Recently I got into huge argument with a friend of mine who has been disappointed with the performance of his website. As a small Business owner he expected many clients to keep knocking his doors once his web site was up. Well, that did not happen, and now he is mad at the world.
There is still one fundamental problem with Kenyans when come to websites. The importance of it all is still lost in translation. And this is not confined to small businesses only; it is everywhere, almost in every level of Kenyan Corporate scene. If you are a web designer or developer then you hear them every day. They all need a basic website.. Really what is a basic website? A brochure? Online Flyer?
Ok, so it seems you need a static website with a few pages but the bigger question is what it is for? Probably to show people your credibility but really who are you fooling here. The people you are trying to show your static web page have invested heavily in developing their websites and will be put off the first time you open yours. Whether small or large the business owners need the ability to control their content. That means it is time to invest on functionality and not the pages.
The first problem with my friend’s website is that it is basically online brochure. In the real world, websites have become the mean of generating more business than any other medium of advertising. Internet today is being used 24 / 7 and is accessible from everywhere. Just having an online brochure might not live up to that expectation. That in mind, it is high time people invest in quality site which guide visitors how using your website can actually help them.
To be successful online you must have a plan or strategy or whatever you call it. Here are a few things that need to be taken right from the start:
- Research and know where your customers are
Probably you know where your customers have been all along but going online means bigger audience with different taste. In some cases majority of the offline customers are not online at all. Think outside the box and do a proper reaserach.
- Look for Relevant keywords
SEO is important in that it covers the key areas that marketers need to address while selling and advertising online. It directs the right traffic to your site, out of the people searching for the product or service being offered. Before you blame your webmaster for not getting proper ranking on the search engines, ask yourself if the right key words which describe what business you are in are used. Relevance is key, so getting the keywords right is very important.
- Write great content
SEO requires that quality content are placed on the website. In the initial stages people will come to a website for its great design and curiosity but what would make one come back over and over again is in most cases quality content. Content is a theme which keeps on coming up on this blog but that shows how important it is.
Then there are those who fall into a trap, let’s just call it a mistake. Online trickery. Instead of creating a website where users could get value, some go on the path of creating useless spam pages in the hope of tricking users and search engines. It may work for the first few days but in the long run, it is a path leading nowhere.
- Promote the site
The owners of website need to go beyond the SEO in marketing their websites. If the aim is to get clients through the website then one has to invest in making the website popular to the target audience. I have seen situations where the website owners sit back and do nothing after creating the website. To them having good website is all that is needed to make it online. Really? Not a chance.
There is no short cut on this. It is the same reason why companies like Safaricom, Nation Media Group spend lots of cash in promoting their websites. It can be argued that they have money but still that is not here nor there. Spend money to get money..Investment
There many ways to promote a website some which are free:
Social Media: There many success stories of companies or businesses using social media to market their products, services and websites. Twitter for example gives a very good option for promoting a website. Get interesting contents on your site and then post a link on twitter to share it with the followers and people interesting on the given topics. Create Facebook fan page and encourage people to discuss your products and services
Back links; Also known as inbound links. For the website to be on top of search engine like Google, the website should have a large number of backlinks. There many ways of getting backlinks but it is not just a walk on the Park. It can be done by being active online, writing and submitting articles, posting on online forums, commenting on blogs or submitting website to various internet directories.
Advertise online: Popular sites like that of Nation Media, The Standard or even Kachwanya.com have advertising space and rates. Depending on the audience being targeted you can buy advertising space for a banner or a link.
Newsletters: Weekly or Monthly newsletters send to subscriber’s inbox is one way of encouraging people to visit your website. But be careful not to be considered spammer. Many a time I wake up and find people sending me newsletters in my inbox without prior subscription and I am like what? Where did you get my email address? Unfortunately I see them every week and I never read them or click on the links given. I guess many people do that, so get away that people subscribe willingly to your newsletter and you will get an active participative audience.
- Constant Improvement;
The world of Web moves first and furious. What is consider trendy and great might not be so in the following year. It is upon website owners to ensure that their websites are improved to the required standard in order to remain relevant. Majority of Kenyan websites are at best can be described as dinosaur. The worry is, most of them belong to the early adopters, who were able to take the opportunity of being online but in between did not realize that they need to improve their websites almost every year.
- Prepare to be there or at least have human face constantly there
Machines do wonders these days, but personal touches and involvement is still the key. It assures the customers that they are dealing with humans. Customers are more likely to trust the site if they know that they can communicate with a person easily.