It may seem strange to compare a website to an office plant, but there are similarities.
If you don’t water your plant, give it fertilizer once a month, avoid extreme temperatures and make sure it has adequate sunshine, the plant will not thrive. Eventually it will start turning brown, dropping leaves and no amount of attention will bring it back to life.
For many business owners, their website is like an ignored office plant that dies from lack of attention. After the website is developed and goes live, everyone celebrates and then ignores the website. Yet, the website is expected to continue bringing in leads, bringing in money and selling product 24/7. But it doesn’t.
A healthy website needs proper care and nurturing. If I were to create proper care and feeding instructions for a website, here’s what I would include:
Water Your Website
Visitors that come to your website are thirsty for information. Ask yourself, “Who is my audience and what do they want to know?” Answer your audience’s biggest question on your homepage and then continue to provide more answers throughout the website.
Spend some time thinking about the needs of your audience and researching what they want to know. What are their biggest problems? What are their most pressing concerns?
Set your website up so that you are providing answers and solutions to their biggest problems. Position your business as a solutions provider.
Fertilize Your Website Once a Month
You want people to bookmark your website and come back often. Keep their attention by having interesting articles on your website. Try to put one new article a month on your site. You don’t even have to be the one writing the articles. On one of my sites, I have an automatic feed from another author who writes a grammar article every month. I put a little bit of code on my web page and her article magically appears every month.
Another technique is to go to an online articles directory like http://www.ezinearticles.com. There are thousands of free articles you can use on your website. The authors only ask that you post the article without altering their byline.
Avoid Extreme Temperatures for Your Website
Make sure graphics and animation are not overshadowing your message. Websites that are graphic heavy tend to take too long to load and people will leave before they even arrive at your site.
Also remember that graphics can not be indexed by the search engines. So, if you have a graphics heavy site, your site will get a low ranking with the search engines.
If you have a “splash” page, consider getting rid of it. A splash page is a page full of animation and sound that entertains before you get to the homepage. In order to get to the homepage, the visitor has to click the “Enter” button. A splash page is a good way to discourage business because it puts one more obstacle between the visitor and you making a sale.
Provide Adequate Sunshine for Your Website
Constantly check the statistics of your site to find out what’s working and what isn’t. What pages are being visited most often? What search engines are bringing you the most traffic? What articles are the most popular? What keywords are people using to search for your site?
Use the statistical information of your website to continually make changes. If you find most people are leaving after visiting the homepage, it could mean that your marketing message is not clear. Maybe your headlines are not strong enough or maybe your navigation is confusing. Change your headlines and see what happens. Keep testing until you get the results your want.
A website can not be ignored; it has to be constantly nurtured for it to be an effective marketing tool.
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Michelle Howe, MBA, is an expert
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