When planning your first small business website, there are three
essential questions you should ask yourself:
<li>Who is your target audience?</li>
<li>How will your target audience find you?</li>
<li>How will you convert your visitors into sales?</li>
These questions sound obvious, but it's amazing how many people don't
bother...and then moan that "our website doesn't bring us any business".
<b>1) Who is your target audience?</b>
Give a great deal of thought to your target market. Who do you want to
attract to your website? Why? The answer to that is more than likely to
sell them something - a product, a service, or an idea perhaps.
Claiming that your market is anyone and everyone is far too vague, and
your website will lack focus, and fail to maximise its potential. Ideally
you should be aiming to create a niche.
<b>2) How will they find you?</b>
Creating a niche will also help you with the search engines, and drive
hot leads to your site.
Consider what keywords your target market might type into a search engine
to find you. Actually do the searches yourself. Who comes up in the top
30? Because that's where you need to be. Are your competitors there?
Look at their sites. Do they work? How can you improve on them?
Identify something unique about your business that sets it apart from the
Those keywords - or keyphrases to be more accurate - need to be
incorporated into your pages of your site - in the page titles, in the
headings, and in the internal links.
Be specific with your keyphrases. They will be less competitive than the
more general single word searches, and will more accurately target your
market. You may have to localise or specialise to get in that top 30 -
and the top 30 is where you need to be to drive traffic to your site. As
I am sure you are aware from your own experience, if you haven't found
what you are looking for in the first 3 results pages, you look
The key to achieving high search engine rankings is building inbound
links to your web pages - that is pages on external websites that link to
pages on your site. Crucially this link acquisition should be a natural
growth - where inbound link count increases at a gradual pace. The pages
that link to yours should be relevant, on-topic and ideally contain the
same keywords - especially in the linking text. Search engines rank pages
based upon their reputation - your ranking will be determined by what
other (preferably high ranking) pages say about your page.
<b>3) How will you convert your visitors into sales?</b>
Don't just tell them what you do or sell. Tell them why they want it
(yes, want - not need). Offer incentives, freebies, discounts - anything
to get that dialogue started.
Current research indicates that the human brain makes a judgment about a
web page within a twentieth of a second! That doesn't leave you very long
to make an impression. So, make sure that you have your Unique Selling
Point (USP) clearly visible on your home page - and preferably prominent
on every one of your other pages. After all, it's not a given that the
home page will be the first page that the visitor sees, particularly if
they have found you via a search engine.
Then make sure that you list your bullet-pointed guarantees. Visitors
have to understand why you are different from the rest, and why they
should deal with you and not your competitors. And as we've discovered,
they have to understand this pretty much instantly.
Lastly, make sure that your site has a funnel-like structure. Identify
your important pages - usually the "call to action" or purchase pages -
and make sure all roads lead to those pages. Your internal links - like
their external equivalents - should describe the target page. If you sell
blue widgets, don't call your products page "Products", call it "blue
widgets", and make sure that the links pointing at this page also say
"blue widgets". This will not only help the search engines identify and
rank the most important pages in your site, it will also lead your
visitor to that all important conversion.