By David Hall,
Vice President Sales and Marketing, Pro-Active Websites

The end of 2011 means a fresh start in a new year filled with possibilities. Many people make personal resolutions that vary from quitting smoking to spending more time with the family to starting a fitness routine. Although it’s great to take steps to improve the quality of your life, why not apply this same attitude to your Web site?

Resolution 1:
Sign Up
For Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a powerful set of tools that shows you how people find your Web site, how they navigate through it and how they become customers. In much the same way that the Google search engine has made it easy for people to use its powerful search technology, Google Analytics will give you rich insights into your Web site traffic and marketing effectiveness in a format that’s easy to manage and free to use.

Resolution 2:    
Tell A Better Story
Use your Web site as a platform to share what makes your store special. Develop a page for each department and update it monthly. Create videos to connect to, and communicate with, your visitors in a more personal manner. Make them short and to the point, and don’t use the auto-play function when the page is loaded. This will cause people to close their browser. Show potential customers what you do, how you do it and the passion you have for helping to create music makers.

Resolution 3:
Increase  And Improve Your Links
Adding the right type of links to your Web site is great for traffic, as well as how the search engines view and rank your Web site. Search engines like links that point visitors to Web sites with relevant content. Improve your incoming links by targeting high quality, relevant information. These score higher marks and prove that you care about the content visitors have access to when visiting your Web site.
Contact all your vendors and have them list your URL on their dealer locator pages. Give a reciprocal link back. Make sure the vendor is not selling direct, since this might cause you to lose a customer. This might take some time, but the benefits are well worth the extra effort.

Resolution 4:    
Tweak Your Keywords
Keywords are what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about. They are the words, terms and phrases that people use with search engines. The more specific the keywords, the better. For example, if you sell guitars, don’t simply set your keywords as “guitars” or “electric guitars.” There are thousands of other Web sites that use these terms, and you will not stand out.
Determine what makes your business unique and form keywords based on that. For example, “Milwaukee Wisconsin [brand or model] electric guitar” is much more specific and, thus, will help people who are searching for an electric guitar in Milwaukee find your Web site.
Tweak the keywords in all areas of your Web site. Use them in your meta tags, navigation buttons, home page text, information pages and links. You want your Web site content to make sense to the search engines, so simply repeating keywords over and over is not a good idea. Many search engines are programmed to avoid sites that are obviously trying to cheat the system by using this type of manipulated or “stuffed” text practice. Careful placement of related keywords can strengthen your Web site’s searchability. This is the true essence of SEO.

Resolution 5:
Freshen It Up

If you think that the design and feel of your Web site is starting to look a little outdated, chances are your visitors do, too. Deciding if you need a quick facelift or a complete overhaul is a daunting task. A good way to determine what direction to go is to get feedback from your users, staff, vendors and friends. Start bookmarking Web sites whose design you like. This will help you get a clearer picture of how you want your revisions to look.
The quickest way to freshen up your Web site is to update your content. The more useful and interesting content a Web site has, the more successful it will be. Include articles, tutorials, video product reviews, industry news, etc. Fresh content, updated regularly, is a key component of what attracts visitors and keeps them coming back.

Resolution 6:
Optimize Web Site Graphics To Decrease Page Load Times
Typical Web surfers will only remain on a page for a few seconds. If the page loads slowly and you do not grab their attention, you will lose them. Tweaking graphics so they load faster will keep their interest and ensure that they are looking at the right components of your Web site longer.

Resolution 7:
Get Involved With Social Media
Get your business on Facebook, Twitter and as many other social networks as possible. This is free advertising and these services are designed to be easy to operate and maintain. Social networks have become a big part of everyday life. Don’t underestimate the power they have and their ability to drive traffic to your Web site and bring people into your brick-and-mortar stores.

Resolution 8:
Improve Your E-mail Campaigns
You work hard at building relationships with your customers. You’re investing time, money and resources to build your customer base. A solid e-mail marketing program will help you keep these relationships strong and provide a continual return on your investment.
You want people to read your e-mails and look forward to receiving more. Although it’s tempting just to push special offers their way, be sure to include unique content that sets you apart from the competition. Make it easy to click through by including obvious links that take them directly to your Web site. Be careful not to confuse your recipients by including too many links.
Next year promises to be full of changing technology; a good Web site will be critical to your overall success. Take action now and make full use of these resolutions to ensure that you gear up for the new challenges ahead. Here’s wishing you success and prosperity in 2012!

David Hall is Vice President – Sales & Marketing for Pro-Active Websites. The company specializes in Web development for dealers and distributors within the music products industry. Feel free to e-mail your comments and future article suggestions to

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