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Marketing your Franchise Online - Part 2
Making sure your website is visible and user-friendly

Author: Franchise Finder Team

In our second part of "Marketing Your Franchise Online" we take a look at websites and how to get the best results from them. The first point to acknowledge is that a website is of no use if a.) no one knows about it and b.) it's not user-friendly and easy to navigate. As with many other things in business such as a new product or service, one has to offer something unique and then market it correctly in order for it to be successful.

A website can be an excellent platform for marketing your product or service and so its important to make sure that people either know about the website or even better, that they will come across the website easily when searching on the internet for related products/services. Once someone has entered your website, you need to make sure that they have a positive experience, meaning that they could easily find information they were looking for.

These are some useful tips for ensuring your website can be found by potential clients surfing the net and that your actual website doesn't chase them away!

Tip 1 - Your Web pages should be designed so that a novice can easily navigate them.
People want what they want when they want it. The average person will give you only 11 seconds to catch their attention before they move on to another site.

Make it easy for prospective buyers to find what they are looking for. Easy navigation is essential to keeping prospective buyers at your site. Provide plenty of links on your home page, giving visitors an overview of your websites content and choices. Provide links to your home page and contact page on every page so that visitors will never feel "lost".

Provide a site map (table of contents) on your website so that people can get a quick overview of the website should they need to - this is especially important for large sites as is link checking. Test all your links and make sure that any broken links are fixed quickly.
 
Tip 2 - Make your web pages easy to read
An easy-to-read, professionally-designed web site can maximize your sales. Use color and spacing to make your web pages easy to read. Dark text on a light background is easy to read and a hint of color softens the screen quite nicely. Avoid text on dark and busy backgrounds.

Break up your sales copy into short, easy-to-read sections and use sub-headings to highlight benefits. Split up long pages into several pages and try and maintain a clear and uncluttered look to the website.

Visitors should be able to see the important information, especially on your home page, without scrolling down. Studies show that more than half of the web surfers never scroll down past the first screen of information, so provide your benefits and site description at the top of the page. Avoid click-and-scroll syndrome. People do not like to scroll down through pages and pages of text. If they have to scroll down more than two or three times, they're more likely, to leave your site.

Tip 3 - Optimize your Images
Add Alt Tags to images - Describe your images with the use of the alt tag. This will help search engines that index images to find your pages and will also help readers who use text only web browsers. Also make sure that images are optimized to load fast by saving them at a reasonable resolution! Slicing is a good idea for large images where one doesn't want to compromise the quality of the image.

Search Engine Optimization experts (SEO) suggest saving images with descriptive file names such as 'Franchise-Finder-Banner.jpg" as opposed to just "Banner.jpg". Although not proven this is said to provide more quality infomration about your site to search engines and some SEO experts have improved their site rankings when re-saving their images with descriptive names.
Tip 4 - Update Website Content
If you want repeat customers, update your material on your website. There is nothing more frustrating than finding 'stale' or old information on a website. If you have a website, make sure to update it often and remind clients to visit the website by sending them an e-newsletter.
 
Tip 5 - Write Descriptive Copy
Write compelling copy for the key pages of your site based on your chosen keyword phrases and your target market's needs, and make sure it's copy that the search engines can "see." This is a crucial component to having a successful website. The search engines need to read keyword-rich copy on your pages so they can understand how to classify your site. This copy shouldn't be buried in graphics or hidden in Flash. Write your copy based on your most relevant keyword phrases while also making an emotional connection with your site visitor. (This is where a target audience analysis comes in handy!) Understand that there is no magical number of words per page or number of times to use your phrases in your copy. The important thing is to use your keyword phrases only when and where it makes sense to do so for the real people reading your pages. Simply sticking keyword phrases at the top of the page for no apparent reason isn't going to cut it, and it just looks silly.
Tip 6- Optimizing Your Website Title
Incorporate your keyword phrases into each page's unique Title tag. Title tags are critical because they're given a lot of weight with every search engine. Whatever keyword phrases you've written your copy around should also be used in your Title tag. Remember that the information that you place in this tag is what will show up as the clickable link to your site at the search engines. Make sure that it accurately reflects the content of the page it's on, while also using the keyword phrases people might be using at a search engine to find your products/services.

There are different theories about how long your Title should be. Since Google only displays the first 66 or so characters (with spaces), my SEO Tips for the title would be to keep it under 66 characters and relevant to the content on the page.
 
Tip 7 - Search Engine Submission
Submit to local and international directories - Submit to the search engines yourself. Do not use a submission service or submission software. Doing so could get your site penalized or even banned. Submit only once. There is no need to submit every two weeks. There is no need to submit more that one page. Robots follow links and so if your site has a nice link trail, your entire site will get indexed.
Remember that the more websites that link to your site and more importantly, relate to your website, the higher your ranking in Search Engines.

 
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