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27 août 2010 5 27 /08 /août /2010 15:01

One question I’ve been hearing a lot lately from both customers and potential customers is, “How can I make sure I’m getting my money’s worth from my website         (Dell XPS M1210 Battery)       ?”

Considering the way the economy is, I’m not surprised to hear this question.  As a small business owner, I understand the need to carefully consider how every dollar is spent.   Putting money into a website doesn’t make sense unless the site is working for you.  But how do you measure that?  And how do you improve it?  Let’s look at these issues        (Dell Studio XPS 1340 Battery)       .

First, we need to understand that not every organization uses their website the same way.  Wrightsites.com, for instance, is a web service company – our website is our storefront.  Other companies, such as AM Appraisals (www.amappraisals.com) have both a physical presence and a website that they use for business transactions.  This is sometimes called “click and mortar”    (Dell Studio XPS 1640 Battery )           .

Still others, like Glass and Garden (www.glassngarden.com) may or may not have a physical storefront, but they are using their websites primarily for showing off their goods and services and letting people know about events they will be participating in.  This is usually called a “brochure website”.  Each of these three entities uses their website in a different way.  This also means that we need to promote our websites in different ways.  Here at Wrightsites.com, our entire marketing budget can go towards pushing people to our website, because our website is our entire business         (Dell Vostro 1710 Battery)          .

AM Appraisals and Glass and Garden gain their customer base from more than just their websites, so they need to spend their marketing dollars more selectively (think Yellow Pages, billboards, newspaper ads, local magazines, brochures, booths at home and garden shows, etc.).  My point is that since there are different purposes for having a website, there are also different ways to judge if a site is working or not.  In other words, one size does not fit all              (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ11S Battery)          .

So how do you measure if your website is working for you?  There are several ways to do this.  You could (and should) be asking as many of your customers as possible how they found you.  Your website would be an obvious possible answer, but the answers to this question will really show you where you are getting the most bang for your marketing buck.  Another possibility is to look at your website statistics           (ASUS EEE PC900 battery)         .

These show you a lot of basic information about your visitors: where they found your website, what page they entered the site on, what page they left the site on, and what pages in between they visited.  All of our hosting packages include Webalizer statistics.  This basic script analyzes server logs to see what time of day your visitors are browsing your site, how many visits per day, pages visited, entry and exit page on the site, host information about your visitors, referral sites, strings searched that led to your site, and information about the web browsers used to browse the site            (Dell RM791 battery)   .

We also offer AWstats, an upgraded package, for $2.00 per month.  AWstats covers everything that Webalizer does, plus: visitors by day of week, countries where your visitors are from, search engine spiders browsing your site, duration of visit, operating system of visitor, keyphrases searched, keywords searched, and approximate times your site has been added to favorites.  There are also other systems available that require you to place a small piece of HTML code in each of your pages        (Sony VGP-BPS13 battery)      .

Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/) is one example of this.  The biggest advantage to this system is that it can be plugged into Google AdWords for better results with that system.  This will also let you see the paths taken by many of your visitors, which can help you understand if you have a problem  with navigation of your site.  The bottom line is, if you aren’t getting visitors to your site, then it can’t be paying for itself       (Sony VGP-BPL9 battery)        .

Make sure your site draws in users from the moment they see it, then keep them active with well-written, relevent text, and keep them moving through the site with a clean, easy to understand navigation system.  Once you have all of that, advertise your website everywhere you can.  This will all help your ranking in the search engines and go a long way toward making sure that your site is paying for itself         (Sony VGP-BPL11 battery)        .

How can you improve your website so that it will start paying for itself?  Keep it simple.  You want to make sure your site design is simple enough to follow, but complicated enough to draw the visitors in at first.  Then, get to know some SEO techniques.  Search Engine Optimization is a service offered by many companies that will help modify your site so that it will rank as close to the top of the search engine listings as possible          (Sony VGP-BPL15 battery )     .

I'm not going to go into this topic now, because we will have an entire posting on it later.  Basically, you need to drive more traffic to your site.  That means putting your web address on all formal advertising and communications for your company.  Having pens printed?  Include the web address.  Getting shirts, hats, or even stuffed zebras?  Slap that URL on there!  This will help drive people to your site.  Just make sure you have something on the site for them to see or do – otherwise this is all wasted     (Dell Inspiron E1505 battery )        .

Yes, I’m biased on this subject, but I really do believe that all small businesses and organizations should have a website – if for no other reason than to communicate with customers or members.  More and more people every day turn to the Internet first when looking for information.  Even information such as the hours of a local store are often sought out online first      (Dell Latitude E6400 battery)          .

That about does it for this edition of the Wrightsites.com Hosting Blog.  Join me next week when I discuss ways to lessen the pain of spam     (Hp Pavilion dv3-1000 battery)      .

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