Have you ever been to a business website that looked like someone filled in the blanks on a template and slapped it up on the web? You know them when you see them…text boxes with font you have to squint to see, boring fonts that look like they came off the back of some generic cereal box, and photos you KNOW the template downloaded from a stock photo site. Or how about those websites that look like they haven’t been updated in months, or sometimes a couple of years? You know, most of these sites are “starter sites” which well intentioned business owners put up and just haven’t grown into what they deserve to be. Here’s how this typically happens:
- They knew they needed a website quickly
- They had no idea about web design
- They didn’t have a lot of money
- The templates seem liked the best immediate solution
If nothing else these kind of sites do establish your presence on the web. Often though, these sites become a long term liability. Here’s why:
- The templates they’re forced to use don’t reflect their current branding
- They’re often not easy for the business owner to update which leads to additional “webmaster” costs to keep the site current
- Additional webmaster costs lead to fewer updates and before you know it your website is simply a static page…unchanged and frozen in time
Eventually, the business owner notices the static website isn’t getting as much traffic as it used to. Here’s why:
- Search engines look for change. If your site isn’t changing then it soon gets overlooked by the search engines
- Most of those template websites are not optimized for search engines (like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc) and the developers who build your sites from them don’t do the coding necessary because it’s not part of your “low cost” website “package”
Now for the curve ball. Everywhere a business owner looks these days they are told they should also have a blog! “Geez! So now I need a blog and a website?” Oh, and don’t forget to makes sure they’re linked up to your Facebook Page, your Twitter account, LinkedIn…have sharing buttons for other bookmarking and sharing sites, have an RSS feed...it goes on and on and on….
So, Mr. or Ms. business owner, are you confused and frustrated yet? Well here are a few basic answers to common questions:
“What’s the difference between a blog and a website?” Well they are more alike than you may think. Here’s how:
- Both of them are on the internet and have an internet address called a domain name. The domain name of this site is http://socialmediainsurgency.com
- Websites and blogs should both be optimized for search engines and able to be seen and understood by search engines (this is called being “indexed” and “crawled”)
- Both can have all the information you’d expect on a business page: the name of your company, your contact information, information about your company’s product or services, and possibly a way for customers to buy those services/products
There are some difference between traditional websites and blogs, too. Here are a few:
- Traditional websites were more like online billboards or brochures. These are called static pages. Blogs on the other hand are continuously updated with current “posts” keeping them “fresh” for readers and search engines alike
- Sites provided little in the way of two-way communication between the businesses and the customer. Blogs, however, are very interactive with customers or readers often leaving comments, suggestions, sharing testimonials (we all know how important those are), or simply sharing information and experiences.
- Sites were traditionally kind of stuffy whereas blogs use video, audio, candid conversation and quite often humor to establish a more human relationship between businesses and customers (or followers, fans, and hopefully (eventually) loyal brand fanatics) who help sell your product or service for you.
What does it cost to have an updated site and blog that I can build and keep updated myself, with all the social media bells and whistles?
- These days you can have a very nice multi-page blog/site on a domain that you own, using a search engine optimized “content management system, with a custom “theme” for a couple hundred dollars. Throw in a bit of “coaching” on how to use the system and keep it updated yourself for a couple hundred more and you’re in business. “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”
So here’s the bottom line…customers buy from people or businesses they know and can trust. It takes time to build up that trust…more time than you have to do it one-on-one with each customer. Let your new web presence do some of the relationship building for you. Let your site/blog show your personal, human side because it matters. Businesses can’t care…only people can care. So make your business be more like a “people” (person, human…you get the idea). Win the hearts and minds, one post at a time…
I’ll be putting more out on this topic soon. In the mean time take a good look at your site or blog and ask yourself if it’s time for an update. Is your site guilty of some of these common website mistakes?
If you have questions about what I think the best platform, theme, and hosting options are to use for your business’s presence on the web, just ask! Leave a comment below…