So you have decided that you absolutely, positively need a small business website. You love that it allows you to reach your customers all the time – even when your storefront business is closed for the day. A website not only expands the reach of your business to a wider span of potential new customers, it also allows you to engage with existing ones via an interactive platform.
Having a website also puts you in a position to become more competitive, more aggressive and more accessible. With technology shifting so much towards small, handheld devices, your website allows you to become part of the digital world and your business will weave its place into the digital landscape. A business without a website can suffer the consequences of not being ‘seen’ by those who do not travel down the street to where your business is located.
But in order to have a great website, you need to consider and include certain aspects to get the best results from your digital marketing investment. These five tips will help you to focus on getting the right setup built into your website project.
Tips For Planning Your Small Business Website
1. User-Friendly Layout
Have you ever visited a website and couldn’t find what you were looking for or it was hidden somewhere? Have you just given up on websites that you can’t find your way around? These are the problems you want to avoid with your website. The last thing you want is to lose a potential customer, or frustrate one because of your small business website not being user friendly.
Ways to make your website easy for visitors to use include making the colour and layout easy to see and understand. This includes having a proper size and colour for the fonts used in the content in relation to what appears in the background. Your website should also have an easy to find and use menu structure, with menu items that clearly identify what they are for. This also means contact information, including phone numbers, email address, business address and open hours, should be as easy to find and understand.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) helps to get your website higher up in the search engine search results. These people may not know your business even exists when they conduct a search for a service or product that you offer, so it can be a great way to get new leads.
With proper SEO techniques used on your website, search engines can end up promoting your website higher up in the rankings… generally the higher in the rankings you are, the more traffic your website will get.
There are many different techniques used with SEO, and it is a very specialised field. But we will discuss some of the techniques used below.
Your small business website should contain the proper keywords that match your specific business type. A keyword, or keyword phrase, is what people use when searching for products and services in the search engines.
There may be many keywords that are relevant to your industry ad location. Take for example a dog trainer in Concord. People looking for help to train their dog in this area may search for things such as:
- dog trainer Concord
- dog obedience training Concord
- puppy training
- stop barking dog
- dog training tips
- dog toilet training
- dog training tricks
You can see that the list can go on and on. Not all keywords are the same though… some are better than others, depending on the search volume and the competition on each one. This is where further investigation is required to pick the best ones.
Those keywords should appear in headings, titles, meta descriptions, image alt tags and throughout the written content. However, those keywords should not be overused or search engines may penalise your website which would be about as useful as not having a website at all.
Unique relevant content
The content that you include in your website should also not be repeated, must all be original and should be relevant to your business. For example, if you sell car parts, your website should not have articles and blog posts about greenhouse gardening.
Other content on your website will be images. They should be optimised for quality and size (pixels and kb) for improved page loading speed and photo viewing.
There are many things you can do to improve the speed of your website, some easy and some not so easy to fix. It can depend on the Theme & Plugins that you are using, as well as your hosting and website setup. This can be a very technical area, but is important and does require investigation to get the best results.
When you are planning your site, make sure that you pick fast loading themes and plugins, as well as a good hosting provider.
According to HubSpot.com…
40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load.
As well as this, it is something that the search engines look at, so once your small business website is up and running, to make sure that you are not penalised, check the loading speed of your website here.
Your website internal and external links should be working properly at all times. The internal links are the ones visitors will use to move around your website to other pages or sections. External links are those that direct visitors to other websites from yours. If a link stops working, it is considered as a broken link. Fix or remove those as soon as you can.
All the required pages
Mobile responsive design
Your small business website needs to have a mobile responsive design. This means it will be able to operate properly on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. If your website is not mobile responsive, it can now be penalised in search results on the search engines.
As well as this, according to Hubspot.com…
48% of users say that if they arrive on a business site that isn’t working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring.
Often your website is the 1st impression that people will get of your business. Do you want them to have a good or bad 1st impression?
SEO is a huge topic, and these points are just the tip of the iceberg. Implement these basic points to give your site a good foundation and the best chance to rank well.
3. Have A Plan For What Pages Your Small Business Website Needs
Having a plan for your website is important, as this is essentially the blueprint for your website. As mentioned previously, there are some standard pages that most websites have, and are expected, so that your visitors can find what they are after.
You will want to include a Home Page, which is generally the most important page of your entire website. It needs to be well laid out, uncluttered, fast loading, and visually appealing. It can also contains some details on you and your services and lists all the other pages of your website so visitors can dig deeper for more details.
