Thursday, September 3, 2015

Preparing for Your Website

As you prepare to launch a new website, there is some prep work you should do. I’m going to walk you through some hands-on things you need to actually do, and some things for you to think about, to help you make the most of your time and end up with a great website.
One of the first things you should do is some online research of your own. Go to Google and search for your business-related keywords. An example might be “tree service Charlotte”.
Now, go study the top 5-10 websites. Find out what services they provide, the type of information they have online, how their website is organized, etc. Keep in mind, just because a lot of them are doing something doesn’t mean they are really doing it right, but the first page of Google is always a great place to use a reference, since they’re obviously doing something better than most.
Next, try to work through some of these questions. Takes notes, since this will help your website developer later.
  • What things are they missing from their websites?
  • What can I do better than they did on their websites?
  • What services do I offer that they don’t?
  • Why should someone choose me?
  • What are my advantages over other companies?
  • Are those advantage related to a specific market segment?
  • What is my brand message?
  • Is my quality higher? If so, what, specifically, make it that way?
  • Am I cheaper? If so, how do I still deliver a great result for my customers?
  • Who is my ideal customer? Think in terms of age, demographics, location, etc.
  • What matters most to that person?
  • Time? Money? Or Quality?
  • What kind of language does my ideal customer use?
That’s just a short primer on how to differentiate yourself, but should give you more than a little to think about. It all plays into what sort of message you convey on your website. Once you identify your ideal customer, it’s a lot easier to put together content that resonates with them. If your message is that you’re the economy provider, everything should reflect that. If you cater to high-end clients, again, your language, pictures and video should be something that’s going to make them feel right at home with you.
Make an inventory of all your products and services, and then break each one down on a separate piece of paper and write down as many details as you can think of. Then, go back and see if there are any logical groupings to your services.
Your website designer should be able to help you group them in a way that’s going to use good language that search engines will like. My recommendation is to follow their lead on how to structure things for best search engine results. You may have to make a trade-off between using language that you just personally like, and what’s going to get your website rated higher, so you need to decide which is more important to you.
Now that you’ve both answered some of your branding questions about who you are as a company, and taken an inventory of your services, you can now put these together to write your content pages. This is where you take the nitty gritty details about different aspects of your service, and explain how your business delivers those things with your unique value proposition, using language that’s going to resonate with your ideal customer.
Old pictures may not be sufficient in this day and age, but I run into people with tiny little pictures they want to look good online – and sometimes there’s just no magic I can do with a tiny little pic. Get all your digital pictures together. You are going to want pictures that are at least 1600x900, and that’s a bare minimum. The reason for this is that your designer needs to be able to chop them down to size for different purposes throughout your site, so they need a good sized picture to start with. If they happen to be much bigger, don’t worry about trying to downsize them yourself.
Now, organize your pictures into folders that relate to your services. This will help you figure out which of your services that you do not have any pictures for. Often, stock photographs can be found and used, but it’s always better to showcase your own work if you can.
If you don’t have suitable photographs, see if you can take pictures of some of your recent work with a digital camera. Pick a time of day with good, bright sunny lighting in that location, and be mindful about how you frame the pic – i.e. how close you are, what’s in the picture, things getting cut off, etc. Remember you cannot use other company’s trademarks in your business website, so try to eliminate any such things from the picture before you take it.
Your website may be the very first time someone forms an opinion about your company. The most important thing about a website is for people to see it and immediately get a sense that you're the right company to help them.
Remember, though, that if you are a small local business, you are most likely not selling to anyone and everyone. That is not to say that you wouldn’t do so, but rather that there’s probably a certain demographic that is most likely to do business with you. The better you can identify who your customers are, and the typical “life story” for them at the time they are going to be visiting you online, the better you can do at tailoring the language on your pages so that your story about your business just naturally meshes right into their own life story, and they see you as someone who understands what they need.
If you need help figuring out how to tailor your website to better suit your target audience, drop by my website and connect with me there.

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