Think about structure
If you want to get your site noticed by a wider public, you need to make the most of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This means making your site easily accessible to the spider software used by search engines to ‘crawl’ or catalogue sites. This software clicks through from page to page just as human users would do – so creating a single, simple architecture for your site will not only help your chances of being picked up by a search engine, it also has the benefit of making it easier to navigate by users too. Maintaining a user’s interest in your site means making sure they can access quality, relevant material in as few clicks as possible.
Improve your ranking
Getting a good ranking on search engines means making effective use of headlines, including relevant keywords. It also helps if the pages you use for individual products have their own URL, rather than being nested within a frame or d using Flash or other programming tools. This will enable individual pages to be catalogued, so that users sent to your site by search engines will land directly on the relevant page. And remember: search engines only catalogue text, so make sure you include enough text – generally at least 250 words – on each page so that search engines understand its content for indexing. If you use graphics for navigation bars, buttons or other content, make sure they’re given an ‘alt’ tag that will make them meaningful to search engines.
Paying to raise the profile of your site on search engines such as Google can be costly. Ensuring you are linked to by relevant, well-spidered sites is another way to raise the ranking of your site. If your site is more than just sales, and includes some useful content.
From clicks to customers
Of course, getting visitors to your site is just half the battle – you need to convert those clicks into real business. First and foremost, that means establishing a relationship between your business and the people who use your site. Even if someone is a decision-maker buying on behalf of a business, you need to make that relationship personal. Ditch corporate jargon, and talk to them in knowledgeable but friendly terms. Make sure you include confidence-building elements, including prominent ‘real-world’ contact details such as your address and telephone number, as well as any relevant credentials such as industry or professional certification, or security provisions such as ‘Verified by Visa’.
A dry sales pitch on its own won’t do much to spark users’ interest. Bring your products and services to life with interactive demos or tutorials. And remember that ‘show and tell’ works better than just ‘tell’. If your product requires assembly, or is complicated to use... tell them how to do it, then show them. Make use of slide shows or video. Prompt them with calls to action, and providing tools such as feedback forms to begin a conversation. Make sure you measure response, too: if you aren’t converting at least 3-5% of site users, you need to take a look at ways you can improve things. By using a different ordering code for each ‘Buy Now’ button, you can track which calls to action work best, helping you to tailor your site to your audience.