It is barely noon and with the more than half a dozen calls and emails I’ve already received this morning asking for advice on keeping businesses relevant and operational during coronavirus, the irony that long ago I scheduled a post for today on tips for how to turn a website into a new online storefront is not lost on me.
About four months ago, having an online storefront was just smart business. Now it is essential in keeping businesses open. A friend called the other day lamenting that their website wasn’t gaining much traffic during this difficult season. A red flag went up for me right away.
Online shopping and e-commerce is currently at an all-time high as people shop and do business from their homes during the quarantine. Simply said, if you aren’t getting website traffic for your business in this season then you’re doing something wrong. Yes, I just stepped on the elephant in the room, but it needed to be done. With that out of the way, let’s focus on what you can start doing right when it comes to making your website an online storefront.
Seven Tips for Adding E-commerce to your Website
There is no one golden ticket- think Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory– that is going to make your website an overnight success. But if I’m being honest, hiring a reputable web design and hosting company that also specializes in SEO (search engine optimization) is a close second. I’m not just saying that because it is what we do and do well, as our clients’ successes speak for themselves. I’m saying it because you’re reading this to learn how to make your website your online storefront, and I’m here to help.
Hiring a quality company that provides web design, hosting, and SEO services aside, I’ve put together a list of seven things that your business can begin working on right now to optimize your website as an online storefront:
- Webpage hosts can make or break you. While there are dozens of popular webpage hosts out there, they are far from being created equal. Ideally, you want a full-service web hosting and domain registration company that can match you with a user-friendly platform. Our favorite CMS (content management systems) are WordPress. I find this platform typically allows our clients to easily customize their website to include a number of features in everything from blogs to e-commerce. A word of warning here, though. Be careful with other platforms such as Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix as some of their pages are not as easily indexed by Google without the expertise of an industry professional and this may ultimately make them less user friendly in the long run.
- Know what makes a site rank on Google and why you should care. To put it in simple terms, Google assigns each page a keyword ranking which then dictates where they place that individual page in search engine results. Why does it matter where your business appears in the search results as long as it’s there? Web surfers don’t like to waste time scrolling, so they search the top search engine results first. If your business is in the top batch of results, you will likely see an increase in traffic on your webpage. If you do not know what constitutes a keyword and which words to use for that function, in the best interest of getting your site operational quickly I encourage you to enlist the help of a reputable SEO company like ours. One more important point about ranking is that keeping your website in the top batch of search engine results is not a one and done activity. New content must be well written and consistently created for Google to continuously rank it.
- SEO is not a staff position, it is a culture. Speaking of SEO, the most important thing I can say about it is that SEO is not a dedicated staff position, it is a culture that should be woven into every single fiber of your website. Your website as a whole, as well as its individual pages, is what is being ranked by Google. If only one area of your website such as the web design is following SEO guidelines, then the content that bloggers, copywriters, and sales are creating may be totally ineffective in getting your website ranked by Google. This means that while one particular page of a website is ranked, for a potential customer to find the rest they would have to be willing to waste time clicking from the ranked page to the other pages on the site digging for the information they are looking for. Using SEO correctly is like putting out a welcome mat for online visitors and offering them a chair and cup of coffee. It just makes the experience more pleasant for everybody.
- Make the webpage title tag work for you. A title tag is essentially the title of a webpage. The title tag should be a focal point of your page and a similar version should appear on every page of your website but it must not be exactly duplicated. Unless you’re an industry expert, then you probably wouldn’t know that title tags should be between thirty and seventy characters wide for maximum effectiveness. You also might not realize that the title tag should not feature the company name or the word “homepage.” Instead, crafting a title tag that is keyword focused is the better way to go.
- Enable e-commerce solutions. Doing business in a coronavirus or even a post coronavirus world, has us all appreciating the functionality of online shopping more than ever. In a crisis such as this, it is vitally important that businesses understand how to do what I like to call a pandemic pivot. This usually involves taking a giant step back to see if your business model needs a little tweak to keep revenue streaming in. Adding e-commerce capabilities to your site may be one of the easiest ways to do this. A client of ours who is a Houston renowned commercial bakery was recently struggling to keep their doors open with hundreds of the businesses they served closing down during the pandemic. To help the bakery survive, we encouraged them to pivot their commercial business to include providing homemade loaves of bread and baked goodies for public consumption at a time when those items were hard to find in grocery stores. By adding an e-commerce solution to their website, the client plans to further increase that revenue stream with online sales. Their pandemic pivot and addition of e-commerce solutions to their website have proven to be instrumental in their business’ survival.
- Be the expert somebody needs. Whether you realize it or not, you are an expert in what you do. Use your expertise to help others in areas where they may be lacking. Some of the avenues that often receive the highest participation levels are blogs, podcasts, and even webinars. Create content that is helpful to others by showing them a few tips toward doing what you already do so well. I have twenty plus years of experience in web hosting, design, and SEO and I am using that knowledge to help you transform an informational brochure based website to a living, breathing content machine designed to work for you and be a participant in your success. The next time you need advice regarding web design, hosting, or SEO, I’m hoping you will remember us and return to expand your digital marketing education. Your website visitors will likely remember your expertise too making you a go-to resource for the future which is a great way to stay relevant and cultivate consumer relationships.
- Be social. It’s not enough to be the expert if nobody knows it, so make sure they do. Do you have an Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter account? Have you posted to any of them in the last week? Social media platforms are a key way to share your industry expertise as well as company announcements and promotions. The icing on top is that it is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website. Use pictures and hashtags and be creative. The more character a post has, the more attractive it will be to the eye. The goal is to make your posts stand out from the rest of the noise in a manner that will actually stop a user mid-scroll and encourage them to take a closer look. Have fun with it, post on it often, and don’t forget to engage with individuals who comment or have questions.
Now that you’ve had a chance to read through these, rate your current website and see how it fares. Need to make some changes? While a professional company that offers web design, hosting, and SEO can take you even further, these seven tips are a great place to start when it comes to making your website your online storefront.