Discover How to Make Your Website an Essential Marketing Resource
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
In Does Your TAS Have a Great Website? we talked about the importance of having a killer website to serve as your online home base for your marketing plan.
You can hire a professional web developer to do this for you. You can also do it yourself. Either way, here are some tips to guide the process. Follow these and you’ll be ahead of most websites in the answering service industry.
Seek a Clean, Fresh Design
First, pursue a website that looks fresh and clean. If this tip doesn’t provide enough clarity, then avoid the opposite: a dated, cluttered website. Don’t try to squeeze everything in a small area. Instead, use white space to make the content more inviting and readable. Stick with one common font, with black type on a white background. Anything else is hard to read, as well as trendy, which will become dated fast. Also, keep a simple color palette that matches your logo.
Provide Search Engine Friendly Content
If you want people to find your site through organic search, make sure you have at least 300 words on every page. Google needs to see that many to properly index it. These means don’t put text in graphics, which search engines can’t read. It also means avoiding making visitors click “more” to read the additional text. Be sure all the text on a page is readily available without an extra click.
Avoid Industry Jargon
Most answering service websites contain industry terms that most prospects won’t understand—unless some answering service has trained them. Don’t make a prospect speak your language to do business with you. Instead speak their language. This means explaining your service in terms they can understand from a basic business perspective. Keep things simple, and you’ll close more sales and do it faster.
Make It User Friendly
If someone ever asks you how to navigate your website or where to find something, this is a clue that you need to simplify its structure. Make it user friendly. Make it intuitive. Don’t hide links to needed information. Visitors should be able to find everything from your home page. The more clicks they need to make or the longer they need to search for something, the more likely they are to bounce.
Focus on Mobile First
A few years ago, website traffic reached a tipping point, where more visitors used mobile devices than computers. This means you need a mobile-first strategy when it comes to website design. Merely being mobile-ready isn’t enough, though it’s a good start. View your website on a mobile device, and see how easy or hard it is to navigate. I’ve been to some websites on my smartphone and was so frustrated that I closed my browser and went to my computer. Few prospects, however, will bother to do that.
Proof Content and Test Links
I’m surprised at how often I see errors and typos on TAS websites. Website designers are weak when it comes to catching problems. You need to hold them accountable. Get as many people reviewing your website as possible. Even more valuable is asking people who don’t use answering services to give you feedback.
Prioritize Search Engine Optimization
I suspect you’ve heard of SEO (search engine optimization). If you’re like most business owners, you’re ignoring it or giving it scant attention. This is a mistake. The best website will struggle without SEO, while a less than ideal one will get more traffic if they do a good job at SEO.
SEO is part science and part art. You need someone who can master both. And just because they say they’re an expert, doesn’t mean they are. The proof is in results. As an SEO guru begins optimizing your site, you should see results within a month, two at the most. If your traffic isn’t increasing, you’ve hired the wrong person. How much should traffic increase under a good SEO program? The answer depends on how bad things are to start with, but the results must be measurable and should be significant.
Apply these tips when you update or overhaul your website. You’ll get increased traffic, fewer complaints, and hopefully more sales.
Next month we’ll look at the essential pages every TAS website should have.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader, covering the telephone answering service industry. Check out his book How to Start a Telephone Answering Service.