Most people hire a web designer based on a very fragile set of criteria, mostly because they have very little knowledge of the design process or industry.  Since about 95% of “web designers” don’t understand the marketing side of web design, they fail to realize that they are not helping their clients by ‘doing what they do’.

It’s really no fault of their own, heck for years I was just that.  I’d pump out a site a week. Clients were happy to have a site, and I was happy to have their money.  They ended up with an online brochure.

An online brochure is ok if that’s all you want, but most likely you want more than that.  A $2000+ investment ought to do more for you than just look pretty.  It should bring you revenue, customers, or members.  Whatever your goal is with your business, your website should simply be another means of getting that result.

With that said, here is a list of ten things most businesses can do to their website today that will help them rank in the weeks to come.

  1. Fix your title tag
    Search engines read this tag to help it decide what your website is about. So put something that makes sense; something that a potential customer would type into Yahoo to find you.
    Something like “Bob’s Widgets – Widget Repair and Manufacturing – St Louis Missouri” is better than “Welcome to our Website” or “Home”
  2. Don’t waste real estate
    If your designer thought it’d be cool to put a bit of blank space at the top of your page so that it looks ‘centered’, he was wrong.  Since everyone around the world uses different screen resolutions, its pretty much impossible to vertically center your website copy on every one of them.
    Sure, you can build it for the most common resolution, but why?  Just put your info at the top so you’ll be sure that everyone can see it.
  3. Put your contact info on every page
    This should be a no-brainer.  The purpose of your website is customers, so make it as easy as possible for them to get a hold of you!
    To further this point, make sure your contact page has a form they can fill out to get more information.  You need more than just an email address, because many people don’t know how to configure their browsers to handle email links.  A form they can fill out will make sure you don’t lose that technically-challenged customer.
  4. Get yourself a real street address
    This is one many small and home-based businesses overlook.  They’ll use their home address or a PO box, which is actually losing them customers.  Go up to the UPS store and fork out the $8 bucks a month for a ‘real’ mailing address.  Then put this address into Google maps, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Insider Pages and others.
    People like playing with maps, and with SmartPhones getting overly popular, you’re going to need a real street address to capture those users when they type ‘Widgets in St Louis MO’
  5. Get the visitors email address
    Face it, they came to your website for a reason.  Even if they’re remotely interested, you’ve got a lukewarm lead.  Offer them a free whitepaper on ‘Trends in Widget Colors’ in exchange for them signing up to your newsletter.
    Then, of course, don’t forget to do a newsletter at least once a month.  Market to those leads!
  6. Bonus tip: Get rid of Flash
    No matter how cute, and no matter what designers say, Flash still sucks when it comes to ranking your site.  “cute” don’t pay the bills.  Ranking does.

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