I’ve recently been doing a lot of Search Engine Optimization for my corporate website. This makes your site more visible and keyword rich for the search engines, helping your customers more easily find you. In that process it quickly becomes clear how important the website is to your business. On the internet it is surely the cornerstone of your business, your virtual storefront.
Site Speed Is Key
Study after study from Google and others have shown that the speed and response of a website directly affects user experience and in turn use of your product or service. It translates directly to the business bottom line.
Speed is accomplished by first measuring current speed and performance, then tuning and optimizing the various layers of technology which support it. Then measuring again to determine the speedup. You can then tie those changes to customer retention, higher click through rates, more time spent on the site, and higher conversions. Apply a dollar value to your conversions and you can then estimate the direct value of that effort.
Interface to Customers
The image your company projects is formed first by your website. The usability and simplicity affects how customers feel about interacting with your products and services. What’s more the information, solutions, tools and downloads available also reflect directly on your business.
Analytics tools like Google’s or Yahoo’s allow you to track conversions. These are important metrics to show when customers are taking action. They are traditionally used for when a purchase is made on an ecommerce site, but can just as easily be put to useful work tracking bookmarks, form submissions, phone call or request a callback, downloads, newsletter signups, likes and a lot more. If you do use conversions for these diverse functions, be sure to assign a dollar value by estimating based on the percentage who convert and those who later become paying customers in one way or another.
It’s All About Operations
Your website should be backed by a solid and flexible content management system so you can make SEO and ongoing process as well as tuning and optimization. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla are just a few. Use caching at every layer, and optimize images for faster download. Of course you’ll also need to apply best practices for disaster recovery, making sure your database and content are backed up regularly, as well as your server configuration components.
All of this boils down to web operations, that hidden support providing your internet technology foundation.
Book Review: The Art of SEO by Enge, Spencer, Fishkin & Stricchiola
Search Engine Optimization is for sure one part art, but it is certainly a lot of science too, and this book really covers all of the angles. Even if you don’t plan to do the SEO yourself, it’s good to have a strong grounding in the material so you can make intelligent decisions.
Plan to do research and brainstorm on the main keywords your customers use, what your competitors do differently and tune your site and CMS to best fit those searches. You’ll learn to optimize title tags, content and anchor text to be keyword rich, and most importantly of all plan a link building campaign to grow inbound links to your site and thus your authority and reputation on the internet.
Art of SEO is comprehensive, easy to follow & thorough, but also easy enough to dip into here and there for pointers if that’s all you need. I also like O’Reilly’s layouts and font, so it’s very easy on the eyes.