WHY YOU NEED A WEBSITE
To effectively brand your company and almost instantaneously gain an audience to market to, you will want a website. If you are all salesman and don’t think marketing is a reasonable expense of your time capital, consider the following customer purchase funnel:
A new website on its own may not immediately start accruing traffic all at once, but it is where your marketing material and efforts will point to. It should continue a conversation that you start somewhere else and clearly point out that you, a solution provider, understand their pains and wants and you have the answers they’ve been looking for. That being said, you must start by increasing awareness that you are in the market and ready to help your target market. Whether you are doing this by knocking doors, networking at trade shows, or being actively engaged all over social media, potential clients that have been introduced to your brand are now eligible to make the mental and emotional journey through the Customer Purchase Funnel.
To reduce drop-outs, you must have marketing material to take them down the path to the sale without jumping right into your sales pitch that you are so eager to blast at them. As these cold leads start to consider their options and if you are a good fit for real needs of theirs, their preferences will start to show through. Capitalize on this stage without being overbearing! Lead those potential relationships to your website, provide testimonials, examples of your work and customer service, and clearly show how you are the person they want to do business with by letting outside recognition speak for itself.
Once the sale has been made, most true-blood salesman tend to drop the ball there instead of managing their base. You may think you are a champion of making new sales all on your own blood, sweat, and tears… but there is a better way. Use your website as a trophy case to capture the excitement that comes with satisfied customers and allow them to post to your website. It is OK to ask them if they had a great experience doing business with you and invite (never bribe) them to feel free to share their experience on your website. When someone provides a testimonial by manifesting it in a public manner, you have just increased retention rate odds ten-fold! People want to be loyal to a brand and if you continue to foster that relationship, they will eventually become an advocate of your work and all the sudden, your leads are doubling just by word-of-mouth.
This guide is going to look through the lens of good online marketing and help you get this asset up and running.
DECISIONS TO MAKE BEFORE PULLING THE TRIGGER ON A NEW WEBSITE
- Logo: Do you have a high-resolution attractive logo that represents your company accurately? Logo’s are often the first interaction people will make with your brand and the quality and design will make initial impressions in the minds of those potential clients. If you need a new logo or want to re-brand, check out our marketing services.
- Brochure or Lead-Generating: Do you want to have a website that acts more like a brochure that you refer cold leads to which require little maintenance? Or do you want to invest real time into managing (or paying a 3rd party to manage) a website that will be a lead-generating asset, ranking for strategic keywords in search engines and driving new traffic to your domain?
- Exposure: Are you willing to put your face out there on the web? While you can produce a website that uses all stock images, studies show that websites that show real faces behind the scenes of your company increase trust factors and bump website conversions. Also, engaging in social media will likewise require you to go public with your ideas.
- Target Market: So many make the mistake of not knowing to whom they are speaking to on their website. Know your audience and all the personas involved. A great tool would be a persona matrix where you define the various types of personalities and needs you will be targeting in you communication efforts.
WHO MAKES THE RULES? WHAT ARE THEY?
Google is king: Since they hold the majority market share for search engines and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, they make the rules to what are acceptable website practices and what websites should be penalized and driven out of the race. Google’s engine is powered by an unbreakable algorithm that is updated, on average, once per day. Each year there are on average 2 or 3 major changes worth mentioning. These changes have been the end of many successful businesses in the past, and have also taken other no-names and made them beaucoup bucks by taking them to the top of their SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
Photo credit: http://9to5google.com/2015/01/08/google-market-share/
Google is a business and their customers are those that search online through their service. Like any business, they want their customers to have the best user-experience possible. So they are always figuring out how to elevate the most important, relevant, and useful websites to the top of their SERP’s so people find what they need, and fast.
Major algorithm changes that substantiate this idea are:
Panda: Released in early 2011, this update pushed low-quality, thin websites to the bottom of SERP’s. These low-quality sites were filled mainly with advertising and contained very little high quality content. There have been many major tweaks to this update since it debuted and continues to crawl sites to see if they are filled with original and natural-sounding content. You are in danger of this penalty if you have duplicate content, thin content, keyword stuffing, and provide a poor user experience with bad load times and hard to read web pages.
Penguin: While it was launched in April, 2012, most websites really started loving or hating this from the 2.0 update that took place May 2013. This update brought down the hammer on all link farms, directories, and spam tactics webmasters were using to game the system. Companies that had spent big money on SEO tactics were brought to their knees by this one. Make sure you never allow your site to exercise “black hat SEO tactics” to be safe. Some examples of black hat SEO techniques include keyword stuffing, invisible text, doorway pages, adding unrelated keywords to the page content or page swapping (changing the webpage entirely after it has been ranked by search engines).
