Do you really want a new website?

The average cost of a new (decent) website is about £1200 plus VAT. An ecommerce website is much more. Here’s the real question… how much extra business will your new, or for that matter existing, website get you?

Oh you don’t know!

How about leads… How many enquiries will your new or existing website get you?

Oh you don’t know that either!

Why do you have or want a website?

If you believe you should have a website as everyone else has one and that is your main motivation for having a website then I would suggest that’s the wrong reason.

Now I know some organisations have a website for sharing data, information and knowledge and that’s fine. But, if you are selling a service or product then the biggest single reason for having a website should be to generate more business, period.

I have met numerous business people who have spent large sums of money on their websites and yet they are nowhere in the search engine rankings. If you are on page two or worse for your main keyphrase then you are sharing in a tiny percentage of the available traffic.

Getting your webpages from page two to page one in the search engine rankings can give you a ten fold increase in traffic. Yes, 10 times what you are getting now. Nearly 90% of all the web traffic goes to the websites that are on the first page of Google.

Search Engine Optimisation

There are two basic strands to achieve better rankings: On site optimisation and off site optimisation. Onsite optimisation has 20% – 30% effect on the websites position in the rankings. The remaining 70% – 80% is dependent on offsite optimisation.

Usually the onsite optimisation will result in a slight improvement in the rankings for some key phrases. You might see even better improvements if you are in a niche market with little serious competition. However, for significant and lasting improvement you must use offsite techniques.

Offsite Optimisation

This is an ongoing process that needs to be done often to realise the benefits of top rankings. The ‘secret’ algorithm that Google uses changes several times each year, sometimes, as with the latest 2010 change (Code named ‘Caffeine’), it can be a dramatic one, causing many websites to drop out of the rankings completely. Care must therefore be taken, as using ‘spammy’ techniques can result in your website from being dropped from Google’s results pages – this has and does happen regularly.

Three Essential Elements

There are now three essential elements to getting high rankings. Previously the first two were sufficient. Nowadays any website not utilising the following three elements will slowly and surely start to slip from the rankings:

Content – the phrase “content is king” has never been truer than now. Google loves lots of unique and regularly added to content. You need to continuously add new (unique) content and pages to your website. If you have good content then the next element will come.

Backlinks – Links from relevant and quality sources are the lifeblood of the web. Otherwise websites would exist in a cul-de-sac. Care must be taken when linking to or from certain sites. If Google deems sites linking to yours as being from a ‘bad neighbourhood’ your ranking will suffer. Years ago it was enough to grab as many links as you could regardless of where they came from. Now quality will always outscore quantity.

Traffic – This might seem contradictory, i.e. you need traffic to get good rankings and you need good rankings to get traffic. As a result of website owners trying to fix the above two methods Google now looks at the amount and quality of traffic coming to your site from a variety of external sources, in particular social media and social bookmarking sites.

This new third element is of increasing importance if you want to maintain high search engine rankings. Each link, bookmark, and social comment that Google finds for your site is deemed a vote of confidence in your website and Google rewards you accordingly.

Social Buzz

By effectively utilising social media you can create social buzz around your website which rapidly increases search engine rankings and traffic to your web pages.

Rinse and Repeat for Success

It is a pointless exercise doing the above once or twice and then forgetting it – in fact this can do more harm than good as Google may see it as a ‘spam’ technique. It has to be done regularly to get the results.

The results are of course higher rankings which will give you more leads, more enquiries and more sales and that is why you want a website.

There is of course another way – Rent a website!

Get yourself a good website rental company that will take care of all this for you.

People Don’t Want A Website

Whilst watching the BBC television show ‘The Apprentice’ I was struck by something that was said during one of the tasks. The task involved making a range of sausages and selling them for a profit. The team making the largest profit was therefore the winner. One of the two teams, in their infinite wisdom, tried selling their produce without getting the potential clients to taste them.

Someone on the show commented that they should sell the sizzle and not the sausage.

