Best Practices for a Better Website

January 24, 2011

Do you ever wonder if your website is as effective as it could be? Water Quality Products (WQP) Managing Editor Rebecca Wilhelm spoke with Christian Faure, president of Dupage Technology Group Inc., about the best practices for developing and maintaining a successful dealer website.

Rebecca Wilhelm: What is essential to include on a website?
Christian Faure:
Dealer websites should include the company’s primary contact information via an easy-to-find link on the home page. A contact form is typically preferable so that data can be stored and used in future e-mail marketing campaigns. There should also be quick access to a description and images of the products and services offered, as well as any certifications or professional associations which add credibility to the business and website overall.

Wilhelm: How should social media be incorporated into a website?
Faure:
Typically, the major social media sites are linked either on the home page or on a contact page on the dealer website. Social media is an effective way to promote a dealer’s website, announce an upcoming event, promote a monthly special or develop a network of potential customers. They key is not to “oversell” on social media, as many users are simply using it to communicate with friends and family so may not be actively shopping. A growing trend is including short, informative videos on the dealer website, which can also be linked to social media sites, creating cross-traffic and higher traffic.

Wilhelm: How can a dealer drive traffic to his or her website?
Faure:
One of the most effective means of driving traffic is by having other sites which link back to the dealer site. Major search engines typically see increased traffic to a site which has many external links. Joining local and national organizations and associations typically will offer member directories which link back to the dealer website. Search engine optimization and monitoring, and adjusting the dealer site’s search engine code (META tags) are also crucial in driving traffic via the major search engines.

Wilhelm: What are common mistakes you see on dealers’ websites?
Faure:
Poorly designed websites or outdated information are the largest mistakes I see. First impressions count, and if a dealer site has an outdated look or a two-minute Flash movie that cannot be skipped over, then the potential customer is likely to move on. Clean, updated design with quick and easy access to the most important information is a good starting point. Dealer sites also need to be updated frequently. There is nothing more disengaging than a website with outdated information or expired specials.

Wilhelm: How should someone who is relatively inexperienced online get started?
Faure:
I would recommend that they research other dealer sites in order to find elements they would like to build into their own. Finding the right design that fits the dealer’s developed brand is the first step, as well as determining what the dealer wishes to publish to the Web. Start small and get the site up and running and get a feel for the working relationship, then start tackling more complex applications or “bells and whistles.”

Wilhelm: How can dealers measure the success of their websites?
Faure:
Success is measured by the type of website. If it is mostly informational, then traffic is a big factor, as well as contact forms that are completed and phone calls generated from the site. If I receive a new lead via phone, I typically ask how they heard about my company, and even the search engine the person used. Web traffic reports like Google Analytics, which analyze traffic and give details on the most popular pages, are also helpful in determining areas of the site receiving traffic and search engine hits versus those pages that are not getting any activity.

If the dealer is selling products online, then effectiveness would be determined by the number of sales, which also relies on generating Web traffic.

Rebecca Wilhelm is managing editor of WQP. Wilhelm can be reached at bwilhelm@sgcmail.com Christian Faure is president of DuPage Technology Group Inc. Faure can be reached at cfaure@dupagetech.com.

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