Hummingbird: Affecting more than 90% of all searches, this update goes beyond keyword focus. It is worried more about the context and surrounding content in the entire search phrase to offer a natural-language, or conversational, approach to search queries. Sounding like a robot and keyword stuffing your body copy, for instance, will land you a nasty penalty here.
HOW TO GET A WEBSITE
While platforms such as WordPress are relatively user-friendly, you may still want to consider having an experienced web designer build you a website. A typical lead-generating WordPress website in today’s market will run you around $2,500 or more. The price is justified by the man-hours that go into collaboration with you to understand your wants and needs, how to communicate those to your audience, design, implementation, testing, tweaking, and launching. Telarus has negotiated reduced prices for partners needing a new website, and those can be found on our Marketing Services Page. These partnered vendors have proven themselves over and over again with new websites for Telarus Partners and they understand SEO and website best practices very well.
AS A TELARUS PARTNER, WHAT NEW MESSAGING CAN YOU ADD TO YOUR WEBSITE?
Telarus partners may represent supplier relationships and Telarus services as their own. If Telarus offers it, then our partners can offer it. Utilize the Telarus Partner Newsletter for updates on new products and Suppliers that have been added to OUR portfolio.
Network & Cloud Services: Identify your organization’s product expertise and be sure to build a product portfolio to demonstrate your areas of expertise. Refer to our Supplier Solutions Page to navigate to your desired product set you want to offer.
Supplier Relationships: Identify the key suppliers that service your area(s) and have the product set that matches your expertise. Partners may put those supplier logos up on their website. Refer to our Supplier page for logos and info.
Telarus Services: Engineering, project management, base management– our staff is your staff. Whether you white label our support or not, be sure to include Telarus’ pre and post sale services as an added value to your customers. Refer to our Partners page for more info.
NOW THAT YOUR WEBSITE IS LIVE, WHAT DO YOU DO?
Many attractive and useful websites have been launched only to die out due to lack of maintenance, testing, and improving. Websites are living assets and need to be fed.
Add More Original Content: Google checks to see if you maintain your website and are regularly adding or refreshing content. Sites that go untouched for long durations are typically those that were built to house links and not to add true value in quality content to the worldwide web. Consider each landing page on your domain to be it’s own asset. Even a blog or news article is an asset and refreshing, updating, and adding upon the original posted content shows Google you are a real person that is interested in making sure your content is relevant for today’s users. Also, your website needs to be rich in content siloing. This means you are creating folders within folders within folders to build a website that has many other landing pages that all build upon a similar topic and reinforce each other. This tells search engines that you are not a link farm and are only trying to rank for those keywords that are truly of interest to your company.
Collect Data and Test: Make sure you have Google Analytics set up on your website so you can see what content does well, how users are navigating to and through your website, and see where you lose people without them converting. This is free and fairly basic to install. You can refer to Googles tutorial on installing tracking codes on your website for help. Then set up Google Webmaster Tools (tutorial found here) to allow Google to communicate with you and provide helpful insights to your website success.
Other tools are available that are inexpensive and can provide invaluable insights. A favorite that we use is CrazyEgg.com which can collect specific page data and see what users are doing on those pages. Consider the following insights this tool provides:
Share and Optimize: Never stop researching industry trends and be part of the conversation. You have great solutions for real people with pains and wants. Find those people by optimizing your website for relevant and high-return keywords and share your content in online groups.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO) STRATEGY
For true lead generating websites, you will want to have your SEO strategy dialed in. SEO begins and ends with your keyword research, so obviously, do this first and do it right. Many free tools are available online such as Google’s Keyword Planner. You will have to create a free Adwords account to use the tool, but you don’t have to do any paid advertising if you choose not to. A good starting point would be to research close competitors by simply Googling your value propositions in a query and then find the sites you think you most relate to. Then plug those URL’s into the keyword planner to see what Google thinks they are relevant for. Note the keywords you think best fit your business and then punch those keywords into the “Get Ideas” section of the tool. Look for moderate volume with low competition. Don’t go after the super-high volume search terms as they are probably not realistic goals for you to tray and rank on page 1 for. Rather, find the “long-tail” keywords that have less volume, but are more specific. For example, the keyword SIP Trunk get’s an average of 9,900 monthly searches, but working to rank on page 1 over Megapath and other big companies might not be time well spent. Rather, go for Sip Trunk Pricing with a 320/month average search volume. User intent deems this query is used by those shopping for SIP, so conversions will remain high on your site, but since it’s more long tail with less competition, build out a landing page or two that are optimized for that type of keyword.
Building a site and doing SEO keyword research afterword makes for a lot of messy unnecessary work as you try to change page content to naturally include your new or modified keywords. So start with keywords, then live by them as you continue to develop new content. If you want to learn more, check out the Moz Beginners Guide to SEO.
