No matter how small your business is you should have a website. Even a static “business card online” site lends you credibility, increases your brand presence, helps capture traffic via Google, provides contact information to clients and leads, and gives you a jumping off point for future growth. We should talk about how to design and build an effective site sometime, but for today we’re going to assume you have one.
Is it working for you? Does your site have an active role in your company? Or is it just passively sitting there? A huge number of websites go up with great intentions and then just sit, unseen and unloved. Without activity or purpose a site is a sunk cost and a wasted asset. The truth is that there is no such thing as a set-it-and-forget-it website. Like empty houses, they decay without care.
You can avoid the doldrums! With some basic best practices and a moderate investment of time your site can perform admirably as a valued team member. Here are the important points:
- It doesn’t matter how much you paid your site designer or how much time you put into its creation. If it isn’t optimized for mobile it isn’t worth anything. Start fresh without regrets. Find a designer you trust and make sure your site will adapt to any viewing platform. Take this opportunity to review your current content and branding, as well, but get on it!
- Make your site’s message clear. Are you selling something? Do you create something? Are you opposed to something? Figure out what it is you want to say and say it, clearly and concisely, on every part of your site. Commit to your message. The site curiosityandheroin.org used to be super confusing. They were against heroin, which is a great message! But their site was purple and cartoony, the cat they were using was adorable, and the writing was stilted and overly focused on the ‘curiosity killed the cat’ metaphor. They talked a lot about how heroin was fun, cheap, and accessible, but bad. It wasn’t the right way to convey their message. They’re recently gone through an update and their messaging has improved significantly, though the curiosity angle remains troublesome.
- Google rewards content! You should expect to generate content regularly or pay someone to generate it for you. It doesn’t have to be a lot, it doesn’t have to be flashy, it doesn’t have to be every day, but it needs to happen. So build yourself an achievable schedule, like “I blog once a week,” “I post job photos once a month,” or “I create a biweekly newsletter.” (Habit building tip! Please notice that these plans all leave out the word “will.” You aren’t planning to do something, you’re a person doing the thing! The way we talk to ourselves matters and you can’t leave yourself waffling room.)
- Don’t spend money on SEO services. At this point your job is to make your site organically searchable. You don’t do that by strewing clunky keywords everywhere. You do that by writing timely, topical, and interesting content. This brings up the point again that if writing isn’t your thing this is a good time to find someone to work with you to put your ideas on paper.
- Picture your website as the center of the web you inhabit online. It’s the hub to which all roads should go. When you write a blog post about porch construction, link internally to your portfolio of deck and porch photos. When you post on Facebook about a new art piece, link back to the longer article on your site about it. When you post your OOTD on Instagram, tag your site’s fashion archive. Make it easy for people to find and use your site!
Each of these ideas can be infinitely refined and there are hundreds of other improvements you can make to pull an audience to your website. (Do you have admin access to your own site? Are your photos watermarked? Are they legally yours? Do you moderate comments? Is your About Us section accurate and appealing? Does your site reflect your corporate culture? We have so many questions! Call us and we’ll talk!) These will get you started, though, and if you’re not doing any of them yet pick one today and start. Build a site care habit so your site can take care of you.