Monday, July 06, 2009

An Insider’s Hot Tips for a Better Website

As a search engine optimiser and a web content writer I have a few thoughts on why most websites are doomed to fail, nay, flounder and hardly keep itself afloat despite the millions spent.

I realised this the hard way. Here's my gyan. I worked for a website that made 5 million dollars with not even a million in investment a year and a website that spent millions and didn’t earn a dollar in return. So brace yourself, here’s the secrets from an insider.

Lowest Quotation

If you as the website owner choose the lowest quote and give the development work to an amateur then the website is doomed even before it has taken its first faltering steps. Look for a developer who is competent and knows the ropes and a bit about the way search engines operate. An expert in making cheap websites will do tremendous harm to the brand awareness you have created around your product and company.

No Search Engine Optimisation

Companies think they don’t need search engine optimisation (SEO) because they are already well known in the market. But the Internet is an ocean and website need to work hard to show up on the first page of searches. After all, in the ocean your website is only a few streams and trickles. That’s why a search of Chemicals + India shows none of India’s topmost chemical companies on the first 10 pages of the results.

No Keyword Optimisation

What most lazy website developers do is to write a set of keywords and copy and paste it on all pages of the website. Not done. Each page is individually searched by search engines and need to have keywords of the relevant page inserted into the page's keyword list. A lazy developer will doom your website from the beginning!

Your website should show up on the first page for all relevant keywords, not only a few. Ask your search engine optimiser how to do this, preferably before the site is online.

Have Short URLs

I worked for a really hi-tech social networking website where the URL for each page was at least a metre long with a lot of “%$#” thrown in. These characters aren’t indexed by the search engines and the longer URLs are just ignored. If you have http://facebook.com/john.matthew good, and http://facebook.com/$john#$matthew?3 (or longer) is bad news in optimisation terminology.

Content, Not Design, Is King

Websites should be content driven not design driven. Okay, okay, you don’t agree because I am a content writer, right? No, content is king, which is the truth as search engines search for words not images. So, don’t think having a lot of sexy images, flash programming and blinking lights will bring visitors. No.

When I was working for a web marketing company they first designed the pages and then asked me to fill in the small gaps they left for content. I was miserable. That showed they had scant respect for content and that’s why the website perished in the end.

Remember content is king and content writers (such as me!) are at least prime ministers in the king’s court!

The Content Shouldn’t Be Too Technical

A company which wanted to put up a website needed (here's the surprise) an engineer to write content. I was approached. I said an engineer is the wrong person to write content because he will put a lot of technical stuff which readers won’t understand. And, with due respect to all engineers (including the oddball me, an industrial engineer), engineers make things work, not make language work. Ergo, engineers are poor at communicating ideas. I am not saying engineers are poor writers, only engineers who have a sufficient command over writing and editing should be entrusted with writing website content. Or, websites will look like product manuals. Ignore this rule to your own website’s peril.

Create a Community around Your Site

Start a free newsletter and mail it to all your visitor. This way you get their all-important email addresses, and the right to mail them without breaking spamming laws. Ask visitors to register and reward them when they do. That way you have a ready list of emails to send your occasional promotional offers and receive feedback.

Most websites do not have newsletters and neither do they reward visitors who want to really come back again and visit.

More of this later.... Meanwhile if you have any tips, do please share in comments.

4 comments:

ZiLliOnBiG said...

ha, that was some gyan. But John, you should put these into practice, to get more traffic and readership for your blog(and some comments), hehe. :)))

John said...

Yes, guess so. But my blog isn't very much optimised and optimising blogs is dicey because each post isn't a different page. So search engines crunch the content into one big mammoth thing and find a lot of wasted links and down grade the blog.

~ J

Hans John said...

Oh John I am visiting your blog from time to time.

Today I discovered this web optimising notes. I am going to register "johntext - literature that wants to help" as a trademark in 27 countries the following weeks.
But I have almost no traffic - I am an amateur.

Have a look on www.johntext.de and www.johntext.ch

So thanks a lot for your tips concerning "contents rules" and "newsletter"

John P Matthew said...

I saw your blog. looks good to me. All the very best. John