On-Page Element Optimizations
- Title Tags: as you hover over the page tab in your web browser, it should show you the title tag for that page. This is the lowest hanging of the SEO fruit and should never be gamed. The best formula is as such: description of page in under 55 characters | brand
- Meta Descriptions: While they don’t directly influence SEO ranking factors, they do increase SERP Click Through Rate (CTR), and CTR does affect rankings. Write a compelling ad that will entice people to click on your link in a SERP in under 150 characters. Do not forget to include a call to action (learn more, shop now, get your free______, etc.)
- URL: Best practices prove the best results from following this format: http://subdomain.domain.com/folder/page/named-anchor. So avoiding characters like %,&,?,=, and the like, and tons of forgettable numbers. NOTE: never change your existing URL without first understanding that you must do a 301-redirect or lose most of your existing page rank!
- Headings (H1): Include your keyword in here unless there is absolutely no way of making it sound interesting with it.
- Headings (H2,H3, etc.): include similar keyword variations where possible
- Body Copy: Beware of keyword stuffing! Best practices state that your writing must sound natural and not robotic. Your keyword density should stick around 3 mentions or less per 300 words. Any more and you risk getting penalized. Also, the higher up on the page in the copy, the more heavier the weighted factoring.
- Bold and Italics: In your body copy, bold the important points for easier reading, but also bold (or strong) keywords.
- Links: Including outbound or internal links on your page with anchor text similar to your keyword is very helpful in rankings. Don’t go crazy here, but include a link to the top page(s), the lower page(s), and then any other sources you have mentioned or want to send traffic to.
- Include a Share Bar: Make it easy for viewers to share content! Those re-tweets, +1’s, likes, shares, etc. ware now being factored into page rank at varying degrees.
Google will crawl your site every so often to see how each page should be ranked and in what order it will appear in SERP’s when the associated query is used. These bots have a low tolerance for errors and messiness. They will just stop crawling your site if there are too many problems. So be sure your back end is in order.
- Bot Accessibility: Make sure your page, if the original canonical version, is crawlable by search engine spiders. reserve noindex tags and nofollowtags for pages that don’t need to show up in SERP’s
- robots.txt: this is a necessary file that communicates to what degree your site can be indexed
- XML Sitemap: This sitemap is not viewable by users, but it helps Google bots crawl your site better
- HTML Sitemap: This is meant for humans to find pages on your site and is a best practice
- Crawl Errors: Use your Google webmaster tools to help determine what broken links/images you may have, and
THE POWER OF PAID ADVERTISING WITH ADWORDS (PAY-PER-CLICK)
Did you know you can increase a pages traffic to your site with as little as $10/month? Adwords campaigns is built for all businesses and allows you to reap several benefits. SEO is a long-term game since you must develop high quality content that is specifically optimized, then allow it grow over time and accumulate back links from others that thought your content was useful, relevant, and important. Pay-per-click (PPC) is the short-term game that allows you to get results now that are easy to measure their ROI even. While developing strong and calculated ad campaigns takes incredible skill, time, testing, and tweaking, even beginners can get started right away to help a page increase traffic. The best suggestion here is if you believe you have created an amazingly informative and original blog, or product page, being optimized for a specific keyword, you can create an ad, set your maximum spend for a couple days, weeks, or even a month or two, and have that ad show up at the top of SERP’s for that keyword you are after. This can increase impressions of your website 10 fold and get increased clicks. Not sure if its worth your time? Try it out and after a few days, you can turn it off if you don’s see anyone clicking on it. There are no commitments, so with minimal risk, and potentially high returns, why wouldn’t you give this a shot! As your target content asset (the page the ad takes the user to) acquires more clicks, it will signal Google that this is an important page that is relevant to that searched keyword and help your organic rankings. It also gets that asset out there and people will eventually start linking to it from their sites, which is HUGE. To learn more, see the Google AdWords Guide.
CONVERSION RATE OPTIMIZATION (CRO): THE NECESSITY OF GATHERING AND ANALYZING YOUR WEBSITES PERFORMANCE
As a website consultant, it always feels like my audits and analysis I provide to individuals produce similar emotional reactions to one person calling another’s baby ugly. The owners of even the worst websites fall victim to the proud feeling of having built a website on the worldwide web, and they often think no changes need to be made. Well, tastes, preference, and Google’s algorithm are constantly changing and if you are not current in your website practices or user language, you are only kidding yourself. CRO is a necessity to any successful website. Regularly monitoring the performance of all of your domain’s landing pages, entrances and exits to and from your site, and conversions (people calling you, filling out your form, etc.) are all crucial to your businesses success. Refer to my CrazyEgg tool examples for inspiration. Ask for unbiased opinions about your website and it’s on-page elements. Is your form fill full of friction? Test it! Shorten the form and see if it makes a difference. Is your home page your only viewed page, even moreso than your products and services pages? Check your analytics and if so, fix it! You truly reap what you sow when managing a website.
