Setting up your online office or storefront (aka website) is Phase 2 on the Healthy Online Marketing Path.

We are discussing the online marketing path in 3 parts. If you haven’t read Phase 1 yet, go back and do that now. The order of the phases is intentional and crucial.

Read Phase 1

If you didn’t click back to Phase 1 because you’ve already read it, Let’s talk about establishing your online home base: your website. (If you didn’t click back to Phase 1, but didn’t read it yet, here’s another link…its that important! Phase 1 is first)

Now that your branding identity and strategy are established, you are ready to construct your business’s online location. This is the counterpart to your brick and mortar office or storefront. Its where your potential customers can get more information, schedule an appointment or make a purchase.

image of man looking at phone with blue text that says 70-90% of people will look for you online before calling or stepping in your door

The staggering statistic is that 70-90% of your customers will look you up online before ever calling or walking through your door.

If you aren’t online, you are missing opportunities with customers and potential customers. 

Unfortunately, much of the website building process and associated vocabulary is unfamiliar and confusing to the average person.

Here’s a list of questions to help you navigate the decisions involved in building a website:

If you are interested in building your own site, read How to Choose the Best Website Builder to see if your project goal and personal knowledge is a good fit for a DIY website.

What do you want your website to do?

When building your website, you first of all need to know what you want your website to do. Whether you build it yourself or hire someone else to do it, know what you want: professional standards? Specific functions like an interactive map or payment portal? Are you wanting to attract new customers, serve existing customers, or both? The answer may determine how deep you dive into optimizing for being a top result on search engines. Are you regional, national or location specific? You need to rank high for local search. Are you nationwide with a web based product or service? You will need to offer highly optimized content in order to rank in a competitive market.

How much can you afford?

Next, you need a realistic idea of your budget.

Ruthlessly fight naivety. Be aware that the “free” web building options will upsell you the options that are standard professional website elements. And many of them are required to be renewed annually at additional cost to you. For instance, an SSL certificate or basic search engine optimization are essential in today’s competitive market. If you want customers to find your website you can’t skip those elements. But they are an extra charge on a “free” website builder.

Business owners, overwhelmed by all the variables, may not realize the impact each element has and be inclined to skip those add-ons. Hence they are disappointed at their site’s performance. Conversely, we have had clients come to us with amounts out of pocket comparable to having had our personal service provide those site elements. And they still don’t have a site built or aren’t happy with it because they were designing it on their own.

If you’re concerned about balancing the need for cost-effective focus with professional online presence we can help you know the best way to allocate a limited budget.

We provide solutions that fit what you want within your available budget.

Letting us help guide your project is an alternative to working alone on a build-it-yourself site and picking unfamiliar ‘add-ons’ to leave or take.

We will translate the industry jargon with your best interest in mind helping you have a beautiful and effective website that’s budget friendly.

How much time do you have to spend building your website?

Do you have the time in the midst of your other responsibilities to tackle the project of building your own website? Do you want to spend your limited time on the learning curve of building a website even if it is advertised as an easy process?

How much influence do you want to have on the design?

Of course you can use a public web-builder to do it yourself. But then you still have to build it yourself. Do you have the design instinct to take the plethora of options available and hone it into a beautiful and effective website that will move customers to purchase? Something to keep in mind: A bad impression is worse than not being found online at all.

How familiar are you with the technical aspects that makes a site rank higher in a search engine?

If you do have time and capacity for the learning curve to build a professional site on your own, and you have the design sense to make it look good, do you know the technical aspects necessary to make it effective? A website is equal parts science and art. It must be easy for search engines to read and be beautiful for humans to read. Those are very different results and are achieved through specific methods.

For instance, you want beautiful images on your website, right? Images need to be the right size. If they are too large, they will load slowly and frustrated site visitors will exit off your site instead of waiting. Search engine robots will observe visitors exiting off your site after just a few seconds and translate that to mean your site is not a valuable answer to their search. If the images are too small, those same site visitors will not be able to see what you are trying to show them. Additionally, improperly tagged images will signal to the search engine that you are not a credible site and you will get a lower ranking on a search results page. This example is just one of many possibilities.

So many more unseen background elements are involved with a professional website presence. These include an SSL license, site map, keywords for SEO, and fast hosting. Each of these items communicate to search engines that your site is a credible place for searchers to find answers to their questions.

If you have questions about these or any other elements that are part of a professional website,

email us here

Here’s a comprehensive list of what you may want to include when establishing your website as your online home base:

  • Domain*

    Such as www.csdesignonline.com or www.csdesign.online

  • Hosting*

    AKA How fast does your website load for site visitors?

  • Cohesive look*

    Using your brand colors, fonts and tone of voice creates the visual consistency that communicates professionalism.

    This element can be especially crucial to discerning site visitors. Those visitors may not purchase your product if they aren’t confident in the excellence of what you are offering. Non-profit organizations need to pay special attention to developing a professional online presence. You depend on kind-hearted donors who are considering gifting funds to your operation. A mis-managed online presence could communicate sloppiness overall. If they second guess your organization, they may decide to make their donation elsewhere. Let’s make sure you don’t miss an opportunity with a site visitor because you don’t look professional!

  • Phone number at very top of every page*

    Why? Because most web visitors are looking for you using their phone. Having your phone number at the top gives them an easy way to get in touch with you quickly

  • Contact form*

    What’s this? Here’s ours for example: Contact Us

  • Story of how you solve your customers problem*

    Focused mainly on your customers and how you help them.

  • Multiple calls to action through out the pages of your site*

    So that its easy for potential customers to engage with you.

  • Engaging photos, optimized for web*

    Keyword: “Optimized” – it matters!

  • Hierarchy of headers for SEO*

    Making it easier for search engines to tell what your site is about. And therefore easier for potential customers to find you!

  • Titles, meta tags, keywords on pages and uploaded media*

    This is the critical behind-the-scenes data that search engines will read.

  • Site map submitted to search engines*

    Another element that helps search engines “read” your site.

  • Link to newsletter sign up^

    Not required, but we highly recommend an email newsletter as part of your healthy online marketing strategy.

  • Map of location (with ability to get directions if applicable)^

    If you are a local business without a physical location, you may want a map to outline your service area.

  • Professional email^

    A sign to potential customers that you take your work seriously and are indeed a legitimate business.

  • Products or blog to frequently update and keep content fresh^

    Another way to signify to search engines that your site is current and credible is to frequently update and add content.

  • Extra security if you are dealing with particularly sensitive information such as medical records

  • Link to any social profiles (possibly even a feed of your social posts)

    People who search for you may be interested in connecting with you further, make it easy for them by providing these links.

  • Calendar for any events that pertain to your business and your community of followers

*Critically important for every site
^Highly recommended

No joke, this is a lot. But you don’t have to face the overwhelming task alone and blinded by the jargon. Call us to find out how our web-building services could free you up to focus on your customers. 1-573-436-3717

Next up is the third phase of the Healthy Online Marketing Path: Spreading your message. See you there!

Phase 3