Are You Guilty of Website Neglect?

    You wouldn’t let the sign fall off your building, or keep last month’s sale sign in the front window. So don’t neglect your online storefront either. Your website, just like every other part of your business, needs attention and up-keep to stay up-to-date and to keep bringing customers in the door. You may be guilty of website neglect if you can answer NO to any of the following questions:
    • Have you updated your website in the last 3 months?
    • Do you know how many people are visiting your site and where they are coming from?
    • Is your website free of "Under Construction" pages?
    • Has your website been re-designed or overhauled in the last 3-4 years?
    If you answered No to any of the above questions, it's not too late to start taking care of your website again, and make it an online presence you are proud of.
     
    The following tips and tricks will help you utilize your new website, and take it to the next level.
     

    Do you Know Who is Visiting Your Website?

    Before you do anything to your new website install a website tracking system to monitor your visits. If you don’t track how many hits you get, and where they are coming from you will never know the results of your marketing efforts. While some hosts provide tracking, the most common way of tracking is with Google Analytics.
     
    Google Analytics was a one of our “9 Online Tools You Should Know About” in the last edition. Google provides an amazing way to learn more about where your visitors come from and how they interact with your site, and that’s just scratching the surface. The best part of Google Analytics is that it is free, all you need is a Gmail account.
     

    Is Your Website Up to Date?

    You spent all that time developing your website, but the job isn’t over. The most common problem I see is websites that are not kept up-to-date. We have all visited sites only to find last month's events on the homepage, or blogs with no new entries in the last two months. When you commit to owning a website, you also need to make the commitment to keep it up-to-date.
    Keeping your website updated is not only good for visitors, it is good for your rankings. Search engines want to display the most current information... keep your site up-to-date and stay near the top of the list.
     

    Coming Soon...

    Well, you have most of your website up, but there is a section or two you just haven’t gotten around to yet. Having “coming soon” or “under contruction” pages up for indefinite periods of time show your visitors you are neglecting your website. Instead of labeling large sections of your site with “coming soon” or “under construction” just leave them out, and add a sidebar with a note about what visitors can expect to see in the coming month. You may also try to include a launch date for your new section but only if will truly launch on the date you list.
     

    Still Under Construction?

    If you are building your website you should absolutely have a placeholder for visitors, and to start to establish yourself on search engines. Your placeholder should contain basic contact information and a timeframe for your site launch so visitors know when to come back. If you are not ready to undertake building your website then have a single well-designed page that includes your company information and don’t promise a new site until it’s underway.
     

    What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

    SEO is a way of increasing search engine rankings. When you type a search term into Google your site ranks in the list of other websites that appear. Changing your website to increasing your “ranking” is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
    Search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) are constantly working to create the better ways of finding and categorizing websites.
     
    Search Engines Look For:
    • Updates: How frequently your site is updated
    • Age: How long has your website has been up for
    • Keywords: By searching the content on your website, search engines determine what search terms your site should come up under.
    • Meta-Tags: Before search engines were sophisticated they counted on the webmaster to tell them what the website was about. Today however meta-tags are typically overlooked by search engines.
    • Links: How many incoming and outgoing links you have. (incoming are more important)
    • Priority: The homepage is always the most important, so keep it up to date!
    There are also barriers to search engines finding content on your site, and a list of thing you should stay away from.
     
    Search Engines Do Not Like:
    • Hidden content on your site to add keywords. If the search engines detect you are doing this you will be removed from their rankings... and it’s not easy to get back on.
    • Content in images or Flash files. Text placed in images is not read by search engines, and as of now neither is Flash content.
    • Hidden links to secondary pages. Don’t hide your content by not linking it correctly. You should have true html links on your homepage leading to the secondary pages on the website, this helps search engines find all of your pages.

    Is Your Website Design Outdated?

    There is a good chance your website is where your customer gets their first impression of your business. Old or poorly designed websites don’t give customers the first impression you are looking for.
    Most businesses should overhaul or rework their websites every 3-4 years. Depending on the design and functions of your old site, and your competitor's websites, redesigns may need to be more frequent.
    You may not need to overhaul your website every few years, you might be able to rework the design, and refresh the graphics. With improving programming languages this may be much less expensive than starting from scratch again. If your current website does not allow for this then make sure to request your that your new one is CSS/HTML based.
     

    Featureless?

    You may have had big plans for your website that were downsized due to your budget, but many features can be added to your website after it’s launched. Filling out your website with additional content will increase your appearances on search engines, which equals more visitors.
     
    Google Calendar:

    If you have monthly events a great way of publishing them on your website is by using a Google Calendar. The installation is simple, and you can update it from your Google account or sync it to your desktop calendar.

     
    News Feeds:

    If you don’t have a chance to update your website frequently consider adding a News Feed. It’s a great way to increase traffic to your website and stay up-to-date on the latest industry news. There are a number of free and paid options available; many of the free options will include a small ad or link to their website. Shop around and choose the News Feed that is right for you.

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