Starting a Website
Where do you start? First of all, think about the main areas of information you want to get over to your audience and the sub-pages leading off from these. When your customer first lands on your website, remember that your website is your first salesperson so it has to impress. It has to be professional and simple enough in its design that the user can easily navigate from page to page to find exactly what they want. A simple template as a starting point to go by will have a Home Page, which has a summary of what the website is about, an About page detailing about the Company and perhaps its history, Services or Products with perhaps a dropdown with them individualised, and a Contact page detailing phone, emails and possibly a location map. You might decide you want a page dedicated to Latest News or you could choose to have this appear on your site as an RSS News Feed.
You will need to decide on which social media, if any, you are going to put on your website and where best to place these. Do you want the social media icons shouting out to your clients to click on or be there as a subtle extra if your client wishes to click on them? Not all social media options available to you today will be necessarily relevant to your business so you need to consider this. If you are not going to have the time to be using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc., then you are better off not creating a social media page for the sake of it. It might seem to a prospective customer that the company is out of business if they visit a Facebook page only to find that the last posting was 2 years ago!
The images to go on your website are extremely important. Whilst an image can have visual impact and sell immediately, for websites you do need both images and written content together for the benefit of the search engines. Search engines place weight on the amount of relevant content and this is often where a website owner falls down.
When thinking about what to write for each page, you need to put yourself in the mind of your customer. If a customer hasn’t been on your website before and is just searching for a particular item, they will of course use a browser such as Google and key in a word or phrase to see what comes up in the search engine results. For example, if I were a tourist looking to find a coffee shop in Sligo that sold homemade cakes, I would probably key into Google “coffee shop Sligo homemade cakes”. Google will return searches with these words in. Therefore, it goes without saying if you want your coffee shop to show up for this result, you need to put these words or phrase into the content of your website. This is the base for working out the key words and phrases for a website – search engine optimisation (SEO). (You can read more about optimising your website in my article on SEO).
Keeping your website alive
Once you have your main pages written with your keywords and phrases in to maximise your website traffic, you can then think about what other content you can put in that would be of interest to your customers. For example, taking the example of a coffee shop in Sligo selling homemade cakes, additional pages to add to this website that would be of relevance and interest to your customers might be recipes of some of your cakes or a video of making your cakes. You might decide to write an article/blog on where you buy your ingredients, what the most popular cakes are and so forth. By adding these articles of interest in, it gives you the opportunity of adding in more relevant keywords but also will encourage your customer fan base to return to your site for more appealing articles.
Finally, a website is your shop window. If you don’t keep it alive and fresh with new things, it won’t keep its ranking with the search engines and your followers may lose interest.