Growing Up Your Website

shackAs the barriers to entry into the world of websites and web-design have become less difficult to penetrate, more and more people find themselves managing their online presence without a map and no real understanding of the steps necessary to distinguish their business from the ocean of online content.

Perhaps you started a blog that’s turned into a real business, and now requires more functionality than a simple blog can deliver. Perhaps your older site hasn’t been updated to include the design and tech conventions of modern websites. Either way, growing your website into something that stands out and performs well can be a daunting task.

Not to worry! Stick around and we’ll go through some of the most important things to pay attention to when upgrading an older or under-performing site.

Right Stuff, Wrong Neighborhood

Imagine your website is a brick-and-mortar business, selling the best new widgets money can buy. Now imagine that your store is located at the end of a dirt road, half-way up the side of mountain. No matter how wonderful your widgets, it’s unlikely that you will sell any with a location like that!

The same is true of the web, and the tool you use to make a difference is SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and can make or break the fortunes of a new business online.

The internet equivalent to our mountain-side analogy would be a many-page-deep placement in search results, whereas having a store in a busy shopping district would be equal to being listed on the first page of returned results.

SEO is the practice (or art) of optimizing the content and structure of your website so that Google and other search engines will be more likely to move your listings from the “backwoods” pages, where few searchers ever venture, to the first page, where it will be much more likely to be seen.

Be warned that SEO involves a lot of tinkering and testing. Search engines use hundreds of criteria to determine where to rank your site, and they are updating and changing those criteria all the time.

I won’t go into SEO specifics here, but suffice it to say that you need good SEO if you want to accomplish anything.

Good Neighborhood, Bad Building

bad-storeSo, you’ve gotten your site moved up in the search engine results, problem solved, right? Wrong! Just because you’ve gotten more eyeballs on your content doesn’t mean those eyeballs will convert into business for you. Or, to continue our analogy, a run-down shop in the midst of high-end stores won’t do the job.

Internet visitors are notoriously capricious, and if your site seems antiquated or difficult to navigate in any way, they are more likely to move on than delve deeper.

To combat this, you need to make sure that your site is designed using modern web trends and structured to provide easy navigation and clear calls to action.

First, do your research! Look for other sites in the same business arena as yours and see what your competition is up to. See what works and doesn’t work for others before you start in on your own site.

Again, I won’t go into design specifics here, but check out my previous posts “The Anatomy of Good Web Design” and “It’s Not All About Design…Just Mostly” for some detailed advice.

Keeping Up and Keeping Track

Alright, you’ve got good listing placement, and your site looks and functions great. Now you can just sit back and let the money roll in, right? Wrong again!

Websites are living documents, and they require constant engagement to be truly effective. If your site has a blog, you need to be posting regularly. Search engines can tell when your content is stale, and they penalize your ranking for it, so keep the content coming.

Modern web-design is a moving target as well. New technology and ways of using that tech are popping up every day. Pay attention! Keep visiting competing sites and looking for new innovations that might work for you as well. A quick design and structure refresh every year or so can keep you on the cutting edge, and keep returning visitors interested.

You also need to make sure that you have good analytics installed on your site, or you won’t have hard numbers to ascertain whether all this work you’ve been doing on your site is having any effect. Google has a very good (and free) analytics service that will provide all kinds of valuable information about your website’s visitors and performance. Don’t venture into website-design without it!

This is a lot of stuff to be processing, especially if your a relative novice when it comes to web design. That’s what Solamar is here for! All of the sites we make incorporate the latest in web-trends, excellent SEO and delicious design. If you’d like some help turning your older site into one that kicks butt, give us a shout! We’d love to help.

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