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If sorting out the corporate website is your ambition for 2010, it can be pretty difficult to know where to start and what to prioritise. After all, you’re bound to have a budget to stick to. So where should you start?

Christmas indulgence is over and we’re all racing back to the office filled with positivity, enthusiasm and hopefully fading hangovers.

If you’re planning to plough this positivity into your website then great. You’re not too late to increase your customer base through the internet and, thanks to localised search and long-tail keywords, you can still compete with companies that have been online since the start.

So, if you’re one of the millions of companies with a static, dated website that barely brings you a customer a week, where should you begin?

Read on for my five top pointers, but remember that there are hundreds of other ways to enhance your website if you do have a bigger budget. I’m sure some of my fellow online marketers will add their preferred priorities in the comments below, so take the time to read them.

Rewrite your site

Before making sure people can find your site, make sure you’re proud of the content they will find.

I sometimes hear companies bemoaning the uselessness of the web at attracting visitors, and then I see their websites, which are often useless, static pages written without any understanding of keywords, often filled with poor spelling and grammar. They should be relieved no one is finding their site to see how rubbish it is!

So, work on your words. Rewrite your whole website and employ a copywriter if you’re not too skilled at creating appealing marketing text.

Redesign with SEO in mind

If you’ve written your pages without considering SEO, the chances are your website’s design is not up to scratch either.

You may well benefit from bringing in some outside help if you’re not hugely techie – and make it good help. Getting the receptionist’s teenage son to put a few pages together for £50 is unlikely to result in a Google-mastering website.

Speaking from experience, it’s very frustrating to be called in to work on a website’s optimisation just after a (completely useless) redesign. If you can’t do it, get help.

What kind of things should you or your agency be considering? Use keywords in your page names, optimise your website’s meta description tags, fill your pages with internal links. There are many small but useful ways to incorporate SEO into your web design.

Keywords, keywords, keywords

Of course, before you rewrite your website, make sure you know and understand the keywords you intend to use.

It’s really not all about stuffing your sentences with the most commonly searched for term. If you sell car insurance then you don’t need to stuff car insurance into every sentence you write about car insurance.

In fact, you’re likely to have more success with so-called long-tail keywords, more specialised phrases that are particularly relevant to your niche business. You can research your keywords using free resources like Google Adwords.

Understand your paid placement

Once your site is fit to be seen, you will want to start attracting visitors as quickly as possible. Organic search can take some time to get going, but with intelligently applied pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, you can immediately increase your visitor numbers.

Take some time to really research your keywords and then you can allocate your budget intelligently, balancing cost and popularity to ensure a steady stream of relevant customers.

Socialise online

I am not going to claim that using social media is free because, of course, it isn’t, as it requires a commitment from you or a member of your staff. Dedicating anyone’s time is undeniably an investment.

However, spending time on a relevant social platform can have excellent benefits. You’ll become a recognised name within your industry, you can answer potential customers’ questions and attract them to your website, and you can give your business a great dose of publicity.

Use forums, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, any relevant platform, and you should see an increase in interest and visitor numbers.

Of course, this can be a slow burning tactic, so it’s important to dedicate regular time on an ongoing basis. Sporadic socialising won’t work.

Kevin Gibbons

Published 4 January, 2010 by Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons is UK Managing Director at digital marketing agency BlueGlass. He is also known as an SEO speaker and can be found on Twitter and Google+.

102 more posts from this author

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John Paul Aguiar

Very nice list of TOP to do's this year.

Have worked on a few past couple months, but still have work.

over 6 years ago

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Brad Smith

Nice list. For those that have it, taking a long, hard look at their website's analytics would be a great place to start and could help you prioritise what to do first.

Or if you don't employ an analytics tool, now's the time to install Google Analytics!

over 6 years ago

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Phil Hammett, Phil Hammett

Nice summary - I would add that the site should reflect a customers needs and cater for the most common user journeys, rather than the structure of your business reflected externally. Further still, consider the usability of your site at every stage of production - it will pay massive dividends further down the line.

over 6 years ago

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Aaron

Speaking from experience, it’s very frustrating to be called in to work on a website’s optimisation just after a (completely useless) redesign. If you can’t do it, get help.

100% agreeed.  As an SEO, please call us BEFORE you start your redesign.  It will be less expensive and more effective than thiinking about it after the fact!

over 6 years ago

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nfl

good suggestion, i am also arrange to do these five things these day

over 6 years ago

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Ken Munn, Principal at Write

It's good advice to rewrite your website but...

