/or a photo showing your work or location.

Next, ask yourself what you want people to do when they come to your website. Do you want them to call? Join an e-mail newsletter list? Learn more about your products or services? Donate? Whatever your desired actions are, try using the top right area of your homepage to have your desired call-to-action displayed. The top right corner is a top-viewed location of a homepage that can be used to attract eyeballs and prompt action.

Lastly, as you do a homepage health check-up, make sure your homepage is the "North Star" of your website -- a guiding light to steer visitors where you want them to go. You want visitors to get to your site, but also through your site. Ask yourself: Is the navigation on your site clear? Is it easy for people to find the pages that help them understand the value of what you do? If you have any doubt whether your site is an effective guiding light, ask a target client (preferably somebody who does not use your site who is unbiased, but in your target audience) to make desired actions and watch them use your site. The education you get from simple user experience tests like this will clarify a great deal for you on how to improve your site.

Resolution #2 -
Grab Interest by Being Interesting

Believe it or not, the "about us" page is one of the most important pages of your website. People vote with their wallets. Help connect with website visitors so they vote to buy from you by adding some "oomph" to this critical page. Stanford conducted the Web Credibility Guidelines study to see what generates trust online. They found that seeing real people behind the organization and highlighting their expertise and credentials are big factors. Visitors buy when they know, like, and trust you.

Your can increase buyer interest by being interesting! Refresh your "about us" page by sharing the organizational history and show that there are great people on your team. A picture says a thousand words, so adding photos of the people on the team is a small enhancement that can make a big difference. Remember that story telling is story selling. Voice your organization's values by using the "about us" page to share in a compelling way your story, credentials, and photos.

Resolution #3 -
Get Searched and Found

Search engines are still the number one way people search for products, services, and information. Think of the phrases that you want to be searched for and found on; then make sure those phrases are used early and often on your website. You can optimize your website for more visibility in several ways:

  1. Titles and Headlines. Example: "About" as the title for a webpage can be easily optimized with a phrase that describes what you do. If you sell organic baby products, change the title to read "About Our Organic Baby Products"
  2. Meta Tags. Every page of your website needs a unique title and meta description tag -- and perhaps meta keyword tag. Your meta tags tell search engines and prospective visitors what each page is about. Title tags should be no more than 50 to 75 characters (including spaces). Descriptions should be no more than 150 characters, and the keyword tag should be no more than 5 to10 words.
  3. Links with Keywords. Have links on your site that point to other pages on your site that have priority key phrases in them. Instead of Click Here, try Learn More About Our Priority Organic Baby Products.
  4. Local Listings. Make sure your business is listed for free in the search engine local sections. This is a primary place people search for businesses. Even if your listing is in these local search engines, go back and make sure your descriptions are accurate and photos are added. This is a great way to boost visibility, especially if you are a locally-based business. Here's where to add your site:
    Add your site to Google Places
    Add your site to Yahoo! Local
    Add your site to Bing Local Listing Center
  5. Check Your Site. Run your site through Hubspot's Free Grader tool. The insights and tips you get are very revealing and helpful.

Resolution #4 -
Get Over Being Anti-Social

Get over being anti-social media, that is! One of the most cost-effective ways to boost credibility, visibility, and sellability is to be a participant in the social web. Think of social media as arms that can further communicate your values by voicing your message on places other than your website. Blogs are a brilliant way to connect through sharing relevant content. Twitter is a form of shorter blogging (and tweets are popping up in Google now for more visibility). Facebook helps create conversation and community. Don't forget LinkedIn as an "interactive Rolodex" that can help store your contacts. Go back and update your profiles so they accurately communicate your products and services, and make sure your profiles are complete. We learn by doing; the more you test, try, and apply, the more social media will make sense to you and your business.

Using the web to support sales comes from an optimized website and diverse online portfolio. Begin to implement these resolutions now!

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