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Making Your Web Site Work For You

Generate more traffic on your home page.

Fix Your Web Site graphicRight off the bat, let me say that I’m not trying to take away from what anyone has done on the Internet thus far, whether you are thinking about developing a Web presence, just getting started or on the cutting edge.

But what does a Web site do for your bottom line? The answer to this question is still evolving. Remember, a Web site is a technology tool. Whether we want to believe it or not, many business marketplaces are moving, at least partially, to the Internet.

Initially, let’s cover some basics. First, do you have a Web site? I mean, do you have your own domain name, i.e. www.joesforklifts.com? Many businesses think that throwing a Web site up on their Internet service provider’s domain—i.e., www.yahoo.com/mysite—is enough. I highly recommend that you obtain your own domain name to be as professional as possible. Some companies have a “static” Web page with contact information and a couple of pictures. When I say static, I am referring to a Web site that has not been updated in a year or two. Hopefully this is not the case.

Whether you are a small or large company, there are many different directions to go with your Internet presence. This hopefully is something that is a work in progress for your company, or at least on the agenda. Don’t be afraid to confer with your peers about what they are doing. Ask them this question: “How are you making your Web site work for you?”

Update Often
The first question you should ask yourself is, “Is my Web site up-to-date?” Whatever information you have on your Web site—contacts, calendar, products or inventory—needs to be updated. The nice thing about a Web site is that, unlike something you print, it can be changed for all of your customers at the same time. If you hand out a printed item and make a change, then you must redistribute it to your customers again. This may sound obvious, but it is something to think about in terms of moving toward a paperless work environment—which means more productivity.

Content Is King
You must give your customers and prospects a good reason to come back to your Web site again and again. This is a topic your company should continue to revisit. What can we add? What should we change? What can we do better? Look at other Web sites in your industry and similar industries to get ideas. Check out industry publications for good ideas. Some items to keep your visitors’ interest include company and industry news, new products or inventory. There are Web companies that provide free news feeds that can be inserted into your site by your webmaster. One idea is to add your weekly or monthly company specials to your site. You may want to include your employee of the month or a new employee profile welcoming that person aboard. Regardless of whatever information you choose to include, it is important to keep it up-to-date.

Design Matters
Good design is also a key component of making your Web site work for you. Making a good first impression on the Web is just as important as making a good first impression on an initial sales call. The site should be visually appealing to visitors. Good Web design doesn’t have to be complicated at all; in fact, too much clutter on your front page may be confusing.

Easy Navigation
The first visit to a Web site for many customers and prospects is vital. Having an easy-to-navigate site may mean the difference between someone coming back or never visiting again. If you make information hard to find, you may lose a sale. The first page should visibly share company contact information, including a phone number so that customers or prospects don’t have to hunt for it. I encourage you to have “outsiders” visit your site and give you unbiased feedback on their experience.

Programming Tools
There are low cost or even free tools to save on programming costs, whether they’re for Web site design or database programming. Whether your company is small or large, do your research before you invest a small fortune in your Web site. See what others in the industry are doing along the same lines. Check with current industry vendors to see if they can accommodate or customize their current software to work the way you would like.

Search Engine Optimization
Lastly, everyone wants their Web site to be seen on the search engines. The proper term for this is search engine optimization, or SEO. It would be great for a forklift dealer to have his or her Web site listed on the front page of results when the term “forklift” is entered in Google. Unfortunately, this is no easy task. Most Web designers don’t have the expertise to optimize a Web site under certain search terms on the search engines. However, one way to make your site more visible to the search engines is changing content. Give your Web site a news feed that changes, update your inventory, or add an article or company news periodically.

The bottom line is, you have to be creative with your material handling Web site. Look at what others are doing with their Web sites. Searching the Internet for great ideas is one way to keep your Web site productive. Things are speeding up on the information superhighway. Don’t fall too far behind, or it may be difficult to catch up.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

Art Arellano Meet the Author
Art Arellano is executive director of eliftruck.com, an online source for buyers and sellers of forklifts located in Memphis, Tennessee, and on the Web at www.eliftruck.com.

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