One of the first things a new professional services consultant needs to do after writing a business plan is to develop an easy-to-navigate, engaging and lead-generating website. And while even the best of websites won’t do enough on their own to keep you booked solid, they do provide instant credibility when potential clients are comparing you to a competitor.
In fact, it’s widely published that as many as 85 percent of B2B buyers will visit your website prior to contacting you. So when you don’t have a bricks and mortar location, a professional website is frankly the price of admission to self-employment.
Fortunately, websites are easier than ever to create (and affordable), but I don’t recommend going it alone. You’ll be best served by getting the advice of a marketing professional who knows how to translate your brand promise into a visual experience that motivates action, understands the pros and cons of the various website builders and is familiar with the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Learn 4 steps to online success
- Your domain name must match your company name. When potential buyers Google your business, you want your website to come up on the first page of search results. The easiest way to do that is to make sure your website address and company name match. And better yet, you want to own the .com and the .org domains. Sometimes I see entrepreneurs opt for a less common extension like .net, .biz or .info because they’re emotionally invested in a particular name that is already taken. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach, but do you really want to risk a potential client landing on someone else’s website because conventional wisdom assumes the .com or the .org address is yours?
- Research no further and just choose WordPress as your website platform. There are many different website builders that promise an easy experience and great SEO results. And, I don’t dispute their claims. But what I’ve personally witnessed are the frustrations of several small business owners who have websites they’ve outgrown and now need to totally rebuild on another platform because the “easy” one isn’t scalable. Yes, WordPress has a bit more of a learning curve than a drag and drop website builder, but with millions of plugins and themes, you will simply never outgrow it.
- Familiarize yourself with SEO, but don’t rely on it. Waiting aggressively for the phone to ring or your email inbox to be flooded with requests from potential clients is going to be a very underwhelming experience. But optimizing your website for search engines is a smart investment. Your website developer will do most of the work for you such as registering your site for Google analytics, submitting your XML sitemap and installing an SEO plugin like Yoast on your website to maximize its search rankings. And, the good ones will encourage your to consistently add new content to your site—usually in the form of articles on your blog page. They can even help you develop an editorial calendar that incorporates the most searched keywords so that the content you publish maximizes search traffic.
- Hire help and don’t be lured by a bargain-basement offer that promises a $500 website will make you rich. So what should a website cost? That’s nearly an impossible question to answer and a quick online search will confirm that. Whether you hire an freelance website designer or a digital marketing agency, the one piece of advice I offer clients is to choose someone who understands your business, clients, industry and goals (or is willing to learn). Why? The most challenging aspect of launching a new website is copywriting. If the project is going to take longer than anticipated, it’s almost always due to lack of content. By choosing a website developer who can help you put your brand promise into words that are relevant to your audience, you stand a better chance of launching a website that is on time, on point and on budget. A $500 website can be beautiful, but in order for it to be a great deal, you’ll need to take ultimate responsibility for content development and SEO research. That being said, websites shouldn’t cost a fortune.
Website development can be a complicated project. And, no single article will tell you everything you may want to know about going digital. But as is true for most aspects of life, when you choose a web developer who understands your business and is committed to your success, you’re sure to find it to be a positive and exciting experience.
Need hands-on help with your marketing?
Real go-getters, Traverser Marketing supports start-ups, small businesses and well-established organizations in reaching their goals and fulfilling their missions by developing and executing dynamic marketing programs that deliver. Not an expensive marketing agency, we’re experienced, passionate and creative professionals who enjoy helping people succeed. Call 404.850.0586 or email Kristen@traversermarketing.com.