By Kelly Cook – first distributed by The Empowerment Network from Women Moving Forward, February 2004
Previous: Internet Marketing Tips 1 to 10
10. To make sure your website is visible in search engines results, you must ‘optimize’ the copy and code of your website for two different yet simultaneous audiences. The first audience is humans reading your web pages, and the second is search engine and directory robots who ‘index’ your web pages in order to include them in the search results. Each audience has different requirements, yet both types of copy must complement the other.
- When writing the site copy for your human audience, ask some trusted friends or colleagues to critique your copy using the perspective of a website visitor typical of your target market. Is the copy user-centric versus organization-centric? Does it answer all the questions the user might have? As quickly as possible?
11. As stated in Tip #10, to make sure your website is visible in search engines results, you must ‘optimize’ the copy and code of your website for two different yet simultaneous audiences. The second audience are the search engine and directory robots who ‘index’ your web pages in order to include them in the search results. You must make your website is “search engine friendly” by providing the robots with certain pieces of information including a “TITLE” tag, a “Description” meta tag and a “Keyword” meta tag. The TITLE tag is critical – it is what search engines display when they list your page in the results for a keyword search.
- When writing your Title tag (one per unique web page in your site) be specific about the content of the page but limit it to no more than 60 characters including commas and spaces. Do not use “Company Name” as the only copy in your TITLE tag as this tends to clutter search results. An example of an Title for a ecommerce vendor is:
<title>Shopping Cart Software by MonsterCommerce – Ecommerce Solutions</title>
12. Search engines use the Description META tag as the summary for your site when listed in search results. It is what tells a real person whether or not your site is relevant to their search. Without this tag, a search engine may describe your site for you by displaying the first hundred or so characters from the top of your page, which may not make sense to the reader.
- The Description tag should not exceed 250 characters in length including spaces and commas, with the most important content placed at the beginning. An example of a Description META tag for a Veterinary Association is:
<META name=”description” content=”About animal health, safety; pet loss, buying a pet. Information on veterinarians.”>
13. Unlike the TITLE and Description tags, the Keyword META tag is intended solely for search engine robots, providing them with a list of keywords and phrases reflective of the subject and intended audience of your site.
- The Keyword tag should not exceed 250 characters in length including spaces and commas (or approximately 15 words), with the most important content placed at the beginning. An example of a Keyword META tag for a furniture store is:
<meta NAME=”keywords” CONTENT=”furniture, furniture stores, furniture store, discount, bedroom, baby, kids, living room furniture, outdoor furniture”
14. Now that you’ve finished your planning phase, the second phase in launching a website is design. The secret to limiting the number of hours you need to spend on design fees is to do the following:
- Hire a website designer and provide him or her with your site map and site copy. Ask for three different mock-ups of your web site homepage to help you decide what you like / dislike about each design. As the mock-ups do not need to be functional web pages, the designer can limit the number of hours needed to provide you with a final version that combines the ‘best of’ elements of the three original mock-ups.
15. The third phase in launching a website is “production”. This is when the HTML code is written, or when your web pages are actually ‘built’. To complete this step:
- Hire a website producer and provide him / her with the site map and the site copy from Tip #6, the homepage design from Tip #7 and for a price to build the site based on that planning material. Once you agree on the price, the producer will begin building and then ask you to test the site. Once you approve the site, it can go live!
16. The fourth step in launching a website is all about you – marketing! Your job is to build awareness of the site:
- Print your URL on all marketing material (business cards, invoices, envelopes, trucks, hats, etc). List all the places you currently print your phone number and add the URL – ideally in a larger font than the phone number itself.
17. As discussed in Tip #16, build awareness of your web site via search engine listings. Due to the fact that Google provides search results for its own search engine as well as several other search engines (e.g. AOL Search, Netscape Search) it hold 75% – 80% market share*. Thus, if your website is to going to be found by users, you’ve got to make sure it’s listed prominently in Google under your company name and under your product or service category – for example both “Home Hardware” and “hardware store”.
- Submit your website to Google
*Source: ”7 Secrets to High Google Rankings”, Stephen Spencer, Netconcepts, February 2004
18. One of the ways that Google improves your ranking is based on “importance”, which is defined by the number, size and relevance of content of websites which link to your website.
- To encourage sites to link to you, create a links page where you can offer a reciprocal link to them.
19. Once the site is launched, take the time to assess the effectiveness of your website by reviewing your “usage statistics” or “traffic” reports on a monthly basis. These reports are available through your hosting provider at no extra cost. Among other things, the reports can tell you how many visitors you’ve had over what time period, where they’re coming from and other critical marketing information.
- Contact your hosting provider and ask them how to access your website traffic reports. Review them on a monthly basis and make decisions about how to improve the site based on that information.
20. The most important statistic to review in your website traffic reports is the “visitor” or “session” metric – not “hits”! Hits simply count the number of elements on any given web page (such as the number of graphics), not the number of visitors to the page. So – if you have five graphics on a page, you’ll get five hits for each visitor. Hits are a very inflated number and don’t reflect the actual usage levels of your site.
- Review your traffic reports and focus on visitor or session trends (not absolute numbers). Relative to your target market size, are your website visitor numbers increasing, decreasing or staying flat, over what time period?