Effective Websites

2700,1237027843,38by Lorraine Hart, Ideal Consulting Services, Inc.

There are four fundamental elements – Design, Technical Expertise, Marketing and SEO – that must come together for success with any website.

The website must be designed to be attractive and functional, communicate to your target audience, and be found on the internet.  Just like a builder must use the skills of a number of trades, the creation of an effective website requires the abilities of a number of disciplines.  It is not enough to just have a designer or to just have a programmer.  There also must be someone who understands marketing and also someone who understands Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Design: A successful website must be attractive, functional and easy to navigate. It must promote engagement and hold the visitor’s interest. It should be well organized with quality content and good photos.

Technical Expertise: It’s important that your developer stay current with new trends, technology and tools. A developer with experience creating websites in your industry is a plus.

Marketing: Your marketing team should know how to find your target audience. They should have experience with promotion-creation using newsletter programs, social media, blogs and industry related marketing sites.

SEO: Your website must be search engine friendly and properly optimized so that you can be found. It must have quality links to ensure high rankings with Google and other search engines.

Even if you have a beautiful website, if no one can find it, it won’t do you any good.

Your website must be designed with the ultimate goal of “being found”. Having your website properly optimized ensures that you will get higher rankings with search engines, resulting in an increased number of visitors qualified to purchase your services.

Just like in building or remodeling a home, there must be a balance between aesthetics and functionality. For maximum effectiveness, your website must be designed for ease of use by your visitors and the search engines. A well-designed website will be easy for your visitors to understand- and also be easy for the search engines to understand.

Your website must be attractive and have photos that will hold your visitors’ attention, but it must also have content in the form of the words to go with the music. Although it may be true that a picture is worth a thousand words, photos by themselves will not tell the whole story, especially when it comes to the search engines finding you.

To be found, your website content should be based around the key words that your potential visitors will search for. Your content should be original and tell your story. It must be written in such a way that it makes sense to your visitors as well as the search engines.

According to Kristopher B. Jones of Internet Marketing Ninjas: “Content is the lifeblood of your website – it is what visitors use to determine value and what search engines evaluate to rank your website. Well-written, original content is essential to the success of your website. … Websites with keyword-rich, naturally flowing, original content are judged better than websites that simply stuff keywords into otherwise poorly written text.”

Another key element to getting found is having links to your website. Although links are very important, it is critical that you do not participate in what are called “link farms” and that you only pursue high quality links from good sources. Poor quality, irrelevant links will actually hurt you, whereas links from reputable sources such as NARI, Houzz and Porch are valuable. Examples of poor links include websites or blogs created specifically to link to other websites with no valuable content of their own. If the link is irrelevant to the text, it is a poor link. An example of a poor link I recently saw had text about car repair with a link to an electrician’s website.

Unfortunately I have seen instances of remodelers falling prey to un-reputable companies supplying lots of poor quality links to their websites. Not only do these links not help your website, they can hurt you. This is so much the case that Google has provided a mechanism for website owners to dis-avow links to their websites. In addition, Google is currently in the process of re-adjusting their page rankings to penalize websites with poor incoming links, in favor of websites with good quality links.

By making sure you follow these four fundamental principles – Design, Technical Expertise, Marketing and SEO – you will ensure the ultimate success of your website.

LorraineHeadshot  Lorraine Hart is the president and senior consultant for Ideal Consulting Services. Ideal has been providing business consulting, coaching and training to small businesses in the construction industry since 1992. She is a national member of NARI and contributor to its national blog. She is also a regular contributor to the Texas Home and Garden blog and the coordinator and editor of the weekly home articles for the Houston Chronicle. Lorraine can be reached at 832-569-5079 or http://www.idealconsulting.net.

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