Successful websites – how does it work for Webpreneurs or SMEs ?

Slowly, very slowly, after a lot of hard work and self belief, content creation and curation and site promotion.

marketing-website-design-teamThis is an example of a typical small business website growth.

Month 1 – Write up a spec or a scope, get a design done/agreed, a theme or customised design, have a developer agree to create the CMS Content Management System site with the agreed design.

Month 2 – New site gets delivered – Read the manual, tweak layout, navigation, images and text. Go live. Improve MetaData, Page Titles, Descriptions, Keywords and Alt Tags. Register with portals, Social Media etc.

Month 3 – Excitement over creation of your new shiny website. Lots of time consuming hard work, creating the first simple pages, images and articles learning how to manipulate images, adding video. No Visitors, just you checking for visitors.

Month 5 – Focus on Social Media getting it to work better, testing out Facebook advertising and Google Adwords. Reading about digital Marketing, Buying books, listening to podcasts by CC Chapman and Mitch Joel.

Month 6 – Loads of hard word done and time spent, but the excitement is dying down. Very few visitors and few if any sales, bounce Rate is over 70%. Took 6 weeks to get pages indexed and 6 months to start ranking well. Feeling like it is never going to work – thinking about packing it in. Google does not seem to care.

Month 12 – After writing plenty more pertinent content the site looks much sharper, the typos are gone, the images are better, the navigation makes more sense. You answer more questions in FAQs. Now your pages are all indexed, Google finds them and you start ranking high up the page in long tail search, low volume search terms. 100 people a day visit and 1 or 2 per cent make an enquiry or even buy something. The Bounce Rate is very high, still over 50%, so you work on refining Page Titles, descriptions and keywords.

Month 24 – Now you have 100s of daily visitors and some sales or enquiries almost every day, building up to a low steady sideline or second income. Bounce Rate is below 40%. The pain seems to be worth it now at last.

Month 36 – The site is making a small living and you are enjoying it, attending webinars and shows, reading all the tips and tweaking content. You understand what all the “experts are saying”, you continue to tweak content, to add Specials, Offers, Extras, Bonus Value etc. Now you are happy to tell people you are an Online Business, a Webmaster, a Digital Marketeer. The new car shows you are being successful. Nobody is laughing now.

Month 48 – Now your advice is being sought after, you are writing articles, get involved in a Mentoring programme, the orders come in whilst you sleep. An overnight success after 4 years !

Month 60 – You made it !! Independently wealthy now, developing other online ventures. A pioneer in the Digital Klondyke staking your claim. Keep studying the innovations, the Thin Client interface innovation, the digital wallet influences, the Social Media funnel and whatever else is new. What is Seth Godin saying today ? What is Matt Cutts saying ? Who else is in my space giving me pointers ? How can i help others succeed ?

Tips to making your website successful FASTER

Digital Strategy: Create a Roadmap, plan the project, engage all the stakeholders, write down the ideas, views, objections and bring the team along with you, even the guys who do not really fully agree with the Digital Marketing plan.

Web Partner: Get this one right, as it is way more important than which CMS or platform. Work with someone you like and trust, someone competent and allow them make the odd mistake, as they create your website or work on your Digital Marketing.

Design – You can use a website design theme if one works for you or have a competent graphic designer custom design on a theme or custom design a bespoke design from scratch. Use the mockup to tweak the design rather than try to tweak after the developers are done building. It will save money and time and frustration. Good design will make you stand out and look more professional.

Text: The messages on your pages, your content will dictate conversion, not necessarily any stylish design or cutting edge themes or smart layouts, colour or navigation. Learn to write well about what you do, offer or want to explain – are you an expert in an area ? Write about that area with passion, then arrange it to look well, read well and convert. Spellcheck and remove any unnecessary words to offer great high quality content for your defined niche audience. The tighter the niche, the easier it is to write for them and get engagement, likes, reposts etc. Do some A B testing with your text – write the article and give it a few different headins over a period of time to see what gets the eyeballs, then write more on that topic/subject line.

Images: Yes, a picture can say a thousand words, so do use them when appropriate. Try to avoid overused stock images, create your own relevant imagery, to support, rather than replace the great text in your story.

Platform: Now that you have created your content library, put it up in a simple CMS so that it can be seen. Avoid basic html or big Drupal CMS, go for a WordPress or Joomla Open Source Content Management Syatem.

Digital Marketing: Have someone competent do the Digital Marketing your web presence and monitor its progress, not a Developer or a Designer. Be prepared to speaak publicly on your topic or engage in relevant Forums or both – get some PR.