Business Success on the Web

Business owners often ask me, “How can my business be successful on the web?”

My response is, “Your business will be successful on the web when:

1. People can find your business’ website easily,
2. The text on the website is persuasive and easily understood,
3. The design of the website is attractive and professional looking,
4. The website loads quickly and is easy to get around and easy to use on a handheld as well as on a PC,
5. The intent of the website is clear,
6. The website offers something that the visitor wants or needs and
7. The action you are seeking from the visitor is clear and easy to take.

The next question invariably is, “How do you make a website do all those things?” I tell them: research and proper coding.

It is necessary to understand what the business wants the website to accomplish whether that gets more customers, sell more products, educate existing customers, and/or support customers. Understanding what the business makes or does and how these products or services differ from those of competitors is also an important element.

Keyword research is the next step in making a website successful. The actual words and phrases that people enter into the search engines when they are searching for the products or services offered by the company must be found. It’s best to identify two sets of phrases (those used by the business and those used by prospective customers) and then test these phrases to identify the text that will best represent the business on the web.

Studying the competition – what are they selling and how are they marketing their products and services – to see how a client can best represent themselves on the web is a necessary step as well. Visiting competing websites shows how they are doing their marketing.

It’s important to report findings to the business owner/executive. I like to include good news, opportunities to improve, statistics regarding keyword phrases and a web plan that details the names of the web pages I would build and the meta tags and text content for each page.

Based on a discussion with the owner or executive about what is learned through research, it is then possible to proceed with drafting the website design, securing approval of the draft design and building the site to incorporate all of the above. This process is known as web development and search engine optimization.

The job doesn’t stop there. It’s necessary to set up traffic tracking for the site. Monthly reports of search engine rankings and traffic to the site show where updates need to be made and points to possible recommendations for further improvements to the website.

Sometimes I am asked, “Once the website does all these things will my staff be able to update and maintain the website in-house?” “Absolutely,” I respond, “at any point in the process, I can and will train internal staff to make, maintain and improve the website. My philosophy is that a website is a dynamic tool that belongs to the business. As a teacher-type personality, I take as much enjoyment out of training in-house staff to successfully maintain and improve a website as I do in doing this work myself.”

Helping businesses find success on the web is a passion for me. It is work. There is no magic involved, but when all goes as hoped the happy result feels like magic.

About Elizabeth Paulsen

Elizabeth, president of Cascade e-Commerce Solutions, Inc., lives and works in SeaTac, WA. Helping small businesses succeed on the web is her specialty. Join Elizabeth on Google+.