Eight website tips to attract customers

Mark Harper_Suncorp.jpgPart three of the online business series presented by Suncorp's Mark Harper builds on last week's how-to on building a successful small business website.

This week, he talks about the eight tips small business owners can use to drive customers to their website.

Once your business has established an online presence, you'll need to focus on attracting customers to your website. Here are some top tips on how to achieve this.

Make it easy to find your site

All the noise about SEO (search engine optimisation) is because most people head for a major search engine (e.g. Google) when researching or purchasing goods and services. Since customers rarely click below the first few listings, getting your business or product ranked high is essential in helping generate sales.

There are three fast ways to improve the odds of prominent placement in a search engine listing.

  • The right keywords - top rankings come from having content on your site that matches the keywords or (better yet) specific phrases customers use to search for what you sell. The closer or more relevant the match, the higher the search engines will rank you.
    You can identify those keywords or phrases by brainstorming with customers, friends and associates to learn the search words they use. You should also find out the keywords your competitors use. Check and refine your keywords every month or so.

  • Affiliate links - search engines like to see lots of links from your site and to your site, because that translates into a well-trafficked site, which in turn leads to higher rankings.
    To find effective links, search for the phrases or keywords associated with the product or service you offer and link to other businesses that support what you do. For instance, a home builder might link to an interior decorator.

  • Vertical search engines - besides the broad horizontal engines, harness the targeted power of engines specific to your industry. You can find these by doing a search or by checking with professional groups in your industry.

Invest in search engine advertising

An inexpensive way to boost your search-engine ranking is to sign up for a search-engine advertising service. 
Reward customer error.

Countless numbers of potential customers input an incorrect address or misspell the name of a company when searching. Make sure they end up on your site anyway.

Offer e-learning

The technology to create online courses or solo webcasts is now relatively inexpensive. By investing in producing online courses, you can reach out to remote and large groups of prospects on an ongoing basis. Think about material that will fuel interest and sales. An accountant, for instance, might offer a course on the difference between a trust, a partnership and a company.

Use offline ads to trigger a search

The distinction between offline and online marketing is increasingly blurred. Customers take cues from traditional advertising to determine when and where to search. This includes magazine and newspaper ads, brochures, pamphlets, direct-mail leaflets and media releases.

Get friendly with social networking

The rise of online social networking has been fast and furious. Real-time and peer-to-peer outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn reach thousands of customers for next to nothing. You can use these outlets to start online conversations, post editorials or product data and to announce news or products that build your reputation and expertise.

Join the blogosphere

Launch and maintain your own blog to attract customers and encourage them to return to your site on a regular basis. Write about current events and news and link these topics/issues to your products and services.

Most of all: think content, content, content! 

Good descriptions and high quality images of your products and services and compelling calls to action will encourage customers to return to your website. The internet revolution is ripe with opportunities for SMEs to thrive. Jump in and see what it can do for your business.

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