Q: Do I need a website?

A: Every business today needs a well-designed, up-to-date, search engine-optimized, professional-looking website. Without such a web presence your business will become increasingly invisible and marginalized as competitors adopt successful Internet marketing tactics. If you think your business is the exception, you’re fooling yourself. Even if you aren’t looking for lead generation online, your business’ reputation is at stake. Why do you think every major company spends so much time and money on their websites? It’s because your website helps establish your brand. Your website is often the first direct contact you’ll have with a customer, and if your website is poorly designed and fails to communicate your advantage, you’ll lose customers.

Q: Is my existing website doing the job I need it to do?

A: Is your business benefitting from your website and could it do better? Are you getting leads? Sales? Does your website reduce your customer service calls? Does the website help build a positive brand image? These are the important questions you need to ask; but the answers may not be clear. Many prospects will check you out online before contacting you by phone. You need to inquire if people have visited your site and note their responses. If your website has a different focus than lead generation or sales, you need to gather data on how visitors use the site to see if it matches with your expectations. In fact, you need to consider if your expectations for website performance are realistic.

Q: What constitutes a successful business website?

A: Two things: First, a successful business website has content that people are looking for. When someone clicks on a link they have an expectation of what they want to find. This is the basis of online search. If your website doesn’t communicate quickly and effectively to visitors that you have what they want, they’ll leave. Second, a successful business website directs visitors to take action. It does you no good if your website is intended to generate leads but you forgot to include your phone number or email address.

Q: What makes websites show up in search results?

A: People often have this crazy idea that website visibility is driven by cool graphics, animated banners and crazy pitches as if a website was somehow like a giant billboard sign or a used car dealership. It isn’t. A website is completely and utterly useless unless it has links that can be found by the right people. Those links are usually from search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing), online directories (Dexknows.com, citysearch.com), social media review sites (Yelp) or social media referrals from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a host of others. How do you get links? By creating content that people want, by using appropriate keywords properly in the content and by broadcasting the content’s presence via marketing and social media.

Q: What do visitors want from a website?

A: Answers. When someone finds your website by clicking on a link they will evaluate your content to decide if it’s worth their time to stay on the site. That evaluation is usually quite brief—less than 10 seconds. So you have just a few seconds to communicate that your site provides what the visitor is looking for. If you succeed at that, you need to have more content that actually answers visitors’ questions and leads them to take a desired action.

Q: What should I expect to pay for a website?

A: Every business decision comes down to cost and benefit. You shouldn’t pay more for a website than what you hope to get out of it. For instance, if you sell commercial real estate and you average $100,000 per sale, even if you make just two sales a year you can easily justify a customized website that costs between $5,000 and $10,000. But if you are a photographer selling postcards online for $2 each, a $10,000 website means you need to sell 5,000 cards just to pay for the site. You need to decide if those numbers fit with your business plan. For non-profit organizations, you might instead consider your goals and overall budget expenses. If you currently pay someone to publish and mail newsletters and notices, perhaps that money would be better spent on a website that does all of that communication work and recruitment for you.

Q: How difficult is it to control the content for one of your websites?

A: Our goal is to provide customized controls that require no more than entering text in a clearly marked field, making selections from lists or uploading files such as images or PDFs where required.

Q: Why do you use WordPress?

A: First off, we don’t believe it makes sense to reinvent the wheel. WordPress is by far the number one content management system (CMS) in the world, making up more than 50% of ALL CMS sites on the Internet. The last time I checked, the nearest competitor had less than 10% of the market. With that dominance comes choices, choices that add flexibility to what we can achieve and how we can reduce costs. But even more important than this is the fact that WordPress is structured properly to deliver results. With its backbone in blogging, which is all about delivering fresh content, and Google’s growing emphasis on content as the critical factor determining search result position, WordPress turns out to be the perfect partner to Google and other search engines, such as Bing.