Getting your feet wet with marketing online

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By James Pennington, consultant at the National B2B Centre (NB2BC)

Plan your Web site

Many people sit down and start working on their Web site but then stop and never get started again because they haven't thought about what they are trying to achieve. Remember, that your Web site is another sales medium. Understand your proposition and unique selling point and have a strategy for using the Web. The following resources can help:NB2BC Web site Planning Guide (12-page PDF file)Web site Planning Workbook (Word doc)

Characteristics of effective Web sites

When it comes to designing your Web site or drawing up a spec for your design team or agency, it can help to initially think about what it's going to say and how it's going to support your Web strategy:Show visitors the benefits your site will provideMake it interesting, relevant and informativeKeep it simple and jargon free - each page should be short and to the point, for example by limiting text to 250 wordsGive visitors a reason to come backUse keywords and descriptive page titles and descriptions to help search engines list the site effectivelyInclude contact details and telephone numbers.

Define what each page will say

Another good principle to apply is that if you can't think of a reason to have a page on your site, it shouldn't be there. Every page should have a purpose and call to action. To help apply this discipline, the NB2BC Web site Planning Workbook, includes a page definition template that sets out for each page:Name and titlePurpose of pageCall to actionContent summaryKeywords, description and links

Drive traffic to your Web site

Search engine optimization (SEO) can help you build traffic to your site. There is no magic to SEO, it's based on simple principles that you can implement while you're developing the content and design for your site. Some of the work you do in the planning phase will already help you.

Internet search engines examine each page's title, content, and links. The art of SEO is to construct each page so it will be found by sites such as Google and Yahoo! for specific phrases. One of our clients who based his SEO strategy around the phrase "plastics west midlands" doubled his revenue in three years, mainly through search-engine friendly directories such as DMOZ.

The NB2BC search engine optimization tool can analyze the current performance of your Web site and where it ranks in popular search engines and give you a starting point for how you can make your Web site more search engine friendly. The following Word resources can help you undertake a more thorough, step-by-step SEO process:Search Engine Optimization Flow ChartSearch Engine Optimization Action PlanSearch Engine Optimization Workbook

Review and improve how your site is performing
If you build it, they may come... but do not just leave your site to fade away through neglect. There are numerous free tools such as those at Google Webmaster central that can help you analyze site's traffic, design, coding and accessibility. Use them to see how the site is performing and to devise improvements that will make it better. Recent articles looked in more detail at SEO on zero budget, and Using Google services such as Google Analytics. Further links and tools are listed on the NB2BC Web site and search resources page.

James Pennington was speaking at a recent seminar organized by the UK Chartered Institute of Marketing.

For more information on the National B2B Centre please click here.
(Editor's note: Online registration is required to gain access to the NB2BC materials, but there are no other conditions or costs.)

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