Assumptions are risky, and too often we see companies making the same assumptions about their Web sites and Search Engine Marketing. Luckily, you don't have to make the same mistakes. Educate yourself, and avoid these expensive assumptions.
Assumption 1 - People know how to access your Web site
You believe your clients and potential clients have your Web site URL memorized. Well if they don't have it memorized, they most certainly have it bookmarked, right? Wrong. People forget things. Your customers aren't always accessing your Web site from the same computer, so their bookmarks may not always be available. This makes search visibility and high rankings on the search engines important. Not only will high search visibility allow new customers to find your Web site, it will also make it easy for current customers to make repeat visits and purchases.
Assumption 2 - People understand your products and services
How many times have you seen a commercial, and you have no idea what it's for until the very end, when the brand, product or service is highlighted. Too often, this happens on Web sites as well. Use your Web site, and especially your Home page to briefly educate your visitors about your company, what you offer, and why you're an industry leader. Remember to utilize your target keywords within your content.
Assumption 3 - People refer to your products the same way that you do
Assuming that your customers and potential customers refer to your products or services the same way you do is a dangerous mistake. You have a professional and expert view of your industry. Experience and education within a certain industry or product often leads to an enhanced vocabulary. While this is important for you as an industry expert, it can impair your lines of communication with customers. Keyword research is a critical step in the Web site optimization process. Find the keywords for your products and services that your customers are searching. Some of the data may surprise you! Targeting the keywords your customers are searching for will benefit you in the long run.
Assumption 4 - Creativity generates sales
Often, too much focus is placed on the appearance of a Web site, and other important aspects are sacrificed. A fancy looking Home page may impress some of your visitors, but if they can't figure out how to make a purchase or how to contact you, what good is your Web site? While the creativity can add distinctiveness and visual appeal, it will not ensure that visitors become customers. There has to be more to your Web site; informative content, easy to use navigation, straightforward calls to action. Depending on your Web site's creativity to generate your sales can be a costly mistake.
Assumption 5 - People know how to get around your Web site
Make sure your Web site's navigation is easy to understand and to use. Search engines don't always list your Home page as the top result for your Web site. Ensure that your Web site's architecture is search engine friendly, and that your navigation and menus allow visitors to easily orient themselves on your Web site. You may have great content within the pages of your Web site, but what happens once people have read that information? Can they easily return to your Home page? Is it clear on those interior pages how to make a purchase? Your site's architecture should allow visitors easy access to all of the important pages on your Web site, including the Home page, how to contact you, and how to buy.
Assumption 6 - Once your Web site is online, it's perfect
Web sites hit road bumps. Your customers make mistakes. When you have interactive facets to your Web site (contact forms, checkouts, etc.) things can and will go wrong. Customers can enter the wrong address or credit card expiration date. Make sure you try out your Web site to address functionality issues. Click on those links. Submit a form or order. Take the time to experience what your customers will experience from your Web site.
Assumption 7 - Customer service will answer all questions
Not all of the visitors to your Web site will contact your customer service with questions or problems. Add an FAQ section, and plenty of educational materials to your Web site so that you can answer the questions that are keeping your visitors from becoming customers. Your Web site cannot be solely made up of product descriptions and marketing materials. Use your Web site to educate your visitors. Establish yourself as an industry resource. Provide the tools and news that authenticate your market leadership. Supply the information your customers need to make educated purchases.
Assumption 8 - Visitors will come back
Even customers that love your site won't become regular visitors unless you give them a reason to. Create a "What's New" section. Add a Blog. Regularly develop new content that will keep your Web site fresh and useful for repeat visitors. Utilize the "Add This" tool so people can share and bookmark your URL for future visits. Add an RSS feed so people are made aware of changes to your Web site. Invest in Blog Marketing to create awareness and traffic for your Blog. You need to give people a reason to keep coming back to your site.