Strategies For Building A Website
It does not matter what business you are in, or what the nature of your website is. If you decide to build one, you must have a strategy. When you go into business, you always need a strategy, or a roadmap to success. This is the foundation your whole business is built upon. On the path to success, you will inevitably modify, or update areas within your strategy. However, to obtain success, you need to roadmap detailing where it is you are planning on going. How you get there will change, as new tools to help you become available, or market shifts occur.
Developing A Coherent Website Strategy
This very long webpage is not intended to duplicate the wealth of information that is already broadly and freely available on the Internet. What this page does is provide some information to help an individual plan out and build a properly designed, optimized website. Of course, search engine algorithms will change during the construction period. If you build a website with a good, simple design, and incorporate lots of textual content, the website will always be ready for search engine optimization to begin, regardless of the search engine changes. This search engine optimization, also referred to as SEO, is an important component of the overall website promotion and marketing strategies. While most of this text will be from the perspective of building a new website, the same rules apply to improving an existing website.
There is a great deal of information and misinformation available on the Internet about how to design websites with promotion and marketing in mind. However, there is much less available on the subject of how to design a website with an eye to success in the search engines.
It’s obvious that in every field there are experts, and rarely do you find people who are experts in many fields. We don’t claim to be experts in many fields. However, we are experts in the field of search engine optimization, or SEO. Because we understand this field better than anyone else, we understand how to design, or re-work a website to ensure that the search engines have what they need to properly index and categorize it.
Surprisingly, we have not found many people who are experts in the website design field who also understand the value of planning aspects of the overall design around the search engine promotion and marketing campaign. For most designers this phase arrives later, and is a disconnected process. That’s perfectly alright if the website is well designed, because a proper search engine optimization service can smooth out the rough edges and make it work. Sometimes, though, it’s more costly, as you have to undo, and re-do work everything that was already built in the first place. So if you are planning your site design now, and have not actually built the website, just remember to stress the fact that you must ensure there is lots of relevant textual content, for both your end users, and the search engines.
The fact that this groundwork is rarely done has helped the online consulting business to prosper. Metamend on the other hand has a business model both for people planning on building an online presence, and for those who have already built a website, and wish to streamline and improve their operations.
Where To Start
Since you are reading this document, there is a good chance that you are either planning a website, or are looking to improve it. We will assume that your website will try to sell something. Remember, whether it’s goods being sold, a service, or an idea or concept you want people to learn and use, it’s for sale.
What Does a Website Need and Involve?
- Website promotion – a marketing strategy to attract prospective clients to the website.
- Good website content – things that will encourage your potential customers to browse and return often.
- Simple navigation – make it easy for people to find what they are looking for. If you make it difficult they won’t stay, and they won’t come back.
- Execution – All 3 of the above tied together properly to ensure a clean overall package.
Building a website is like building a house. First you buy a lot – your domain name; choosing the right domain name is like buying the right lot for your home. Buy a name that contains a message about what you do. Some search engines look for keywrods in the URL or filename. If you are in the rock climbing field, buy a domain like “rock-climbing.com” (Yes, it’s gone). If the name you want is gone, use the words “rock-climbing” in file names. i.e. “www.metamend.com/rock-climbing.html”. This simple step will help people, and the search engines understand what you do. Once you have the domain of your dreams, you can start planning what the website will look like – where to put everything.
When you look at a house, you don’t expect to find the bedrooms in the basement, and the laundry rooms on the top floor with an ocean view. Designing a website takes as much thought as designing a house. Carefully draw out how you expect your visitors to flow through the site. Is everything easy to get to, logically linked together, and clearly identified? This is an important step in laying the foundation for future website optimization work.
Next, start construction. This is the easy part. If you do it yourself, start writing. If you hire someone, check out their other work. Identify what you do and don’t like. If there is something that they consistently incorporate into a website design that you dislike, find out why. Perhaps it’s a principal support to the construction. Perhaps it’s their signature feature. Examine the websites a little bit closer. Do they meet your criteria for a well laid out and thought through website? Does the navigation flow naturally? Is there anything there like Flash, or Frames that could cause the search engines issues when you try to promote the website? Once you’re satisfied, you can begin. You’ve determined that they have all the necessary skills and materials to build your dream site!