An About Us page gives more details on you and your business, possibly a little more in depth background than would be on your Home page. This is where you can tell your story or history of the business as well, so that you can show you are a genuine business and an authority in your niche, and build trust.
There should be a Services page that lists what your business provides as well as pricing and promotional sales.
The Contact Us page will explain how customers will be able to reach you and in addition to phone/fax/e-mail information, a street and postal address, plus a map to help find your business would go nicely here.
A Disclaimer page roughly covers everything else so that you are not legally liable for something resulting from the use of information found on your website. A lot of these pages are meant to cover you, and in doing so provide an essential form of online protection to you and your business.
Other pages to consider adding to your website include Testimonials. This is where you can use messages and comments from customers to add to the credibility of your business or service to new visitors and potential new customers visiting your website.
A Portfolio/Gallery page gives you the opportunity to post photos or video of some of your products. Remember, your website is not your storefront business, so if your regular business has a showroom, imagine this page as being the same thing for customers who have not set foot in your physical business location.
A FAQ page is a great addition where you can provide some information to questions you commonly hear about the kinds of products and services you provide. This page can help elevate your online reputation setting a tone of authority with the kinds of questions and answers used here.
Blog and News pages are great ways to promote your business and service as well as giving you an excellent venue for interacting with customers. If you post regularly on your Blog page and update the News about your business frequently, this helps keep customers informed and assists with building trust and a bond with them.
A Site Map is a computer-style road map of the pages in your website. The Site Map is mostly used by search engines to learn what pages exists in your entire website.
Any other pages you may wish to add will have to be relevant to the type of business or service you provide in order to be relevant and effective as part of your small business website.
4. Use Calls To Action
This is such an important part of any website. This is the action where customers and visitors to your website are requested to perform something.
When designing your site, always have a clear purpose for every page, and also think what actions you would like visitors to your page to take. Typically it’s a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Order Now’or ‘Click Here’kind of action.
It may vary depending on the kind of business your website represents but ultimately this links through to the money page, information page, or contact details collection page. This subsequent page needs to be neat, uncluttered and very obvious what the visitor then needs to do, but should not be perceived as begging of any kind. Done right, this page will produce a lot for you and your business.
5. Professional Look and Feel
There are a number of reasons why your small business website should look professional and not like something tossed together by your next door neighbour after losing a bet. Your website is going to be the first thing many people will see related to your business. It will leave an impression and you will want that impression to be a good one.
Think of it like your storefront business – you keep the outside of it clean and tidy, fix and repair unsightly items such as peeling or fading paint, replace signage when it gets old looking and keep the windows clean. All of this sets a tone for your customers about your place of business. So does your website.
Attention spans are short. Walking past a storefront is much different to looking up a website. You actually have only about three seconds to make that first impression with your website. Information needs to be laid out nicely, navigation buttons need to be easy to see and the Home Page content needs to relate to your business and convey any messages quickly. If a website visitor can’t find what they are looking for right away, they will be gone. Your Home Page must be interesting enough to keep them interested encouraging them to look deeper into the site and find out more about your business.
Nothing kills a business website quicker than outdated information. Be sure to monitor and update such things as addresses, phone numbers and whatever else is listed in your website that can change over time. This includes pricing, promotion packages and details about you and your staff. Keeping these things up-to-date shows you care about what website visitors are learning about you and your business, and that you want them to know as much as possible about what you are currently up to, and not what your business was doing two years ago without any further updates.
Another part of any website that adds to the professional look is the use of the branding that exists with your business. This includes company logos, slogans, colours and whatever else you currently use to give your business an identity. Think of your website as an extension of that branding. With your logos added it helps provide consistency across different mediums, so your existing customers can easily identify that your website as being part of your business.
If you or your business has won any special awards or recognition for something specific in your niche, be sure to include that somewhere to show you have something to back up your claims of being “The Best (Fill in the blank) Service in 2016” as it will actually assist with building trust with online customers. While there is a fine line between bragging and promoting achievements, with a small business website any kind of award can work in your favour when displayed proudly.
There you have it! Five solid tips to help you focus the development of your small business website. It may sound like a labour intensive exercise, but in reality you can see enormous benefits to your business by having one. It is an investment, and shows to the world that you are serious about your digital marketing strategy and taking your business forward.
How many hugely successful businesses do you know that don’t have and well designed and constructed business website and online presence?