Photo courtesy of Flickr: Bruce Clay, Inc
Do you run a small business website and find yourself lacking in the success department? Is your website doing okay, but you aren't sure if there is some more you can do to achieve your goals? Running a website is simple. Running a successful website requires time, effort, and a good amount of knowledge. This quick blog post is here to help you with that last bit. I am going to show you 7 things every website should have in order to achieve small business success.
Clear and Easy Navigation
One of the most common things I run into in terms of a poorly planned website is bad navigation. Broken links that lead to nowhere or that lead to pages that do not exist, menu items that aren't labeled properly or that don't accurately describe the content of the page they are taking you to, and down-right ugly designs are all part of bad website navigation, which can lead to a lack of your small business' success.
Navigating your website should be simple and clear. Don't put a thousand menu items at the top of your page. Stick to simple categories, and then use sub-menu items for sub-categories within each given section if necessary, but limit this practice. For example, if you sell bicycles on a website, you may have a menu item labeled: Bikes. Under that, you could put the different types of bikes you sell, like Casual, Mountain, 10-Speed, and Sport.
Contact Us Info and About Us Page
Just as important as giving your visitors an easy way to navigate your small business website is giving them a way to reach out to you. Creating both an About Us page and a Contact Us page are crucial.
The About Us page tells the customer about you. It can include your business history, personal information about yourself that is relevant to your website, customer testimonials, and even reviews. Adding pictures and personalizing the page will also help to build trust with your potentials customers and clients. If they do not trust you, they will not purchase from you!
Contact Us pages should be as simple as possible. Do not ask for too many pieces of information on Contact Us forms. A name, telephone number, e-mail address, and reason for contacting should be plenty. The more fields someone has to fill out, the more likely they are to abandon the page.
Call to Action
A call to action is your way of telling the customer what you want them to do. If you run an e-commerce site, you may have a call to action such as: Purchase Now!
If you are a plumber or lawyer, you may offer free quotes or consultations as a way to attract future clients. In those cases, you could say: Call for a free quote! or Get your free consultation today!
Make sure these calls to action stand out on the page and are easy for the consumer to identify.
SEO stands for search engine optimization and is something small business websites should really focus on. In essence, SEO is the art of getting your website ranked at the top of the search engine result pages (SERPs), such as Google and Bing. The closer to the top 10 results on the first page of a search engine result page, the more likely a customer is to visit your website.
There are many moving parts to SEO (and other aspects of search engine marketing, such as social media optimization) and if you have the budget, your best bet is to hire a qualified SEO expert with good credentials and a solid resume.
Along with proper SEO, content (which is a part of SEO) is key to getting visitors to keep coming back to your website. Having fresh, relevant content keeps users engaged and gives them a reason to return. It also helps sell whatever you are pitching, whether that be a product, service, or yourself if you are a celebrity, musician, or blogger.
Content comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be a page (such as the About Us page above), news, blog posts, informative articles, videos, a podcast, slideshow, images, and even infographics. Above all the content should be original, informative, well-written/edited, and relevant to the topic of your small business websites.
I cannot stress the important of a good web hosting provider enough. If your website frequently goes down or has a high downtime associated with it, it not only frustrates your customers, but can also lead to distrust amongst future clientele. It shows that you do not care about your business and are unprofessional. Occasional outages can occur, but for the most part, your site should be up and running 24/7.
Hosting is more than just downtime and uptime - it is also about speed as well. Having a slow website is a big turn off to a customer, and can also negatively impact your website's SEO as well. Search engines now take into consideration a website's speed as part of their ranking algorithms.
User Friendly Design
Lastly, having a user-friendly design is part of "best practice" for web design. What it basically means is that every part of your website is designed with the user in mind. Everything should be labeled properly, in working order, and laid out in a clear and concise manner. The same as navigation above. Each aspect of your site should have a specific purpose and that purpose needs to be clearly identifiable to the visitor.
Sticking to these seven mantras won't guarantee your small business success, but it will put you on the right path for sure. Show your customers you are interested in their business and repeated visits by following the steps above.