Improve your website
“A well-designed site can help your company compete effectively with businesses that have deeper pockets and larger marketing budgets,” says Michel Bergeron, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Public Affairs at BDC.
Ranking high in search engine results is vital for your visibility online, Bergeron says. People rarely venture beyond the first page of a search result. Indeed, research indicates that websites appearing on the first page attract 90% of the traffic.
Having a poorly optimized website can be a problem even if most of your sales don’t happen over the Internet, says Mark Evans, a leading Canadian digital marketing and startup consultant. “The Internet is the way most people discover new products and services.”
Happily, small businesses can use simple, inexpensive tools to help level the playing field with large businesses, Evans says. “A small, agile, creative company can be as effective online as a big company.”
Create a clean, simple layout
Visitors to your site should be greeted with a clean, simple layout that’s easy to navigate without a lot of scrolling or clicking. Your site should prominently displays links to products or services you are trying to sell. You can also include videos and your site’s architecture should make finding information easy through the use of tabs at the top of the page.
You should also experiment with search engine optimization—the art of getting search engines to rank your site near the top. In this, the most important facet is to produce and maintain high quality content.
It is also worth putting in the effort to obtain outside links to your site. That’s because such links are one of the main ways search engines use to determine their rankings. The more links to your site, the higher you’ll usually rank.
You also need to maintain a social media presence. The more people talk about you and share your content on social sites, the more it improves your ranking.
Internet marketing 101
Do you have a business website but are unsure about its effect on your bottom line? Keep these tips in mind.
- Plan—Your online efforts should be guided by an online strategy that’s aligned with your overall business strategy, especially if you’re in growth mode. It should spell out your online goals (whether it’s making sales, generating leads or boosting your brand), your target audience and key messages. All this should guide the design and content of your website and social media properties.
- Keywords—Make a list of 20 to 50 keywords that you think potential customers will use in Internet searches to find your services. Choose terms that help you stand out and create content based on those keywords to drive traffic.
- Social media and links—Search engine optimization means not only ranking well on Google, but also on social media sites. Post compelling and informative social content that visitors are likely to share. The more your site gets talked about and linked to elsewhere on the web, the higher you’ll rank in search results.
- Website design—Visitors shouldn’t have to scroll or click a lot to find what they need. Prominently display your contact info and calls to action.
- Paid ads—Consider online paid ads and social media ads targeted at your audience.
- Measure—Monitor your online efforts to see what’s working and what’s not. Then adjust. Free tools like Google Analytics can help.