Update your online presence and watch your clientele grow.

Business owners with a social media presence share the same basic interest—drawing traffic to their websites. In fact, a company’s website is the first thing many potential clients scrutinize before deciding where to take their business, so it pays to maintain one that provides consistent and up-to-date information, is easy to navigate and reflects what your company has to offer.

Timely content is critical to a business website, and a content management system (CMS) can keep your website fresh and inviting. All too often, businesses with a long-time web presence fail to alter their website, in large part due to the misconception that it will be a costly endeavor. While it’s true that a complete overhaul of a website comes with a considerable price tag, adding a CMS is quite cost-effective and typically pays for itself in short time.

Content Management Systems Explained
For the uninitiated, a CMS is a web-based interface that allows business owners and specified staff the ability to add pages, edit content, upload images and PDFs and make other changes to a website easily. This allows businesses to maintain the most up-to-date information on projects, services and price information. It also enables them to post press releases, special offers, testimonials and useful links, and, perhaps most importantly for construction firms, it allows businesses to include a dynamic photo gallery of completed projects.

Additionally, websites become much more search engine-friendly with the use of a CMS, allowing for increased traffic. With a CMS, you don’t have to worry about the technicalities of creating web pages or managing layout; you can simply focus on content

Attracting Traffic
In much the same way that real estate value depends upon “location, location, location,” in the world of websites, a top ranking on search engines, such as Google or Yahoo, is king. One of the best methods to increase search-engine ranking is through the optimal use of keywords—that is, knowing what specific words or phrases people are searching for and then targeting those phrases on your site. A website designer can conduct the appropriate research to pinpoint the most important terms to help bring the right visitors to your site.

Website linking is another technique used to attract traffic to a site. In brief, this mechanism interlinks important words or phrases to other relevant pages on the site. In addition, website administrators should consider linking images from their websites to other important pages in the same way. This can attract traffic through “image search” results.

Keep it Simple
While the “less is more” rule does apply to a company’s home page or contact page, a website’s news section is where content rules. Instead of short paragraphs or brief press releases, it’s wise to include articles of 500 words or more. This approach not only allows for comprehensive information about your services or other news; it also adds to that all-important keyword total. In fact, search engines are always on the lookout for expanded website content.

Also on the “must have” list is a fast load time. Additionally, if your website’s home page is cluttered, you will scare off potential clients, so pare content on the home page down to the essentials to allow visitors continued navigation on the website.

In terms of navigation, make sure that information is never more than a click or two away; this will go a long way toward ensuring visitor and customer satisfaction. Image maps, hyperlinks and drop-down menus in addition to search bars all contribute to a user-friendly experience.

Avoid changing the website’s navigation menu location, styling or linkage among different parts of the website. Navigation must be consistent on every page, or your visitors will get lost and look to someone else’s website for the information or services they seek.

When the web was in its infancy, some designers fell into the “bigger the better” trap. Today’s most effective websites employ simplicity to reach their audiences. Animated elements and moving images are best used in small quantities, if at all.

Small Changes, Big Impact
Experiment with display fonts for large headers and titles on your website. When used correctly, typefaces can make a positive statement about the personality of your business, but steer clear of handwriting fonts or anything illegible in the body copy. Display your business logo near your navigation menu. It should be placed in a highly visible location without being too large and dominating.  Finally, maintaining social networking profiles (on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook) can promote your company to new clients while keeping past and current clients in the know. Ultimately, a company website is a window display for business. By making it contemporary, easy-to-use and search engine-friendly, you will increase your client roster.