Turn Your Website from Trash to Cash

“What’s your website address?” Has anyone asked you that question? Did that flatter you? Or did that make you think? If you want a million visitors to your website this month, would you want a million people to ask you that question?

Website addresses are very much unlike their offline counterpart. In the offline world, passersby see your signage and would somehow remember your name, your product, or the street where they think they have found you. In the online world, its either people know your exact URL or they don’t see you at all.

The next best thing they can do is type on the search engine the closest thing they can remember about you. They type what they remember of your website address or business name. Or, they type the product or service that you offer.

The killer questions are: would your website address come up in their search? Or are you, in fact, introducing new customers to your fiercest competitor every day?

Tough questions, aren’t they? They are reality checks.

The good news is you can turn your business website from trash to cash by taking some pretty simple steps:

1. Choose your domain name well. If your product is golf equipment, then your domain name should contain that. Using your nice-sounding name may not help much, unless your name has “golf” somewhere in it.

2. Your website design should speak well of your brand. Choose content, colors, font styles and images to match your audience. If you sell golf equipment, take that image of a flower out and use manly colors instead of pink. That is, unless you’re selling to women.

3. Follow search engine optimization strategies. This is all about keywords, meta tags, alt tags and linking strategies. The whole point of SEO is for your website address to appear when someone types “pink golf equipment.”

4. Write a stream of articles. Google, most especially, loves fresh content. So, keep updating your site with fresh articles. Three times a week is said to be optimal if you want to rise in search engines fast.

5. Employ interactive website programming. When someone wants to write you an email, have an email form ready in your website and make sure it works. Have auto-responders inform her that you have her message and that you would respond soon. Then, collect her email address with an assurance that you won’t sell it.

6. Maintain a responsive back-end support. Auto-responders are a big help, but they’re not substitutes to real humans. Website viewers need people with names and faces to respond to their inquiries and answer the phone when necessary.

7. Maximize use of social media. Build online awareness about your website by being present in social networks. Facebook is the biggest today, but that can change tomorrow. Be active also in groups and forums that discuss your product or industry. While doing so, find a way of telling people about your business without blatantly violating forum rules.

8. Take Advantage of Video-Sharing Sites. YouTube may be a video-sharing site, but it is also the next largest search engine in the internet. Don’t miss out there. Maintain a channel there. Establish presence in other video-sharing sites too.

9. Take Advantage of Photo-Sharing Sites. Flickr and Photobucket are two of the most popular photo-sharing sites. Post images there and be found in photo searches.

10. Send Regular Newsletters. Having collected the email addresses of your viewers and customers, send them regular emails. This will keep them engaged and updated about your latest offerings.

Your marketing mix in today’s world includes your website. What viewers see and experience in your website is who you are. Whether your website serves as a location for company information, consumer feedback or an e-commerce portal, it is a strategic battle ground in the marketing war.

Just remember, when people searching for your products don’t find you in their searches, one of your competitors would grab their attention in a blink. When their experience with you is short of excellent, they know where to go simply by tapping their keyboard.

There’s only one place online where you want them to go, your website. Fight for it.

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