CRITICAL CONSIDERATIONS you need to know before selecting a website designer to develop your e-commerce website, and how NOT thinking about these issues can DOOM your web business to failure!
You need energy and passion to be successful on the internet. It is an extremely competitive environment and requires a lot of dedication and work to reach the top of your field ....
.... but there are strategies you can use to make it so much easier!
Think about it. If you were looking at establishing a bricks and mortar business would you open in a run down mall in a poor part of town, just to save rent?
Would you find the cheapest printer to print your business cards on the cheapest paper stock?
Would you display your merchandise haphazardly on the floor or on a few wooden boxes? I doubt it, because you know you would never be successful taking that approach.
Your website is the equivalent to your bricks and mortar business.
You need to choose the services and products you are going to offer based on research, not hunches.
You need to invest in a well designed user friendly website with a professional content management system that lets you update and make changes to your website as you need them.
The content of your website should be focussed around relevant targeted niche keywords and informational pages that relate to your products, services and location.
For example, instead of focusing on generic keyword phrases with millions of competing pages, target boutique keywords with less competition, but that your targeted audience uses when they do a search on the internet for your type of product or service.
If your business only targets local buyers, then make sure you include your city, state, and suburb in your keyword phrases.
An example can be taken from our business where our choice of keywords targets searchers looking for a newsletter system, email marketing system, or Australian web developer based in Brisbane.
As a result we rank higher for those terms in the search engines, and benefit from the fact searchers looking for a Brisbane based web designer, or Australian web developer, tend to be more serious prospects, rather than someone just looking for information.
If you need assistance in finding search phrases and keywords go to www.goodkeywords.com | www.wordtracker.com |, and www.searchmarketing.yahoo.com/rc/srch.
You will find useful information and tools to help you make the correct keyword decisions.
Loading your website with valuable information pages, built around relevant keywords, is one of the first steps you should take to getting indexed in Google, Yahoo, MSN, and other search engines.
But to get into the top 10 or first page of the search engines for your selected keywords there are other strategies you must implement.
For example, attracting links from important websites relevant to the service or product you are promoting.
Google, for instance considers these as referrals to your website. The more important and relevant the websites linking to you are, the higher the referral value and the more likely you will be indexed higher for that specific search term.
Some people think if they put any website online it will be an instant money machine, yet they won't devote resources, including money or time, in developing and promoting their website.
The days have gone when websites have novelty value to viewers.
If a website doesn’t offer valuable content during a search, the searcher will leave the website and probably never return .... and the search engine spiders will leave as well.
You should also choose your Domain Name wisely, preferably in collaboration with your web designer or SEO professional.
It should be easy to spell and easy to remember, and you should consider using hyphens to separate the words.
The right choice can be a big step in getting your website listed ahead of the competition.
Your website is your online personality!
It must provide real value in the form of information and knowledge of interest to your target audience
It should be interactive and have simple, easy to follow navigation, NOT a basic "business card" or brochure style website
It must promote trust and demonstrate integrity in your business
It must offer helpful and relevant information about your company, products, and services
Make sure important contact information, such as phone number, address, email, and fax is clearly displayed on your home page, as well as on your contact page.
Add an inquiry form to your website, and if you send out newsletters, blogs, or promotional emails, include a subscriber form as well.
Forms should be used to capture a first name and email address only, don’t scare your prospects off by asking for too much information at the beginning of your relationship.
Sign up forms will help you build a customer relationship database (CRM) of prospects and customers automatically, enabling you to keep in contact using automated newsletters, promotional emails, and announcements.
Don’t get caught up in long winded FLASH introduction pages or extreme design. These type of websites may massage your ego, but they won't sell product online.
Serious visitors, the ones that spend money, want serious information. They are not there to be entertained, so don’t insult them by wasting their time.
Make sure your website has an easy to use Content Management System (CMS) and database, so you can keep your content and information up to date and fresh.
Your website should also have built in tools to help you optimise your website for the search engines, including link management tools and a Google friendly sitemap.
Make sure your web developer/designer offers full support when you need it. Some web developers use cheap templates to develop your website and have no understanding of the source code behind the template.
These so called web-developers are limited to using forms supplied as part of the template and cannot offer customised databases for your business. This means your website ends up looking amateurish and inefficient.
When your website has problems, they can’t help you out as they are not familiar with the source code, leaving you with an outdated, inefficient website.
Host your website with a reliable company and do not use cheap, or free hosting. The difference in cost is only a few dollars per month. Is it worth risking your business for the price of a cup of coffee a day?
Promote your web business every chance you get.
Never miss a chance to list your URL and email address prominently on all your advertising and promotional material, including vehicles, Yellow Page ads, calendars, at trade fairs, and on your shop front.
And ALWAYS ask prospects and customers for their email address and permission to keep them up to date with your latest offers and promotions.
For more information on how you can build a profitable online business through automated online catalogues, autoresponders, newsletters and promotional email, contact Mike Greenfield, Marketing Director, SiteDesignNOW.com
SiteDesignNOW.com specialises in designing and developing eCommerce online stores and websites for small and large business.
Resource: Mike Greenfield, SiteDesignNOW.com, Brisbane, Australia
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