Flemming Funch at Escape Velocity posted in Ugly sells? and challenged Mark Daoust’s Site-Reference.com post The Surprising Truth About Ugly Websites.
It is not fancy, it is not exactly beautiful.
It’s one of the best-kept online secrets (and worst-kept direct marketing secret). It is possible to be too well designed or professional. Especially if that award winning design eats most of your marketing budget.
Once, before I knew anything about search engines, online marketing, seo (search engine optimization), I let a business friend talk me into closing a website “better no website than an unprofessional website” he advised. This guy was a marketing professional whose clients were all the big end of town. Big mistake many years later I realised it was popular with our customer base and drive enquiries to our sales team.
Another anecdote. I was meeting with a client last Tuesday to finalise a web marketing campaign, One of his marketing team wanted input to the website I am designing for them. Specifically the objection was precisely about the elements I use to get the fantastic results my websites generate in so little time.
What sells online is whatever speaks to the target audience. Banks and finance companies are expected to have slick, modern award winning design.
Online marketing demands function over form. Once the website gets attention, then you can add pretty features. Make sure the function of the website is clear obvious!
I’ve had two interesting meetings in the last week. Both were with other fathers whose kids attend the same school as mine. Both also run online businesses.
They’d heard I’d been in online businesses for years; was in the top 3% of worldwide sellers on eBay (more in a couple of days on that); and knew a thing or two about getting traffic and search engine results.
To compare the two, one was aware he could do better, expected to learn and grow his business over time – essentially in for the long hall. The second guy was scattered over four or five different technologies and business models, chasing the next big thing.
My system suits the first way. And I advised my second friend to be patient.
Both however needed more links to their websites both directly from their friends, but also from relevant, non-competing sites. Reciprocal links (where you link to me and I link to you) are a bit tricky with Google penalizing people who build link farms. Relevance and quality of the linking site is more important that just getting any old links.
So while I am always looking for suitable link partners, I looked at fast alternatives. I found Link Vault a free, text-link advertising network. This is a high-quality ethical way of growing inbound links and getting a share of the web mindspace.
Link Vault has a good reputation for fast lasting results. I’ve already rolled it out on some of the sites I manage and expect to implement it here as well.
quickdraws photo by Cristian Galletti Casalgrande, Italy
I just got home from an interesting talk on corporate health management. More specifics on that later, but it matched with an email from a client.
Doctors use numbers to measure our overall and specific health, businesses have KPI’s. Webmasters, eTailers and eCommerce practioners live and die by their stats. But it’s amazing how many website owners ignore their stats.
Web logs get ignored until orders stop flowing
It’s a great quote, but it’s getting the cart before the horse. Logs give early warnings of problems and early pointers to success. Find out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats sooner than later. It’s always better to have time to plan a response before it becomes critical.
But logs in isolation are useless, we’re after trends. Your traffic should be moving in the right direction, and that traffic had better be relevant. There is not point in say 12,000 unique visitors if it’s all unrelated or marginal traffic.
And seeing how people are finding a website is as important as the bulk numbers. Is a pattern emerging for searchers? Are they looking for particular information or products that you provide, or can easily provide. If your product is on say page 18 of Google and people are willing to dig through 180 websites to find it, then look at improving your ranking, either through organic search improvement or sponsored placement.
Gratuitous plug. If you want to improve your natural placement in search engine results pages and want a consultant get in touch. You’ll be amazed at how high our techniques will get you.