A Perfect Website
What makes a perfect website?
Imagine writing an article for your company, say once per week (on Sunday perhaps). It’s about your business, product or service. And you upload it to the website.
Upkeep and regular maintenance
You’re a bit nervous as you were never great at “English” but with MS Word’s spell-check at the ready, you forge on.
The article may not be directly about your product but rather an idea you have had – one only loosely related to your business. In the article you decide to write honestly. You also decide to reveal something about yourself and the way you see the world. You might highlight a particular way you like to do business. You could talk (anonymously) about an interesting customer you met during the week. Maybe you wax lyrical about the philosophy underpinning your business.
Once you start writing, you find it quite enjoyable. There’s so much to say.
Do I really need to hear comments?
One way to get people talking is to include a blog and comment section on your website.
Allow others to respond to your new article by switching on the comments section at the bottom of each piece. After all, you’d love to hear what others think about what you have to say, especially if they are talking right there on your site. It’s actually a bit exciting. Even if only 2 or 3 people (including your Mum) actually read the article.
Not only do you welcome comments, but you actively seek out similar web-based conversations. You go further. You decide to leave comments on other people’s blogs, news or article posts. For business reasons, you always link back to your own website where you can, but you’re not obsessed by the practice.
On your site, your own followers can comment on specific aspects of a topic or hone in on a general debate. Your aim here is not to garner back-links for SEO (Yes, links that point to you will sneak you up the search charts as long as they are reputable and genuine) it’s really just to enliven a debate you feel very passionate about.
Your website should help people
Article should aim to inform rather than sell
One week goes by and it’s time to write again. Your traffic hasn’t snuck up the charts much.
The kids are playing up, there’s a shelf to erect and other chores to finish. But you really want to give this article writing thing a go.
When finally everyone is in bed, you arc up the computer, log into your website and open up a new blog or news page. You read your last article and decide to write something completely different. You decide to write a helpful article. A tip or industry trick that not many people know about. You infuse it with your many years of industry expertise, adding a sprinkle of sage advice where appropriate. You aim to help a future customer (no – scratch that) you offer help without the aim of bringing in new custom or selling your product. Genuine philanthropy is your aim. You are sure you’er making the world (and perhaps your industry) a better place.
It’s a relatively short piece, but you enjoy writing it and fancy yourself as a bit of a writer.
Maybe you’ll write a novel one day.
Reveal an industry secret or two
The following week, you decide to write something revealing. You’re a little bit hesitant as this is a bit like revealing your secret herbs and spices.
You let others in on a secret or two about your industry.
This writing lark is ultimately about attracting a following for your business, but you enjoy the process and you can always sell your product later.
In the short term, you treat prospective customers as you would like to be treated. Over time you let loose more trade secrets. Not too many (your competitors might be reading this). Perhaps you hang on to your price list. But over the weeks, you consider some of the following ;
- How can you help people?
- How can you illuminate a bug in your industry?
- What advice can you give away for free?
- What do you really care about?
You’ve written four articles now, but there’s not a single comment. You check your web site traffic report. The numbers are going up only marginally.
Your bounce rate is a lot better (that’s the rate at which people come to your site and then leave in a hurry). The figures aren’t impressive, but people are staying on your site pages for up to 3 minutes instead of the usual 2.
Five weeks have passed.
Your lights are on
and there’s someone at home
In the morning you get an email. Someone has written “Thanks for this [your name]. I wasn’t aware of [this thing] in [your industry]. You’ve saved me so much shoe leather. Great job. I’ll be back.”
You are over the moon. Who is this stranger? You don’t really care. This is just business right?
But somebody has read your post. Great.
Your site is now right up to date (at least since you started adding new posts) and you have a community of two people. You and . . . whoever this guy is.
Googlebot is Google’s web-crawler
Google bot is a bit like Father Christmas. People who have been good are rewarded with a good position in search while the really naughty ones are sometimes banned from search results pages altogether.
The Google spider comes crawling along. Her job (let’s not be sexist) is to crawl the web and take note of everything written on it. Text.
Aching from the weight of stockholder pressure but steadfastly resolute and determined to proffer up the best search results for web surfers, Googlebot is without bias. She’s a little piece of software, but like Pinnocchio, she longs to be human and do the best human-like job possible. It’s under a lot of pressure to hoist the biggest companies to the top, but this spider is an authentic spider. She has no allegiances.
Every week the spider is told (by an automatically written XML script on your site) that your site has been updated. So every Monday morning, just before she has breakfast, Googlebot trudges over to your site to check out the new content that you wrote the night before. Googlebot then goes off and finds similar useful tid-bits like yours. She collates them, but is most impressed with your article because you have written great and useful article for humans. Not for search engine spiders like herself.
