Establishing a website for your small business is critical in a world where people increasingly go straight to the internet whenever they need information about products, services, and organizations. One Pew survey from 2016 indicated that 98% of upper-income individuals now are classified as everyday internet users. On the flip side, however, is the reality that nearly half of all small enterprises continue to do business without their own websites. For anyone trying to find a competitive advantage, that’s a huge untapped market. It can seem challenging, though, to bring together the skills and resources required to actually set up a high-quality website. With the support of a capable website design firm, that goal is within reach. If you’re looking to get an edge by building a web presence, use these 9 tips to make your small business website successful.
9 Tips To Make Your Small Business Website Successful
Tip #1: Visitors Come First
When you construct a website, you have a handful of goals. These include:
- Providing whatever information your visitors require
- Developing content that provides value
- Delivering a narrative that connects with visitors on an emotional level
- Maintaining a site that looks good and functions effortlessly
All of these objectives are ultimately about the visitor. When someone comes to your website, it needs to provide an interface that instantly makes sense. Once the visitor has quickly scanned your website, they need to be able to identify where key pieces of information they’re hunting for are, such as contact and about pages, products, and blogs. A uniform narrative about your organization needs to be established across all channels, and your content then needs to follow from that narrative.
Everything is about directing a visitor toward a specific set of experiences and actions. A law firm might, for example, be more focused on directing visitors toward blog articles in order to establish a sense of authority and then encouraging people to visit the contact page. Conversely, a small shop may be more interested in putting products up front for visitors to find. The question is always, “What does the visitor get from this?”
Tip #2: Everything is Mobile
For the better part of the last five years, Google has been slowly nudging website operators to make their pages more mobile-friendly. This means ensuring that pages look good regardless of whether they’re displayed on a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Beginning in March 2018, the search giant began prioritizing mobile-friendly pages in its results pages, making a mobile website a must. The reason for this push is simple: as of the beginning of 2017, more than half of internet users accessed pages through mobile devices.
The preferred method for doing this is called responsive design. The idea is to create a page that responds to the viewport it is put in and automatically adjusts itself. On a full desktop, it might include three columns of products, while the display on a small smartphone may only be a single column of product listings. This ensures that both types of users, ones on desktops and those on smartphones, each get an experience that’s optimal.
If that sounds like a job that calls for some technical know-how, you’d be correct. Most web design companies today should be able to handle the construction of a responsive website. If you haven’t already deployed a website, then you’ll benefit from not needing to port your existing site to this model. The process is fairly simple for a professional to address, however, if you do have an existing website.
Tip #3: Be Able to Edit Quickly
A modern website should incorporate a content management system that allows you to readily edit almost all major blocks of text on your site. The most commonly deployed solution is WordPress, a blogging and content management system that’s employed on 31% of all websites worldwide. Even in relatively rural areas, you should be able to find a company that’s capable of helping you deploy a WordPress-based website.
Bear in mind that different functions may require separate pieces of software to run them. For example, you may want to add a shopping cart system, and most small businesses do not use WordPress to handle this job. When hiring a firm, make a point to be clear about everything you’ll need to be able to post and to edit.
Tip #4: Optimize for Search
Search engine optimization, typically styled as SEO, is a method intended to make a website as appealing as possible when search engines are asked for suggestions. Modern SEO covers a wide range of needs, including the creation of quality content, building a clearly structured site and having it optimized for mobile users. There are both on- and off-site SEO concerns, and trying to wrap your head around all of them can be difficult. A professional web design firm will have an in-house SEO specialist who can guide you through the process.
The simplest SEO tricks are often the best ones. For example, cleaning up code in order to make sure your website will load as swiftly as possible is a great starting point. You can also go through the texts you’re using on your website to ensure that grammar and spelling are accurate. If this seems a little picky, bear in mind that the big search companies, especially Google, don’t want their users to be bogged down in cruddy websites. Simple quality signals, such as bothering to check grammar, are often the easiest ones Google can use to flag bad websites.
For some reference, most users with high-speed internet now start to bail out from loading a page after about two or three seconds. Google knows this, and they want their users to get to the search results their looking for as fast as possible.
At the same time, the content you create has to establish overarching themes that differentiate it from other pages. This includes differentiating the content on your own pages. For example, an accountant who handles both bookkeeping and tax preparation should create separate pages dedicated to each of those services. Doing so allows Google to distinguish the purpose of each one, increasing the chances that a searcher hunting for bookkeeping help will be shown the specific bookkeeping services page.
Tip #5: Localization Matters
Local search is a big part of how Google directs people to the information they want. Many companies break up their pages to include localized ones for each town or even section of town they serve. A restaurant chain with locations in five different spots in a metro area might create one page for each restaurant.
Adding as much local flavor, such as information about the date the site was started and what specific offerings it only has, can go a long way toward making Google happy and serving the interests of your customers. Even a small blurb about the restaurant’s relationship with that locality can be beneficial in local search.
Tip #6: Get Data-Centric
Analytics packages should be built into every aspect of your website. This means you should have information about every visitor who comes to your site. If at all possible, you should also try to gather opt-in customer data by providing a mailing list or using a customer relationship management system.
A good CRM package can show you how a visitor came to your site. You can then tabulate data about, for example, different blog entries. A dentist’s office might see that many people are checking out content about implants and fewer people are looking for information on crowns. Similarly, the CRM can show what types of content are driving people to contact the practice. If you see that blog posts with short videos are propelling appointment signups, then you might want to adjust your content strategy accordingly.
Tip #7: Use Authentic Pictures
There’s a temptation to want your website to look as slick as possible, and many web design customers make the mistake of leaning on stock photography. Make a point to create decent-looking, authentic photos. People like to be able to see who they’ll actually be dealing with when they go to a small business.
A picture also can help customers with recall. Someone who visits a used car lot might not remember which sales associate they spoke with, but they may recall who it was when they see a picture. This can reinforce relationships, and that may help you increase sales.
It’s also helpful to have pictures up of what the street-facing part of your building looks like. This will make it easier for people to identify your business when they walk or drive past. In fact, the simple act of recognizing a business increases the chances that a customer will stop in. That can be a major boost for retailers.
Tip #8: Stay Up to Date
Nothing is more disappointing for customers than seeing your business in person and realizing that the information about it and the picture of it were from five years ago. Updates are a chance to produce new content, and fresh content is always a good thing for both your customers and the search engines. If you run a bar, for example, you may be able to bring in new customers when you show how you’ve renovated your DJ booth, dance area, serving spaces or even the TVs.
In particular, all contact information should be up-to-date. That goes double for anyone in a regulated industry, such as general contracting, where your certifications and licenses may be required by law to be accurately displayed on your website.
Tip #9: Make a Call to Action
Telling people what they need to do next works. Don’t be pushy, but also don’t be subtle. Make a point to place a CTA on all pages with any runs of text. We’d be thrilled to help you come up with a call to action for your small business website, so contact our web design firm today and get started.
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