Your Business Website: 10 Point Checklist and Resources

Follow these points so your business will be unconstrained.

Follow this checklist and swim in a bigger pond!

Planning Your Website

This is about setting your site up properly so that you can:

  • Maximise your online profile
  • Generate high converting  traffic
  • Measure and tune your traffic and website for optimal sales

I am going to try and keep this as brief as possible, creating a simple checklist of the major areas you and your site designer should be aware of.

The Checklist

1. Keyword Research

Proper keyword research is essential up front, and will help you:

  • Find search phrases used by customers
  • Define market niches and relative competition
  • Develop your search engine marketing program

One of the best tools is the Google Keyword Tool  – and it’s free!

2.   Assess Competitors and Similar Sites

You can learn a lot from looking at the websites of your competitors and related businesses.

  • What strategies are they using to find customers and close sales
  • What other websites link to them?
  • How do they rank for relevant keywords?

Here is a list of free tools.

The paid service we use is Raven Tools. Raven provides an excellent framework for competitor research.  A terrific feature is the side-by-side search engine rankings for any sites you want to compare.

3.   Your Content Management System (CMS)

WordPress CMS is free. It is state-of-art, with the greatest adoption rate of any CMS in the world. There are a huge range of free and paid plug ins available. They cover everything from SEO, to ecommerce and social media.

As WordPress is everywhere, support is easy to find.

It is best to go for a self-hosted WordPress website so that you have all options available and are not dependant on any third party. It is relatively easy to move or upgrade your hosting arrangements.

If you are using another CMS it needs to be a main stream one such as Joomla or Drupal, otherwise you may be at a tactical disadvantage in the SEO and content publishing war.

Go to WordPress.org for more info.

WordPress design and  layout are determined by templates called  themes.

One of the most popular and professional is the Thesis Theme. It is not free, but favored by many as it is highly customisable – even by non web designers.

4.   Domain Name, Hosting, Security

Web hosting is something of a commodity, but you get what you pay for. Avoid the cheapies – you will need good technical support and a fast server if you want to compete. (Google uses site download speed as one criterion in determining where it will rank a site for search.)

Avoid reseller arrangements  – they are often not well supported – and ensure that you have all the account logins under your name and in your possession.

In Australia we use Digital Pacific. They have good solid mid-priced services and excellent support.

5.   Content Creation

Your website content needs to be:

  • Relevant to your business
  • Of value to your customers
  • Correctly structured with keywords from your research

Think about creating a blog and posting one new article every week or so. A drip feed like this appears more natural to the search engines. You should also look into posting different versions of your articles on websites that rank well and are relevant to your own.

6.   Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

You should have programs to cover the following areas:

  • On page SEO
  • A backlinks program
  • A content creation program

Having a quality content creation program is the key to SEO.

If you really want to kick start your SEO program and keep it on track, you can’t go past a search engine marketing toolset like Raven Tools. This is what we use to provide a logical framework for management of online marketing.

7.   Ecommerce

Here the situation becomes more complex. If you want to run a simple shopping cart simply to sell downloadable products, then a WordPress plugin would be the way to go.

If you want to sell real products and cope with such things as freight, postal zones, and product options then you may need something more robust such as Magento or osCommerce.

We often recommend oscMax – which is free. It is a full featured version of osCommerce with a bunch of options pre-installed such as vouchers and coupons and a template system. oscMax is very actively supported.

8.   Social Media

There are many social media sites, but those that get the most focus are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Integrating social media into your website provides benefits beyond simply getting additional traffic. Links from your social media accounts to your website will also assist your site’s search engine rankings.

Also consider automating the linkage between your website and yoru social media accounts. For example, with the right plugins – such as Wordbooker – you can automatically upload blog posts to business’ Facebook page.

9.   Paid Advertising

There are many options for getting paid traffic, including:

  • Pay per click advertising (PPC)
  • Banner advertising
  • Micro media buys
  • Social media advertising
  • Etc etc

We recommend starting with pay-per-click advertising with Google Adwords and Yahoo Search Marketing, for the following reasons;

  • You get immediate highly targeted traffic to your site
  • You obtain valuable market intelligence
  • You will back up your keyword research with real traffic data for your website

10.   Analytics and Tuning

One of the most important of all the points on this list.

  • Use Google’s state-of-the-art and free tool to monitor all your site traffic, sales and significant events.
  • Monitor the ROI on all your content and advertising initiatives.
  • Set Goals and SEO Performance Metrics*.

SEO performance metrics includes things such as the number of searches on keywords that do not include your business name or your own brands. (It is easy to rank well with the search engines for your business name, but may not be so easy for generic keywords.)
Here’s the link for Google Analytics.

If you can check off an action plan including all 10 of the above points, you will soon be swimming with the big fish!

 

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