Hi, and welcome to episode 22 of Startup Marketing. Today we’re going to be talking about investing in your website. As I’ve mentioned previously, I truly believe that having a website for your small business is critical. It’s tempting to skip out on having one when you’ve got social media at your fingertips, but a website is something that you own, that will never go away, a place where you can be strategic, and a place where you can showcase your brand and really give customers the full picture of who you are. 

Before I went out on maternity leave, I spent a fair amount of money getting copy written and SEO work done on my website. It kind of made me cringe when I thought about how much I was about to hand over, but let me tell you, it’s been so worth it. So, let’s dive in.

Your website is a critical part of your brand and there are a lot of ways to get one done. You can create one yourself using one of the many website services out there like Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress. So if you’re just starting out, this is a great place to begin. But, if you’re really serious about building a brand, I highly recommend creating a budget and investing in a website designer, copywriter and SEO expert. Those are the three main areas where I’d focus your time. 

First things first. You can’t get very far if you don’t have a website built. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to building a website, working with a website developer will be a great option for you. There are plenty of freelancers as well as boutique agencies who can create a website for you. The price will vary based on how large your website is, what functionality you need or want on it and how much brand development a designer has to do. 

I won’t lie, investing in a developer is going to cost you some change. It’s not a $100 expense. But, here’s why it’s worth working with a designer. First, they’re going to be able to help you develop your brand and represent it strategically on your website. Second, They’ll be able to give you guidance on the best way to structure your website. This is really important and in the marketing world, we call it the “user experience” meaning the way a customer moves through your site. There’s a lot to think through here: what pages you need, what content is going to go on them, how people will navigate through your site. These are critical elements to have a good grasp on because your website is what’s going to help sell you and your products and services. If the content doesn’t make sense or someone gets confused while trying to navigate and find the information they need, you’re going to lose them as a customer. 

Think about a website that you really love. Chances are you love it for several reasons that don’t even register with you consciously. It’s probably easy for you to navigate. You can always find what you need quickly. It’s not slow or confusing to use. The brand is probably really well represented. Giving you a positive impression of the company. As a first time user, you left the site thinking “damn, they’ve really got their stuff together”. This is the work of a good website developer. They worked strategically to think through each of these things and how to make customers more likely to purchase or take a desired action. A good website developer will work with you to understand what you need for your business. Your website should support your business goals and move customers through a funnel of information. They should be able to find out about your products and services and you. Then if their interest is piqued, they should be able to contact you to get more information about your services or purchase from you. Working with a developer will help ensure that your website is supporting your business goals. 

Next, you want to be thinking about the content that goes on each page. And I’ll admit, that this is where the process isn’t necessarily super linear and easy to follow. It starts to feel like a chicken and the egg conversation. You’ll need copy to have your website developer actually build out your website, but you’ll also need a baseline website to start getting content created. My suggestion is to manage it by having a mockup of what you think you’re going to need done and then bring in a copywriter and/or an SEO expert to give you some guidance and suggest any additional pages to have on your site. 

Now, a copywriter, if you’re not familiar with that term, is simply a person who writes marketing and advertising text. My recommendation is to find an SEO expert that can also write content for you. In my opinion, it makes this part of the process easier to manage. Let’s talk through why this is important. 

First and foremost, having someone write the content for your website for you ensures that it will also meet your strategic business goals. It also means that they can do research for you to make sure that you’re including key words and phrases that will help Google identify your website as an authority expert in your industry, thus, ranking you higher in search results. 

Someone who is well versed in writing SEO content will make sure your content matches who you want to reach for potential customers. Google wants to see a lot of different things like keywords and phrases and backlinks. They’ll also be able to go in and plug in certain information into the backend of yourwebsite. This is a really critical part of contracting SEO work: finding someone who will do the actual work on your site. There’s a lot of people who will offer to do the research and write content for you, but the secret sauce is really what’s going on on the backend of your website that Google recognizes you as that authority figure. The higher Google ranks you, the higher up in those search results you’ll appear and it’s a well=known fact that people rarely go to page two of Google. So, SEO’s going to help you get to page one. Ranking on google is definitely not an “if you build it they will come” scenario. There’s a whole strategy to it and you’ll want to nail it. Ranking well on Google will help potential customers discover you and get you more leads and sales. 

Your SEO expert and copywriter will also have thoughts on how to best structure your content, which will influence the pages and set up of yourwebsite. Are you starting to see how these two things go hand in hand? If it seems overwhelming to try and contract out both, start with the designer, then add in your SEO expert. You can also work with a boutique agency, just be prepared for a slightly higher price tag. Both are great options you can look into based on your budget. 

I built my website along with a good friend of mine who’s a website developer. He taught me along the way how to do things and when something was super complicated, he did it for me. So I’m very fortunate to have had that help and resource available to me. No matter what your experience level with websites might be, once you have yours, I recommend getting really familiar with the backend dashboard of your website. This way, you can do some basic things on your own. Make sure you know up front if the developer is open to doing any kind of maintenance for you and what that might look like. That information should really help you plan accordingly for future plans for your website. 

Alright, we’ve talked about why hiring a website designer and an SEO expert/copywriter are great options for your website, but I know what you’re thinking. It sounds really great that they do this amazing work for my brand and help me rank higher in Google, but it sounds like a lot of money. That’s true. This initiative is probably going to be a serious investment for your company. A few thousand dollars, give or take. As I’ve said before, you can do this work in phases. So don’t feel like you have to commit to that kind of expense now. But, let me tell you my experience with investing in my website. 

Before I went on maternity leave, I hired someone to write new content for my website and do all of the SEO work. It was an investment. And I felt kind of sick thinking about spending that much money so early on in my business. But, I wasn’t getting in front of enough clients just using social media. And, I wasn’t in a position to do a lot of networking. She wrote amazing content and helped me be really strategic about the pages on my website. While SEO is definitely a long-term plan that you don’t see instant results from, just this week, I connected with a lady who’s bringing several coaches together for an online summit and she invited me to participate. When I asked her how she found me, she said she googled coaches that work with female entrepreneurs and I came up. Seriously, that’s SEO music to my ears. If that’s the results I’m having after just a couple of months, I’m so excited to see what happens a year from now. 

Participating in a summit isn’t the only exciting thing to come from that SEO effort. That summit is going to allow me to grow my audience by getting promoted by almost 20 other coaches. It’s going to get me in front of new potential clients from the organizer’s database of attendees. I’m confident I’ll get leads from my participation and leads means there’s an opportunity for income. That’s the powerful breadcrumb trail of SEO and investing in my website. 

Today, I don’t actually have a free download to offer. Because the takeaway from this episode is that investing in your website can pay in dividends. I know, because I’m experiencing growth from that effort right now. So, my friend, if you’re listening and you know your website could use some love, I’m here to tell you that it’s totally worth it. If you need pointers on some reliable vendors, both freelance and agency, hit me up. I’ve got plenty of them and I’m happy to help you find them. Just email me at: katlynn@getauthenticbranding.com

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