Six quick and easy steps to optimize your Web site
We are all stretched for time these days. Our e-mail box keeps filling up, we have voice mails to return and meetings to attend. Balancing work and family commitments is a constant challenge. It's no wonder that optimizing the company's Web site may not be the priority it should be for many business owners.While we know we should give some attention to our online marketing strategy, who has the time? Here are six, high-value, low-effort tasks that even the most time-strapped business owner can do to increase your site's visibility. Each task should take less than 60 minutes to complete.• Claim your local business listings. Who uses a phone book anymore? Not me. I use Google to find plumbers, attorneys, restaurants, and just about any other business. Claim your local business listing with Google, Bing, Yahoo and Best of the Web and fill out your profile with as much detail as possible. Upload photos and video and make sure you select as many categories as possible.A site called getlisted.org will walk you through the process. Time Commitment: 30 minutes• Set up a Facebook page. If your business or organization does not have a Facebook page, get one. Update it regularly with company news, new hires, new products, press releases and recent projects. Upload photos of your products and team. Add an icon to your home page, inviting people to follow your company on Facebook. Time commitment: 15 minutes for the basics, 60 minutes to fully set up• Conduct keyword research. Researching the phrases that your site visitors use to find your site is a critical step in any optimization process. Tools like Google's keyword tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal) let you enter a list of keyword phrases and return a list of additional phrases, all with search traffic estimates. More popular phrases mean more traffic, but also more competition. Use these phrases in your page titles, URLs and body content. Time commitment: 45 minutes to start• Grade your Web site. Visit websitegrader.com and enter your URL and those of your competitors. In a minute or less, you'll get an easy-to-read report and a "grade" on a scale of 0 to 100. The report provides a quick snapshot, including areas in which you can make adjustments and improvements. Time commitment: Less than 5 minutes for the report.• Spy on your competition. The Web is a very transparent environment. You can learn a lot about your online competitors simply by visiting their Web sites and looking under the hood. For example, use a tool called Open Site Explorer (opensiteexplorer.org) to research the most valuable links pointing to any Web site. Links are like "votes" and are a major factor in determining Web site rankings in search engines. Use this tool to look for Web pages that you may invite to link to your Web site. Time commitment: 5 minutes to run the report, 10 minutes to research each link.• Install Google Analytics. Go to google.com/ analytics and log in with a Google account. Add the tracking code to each of your Web pages (or have your webmaster do this for you) and let the data build. Visit a few weeks later, and you will start to learn more about your site traffic.You can determine, geographically, where site visitors are, which keywords people used to find your site, the third-party Web sites that sent you the most traffic, how long people stay on your site and the most viewed pages. Google Analytics can also be set up to send you reports by e-mail and track online commerce transactions. Time commitment: 15-30 minutes to install, 30 minutes to set up basic reports.Each of the tasks will yield valuable information and exposure for your site and are free to perform. No technical knowledge is required to perform these tasks (except maybe installing Google Analytics) and each task should be completed in less than an hour.Your company's Web site is the "hub" of your entire company marketing plan. People who learn about your company offline through advertisements, trade shows, networking sessions or direct mail will often visit your site to further research your business.It is important to ensure your site can easily be found, and that you are making it easy for visitors to find the information they need to evaluate your products and services.Link Moser, an online marketing consultant with Loudon-based Windhill Design, advises business owners on how to develop and manage online marketing strategies. For more information, visitwindhill.com.