Odd shoes on grass

When people find out we design websites and can help populate them with fresh, regular content that attracts customers and search engines alike, they are often surprised that our initial reaction is not Great, let’s go. Instead, it’s more often than not Do you really need one?

On the surface, that would seem like putting ourselves out of business. Turning people away. But it isn’t, and that’s what makes us different. It’s an honest question, and one that many people in this field don’t ask.

They should. And this post explores why.

Do you need a site?

Dandelion clock blowing in the breeze

A website isn’t a one-shot blob of marketing platitudes and industry jargon, floating in the cloud like a keyword-laden dandelion clock hoping to stick to customers. It’s a living, breathing set of documents that represent your ethos. Your values. Your speciality.

As your business grows, things necessarily change. Your website has to evolve with these ever-changing needs, and that’s the part that many agencies and do-it-yourself web tools neglect. In a bid to be the fastest, the coolest, the cheapest solution to build a website there’s one thing they all miss.

Content.

Content defines your brand

Empty bun case

Without regularly-updated content, your site is a shell. A raspberry liqueur without the gooey centre; looks good on the outside and tastes great until customers and search engines bite into it and come away disappointed.

Everyone is so focused on the website that the art of making that website useful is forgotten, or sidelined until later. It ends up as pages filled with endless blocks of lorem ipsum that never get replaced with actual content. Or a blog section that’s only updated once every eighteen months because nobody has time to write content.

Is that the impression you should portray?

Plan for content

Star cookie dough shapes on a tray

We see poor customer experiences time and time again, because there’s no long-term focus on how the website delivers a return on its investment. Agencies and DIY tools can make you a cheap site that looks like everyone else’s in minutes.

Don’t think for a moment that the ‘investment’ is only the up-front cost of erecting the scaffolding and building the walls of your digital home. It’s the long-term goal of furnishing it. Living in it. Making it something that delivers on the promises you make to your customers, and attracts new ones.

There’s an adage that content is king. It’s not. It’s really the ace hidden up your sleeve.

“I need an online shop”

Mobile shopping cart e-commerce website

Do you? This is something we hear a lot too. It sounds easy but here’s what’s involved for every product:

  • Take excellent photographs.
  • Post-process them to make each one shine.
  • Write descriptive text to highlight the benefits of the product.
  • Write compelling metadata – excerpts and attributes that help search engines and customers of all abilities find or filter your products.
  • Set shipping rules and weights.
  • Categorise the product.
  • Upload all of the above.

That’s a lot of work for every single product and this extra work needs to be reflected in the price, taking into account transaction fees and payment gateways too. If you only have a handful of products, it’s not so bad. But then we’d suggest you don’t really need a shop, because you can just dedicate an article to each one and add a Buy Now button.

If you have a lot of products, you need to multiply the number of products you have by the time it takes to produce all the supporting content listed above. If your stock changes regularly, when are you going to have time to add new ones to the site and delete old ones? Set promotions, and highlight them on relevant pages?

We won’t ever suggest e-commerce until we’re sure it’s right for your business and you can support its maintenance requirements.

Buying keywords is a fool’s errand

Roadside shoes, car passing

Search engines will try and convince you that to succeed you need to bid on keywords and buy your way to the top of search results. Others claim you must enter the shady realm of ‘stuffing’ articles with them.

Both are wrong.

While it can make a difference, buying keywords to appear relevant only yields a very small return on investment compared to the cost of the campaigns. Typical sales conversion rates are below 1.5%. And each click costs you.

Think about that for a moment. If you were told:

  • to sit in a chair by the roadside
  • every car that overtook would take money off you
  • out of every 100 cars that passed, only a handful would wind down their window and talk to you
  • and of those, only one would stop and buy something from you

Would you do it?

Of course not. And yet that’s what companies do. Day in day out, month in month out, throwing money at search engines for very little benefit.

Organic, semantic copy beats keywords

Pawns on a table, one standing out

Writing content takes time. It takes skill. As a small business owner, you’re competing against corporations with deep pockets. You need every ounce of your energy to focus on what you do best: run your business. Make your customers happy.

We understand content and design. You understand your business. Its strengths, its weaknesses, its opportunities for growth. You’re the expert, and that’s why we won’t just ‘design you a website’ like so many other places promise. We’ll work with you to understand your business. Highlight what makes you different. If you’re in the Leeds area, we can arrange to meet regularly over a cuppa. Discuss and design promotions that fit your brand.

Your voice. Your values. We help put those in the hands of your customers.

Lightening the content load

Nodding dashboard dog ornament

We’re not going to say yes to everything you suggest, just to make a sale. Nodding dash ornaments are for your car. We only promise honesty and integrity.

Rest assured, we’ll ask awkward questions so we can dive under the skin of what makes your business different; then expose it so your customers can identify with your brand values.

Together we’ll plan to fill your website – if you need one – and your social media feeds with content that people want to share. We’ll publish newsletters. Online brochures. Plan seasonal campaigns. Then we’ll take that load off you; do what we do best: design, write and regularly publish content and imagery that attracts search engines, reflects who you are and what you represent to your customers.

All you need to do is greet them.