This got me to thinking about websites and what clients really want. Do they want the hassle of the task analysis, stakeholder interviews, prototyping user interfaces and all the myriad of different things we use to design and develop a new web design?

NO! What they really want is more traffic, more leads, more enquiries. In other words they want more customers.

If the above is true, why is so much emphasis put on the designing and building the website and so little on search engine optimisation and search engine marketing? Many years ago I was taught that a business should budget for a 20% spend on marketing. I am guessing very few web design projects get anywhere near spending that much on SEO/SEM.

Is it because business owners don’t think they need to do SEO, maybe they believe their shiny new website will bring new traffic with it – A case of ‘If we build it they will come’. Or maybe it’s because our industry isn’t very good at explaining the different requirements of a successful web project. I have seen some beautiful web designs that are getting very little traffic and without traffic you don’t have a business.

Don’t Waste Your Time With Social Media

How did you read the title of this post? Did you read it as saying that social media is a complete waste of time that you shouldn’t bother with; or did you read it as saying that you need to focus your efforts on certain areas and that outside of this area is a waste of your valuable time; or maybe you read it as hurry up get on the bandwagon quick before you miss out?

To labour the point, the well-known url: has the same problem, i.e. the two words can be broken before the letter ‘s’ or afterwards – giving totally different meanings.

The fact is that companies are using social media in a variety of ways, for example, 35% of employers in the U.S. use social media to promote their company. Researchers at Hewlett-Packard demonstrated that they can accurately predict a Hollywood movie’s box office success by counting how often it is mentioned on Twitter prior to release. An increasing number of companies are driving their recruitment through social media. I won’t bore you with other examples suffice to say the list goes on and on.

However, I remember when Pay Per Click (PPC) was first introduced. I came across many clients who were running ppc campaigns where the only thing that mattered (to them) was getting traffic to their websites. What they forgot or ignored was the word: quality. They were in such a blind rush to get as many click-throughs as possible that they forget the point of the exercise – sales!

Granted sales might not be the immediate goal as you might be building trust, loyalty, brand awareness, buzz, whatever. But you can sure bet the end goal is to make sales.

I am seeing the same spitting competition happening with social media right now – “How many followers do you have?”.  I am seeing many public sector clients setting up large social media campaigns but all they do is copy and paste every single press release into Facebook and link to it from Twitter.

Don’t lose sight of the reasons you use social media otherwise you will be wasting your time

12 Reasons Why You Should Outsource Your Website Management

The following list details the main benefits to organisations from outsourcing their website management and maintenance service.

  1. Cost savings — The overall business cost is less as the service payment is more focused. The service provider will only be working on the task at hand. The provider is therefore effectively paid by results.
  2. Focus — Resources are more focused. Outsourcing your website maintenance means that you are using specialised staff for each business function.
  3. Cost restructuring — Outsourcing changes your business costs by moving from fixed to variable costs and also by making the variable costs more predictable.
  4. Quality Improvement — By using a service level agreement you can guarantee that quality standards are continuously met.
  5. Knowledge and Skills — Wider Access to skills, experience and knowledge.
  6. Expertise — Access to the latest best practice that might not be possible to develop in-house due to time and cost restraints.
  7. Contract — Outsourced services, standards, quality and deliverables can be stipulated in a legally binding contract. This is not the case with internal services where your staff don’t or can’t deliver.
  8. Talent — Organisations may have their own web developers. By using outsourcing you will have access to a larger talent pool and a source of skills in areas such as web developers, web designers, graphic designers, programmers, seo experts, user interface designers and more.
  9. Change and scalability management — If your situation changes and you require different services and skill sets or the work levels change then the change is borne by the supplier.
  10. Innovation — Most companies have limited in-house capacity for design innovation. Website Management Services companies are better suited to offer page or section redesigns.
  11. Time — The time taken to get a new website implemented is accelerated. Data migration from an old website or intranet is often done by outsourcing.
  12. Technical advice – Is the technical advice given by internal staff free from bias? Often there are political pressures or even a silo culture developing within organisations. Suppliers are free from the office politics that can blight projects.