Here’s a checklist to help you make sure you have covered the bases.
Does The Design…
- Flow naturally? Is it easy to navigate?
- Have a feedback form, or other means to contact you to request information.
- Allow you the flexibility to update content at will? In the early going you will probably need to make dramatic updates to the content of your website.
- Facilitate your online marketing campaign?
- Appear search engine friendly? Is there anything to prevent an optimization package from being successful?
- Allow your website visitors to easily make a purchase?
While the website is being constructed, start the decorating process. This is the tough part for you. It means creating all the content that people see in the website. That includes not just all the text that your visitors, and the search engines, will read, but also the images – with their alt tags. Make sure you write down enough information so that your visitors can properly understand your message. Don’t forget, you are the expert. You know what you are writing about. Don’t just use acronyms, or make the assumption that your visitor knows or understands what your abbreviations and bulleted lists mean. Create pages with definitions, so that if a reader does not know what “30 psi” means, they can look it up to find out what “psi” refers to.
When planning out your content think about the website as a whole.
Does The Content…
- Clearly identify the need or problem that your product or service addresses and solves?
- Clearly identify the solution to the problem?
- Help your website visitors decide that your product or service meets their needs?
- Make sure that the webpages load quickly. Are your graphics optimized to load quickly, and still look good? A lot of people connecting to the Internet still have slow connections. Keep the website design and presentation simple and clean.
- Provide information, in images and clearly written text, to allow the visitor to the website to make a decision?
- Allow your website visitors to easily make a purchase?
- Load in not just the latest version of the Netscape or Internet Explorer, but also the prior version? Don’t worry too much about 4 year old versions, 95% of people have upgraded, but also make sure that your visitors don’t need to jump through hoops for the latest gadgets. Most won’t bother. Also, search engine bots, or spiders operate on a level similar to a version 3 browser. If they can’t load it, they can’t read it, and they can’t send you customers.
Additional Website Design Hints
Write the text for your website like a storyboard, or a flowchart. Make sure that the flow is simple and clear enough for anyone to understand. Try to keep the content on each individual page short and to the point. But don’t make it so short that the complete thought is not laid out. Focus on keeping the message clear, and consistent throughout. Once you’ve done this, take the storyboard or flowchart to the website designer you have chosen. If you are doing it yourself, get lots of feedback from friends and family. Ask them to be brutally honest. Make the changes that make sense. Get a second round of opinions, and see if the reviews improve. This will be a never-ending cycle. You will always discover things that need improvement, or updating. That’s great. These updates and improvements will keep your visitors interested, and coming back for more.
Once your website is built, start reviewing your website traffic reports. Some reports will be daily, and some monthly. As you tune your website, you will observe gradual changes in the overall averages. You will see if changes you made last month helped or hurt your overall traffic. Be careful not to change too many things at a time, or it will be difficult to determine which changes worked, and which did not.
With your statistics in mind, you now have entered the phase of website promotion, or marketing. You built your website using a good foundation. You built it with search engine performance in mind. But while you built it the search engines changed some of their algorithms. Not to worry, they do this constantly. If you built the website with an emphasis on content, and clean simple navigation, your website will still be fine; it will just need some optimization. There is not a single website that cannot use regularly scheduled search engine optimization maintenance. If you want to do it yourself, that fine. Here are the basic steps that you should be taking:
- Read the latest Search Engine Optimization newsletters, guides.
- Review your existing content, and note any changes.
- Ensure that your new pages are properly formatted, and do not contain any roadblocks to the search engines.
- Update your search engine markers for each page you want the search engines to index.
- Write to other website operators about exchanging reciprocal links.
- Resubmit your website to the search engines.
Although performing all these activities properly will take a considerable amount of time, these are the things that must be done to ensure your website’s success in the search engines. If you care to do it yourself, do it right. You will need to set aside at least 40 minutes per day, or about 20-25 hours per month. Over time, this can become a major distraction from your core business, after all it’s 40 minutes a day you cannot improve customer service, spend adding new content, or making sales.