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There are a lot of small business owners that we talk to that are not happy with the results of the website that they paid a web site design company to build for them, or the traffic they paid an internet marketer to generate. They complain that the site is plain or is hard to update or that is has received little traffic or generated the few sales.
The blame lies with the small business as much as the web site design company. When small businesses hire web site companies they tell the designers basically what they want but leave most of the decision up to the designer. This is a mistake. Building a website is very similar to building a house. When building a house you pick out the house plan not the builder. You decide the colors of the walls, the type of siding, color of the shingles, what carpet, which cabinets, and so on. But with a website people leave this all up to the designer.
If you are going to have a website built then you need to take responsibility for a lot of the design and most of the content. The first thing to do is develop a set of goals for your website. Is it going to be used to generate new business or a place to direct existing customers? This will determine what kind of website is best for your needs.
Then you need to develop a list of functionality and information that you want the website to contain. Also, note what information will need updating and which is static and will never change. It is important to have an easy way to change information that is changed often. There are to many outdated websites on the internet already.
Next scout other websites on the internet until you find one that has the look you like or some functionality that would be good for your site to have. Or several that you like parts of. Being able to show a website designer an example of what you have in mind makes it very easy for them to meet your needs.
This is the easy part so far. You have enough info to give your designer a list of functionality and some example websites that look like what you have in mind. Now you have to decide what color schemes you want, what kind of font. The colors and font of a website set its tone. Is it professional or casual? Is it serious or fun? These might seem like trivial details but they matter. No matter how good the designer you need to direct them. You don’t need the exact font, but tell them weather you want a professional or casual font; Soothing or bright colors. All of this extra work will help you be more satisfied with the end product.
Next comes traffic. This is usually the job of an internet marketer but most web companies offer both services. We often hear complaints by people who launch an internet business and then do not receive the traffic they expect.
First of all, submitting your website to the hundreds of search engines will not produce a lot of traffic. It is a small part of an overall internet marketing campaign. Also, this is a service that is provided free by most web hosts and you should not be spending money on it. This merely gets your website listed in the various search engines. To receive traffic you need to gain enough strength so that when a searcher searches on a keyword relevant to you that your website shows up. This takes time and effort and will not be achieve by simply submitting your website.
A lot of websites are used as a tool for its organization to spread information or as a brochure for a small business to direct its customers. These kind of sites are not looking to generate traffic and do not need an internet marketing strategy. But if you are running an ecommerce site or a website to generate sales leads for your business then you need an internet marketing plan.
This plan will consist of several parts a search engine strategy for both organic listings and paid listings, a grassroots plan to generate traffic by writing articles, posting in forums, and in general becoming an online expert for you niche. And an online advertising plan for banner ads.
Long term, establishing yourself as the online expert in a field and developing a strong search engine ranking for the keywords relevant to your business is very important. This will allow you to generate traffic without spending advertising dollars. Early you will need to advertise to generate visitors and revenue but over time your advertising dollars should decrease. This should be the long term objective of all internet businesses.
To achieve this you will need a comprehensive plan, and the discipline to stick with it when no one is visiting your website. It is hard to outsource some of an internet marketing campaign to an Internet marketing company because you are the expert. It is hard for an internet marketing company to produce your level of expertise in your business. Internet marketing companies are excellent for managing ad campaigns, creating banner graphics, and teaching you search engine optimization and grassroots marketing. In search engine optimization and grassroots internet marketing a lot of the work is producing content(articles, guides, tutorials, etc.) in your niche and becoming known at expert sites in your area and forum boards that you are an expert in this niche and a place to go. You cannot outsource this expertise. You can hire someone to teach you how to do it but you need to do it.
To get satisfaction out of your website and have it generate the traffic and new business that you want, you need to take ownership and be involved in the design, content, and internet marketing. You can have a web company build the site but you need to drive the design and functionality. You can also have an internet marketing company setup a marketing plan and teach you the basics of search engine optimization, but you need to become the online expert in your niche and produce as much quality content for that niche as you can.