Lately I’ve been toe dipping in old school web development for small businesses. It’s been a while. For the past few years the web work I’ve engaged in concerns whole team development. Sites that require copywriters, coders, designers, project managers (that was my role) and have the budgets to support all of this industry. Outside of the web world it’s all been about helping people help themselves. Tutoring, organising classes, supporting people in voluntary roles, bid writing and strategy development. Having stepped back from the larger site following the decision to have a reasonable work/life balance I have been amazed at the kind of things that small businesses have had to put up with and how much they have spent to do so.
This week I’ve spoken in some depth with five potential clients about their existing websites. The issues mostly relate to new business. More specifically their businesses attracting new business. Despite each site taking different directions and wanting to attract different audiences the common factor was that they all were built a while ago and then left alone. Some of them had been made without the customer/reader in mind at all. The sites I looked at this week tended to make assumptions. The owners without exception are all expert in their field. They know all there is to know about their subjects. A website for customers needs to impart some of that credibility but it can’t assume that the potential customer will spend any time researching anything just to get something of use out of a site. A website needs to answer the customer question, “What’s in it for me?” quickly and obviously. To be able to do this in the first place a website needs to rank in search engines to be found at all. It is no use spending time and money on a site that is never read.
There are many specialist companies out there that will ‘optimise’ a website for a fee. Frankly if you would like to go down that route then good luck. The specialist search engine optimiser is a very skilled role indeed and engagement can pay dividends. Be cautious. There are plenty of charlatans out there. Some of the people I spoke to this week had met some of these in the past. My advice is find someone local and with a good reputation, mutually set the parameters of success and stick to them. Here in the East Midlands I can recommend http://www.hallaminternet.com/, if nothing else sign up to their free newsletter for plenty of top tips and news about search engine optimisation tips and tricks.
For most people this isn’t an option. Smaller businesses need to set about climbing the Google ladder themselves. Without recourse to the specialist services on offer elsewhere the best thing a business owner can do immediately is think about what they would want if they were the customer. Why should I use their service/product? Make sure that the site reflects this in its content. The whole thing should be geared towards what the customer needs and not what the owner is prepared to offer. Of course the fine line is that this needs to be done with respect. It’s a small step between useful information and pratronising waffle.
So is it all about the money?
Well, yes it is and no it isn’t. The end goal is about customers and consequentially money but before a business can get to that stage in a relationship they need to attract potential customers and then convert them to actual customers. Twice as tricky if the business site is invisible and even if found says nothing useful.
If you have found this item interesting or indeed useful. I am happy to chat. Visit the contact page for details of how to get in touch.