Sales Are Everything: Maximize the Potential of Your Website

After you have optimized your website for search engine placement, you may very well find that you are ranked in the top 10 results for your targeted keywords. However, realizing number one rankings does not result in sales if you neglect the potential of your website. Spending all your time on SEO, which is vastly important periodically, you’ll quickly realize that all the work you’ve done isn’t quite enough.

What needs to go into your website? Does your site answer the questions buyers might have, in such a way that they have every reason to buy from you? Or does it encourage the user to click their back button and return to the other top-ranked sites that do answer those questions?

Don’t get me wrong – top rankings are vital. They are your biggest asset to gaining qualified leads and potential customers. But make sure that those rankings lead to a site that will turn visitors into buyers!

If you’ve spent the money to purchase SEO services, then you likely have a nicely designed website to start with. Now, tighten everything up and make that website work for you. What are the secrets of the super sites that you don’t know? Why do some websites succeed while the majority of others fail? The answers are usually more obvious than you might think.

Top 10 Tips for Better Websites:

1.Keep an Eye on Speed

It’s a simple fact of modern life: people are in a hurry. Nowhere is that more true than on the Internet. In fact, several studies indicate that the faster technology works, the faster people expect things to be; it would seem that no matter how fast the Internet is, it will never be fast enough.

So what does this mean for your website? It means that you have between 10 and 30 seconds to capture your visitor’s attention. If the visitor cannot at least start reading about and appreciating your product or service in that much time, they will head elsewhere.

Keep load times down by using smaller graphics wherever possible. Use flashy technology like Java applets, Flash, Streaming Audio/Video, and animations sparingly – and then, only if it is vital to your presentation. If you simply have to have something that is awesome and want to share it, then do so – but give your visitors a link to the flashy little piece of back-patting. Let your visitors choose to look at it, rather than force it on them. Remember that many people are still using dial-up, and that simple flash intro that looks so cool on your broadband connection will not be so inspiring to the visitor who has to sit there for 15 minutes waiting on it to load.

Quite simply, visitors will not wait. After all, would you?

2.Know Your Customer

Spend some time looking at your website statistics. Where are most of your visitors coming from, geographically? Which sites or search engines are sending the most clicks into your site? Know your market, and make sure that your website caters to their needs. Is your market mostly business professionals? Then make sure that the content you add into your website design is kept clean and professional. If your products are aimed at teenagers and young adults, then your site content should be more informal and relaxed.

The key here is to spend some time looking at who your visitors are, and then research those visitors. What kind of language is used most often on the sites that are pulling in visitors you’re targeting? How much content is offered on each page? How many images? Develop a real feeling for the “culture” behind your target audience. Believe me, regardless of who your target audience is, there is a culture.

3.Stay Focused

Really, really make sure that your website stays focused on the goal of selling your product or service. A website offering many unrelated products is too “messy”. If your business offers a variety of products, dedicate a unique page for each product type rather than trying to sell all of them from the same page.

Upselling or cross-selling is vital, but don’t dedicate so much space to it that the customer feels trapped. Make mention of products from the pages that are related to them, and definitely mention them in tutorials and articles. But do so subtly.

4.Crucial Credibility

The most professionally designed website, with the most highly targeted keywords, and the highest search engine rankings will do you no good if your visitors don’t believe in you. The impersonal nature of the Internet breeds a certain level of wariness and mistrust. For your website to be successful, you have to overcome this natural instinct.

A clearly written, easy-to-read privacy statement is one way to build your credibility. Every commercial website should have a privacy statement posted and easy to find. Link to your statement prominently on every page, as well as in any location where you are asking your visitors for personal information.

Another credibility-builder is providing legitimate contact information. Your contact information should include an email address, mailing address, phone number, and a fax if you have one. If you are unwilling to provide this information to your customers, because you do not trust them with it, why should they trust you with their hard-earned money?

5.Guarantee Your Products

Offer an ironclad, no exceptions, money-back guarantee. This item is really a credibility issue, but it’s important enough that it needs to be addressed separately. What better way to establish your customer’s trust than eliminate any risk for them? If your customer sees that you are willing to assume risk for your products, they will be much more inclined to trust you.

If you sell mostly digital products, it can be harder to justify a full guarantee. If this is the case, spend some time creating really awe-inspiring samples and previews of your products. This alone will help bring in more traffic, and visitors can see that you really do what you say you can.

6.Make Payments Easy

Offer a variety of payment methods for your customer. If you don’t currently accept credit cards, start accepting them immediately. You can either set up a merchant account, or use a payment processor like PayPal.

Take checks online. Provide an address for those who prefer to pay by check or money order. Make sure that the payment process is clear, easy to access, and simple to use. Eliminate as many steps as possible and don’t ask for more information than you absolutely need to complete the transaction. Nothing will send a customer running away more quickly than feeling that their privacy is being invaded.

7.Simple Navigation

When your site was designed, it was done with the idea that visitors could easily get from one page to another. Now that you’re filling it up with content, can your customers still do that? Never place so much content in a page that your visitors have to scroll for five minutes just to reach your navigation buttons. Offer plenty of links within content so that visitors can easily jump somewhere else if they like what you’re talking about. If your customer can’t find what they want on your site, they will go elsewhere.

8.Keep it Consistent

Again, this goes back to the idea of working with your website design. Make sure that you keep all the content in the same font styles and colors that the website was designed to contain. Don’t use so many images that it breaks up the look of your site design. Nothing is more jarring to a customer than feeling as if they’ve suddenly gone to another site just because your colors and themes break off into something else.

9.Remember Indexing

85% of all web users find what they’re looking for via the top search engines. Make sure that you are remembering the ideas you’ve been presented with in the SEO work you’ve had done. Focus on your keywords and keyword density, but don’t sacrifice your message. Utilize the meta-tags keywords, description, and title. Use your keywords when naming your pages and images.

10. Content is (Still) King

Good content sells products. Ask yourself the following questions:

* Does your copy convey the message you want to get across?
* Is your copy compelling?
* Does the content of your pages lead your visitor further into your site?

Have someone else review, critique, and even edit the body content (copy) of your website to make sure that the message you want to convey is the one being received. Always double-check your spelling and grammar.

Remember that the word “Free” remains one of the most powerful words in the English language. Offer your visitors something for their time; whether you decide to place free articles tightly focused on your website’s niche, tutorials to use the products you sell, or free products like sample software, ebooks, or email addresses, giving your customer stuff that is constantly updated and added to will keep them coming back.

The more content you offer, the stronger your credibility and the more content search engines have to index. Believe it or not, the clichÃ?© “Save the Best for Last” is true when it comes to this last tip. It’s a win-win situation that will pay off the time you put into it hundredfold.

Implementing the 10 steps above will probably not make your website an overnight success that can rival Yahoo or Amazon. If they are implemented and integrated into an overall marketing campaign, though, you’re going to see a marked improvement in sales. After all, you’ve put the time into SEO and will receive more visitors; give them a reason, now, to buy.

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