PLANNING YOUR WEBSITE
Developing a successful website begins with a solid plan. Planning for your target audience is key to ensuring that your content communicates to them.
Begin by determining:
What are the goals for your site and who is your audience? Will your site be primarily for e-commerce, for sharing information or something else? There are lots of options: for instance, will you need user forms for people to send information to you? Do you need a shopping cart? How about an events calendar? Will you want a blog?
It's important to build in the details according to who will likely be visiting your website. For example, if you have an image slideshow, should it be very minimal or would your visitors need navigation icons that are more explanatory. Likewise, if you have many PDF files, would having an Adobe Reader download link be a good idea or would your audience think it was redundant.
I offer domain and web hosting packages depending on your needs and will bill you annually. If your website is built in WordPress, I perform monthly backups of your database/home directory.
You are the owner of your domain and have access to the robust control panel where you can access your complete website files, set up email functions (vacation reply, spam control, etc) and more.
SET A HIGH STANDARD
Your website reflects directly on your business and I aim to ensure that it fully meets your expectations and helps your business to connect with your customers/clients.
What I routinely do includes:
- Use only standards-based XHTML/CSS and test every web page for valid code with the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). Having clean code means that load time is decreased, your pages rank higher in search engines, and it's often quick and easy to alter styling in the future if desired.
- Search engine optimization is included on every site at no extra charge. Read more on SEO, below.
- Google Analytics is installed on all websites free of charge. Analytics sets the standard for complete stats on website traffic and you can view your reports anytime.
- I walk you through the set up of your new email address(es) on your email client (Outlook or Gmail, for example) and tutor you on using your CMS admin panel as well as your web hosting control panel.
- All images are optimized for fast load time. And, I offer expert image-editing if your images require it.
- Outstanding customer service—read the testimonials!
KEEP YOUR CONTENT CURRENT
It's really important that your website content is current and up-to-date. Outdated material not only makes you appear that you are asleep at the wheel, but is also noticed by search engine robots that visit web pages every few days. Search engine rank is affected by old content and websites that stay the same month after month tend to slip down on search lists.
Whenever you need a website update, I am a quick phone call or email away and can usually make simple updates within 24 hours, oftentimes free of charge. Planning the best way to maintain your website is important and we can discuss what will be the best and most cost-effective plan for you.
I also take over maintenance of existing websites that, for one reason or another, cannot be handled by the web designer. Please get in touch if you need help updating or maintaining your existing website.
There are two types of listings on search engine results pages: organic and sponsored listings.
In organic listings, a high ranking is the result of three basic factors:
- The presence of lots of strong keywords interwoven throughout the text of your site (this means that larger sites with more content tend to rank higher)—these should be the actual words/phrases that a person searching for a site like yours would type into a search field.
- Websites are also ranked by popularity and so lots of traffic to your site will cause it to rank higher.
- Likewise, lots of links to your site from other reputable websites will also increase its ranking.
Sponsored listings have been paid for with programs like Google AdWords. You set up an AdWords account (free) and set a bid price on each click to your site from the sponsored listing. Websites with higher bids get listed higher.
When it comes to SEO, it's the organic listings that we are interested in and there is no magic bullet for a high ranking but there are specific things that can cause a site to rank higher than others. I include SEO features on every website as a matter of course:
- Complete strategies for keyword placement are incorporated in the back-end coding of your site. I encourage you to use keywords/key phrases in the text content throughout your site. I am happy to help with copywriting.
- I submit your home page url to Google and Bing early on during construction of the site so that it will be picked up and begin to propagate across search engines.
- Search engine crawlers reward sites that have clean and error-free code and I validate the HTML/CSS on every web page (not to mention that a clean page is just plain better).
- I create an .xml sitemap and submit it to Google so that web crawlers can gain entry to all of your pages easily and keep them listed.