Web marketing made easy
Staff Staff -- Casual Living, November 1, 2008
OK, you have a Web site and it looks pretty good. It has a fantastic gallery of your most impressive casual furniture or maybe it lists the brand name products you sell. It even has a corporate history with bios of your staff.
Best of all, when someone googles "furniture" and your city, your company pops up on the first page of the search. Very good. But what happens when someone lands on your home page? Will she quickly, and I mean quickly, know how to navigate to exactly what she is looking for?
If your home page is loaded with beautiful images of high-end designer items and your visitor is a young mother on a budget, will she click away? If your inventory is large, will your visitor have to scroll through a long laundry list of items or will he be able to simply click on a broader category? Or if your visitor is looking for designer help, will that link be buried on an illogical interior page?
Web site marketing is different from print advertising. With print advertising you don't have to figure out how a particular magazine or newspaper works. Web site navigation tools can be at the top, bottom or sides of the screen. The architecture may be simple or complex. Your visitor has a learning curve before he can get to your information.
Your site had better make that task take seconds. Here are three tips to help you do just that:
Engage visitors fast
The positive thing about Web marketing is the visitor landing on your page is focused. Your Web visitor is specifically looking for what you have to offer.
Don't frustrate your prospect by having a long flash introduction. Remember, the person at the computer is on a mission. She already knows she wants something beautiful for her home. She wants to find out if your store can help her get it.
Make sure your home page is tightly written and laid out so that your visitor knows how to get his questions answered. If you sell a lot of items, divide them up into broad categories so you engage your visitor quickly.
When you do have an interior page within a category, say outdoor wicker chairs, make sure that particular page's meta tag keywords are distinct from the keywords for your home page. (Meta tags are hidden labels that search engines see, but your visitor doesn't.)
In this case, the keywords should be something like "wicker outdoor furniture," "outdoor wicker furniture," "wicker garden furniture," etc.
One other note about your images: It helps to have a name/description under each image rather than just an order code. The order codes won't do anything to help your search rankings. Nor will all your beautiful pictures. Search engines read words not pictures. So when a buyer types in "wicker outdoor furniture," if you have those words in your meta tags and in the copy on your page, your visitor is much more likely to have your site listed in his search results.
Give action goals on each page
Most retailers are satisfied to hire a Web designer and get their products up on a site with maybe a contact form. For written content, often they simply lift copy straight from their brochures or ads.
These materials may provide useful background information, but your home page and each of your Web pages need to be written toward having your visitor take an action at the end of the page. Every word should be directed toward the visitor continuing, even if it's only to click to another page.
Make it easy to read
If the page is not easy to scan, visitors will get frustrated and click away. Text-rich information pages should either be broken up into separate Web pages or rewritten with bullet points, indentations and more paragraph breaks. Image clutter can be solved by using broader categories.
Another problem affecting readability and causing eye-strain is the color of the text and background. Reverse type (white on black or light on dark) is a big no-no. It looks great and is impossible to read — though it's fine for short headlines. The easiest text to read is black on white. You can get away with another dark color on a light neutral color, but be sure to test it against other Web sites to see how easy yours is to read.
In today's Internet-connected world, a well-crafted, helpful, dynamic Web site will put you way ahead of your competition.