New Years Resolutions: Is Improving Your Website One of Them?

With the New Year upon us yet again, it's time to prepare for the successes of 2005. Did you watch with envy last year as your competitors dominated your industry? Do you think your site is doing just fine because no one has ever called to complain? Well here's some food for thought: 96% of all prospects will click over to your competitor if they encounter a problem on your website.

While you're resolving to get fit, quit smoking and pay off some debts, we're offering up some New Year's resolutions for your business. Learn how to ethically kick your online competitors to the curb!

Resolve to...

...Make Content & Relevancy a Top Priority

It is, after all, the information highway. People search the Web for information-so give the people what they want. If you want to generate qualified leads and produce more sales, then continually updating your website with new and useful content must be at the top of your priority list.

Search engines seek out relevant, up-to-date information when they rank sites for specific keywords and phrases. If you don't have timely informative content, you won't get a good ranking; and without a good ranking, prospects can't find you. But that's just the beginning of your online demise. Even if you manage to achieve a good ranking on the search engine results pages (SERPs), your content must intrigue visitors to return to your site regularly.

Studies reveal that online consumers take several passes at a website before making a purchase.

Website maintenance is time-consuming and it's easy to put unpaid man-hours on the back burner. But why would potential customers revisit your site if the last archived newsletter were dated two years ago? Or if your "Coming Events" page lists tradeshows held six months ago? They won't-they'll likely skip over to the competition in search of up-to-date information.

... Increase Your Site's Visibility & Improve its Performance

Once your website is updated (for the time being) with informative content, the next step is to implement some SEO solutions to gain higher search rankings. The purpose of these SEO techniques is twofold:

1. Create Awareness: Carefully selected keywords and phrases, worked seamlessly throughout your copy and in meta tags, will help your site gain higher placements in SERPs.

2. Increase Sales: Once prospects are on your site, savvy marketing writers will have used the power of persuasion in the copy to turn first-time visitors into loyal customers.

...Increase Your Return On Investment (ROI)

We cannot stress this enough ... in order for your website to be extremely effective, achieving an astounding ROI, you must have a detailed plan:

* Analyze your SWOT

Perform an in-depth analysis to compare the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) of your competitor's online presence to your own. A qualified SEO firm can enhance your site's usability and navigation, implement ethical optimization techniques, and provide eye-catching design.

* Evaluate your website development goals

It's never too late to write or re-evaluate your website's mission statement-not necessarily for publication, but rather to create your own benchmarks. This will help you set goals and concentrate your efforts on critical issues to achieve and exceed those goals.

* Know your audience

An old adage says: "you can't be everything to everyone." Fortunately, your website can be various things to various audiences. Success comes from having a clear understanding of your target market(s). By creating diverse navigation paths and reader-specific content-for buyers, vendors, job seekers or investors-your conversion rates will increase dramatically.

* Enhance website usability

Effective website navigation must flow effortlessly. If visitors cannot quickly and easily pinpoint the information they seek, they're very likely to leave your site and click to the competition.

An IBM study reveals that every dollar invested to increase usability earns $10-$100 in benefits, winning customer satisfaction and loyalty.

* Measure success and failure

Read your log files and tracking tools! Website traffic analysis is essential to accurately measure your site's performance. In-depth analysis will show you how to increase traffic, trace your search engine referrals, monitor link campaigns, and make necessary changes to achieve your desired results.

...Apply the Power of SEO

Your website has the power to be a highly effective marketing tool-but just because you built it doesn't mean they'll come. If you optimize it, however, they're much more likely to come ... and stay a while.

Anyone can learn search engine optimization and website usability. But if lack of time and interest is holding you back, enlist the help of website optimizers and SEO copywriters to complement your design team and ultimately increase revenue.

A word to the wise: ensure that the SEO firm you choose works strictly within the confines of best practices-safe and ethical search engine optimization strategies. Unethical SEO tactics may seriously harm your rankings, and even get your site banned from search engines altogether.

On behalf of Word Associates and U-C WEBS, we wish you a happy, healthy & profitable 2005!

~~
Nardo Kuitert is a Website Optimizer with U-C WEBS (http://www.u-cwebs.com/). A website is like a magnet; does your website pull visitors in, or push them away? A heuristic usability evaluation will provide you with a first step towards greater visitor conversions.

~~
Aimee Cremasco, Founder and Sr. Copywriter of Word Associates (http://www.wordassociates.ca/), produces compelling content to help websites achieve top search engine rankings & ultimately increase conversion rates. Wouldn't your site benefit from a content evaluation?

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