...more of the same is wasted effort. Better to get someone fresh to rewrite it for you. And that someone must write with the customer in mind, not the supplier.

over 6 years ago

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Destry Wion

Great article!

All these points, and those added by commenters above, center around having a solid Content Strategy.

With that in mind, maybe one of the 5 things, perhaps the first, would be to do a content inventory and audit. Rewriting bad content is good if that page is actually needed, but by first conducting an inventory/audit on the server you can ensure your only spending time on the relevant pages. After all, rewriting copy takes a little time if you care about it at all, so you want to make sure focused.

The inventory itself is simply a spreadsheet of every URL you have on the server, and includes a title for every page and/or file (e.g., PDF), a notes column for helping with the audit (e.g., is this a broken link? Missing metadata? Outdated? Irrelevant?), and perhaps organized in a way representing the content hierarchy as it exists from your site navigation. 

The audit is helped considerably by the inventory. At this point your considering the overall communication and organization of your site against your communication aims. For usability's sake, less is more. Based on the inventory, what content exists (or not) that you need, and what is trash (or can be repurposed)?

Every single website online should have an annual inventory and audit, if not semi-annually.

If you can make it to Paris next April, come hear the world's top minds on the topic present at the first ever CS conference, Content Strategy Forum 2010. There will be workshops, presentations, and fun (dinner cruise on the Seine, book raffles, and cocktail soiree) -- all at a price that will never be this competitive again.

over 6 years ago

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Five Minute Argument

@Destry: good advice. A decent bookmarking service (e.g. delicious) will be far more powerful than a spreadsheet, though, and can provide a host of automated features for you. Alternatively, you might store these details in your own database. Either way, you can then generate a sitemap from that data, which is an excellent way of keeping it up-to-date!

- Bobby

over 6 years ago

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Katrina Thompson

These are very good points especially relevant at the New Year when we all want to start refreshed!

over 6 years ago

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Noel Wiggins

I agree with this strategy and can't really see what to add to it which I was so desperatley wanting to do to show how smart I am.

But all I can do is share my experience.

I am at the tail end of doing basically these suggestions and here is what I have found.

PPC drives traffic but it won't do no good if you don't give good content.

If you write and design with SEO in mind then not only will you start to show up in natural listing but your PPC campaigns will be cheaper as well because google rewards companies that provide relevant content to the PPC ads.

I agree with the social media monitoring, twitter about 3 times a day at about 10 per shot is not to difficult for anyone to try and fit it especially with my results. My daily traffic from PPC was a mere 30 to 45 visits a day, I stopped the campaigns and twittered that first week and since I have had 90-120! thats 210% And all it cost was the time spent, Those numbers aren't where I want them to be but it shows the power of engaging in a social media strategy.

I think if you do the combination of all these suggestions then you are sure to generate better quality leads in 2010

--

Thanks and Regards

Noel for Nopun.com

<a href="http://www.nopun.com/">a graphic design studio</a>

over 6 years ago

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college chris

Good article, especially the beginning part regarding SEO...I stress this all the time for the importance of this.  Make sure your storefront is something you are proud of...after all, would you open a brick n morter store with broken windows?

over 6 years ago

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Steve

If you are going to take the time to redesign and rewrite your website you should spend some of that time coming up with new ways to supplement your current list of services. Let me explain. So you have your current set of services on your site. Thats great! What we need to do is see if any of those services can be broken down into more specific offerings. For example, say you offer content management systems integration and you list out how you do this and why the customer will be outrageously happy with your service. Good start, but what you are missing out on here is marketing specific systems that you use. So your next step would be to create a page on your site dedicated only to that system and how you are an expert in using that system. This will do two very important things for you. One, you just added a keyword dense page to your site for a system that you use that will bring you more targeted customers. Two, your current customers who may have not known you offered said service now do.

over 6 years ago

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over 6 years ago

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Kevin Collins

Great advice. After all content is King right!

I'd recommend finding a consultant or Project Manager who is well versed in all aspects of website production and marketing to prioritise activities against business objectives for a new website build.

Otherwise, as a client you may find yourself being confused by conflicting arguments from your designer, developer or marketing expert each with their own opinion of what's going to have the biggest impact.

Obtaining impartial advise throughout your project cycle, will save a whole lot of time, money and frustration.

over 6 years ago

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Mo Money

Nice list, especially the PPC part. I see to many people over paying for their keywords and wonder why they are not making any money.

about 5 years ago

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