HOW TO LEVERAGE SOCIAL MEDIA
You may not be convinced that your customers are engaging in social media, but I am here to tell you they are online and wanting to be fed information and even participate in discussions. If you are not joining the conversations and giving your brand a voice, your competitors will. Set up your company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ at the least. Find out where your target market is by joining industry-related groups and looking into past posts and comments. See where their interest lies and then get to work producing your own content to share.
Welcome to the Party
Joining social media groups are a lot like being the awkward new person at the party. You walk in and there are already groups of of people that formed naturally based on shared interest. Being the new guy, you can’t burst into a group, interrupt their conversation and shout, “hey, look what I am selling!” You will quickly be ejected from that group. Rather, if you join a group, you will want to listen to what is being discussed, like others’ comments, provide insightful and respectful comments on others posts, and after being accepted as one of them, you may start to ease in to promoting what you have.
Becoming a thought leader and large contributor has proven to be the best way to organically usher traffic to your website. The most successful way to do this is not to be loud, but to be informative. Your content quality is going to go a long way for you even moreso than volume. Be thoughtful in your posts and research to find and share those data gems that everyone will be interested in. Never be a salesman in these social groups or you will swiftly find yourself booted to the curb. Rather, your website is the most appropriate place to be a salesman and speak specifically to your products and services. Your Facebook ,Twitter, or LinkedInposts should cast a wide net, where you are speaking to a common problem or interesting innovations in the industry. Add relevant links to your site where possible and if people are impressed by your posts and comments, they will follow you on social media and eventually see what you are all about by going to your website.
Looking for a Beginners Guide to Social Media? Check out the Moz Social Media Guide.
LINK BUILDING: GOOD OR BAD IDEA?
A strong ranking factor is that of receiving votes from outside sources that your website is important, relevant, and useful. These votes are manifested when other domains link to a page on your domain using anchor text that is relevant to the keywords your site ranks for. An example of this would be as such: Learn more about link strategies with the Respona: SEO Outreach article Now when Googles spiders crawl this page to index it and determine where it should show in SERP’s, they will see the link with the anchor text and count that as a vote for Moz.com’s associated page. This page on Telarus.com then passes approximately 85% of it’s page rank to boost the page that I linked to on Moz.com. See the illustrated “link juice” diagram provided by wikipedia.com for further explanation.
How to Earn Links
SEO master years ago were capitalizing on this knowledge of passing page rank and one could easily turn a terrible and spammy website and get it ranking for super competitive and valuable keywords. Link farms and junk directories were everywhere and thus gave birth to the Penguin update, as explained early on in this guide. Google wants all links to be earned organically without any gaming or purchasing. Content is king. Produce original high quality content, give it a home on your domain, promote it through AdWords, social media, and industry-related news channels, and the links will come naturally.
Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank
WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE YOUR WEBSITE AUDITED
Telarus partners see what others can’t. Website audits are a testimony to that claim. On the surface, your website might look just fine. But you might be surprised what an audit can reveal as an outside perspective digs deep with special tools to uncover weaknesses and opportunities. Our website audits look at the following items:
- Keyword Analysis: Know what you currently rank for and possible opportunities to pursue.
- Website penalties: Has your traffic been affected by a Panda, Penguin, or other Google update?
- Site Speed: Are your load times hurting your user-experience? Do you know what needs to be fixed?
- Mobile Responsiveness Test: The latest Google update now penalizes websites that aren’t mobile friendly.
- On-Page Element Analysis: What low-hanging SEO fruit is not fully optimized? Get unbiased recommendations about how to improve page layout and content optimization.
- Conversion Analysis: Do you have clear calls-to-action, unique value propositions, trust, factors, and intuitive flow?
- Social Media Recommendations: There is always room to improve upon how you are engaging your audience.
Request a free website audit by filling out the form on our marketing services page! *Exclusive to Telarus Partners
SHORT ON TIME AND RESOURCES? WHO CAN HELP WITH YOUR WEBSITE MAINTENANCE
Website Management entails a lot of maintenance and endless testing and optimizing. This guide is meant to help get the ideas flowing for Telarus partners that want to tout a great online presence, not to discourage. If your operation isn’t currently set up to accommodate proper web mastering, consider our partnered website experts and let them help. Visit our marketing services page and discover what help is available to you at Telarus-exclusive discounted rates.