provided to Santiva Chronicle
The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce hosted its virtual business luncheon Oct. 7 featuring Grow with Google trainer Pamela Starr, a leading authority on building customer loyalty. She addressed the topic Making Your Website Work for You, sponsored by SCORE, a volunteer business mentoring organization funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
John Lai, chamber president and chief executive officer, explained the relevance of getting websites ship-shape now, as the chamber sets up a dedicated Holiday Luminary page to spotlight local businesses and link to their websites for the Dec. 4-11 event.
“We know this is going to be one of the more unusual holiday seasons we’ve seen,” he said. “With Luminary evolving to a week-long event and a much more robust virtual presence, it’s important to be set up for online visits and ordering. Our dedicated web page will give visitors an opportunity to visit your businesses online.”
Starr, a popular speaker for the islands chamber, applauded this year’s “Coastal Distancing Edition” of Luminary for driving traffic to member sites during the busiest buying season of the year.
“This is a great opportunity to take another look at your website,” she said, noting that many businesses pay little attention to theirs once the site is built. “We live in a world today where people are obviously spending more time at home, which means they’re actually spending more time shopping at home.”
Those not quite ready to launch a full-blown e-commerce site can still make better interactive use of their websites with tactics such as video appointments, fundraisers, and contact-free payment options, Starr said. Businesses should assess their websites to determine if they’re goal-oriented, well-organized, useful, functional, intuitive, and search-friendly.
“You absolutely want to make strangers find your website,” she said. She advised looking at one’s website like a random stranger would in terms of navigation and usefulness. “You want it to be more than just an online brochure,” she said. “It should build a brand, generate leads, make sales, reengage customers, find employees, and provide support to customers.”
Starr emphasized the importance of making a website fully functional on smartphones, from which 50 percent of searches originate. To improve search engine optimization (SEO) success, she recommends a search bar at the top of each smartphone web page, restricting each page to one topic, and functional page titles and descriptions that are likely to appear in searches. Searches, she explained, are rarely one word, but more likely a phrase or even a sentence.
The islands chamber continues to conduct its membership meetings online for the safety of its members. The next meeting, at noon on Nov. 18, will feature an SCCF/Sanibel Sea School/water quality update from SCCF’s Ryan Orgera and James Evans. Chamber members should watch their inboxes for registration information about the free meeting or contact member services manager Ashley Pignato at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone interested in sponsoring the November meeting should also contact Pignato.