How is Your Web Site Working For You?

Unfortunately, many small businesses view their web sites as an item on a “to-do” list – as if it were simply one more task to be crossed off when finished and launched live on the web. But is your small business web site ever really “finished”? Can it be left alone; letting the information become outdated, and not keeping pace with technology or your customers’ ever-changing needs and expectations? Of course not – not if you want your web site to actually work FOR your business!

The official launch of your site is definitely an accomplishment – chances are you and your web development firm have worked very hard to create the right design and branding, and to fill the pages with compelling, action-oriented content. You’ve also invested time and budget to implement the right web features and functionality that will motivate web visitors to take action – ultimately generating leads, converting new sales, supporting your customers, and establishing you as an expert in your industry. Like I said – it’s quite an accomplishment.

But once your site has been launched, how do you plan to bring traffic to the site? How will you measure that traffic? After a while, your information will become outdated – how do you plan to make updates, and keep adding fresh, interesting information to the site? What steps will you take to get on the first page of Google or the other major search engines? How do you plan to keep your site listed higher than your competitors?

Your web site is one of the most important, versatile, affordable marketing tools that you have, so you need to treat it like the marketing asset that it is – and get the most value possible out of your investment. To make sure your web site is truly working for your business, here is a checklist you can follow:

* Update your site each month; add an article, update a product page, add a video, or use an RSS feed to ensure that your visitors and the search engines are seeing something new on a regular basis.

* Optimize each individual web page for the search engines; if you are not comfortable doing this in-house, hire a professional firm to do this for you.

* Measure your SEO results every month; if you see pages begin to fall in the rankings, take immediate action to reverse negative trends.

* Review your web site stats every month; pay attention to any pages that seem to “leak” visitors and make the necessary adjustments to these pages.

* Use social networking sites to promote your site; make sure all of your profiles are cross-linked with your web site.

* Use e-marketing campaigns to drive traffic to your web site and convert new customers.

* Take some sort of online marketing action each and every month; issue an online press release, send an e-campaign, update your Google Place Page, build new inbound links, place an online banner ad, etc. You cannot just ignore your site and hope that it will bring you results, you need to actively work toward creating good results!

* Keep up with technology; if the search engines cannot read your image based site (or Flash-based site, etc.), then fix it. The longer you wait, the more outdated and useless your web site becomes.

* Keep up with your customers; since a huge percentage of web users now turn to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube to get information, you need to meet them where they are and demonstrate that your business can meet their needs. Engage them in your social spaces, and then provide links that direct them to your high-value web content. Get a social marketing strategy in place before your competitors do.

Don’t treat your web site like a one-time task to be completed and then forgotten – it takes ongoing effort and attention to get real value out of your web site and show your customers (and prospects) that you take your business seriously. Put a plan in place to maximize your web investment and make sure your web site is truly working for your business. You don’t want to risk sending the wrong kind of message about your business by letting your web site just sit there becoming older, more outdated, and more irrelevant.