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Do you have a website? Have you ever thought about what returns are you getting out of it after spending hundreds of dollars to develop it. Thanks to Debbie Mayo-Smith, she gives you a check list to ensure your ROI and the tips to improve your website towards success.

Dynamic Content

Many large database driven sites don't have actual web pages, but rather the page is created on demand from a database. While cost effective, this is dangerous in terms of search engines. The resulting ASP web page normally has a lot of numbers and question marks in it - something that search engines steer clear of, as they're "afraid" of being caught in a loop. So be sure that your dynamic content can be created without the use of numbers,? and similar.

Contact details

Make it easy, very easy for your viewers. Why not build your contact details into your website template so it's always visible.

Make it simple and uncluttered

People hate clutter and busy websites. Be sure yours has lots of open "white" space and is built along the "C. R. A. P." principle that I talk about in the book/workshops. Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity.

Research

Check out your competition at home and abroad. See what they're doing on their websites. Check out their keywords, page titles and descriptions in their source code (while on the web page right click the mouse and select view source. That's the html code behind the web page). Type some keywords that you want to use in search engines and see what companies come up first and then look at their source code.

Write Internationally

If you want to do business overseas, be sure your language fits their terminology. A perfect example: I was in a keyword brainstorming session with a client, vitamin manufacturers. I kept on saying drugstore and pharmacy in the conversation. They kept saying chemists. Being American, I'd key the word drugstore in search engines, not chemists. So it's essential to think and include international phrases and spellings in your text. Remember in NZ and Australia - a lot of "z's"are turned into "s" (organisation instead of organization).

Use CSS - Cascading Style Sheets

Style sheets allow you to name and define whole sets of formatting so they can be applied easily and instantly to selections of text. They're advantageous because you can globally alter the style of an entire website by changing the style sheet. External ones are for sites and internal ones are for a single web page - such as an html email newsletter.

Use Title and Heading Tags

These tags have much heavier search engine "weights" than others so by putting keywords in them, you'll have a shot at better ranking.

Use Tables

The secret of great web design. You can even slice and dice images and put them in the individual cells of tables.

You must have a secure server for online payments

It's easy and people look for that little gold padlock on the bottom of their screen to indicate they're in a secure server.

Do I have to say it - Grab their email addresses up front

Be sure that one of the very first things someone sees when they come to your site is (an offer for something) in tandem with a request for their email address. Do not let them go without giving you that golden asset.

Unique -each page

Try to structure each page as it's own unique website, with it's own title, description and keywords. This will multiply the number of times your site itself can be picked up by search engines.

No Orphans

Make absolutely sure every single page on your website gives the viewer the ability to navigate around the rest of the site (or the majority of it). Do not have orphans - pages without the ability to get back. Not everyone knows to hit the back key.

Use layering on your navigation

People hate clutter so don't have a million navigation links on the home page. Instead use layers. This means when someone puts their mouse on a navigation link, a second series of navigation to pages appears.

Think like a novice

On one-hand dollars to donuts your web designer might want to do all neat and wonderful things for you - perhaps to show off their graphic ability or what's new and hot on the web. Stop. Step back. And think like a novice. Many of the visitors coming to your site will be new to the Internet, or not have access to speedy downloads, or the latest software. This leads me to my next point,

Don't gratuitously flash

I've almost written ad nauseum already about putting Flash on a website. Be careful and be judicious. Is it REALLY necessary?

Don't use backgrounds

It's hard enough to read on the Internet without making it harder. Don't, I repeat DO NOT USE Backgrounds on your website. Keep readability clear and easy. Backgrounds to me scream amateur (like a neighbours kid), old and outdated. I truly don't think I have come across a background yet that has been subtle enough to keep it easy to read.

Use Alt-Image Tags

Did you know some people have graphics turned off? Do you know you can also give the (shall I call it) image placeholder on your web page a name too? These tags can help increase your search engine ranking and help to describe what's being shown to people who view text only.

Write in benefits - not features

People care about themselves and what you can do for them. So write that way. Write your entire site so it reads what's in it for me for the reader, rather than a litany of "you's, you's, you's".

Colour counts.

A recent survey found that the color palette on a site was the most important attribute for roughly 41% of women and 34% of men.

Write for the search engines

Be sure to include your keywords in your text -and be doubly sure to include them higher up the page than further down. Have text, not pictures and lots of Java Script at the top of the page.

Forget your corporate structure

Put yourselves in your client's shoes. You might have 5 different divisions to your business, but that doesn't mean a thing to your viewers. Start from the perspective of someone not knowing a thing about you and build a site based on common sense, not your management's egos or structure. A perfect example is the New Zealand Automobile Association website. Originally the website was set up along the company business lines. Now, it's grouped in a common sense way - based on areas of client interest. So for example the home page has a link everything about Cars. Clicking on it, you go to a broader selection grouped and written in laymen terms. Go take a look!

Article by Debbie Mayo-Smith - Internationally renowned database email and internet marketing keynote speaker. Author of the brand new book “Superb Tips and Tricks For Managing Your Customer Information. Sign up for Debbie’s newsletter at www.successis.co.nz

# COPYRIGHTED Article by the Author - Macronimous.com has exclusive permissions to publish this in our site.
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