In this age of information, it seems almost everyone has a website. Whether the website is for personal reasons, business, or social networking, almost everyone has one. That does not mean that the website is doing what it is supposed to do. Just because anyone can build a website, does not mean that it is a good website. For the purposes of this article, I will be discussing business websites, and that includes websites for small businesses and home businesses. Every website needs factors that make it professional and marketable. The top ten things that every website should have are listed below.
1) Simple Design and Layout – A website does not have to be super flashy to draw traffic and appeal to customers. In fact, flashy is usually a turnoff to most people – and to the search engines. It is important that your website has a simple, streamlined and professional design, and that it will be laid out in a simple, consistent way. The website graphics and images also need to be simple and easy to load. Macromedia Flash animations are a no-no here – search engines can not "read" Flash animations, and they are too hard to load. When you consider that a majority of consumers still do not have fast broadband internet connections, it is best to have a simple website that is easy to load.
2) Search Engine Optimization – Any business website needs to be optimized for the search engines to "read" it more easily, and for your website to have a higher page rank in the search engines. The point of this is to draw higher volumes and better quality of traffic to your website. You can do this by having a website that is simple, yet full of unique text content that contains related keywords through the content. This will draw targeted, pre-qualified leads and customers to your website.
3) An "About Us" page – When customers drop by your website, they love to be able to have a way to read more about your company or small business – especially if it is a home-based business! Many people are looking to work from home, and someone may become so interested in your business that they contact you, interested in partnering with you. The point of this is, customers love to able to learn more about the company with what they may be making a purchase. Have a clear, concise biography about your company and / or you included in your website. Make it friendly and enjoyable to read. When a customer feels as if he / she knows you, they are more likely to purchase your products. Do not overload them with information, however – just keep it simple.
4) Contact information – Just as it is very important to have an "about us" page, it is vital to have easy to find contact information on your website. You should include on this page any way that a customer can contact you or your company, such as e-mail, phone numbers, fax numbers, and a snail-mail address. Also let the customers know who he / she will reach with e-mail and phone number. Make it easy for anyone to navigate back and forth from your contact information to other pages within the website.
5) Fresh content – This aspect is also vitally important. Adding and updating fresh, unique content will look good to both your customers and the search engines. Continually adding fresh content lets the search engines see your website as important, and your page rank will higher. Fresh content also keeps customers coming back for more – they want to see what you will add next.
6) Easy Navigation – This is one of the most important aspects of a good website – and it is often overlooked. As mentioned previously, make sure that anyone and everyone can easily navigate from page to page within your website. A website without links back to the Home Page or without links from page to page is a huge frustration to most consumers. Also make sure all links are working correctly. A broken link not only looks unprofessional, it can deter a customer from coming back to your website.
7) Creative Page Names and Titles – This is another great way to ensure that the search engines see your website and think it is important. Having creative page names and creative website titles is a must. Make sure you use keywords relevant to your niche in these page names and website titles. Not only will this help give your site a higher rank in the search engines, it will help your customers see you as consistent. Someone who is consistent is also reliable.
8) Social Networking – Social networking is not just for making friends. It is an excellent way to draw traffic to a website. Join forums, make profiles on sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, submit your website to directories like Digg.com, build a Squidoo lens to link back to and promote your website. All of the above will help you build up links to your website, and will also promote and brand yourself as a professional. Getting in there and networking with people lets them see what you have to offer. Offer up plenty of good free content and advice, and place links to your website on your profiles. This will draw traffic to your website like flies to honey.
9) Add an autoresponder – Make a squeeze page (a separate page with enticing information that leads to your main website) and add an autoresponder box to it, or add an autoresponder box to the home page of your main website. An autoresponder is an automated e-mail service that sends out pre-scheduled, automated replies to your customers and pre-scheduled newsletters. An autoresponder box on your website or squeeze page lets people input their names and e-mail address in order to either get access to useful information, or to join your newsletter. Either way, this is an excellent way to build a customer list. With a list, you can build trust with your followers by sending them fresh, useful content. This leads to long-term repeat customers and more sales.
10) Proofreading – You might be surprised how often this factor is overlooked. You may be surprised by the simplicity of this, but proofreading the content on a website is an ultra important thing to do. Always proofread and check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors before you publish the content on your website. Content that is full of spelling or grammar errors is off-putting to any customer, and it looks very unprofessional. Fortunately there is an easy solution – double check your content and correct any mistakes.
Remember, though, that the most important factor of all to a website is traffic. If there is no traffic, there are no sales. No sale means no money. Fortunately, if you research your niche, learn how to effectively utilize internet marketing, and follow the tips in this article, your website will be sure to be a smashing success.