What’s the one thing that you can virtually guarantee that you’ll do wrong when you’re building your business’ website?
You answer the wrong questions.
Think about it this way — what was on your wish list for new website when you had it built? New features? A fancy slider? Irresistable animations?
These are all great things to have on your website, but if you’re focused on only those elements you’re approaching your website all wrong.
Flip the script and put yourself in the shoes of your website’s current and potential visitors. What kinds of questions are they asking? If they stumbled on to your website, what got them there?
These are the kinds of questions you need to be answering. Answering the right questions is the biggest factor that contributes to the success of your website.
You have to figure out what your visitors and target market want — whether it be information, a product, help, a resource, a service, etc. — and how you can connect the dots to get them what they need.
Do you know what they need?
If you don’t, then you may want to stop right where you are and ask them. Seriously. It’s not that hard.
Tools like Survey Monkey make it quick and easy to put together a survey. Or you can use Google Forms.
If you leave any of this stuff behind and get caught up in displaying Twitter feeds or determining the prime location for your newsletter opt-in box instead, you’re doing it wrong.
But not to worry — you’re not alone!
Having issues when prioritizing website elements isn’t unusual. In fact, it’s common.
We’re conditioned to think about what we want and what we need first.
If this faulty practice gets too ingrained into the design to your site, you’ll end up being in a sticky situation where you’ve got lots of pretty and sparkly features that may win you an FWA award or get you listed on Awwwards, but you won’t have achieved what should be your number one goal — reaching and engaging the incredibly valuable people who keep you in business.
A couple of years ago, it was a lot easier to game the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) system than it is now.
Content creators were focused solely on creating fluff that became a magnet for search engines. But they almost never focused on meeting the needs or serving the best interest of readers they attracted.
Search results suffered, and prime SEO real estate (Google’s first page of results) became filled with all kinds of junk results that did little to nothing to actually help searchers find what they were looking for, but were really good at displaying Adsense links and advertising banners, trying to generate revenue.
Google spent a lot of time and effort to clean up its search results to get rid of spammy websites that didn’t provide value for the end user, and it’s now a lot harder to penetrate the top results pages for Google due to a revived focus on Google’s customers — their users.
It may not be pleasant to hear, but Google tends to care less about you as the website owner than it does about the average search engine user. Why? Because if users aren’t finding what they’re looking for in their search query, they’ll just move on to a new source of information, thus damaging Google’s business.
Google definitely doesn’t want that, and neither should you. Don’t be content with allowing traffic to bounce off of your site, driving current and potential customers to your competitor’s site due to a lack of information, assistance and resourcefulness because you are asking the wrong questions and focused on the wrong things.
Think about your website the same way as Google does about their search engine:
You must focus on your customers.
Think about how they use your site, what’s informative about it for them, and how it can help them. Consider your potential customer and have answers ready and displayed for them, and express how you’re an essential resource.
Give them blog posts full of great information about your industry. Share white papers on your market expertise showing your stripes as a thought leader in your market. Find out what questions they’re asking and answer them quickly. Be assured — someone else is more than willing to answer the questions of your potential customers and assist them with their needs if you don’t.
Online marketing experts Hubspot have built a business on helping business owners build their content in to rich, informative, farms of information that answer the right questions.
However, don’t be mistaken — this isn’t about search engine results. This is about your overall approach to your website. If it looks great but doesn’t help your clients much, how much good is it really doing for your business?
I talked about it in my last post — your website must be a resource for your customers.
If you want to drive your business with your website, you have to know what questions to answer and how to provide helpful, valuable information that’s complementary to your products or services.
Otherwise, you’ll be spinning your wheels and wondering why your site isn’t delivering more than you thought it would (and worrying about your customers leaving you for competitors).
Forget about fancy features…Twitter feeds, and sparkly animations, and focus on delivering the best stuff you can for customers and future customers first. Then enhance it with your features and fanciness to support the overall mission of your website. You’ll be in a much better place.