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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Four Fundamentals For High-Performing Web Sites

By Michael Nelson

The Internet is both promising and simultaneously vexing to a business owner. On the one hand, it enables customers from all over the globe to find you and buy from you; on the other hand bringing those people to your site feels a bit like magic. Here are four areas to consider as you plan to improve your Internet marketing efforts.

Your site must be optimized to bring in Internet searchers who are looking for information that can be found on your site. People search by entering queries into the search engines and are presented with a list of sites that the engines believe are a match for the "key words" entered. You must know what key words you are targeting and ensure your site is optimized to be found by people searching for them.

What are your key words? This is the starting point to showing up in a large number of searches. The top three results get approximately 70% of the "clicks" leaving the other seven and follow on pages to split the remaining 30%. It pays to be in the top three to have traffic find your site.

You need to find key words that aren't too competitive. If you try to compete for "cars" then you are in trouble. Sites that have been around for over a decade with large budgets are going to own pages like this. Find something that is in your niche and has around 3-4 words to start with.

Many tools exist to help you research key words and how competitive they are. Most of the tools are free and simple to use. Not only wil you find tools to help you understand the key words, some will look at your site and recommend key words for you.

On-page and off-page structure is the next step. Your site has to be optimized for search engines. You should have your key words in the title of your page(s); complete your descriptions and title for your pages too. Most important, ensure your content is of quality and related to your key words.

To rank high in the search engines, you need other sites to link to your site. These links are called "backlinks." The search engines believe that the more links that you have to your site, the more relevant it must be for those key words. You can get links a number of ways, article writing, social media posts, directory submissions, etc. Ensure that your articles and directories you submit to are related to your key words.

The type of linking sites is important as well. A link from a high-ranking site will count much more towards your ranking than a lower ranked site. For instance, if CNN picked up a press release about your firm and linked to it, that would do wonders for your ranking. If the ice cream shop around the corner linked to your auto repair shop, it won't help much.

How do you convert traffic into customers? Your site must be set up to deliver value to your visitors. What are they looking for when they visit and are you delivering it. Do you have a call to action that inspires action and begins a relationship with them? You can offer free articles, coupons, etc. but it has to be of value to your prospective customers.

You must focus on the value you provide and ensure that you are focused on the customer with the material on your site. Is it clear to them who you are? Many sites are beautifully designed, but I have a hard time figuring out what the company does. Other sites make it hard to find what you're looking for and I leave in frustration.

You've worked hard to bring customers and potential customers to your site, make the experience one that encourages them to act. They may not engage with you on the first visit. Some take longer to decide or they may not be in the market for what you offer. But, if you make it a pleasing, easy and valuable experience for them, your results will increase.

Remember, keep the customer foremost in your mind. Use these four considerations to help guide your marketing efforts and you'll be on the way to bringing in more traffic and converting a higher percentage into paying customers.

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