Only ten years ago, having a business website was often seen as a luxury and not a necessity of doing business. In the technical environment of today, any company that doesn’t have a web presence of some sort more often than not doesn’t exist in the eyes of many of its potential customers. Whether customers look you up online to retrieve a phone number to call (you DO have a phone number prominently displayed on your website, don’t you?), or they are looking for your address, hours of operation, or any other of a variety of reasons, if they don’t find you online they WILL discover your competition and will likely become their customer.
Years ago, a website could cost several thousands of dollars to get set up and running, and a lot more in yearly fees. Now setting up a basic website shouldn’t cost more than a few hundred dollars and annual expenses could be as low as $100. Granted, a website at these lower costs wouldn’t have some of the bells and whistles many have come to expect. Visitors to your site may not be able to check inventory or directly interact with your staff, but that doesn’t mean they can’t at least get the basics of how to get to the detailed information they seek.
Digging a little deeper on this subject would be the email address your customers, and potential customers, use to communicate with you. It looks much more professional to have email@example.com then firstname.lastname@example.org (or yahoo.com, aol.com, msn.com, cableone.net, centurylink.com, etc.)
Look at the email address you are using right now. Does it give off a professional feel? Separate yourself from it for a moment and seriously consider how someone who doesn’t know you could view it. While those close to you would possibly appreciate your email of email@example.com, when you are trying to land that new customer who doesn’t know about your hobbies, what does that tell him or her? Given a choice, if you were looking to hire a business coach, would you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com?
Returning to your website, what information should you have on your businesses website? Typically, you should put together a list of questions people call your place of business to have answered. Where are you located? What hours are you open? What forms of payment do you accept? What exactly does your company do?
If you continuously get calls asking about a service/product that you don’t handle, maybe provide a reason as to why you don’t handle that item along with a handy link to another local business where people can get that item or service. By using your website to help people who look to your company for answers, you could very well be building goodwill so when they do, in fact, need your product or service they will remember that you were helpful in the past and return.
No longer can you just put up a website for your company and consider it done. At the very least, you should have the ability to update the content on your site frequently (every other month or so as a minimum). When people do a search that you expect would result in them finding your website, most search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) add more weight to a recently edited and updated website over one that hasn’t changed in close to a year. Be sure that in the content on the pages of your site you are consistently utilizing the keywords that people would use when searching for your product or service offering. At the same time, you have to be careful to not overly use any words that would then cause the search engines to think you are attempting to alter their positioning of your site artificially.
To be considered as relevant as possible, use everyday English that takes advantage of words and phrases that are common in your industry and thus, used by customers when attempting to locate your business. Here are a couple of examples of good and bad usage of keywords and phrases to use on your website for your industry.
BAD: Cartridge World ink and toner printer cartridges are completely rebuilt ink and toner cartridges using the highest standards and multiple tests to ensure that our ink and toner cartridges adhere to the same specifications as the ink and toner cartridges from the original equipment manufacturer of printing supplies.
GOOD: Cartridge World uses multiple quality control tests to ensure that our ink and toner cartridges meet or exceed the standards set by the original equipment manufacturer to provide you with an exceptional experience when shopping with us for your printing supplies.
By overusing the same words, the search engines will quite often deduct points, so when customers search for your product, your place of business may end up lower in the search results.
In summary, be sure your presence online is on par with the look and feel that customers expect when they visit your place of business (or you visit them). By keeping a professional image online, you are helping to boost your recognition, and in turn, help customers find you when the time comes.
If you have any questions on this topic or any other topics related to the use of technology including printing in your business, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to share our knowledge and be sure that we are helping to make computers be the asset they are meant to be in business and not a headache.
By Greg Hicks,
Owner of Cartridge World, Prescott