After a few weeks, you’ll find yourself looking forward to your writing session. it’s kind of like meditation.
Googlebot adds your site to Google’s huge index so that others may benefit from your knowledge and solid advice. But you don’t disappear into a black hole. Because you’ve written such a beautiful and genuine blog entry, Googlebot ranks your site highly in an industry search.
Google wants other people in your industry to find information such as your very easily. That’s her job.
People may not want to buy your product right now, but they are keen and subscribe to your site while linking to it from their own. Another micro-boost in rankings.
The pen is mightier than the sword
Luckily, your article turns out to be the very thing many people were looking for. People tell all their social networks about your article. They might buy something from you later, but that’s not important to you right now. You seek loftier heights. After all, now you are a writer. With an audience.
Selling wasn’t even really your aim.
You are simply happy to have added your 2c to the great wealth of knowledge that is out there. Sure, people have subscribed to your site and will receive your new article every week, but that wasn’t your foremost intention.
Catering for different learning styles
Not everybody learns the same way.
Some like to watch. Others like to listen. Reading is the obvious way, but a combination of all 3 learning styles is often best.
You decide, along with weekly articles, that you might do a monthly podcast. Some people don’t like to read much when they are surfing the web and you did buy that voice recorder. Some people like to look at presentation slideshows or hear talks.
Each time you try less and less to sell your product.
You try to take your ego out of the equation.
This proves difficult, because more and more people are subscribing to your website. You want to make the world a better place and, even though you could move a few more widgets off that back shelf, for now you genuinely want to help people. Your aim (as Elvis Costello once put it) is true.
Reap what you sow
Karma on the web
One day, one of your articles appears at the number one position in a Google search.
You’ve written golden, useful content. And this is your reward. You didn’t intend it to be THE number one article.
300 complementary industry websites now point to your article because what you are saying needed to be said. You’ve filled the communication gap between your industry and potential buyers. Your industry brothers and sisters are now familiar with your regular posts and look forward to reading them nearly as much as you now look forward to writing them.
We’re in this together
Competitors are not rivals
You get a call. A large competitor has too many requests for an item or service and wonders if you can help out?
Why not help?
Industry competitors are often seen as rivals.
What would happen if you saw them as possible business partners? After all, because of your regular updates, your peers already regard you with respect – indeed as a leader in the field. Some even take your sage advice and consider you a great teacher.
Leveraging peer power
Strangers? Friends in disguise
Strangers? Friends in disguise
Your popularity is positively affecting your bottom line.
Not only are people coming to your site (your statistics peak every Tuesday morning when your followers read your blog) but someone has ordered two dozen widgets from you. You don’t really know why, because when you ask, they say they haven’t read your article. They didn’t buy because your sales pitch was really good (now you fancy yourself somewhat as a copywriter) but a friend recommended your services to them. It turns out to be a close friend of yours who regularly and secretly reads your article.
While many people are nosey and will check you out on the web, not many people will let you know that they read your stuff. Perhaps they are shy, or like you, a little ginger about revealing their poor grammar and spelling. Often they’ve just forgotten where they read it.
For every one person who leaves a comment, there are 25 who would have said the same thing.
Your website future is bright
Even though your product page is old, there are now thousands of warm bums sitting on seats, regularly ogling your website, waiting with baited-breath for each of your Tuesday posts.
Some ride bicycles whilst listening to your informative podcasts. Others share your monthly 2 minute videos with friends (the ones that don’t read much). These strangers now trust you – perhaps because you didn’t break their backs with “a hard sell.” Others others trust you because they love the freshness and authenticity of your regular articles. Maybe some don’t quite have the cash to buy your widget just yet. Maybe they are not even in the market for your widget, but they know other people who know people who do want your product and they are willing to recommend you in a heart beat.
Your site is now close to being the perfect website.
Sure you sell widgets and you need to move widgets, but your regular visitors enjoy reading your thoughts. You now have their undivided attention for at least ten minutes every week.
Build the perfect website
It just takes commitment.
It’s not so hard to do if you really think about it. Selling your product doesn’t need to be the first thing on your mind. If people know you are a plumber, that’s probably all they need to know. You could hard sell them a tap, but why do that? Helping them fix their own tap with a step by step article is a worthy enough objective.
In fact, if your product is the perfect product, then you are probably already building the perfect website – perhaps it’s in your nature.
Author: Edwin James Lynch
Edwin wrote his first (Harrier Jump-jet) computer program in 1982. Today he builds websites and guides companies through best practice, future-proof web development. He lectured 15yrs+ at Curtin University where (in 2007) he was voted 5th best tutor out of 2,500+ Open University Australia tutor / lecturers.
- Yellow Pages Vs. Adwords
- Website Updates
- Being Number One on Google
- SEO for Humans (rewritten)
- The Perfect Website (rewritten)