How to achieve a successful website is something that comes up regularly when talking with customers about websites and it’s important to understand what it’s going to take before you invest.

There are many aspects to making a site successful, none on their own typically do it. Here are some of the basics:

Keep the site updated with new stuff very regularly.

A successful website needs work. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on your site, or pay someone to spend a lot of time on your site

We did some experiments with an online shop. The initial 6 months we’d make daily updates to the site. Search engines loved it, and we got customers coming to the site. Then we stopped updating and just left it as it was. A clear decline in visitors and therefore customers. Once we started to update daily again and surprise – surprise, visitors increased and so did customers.

This was a shop, but the same holds true for blogs, portfolios and other types of sites. If you are not updating your site with new content at least weekly, it’s going to be a challenge.

The domain name.

This is something to think about very early. When you search for ‘realestate’ the top hit when your in Australia is www.realestate.com.au. Notice the word you searched for is actually the domain name too. That’s a huge reason it came up as number one. If your just starting out and still small, you can only have a single domain name so put effort into this part. What is likely to be the most common word or phrase that describes what you do? Think of this from your customers or viewers perspective.

Links with anchor text.

Search engines put a lot of credence on what the general internet does. They assume that if 100 more other sites link to your site using the keyword/s as anchor text for the link, then your site must be more relevant to the keyword/s. This is one of the main reasons why when you search for the word Photography while in Australia the first site to show up is australianphotography.com.

Why not photography.com.au?

At the time of writing this article here is a basic comparison:

australianphotography.com photography.com.au
links to the site 2,716 178
links to the home page 910 175
used photography related link text yes no – didn’t have text with links at all
links come from other photography sites yes no
google search rank number 1 on first page doesn’t show anywhere in first 10 pages

Don’t misunderstand, any expert on search engine optimization will tell you that having the keyword as the main part of your domain is one of the strongest things you can do. Just don’t waste it by omitting the rest as seen in this example.

Getting links to your site needs some thought as not all links provide good value.

Link exchanges

Link exchanges are probably the worst way to get this part happening. Search engines know them and usually ignore them completely.

Social media

Your site should link to your social media sites and they should link back to your site. And just like your site, those social media sites need regular new information otherwise they become stale.

Advertising

If budget allows, running ad campaigns to generate traffic to your site is often a good just need to be careful the advertiser is going to target the right demographics.

MeaningfulĀ url’s.

This is an extension to the domain name. The url is the address typed into browsers. You may notice this page’s url has this pages title in it without the minor words. Search engines rank the keywords found in the url higher so helps bring you up the list when users search for those keywords.

Meaningful articles with keywords.

Search engines index pages and sites based on words. While pictures are important and should not be underestimated, words are what gets you found. Making sure certain keywords are prominent in your text is an important part of what you write.

Make sure the articles and pictures are interesting. When you do get visitors, you want to have them coming back.

End user clicks.

Probably one of the strongest ranking measures. If there where 1,000’s more clicks per month of the photography.com.au site compared to australianphotography.com, it would have probably been a far closer race and may well have seen the opposite result. Unfortunately this is a part that is not easily controllable. Search engines deploy algorithms to identify ‘fake clicks’ rendering them valueless.

Conclusion

Over the years we’vc seen a lot of companies and people get a web site and then don’t do anything with it. Some have spent a lot of money in the design and layout, and disappointment sets in because visitor levels are very low. If you are happy with just having a site that is hardly visited except by search engines, that’s perfectly ok too. If you want a site that actually gets visitors then expect to have to do some work for it ongoing. The more you do the more traffic it will generate.

Are you ready to create a successful website?

Next steps: visit Getting ready for your small business website where you find out the steps that you can do already before having to get an IT person involved.

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