Everybody who owns a website wants it to be more popular. From the web design team at the New York Times right down to the small retailer trying to expand into ecommerce, popularity is the key to success. Reading and working with popular websites every day can sometimes feel like living in a bubble where everybody has good search engine rankings and sites are all beautiful so it’s nice sometimes to look at how “normal” websites can improve their popularity.
Learn about usabilty – having the best designed website in the world is useless if normal people can’t use it. Sit behind some of your non internet savvy relatives and friends and watch them navigate your site and make purchases from your store. If they struggle with things you need to improve your usabilty.
Create a useful website – I know this might sound simple but having a website isn’t just a way to tell people about your company. If you really want to become popular make sure your website is actually going to be helpful to the people who arrive there. If every visitor who was pleased by your site gave you a link or told one of their friends your traffic would increase to Facebook levels in months.
Keep it up to date – if your company can’t be bothered to keep your website updated at least once a year then I probably won’t want to use it. Broken links, outdated news and copyright notices from 2003 are not going to turn me on.
Be topical – just because you are a retailer it doesn’t mean you can ignore the latest news in your niche. Having a company blog might be a bit beyond most businesses but you should at least have a news section to publish company information and responses to popular stories.
Manage your reputation – responding to your readers/customers comments is key to establishing your company as one that cares about what people say about you. You could also use the criticism to make your website better.
Learn about the internet – this might sound simple to some people but trying to explain to a middle aged company directory why they need to worry about buzz marketing is hard enough without them asking questions about what links are and what blogs do. Knowing how ideas spread through forums and blogs is essential for webmasters to understand online marketing.
Be controversial – having a boring corporate site isn’t always the best way to become popular. Sometimes you need to upset 95% of the world just to get the attention of the other 5%. After all, having 5% of the population loving your site isn’t a bad goal to have.
Be interesting – sometimes a website can break every rule in the book and still succeed. The one characteristic these sites have is they are interesting. So much content on the web is boring and repeated that having an interesting site is probably the best way to get noticed.
Learn about Google – ever wondered why some websites rank highly on Google while some languish on page 4? It’s because one of the owners understands how Google works. Spend a few days reading the official guidelines and making sure your site follows all the normal optimisation rules and you might be surprised how much of a difference it can make.