Updated: Jun 24, 2020
To be terse, the vast majority of websites on the internet are awful. This isn't simply because of poor visual design or nonsensical navigation. It's often because the elements behind the scenes aren't working in your business's favor. How content is laid out, what content you're featuring, how you word it, and how it's tagged for SEO can make or break your website. If you want to make sure your small business website is doing hard work for you, make sure you have the following things covered:
1. Explain who you are clearly and quickly.
A website visitor should know exactly who you are, and how you can benefit them, within the first three seconds of visiting your site. If they aren't engaged right away, then they probably won't stick around long enough to turn into a lead. Start the website with a strong image that shows who you are, and the right headline and sub-head that explain your value proposition. Essentially, explain what you have that the viewer wants.
2. Have simple to understand site navigation.
How you organize content on your site makes a world of difference for your visitors. Think of it like a digital storefront that needs to be organized similar to your physical storefront. You want to make sure people know where to go, and that you understand WHAT people are there to find. Make it easy to access what they want.
So, don't go crazy with how many pages you have. But also make sure you don't have too few. And always use drop down menus when you can. Sections should be titled in ways that make sense to your visitors and speak to them in language that they are familiar with.
One easy navigation trick that many top-performing websites do is to feature your most prominent website areas on the home page. The first thing they should see is a powerful image and headline to draw a visitor through the door. The second thing they should see are 3 or 4 of the most common reasons why they're visiting your site. This will help guide a visitor through your site to quickly get where they want to go.
For example, if you're a boutique pet store, you will want to make sure that products for the most popular animals are the most prominent on the website. So you could make sure topics like "Cat Food," "Dog Food" and "Pet Furniture" are easily found.
3. Write the right content that gets your website visitors to act.
Once you get someone into your website and they're ready to browse, make sure content is presented in the right way and in the right places.
There are a lot of steps to this, so I'll summarize quickly and go into more depth below. These are some of the things your content needs to include:
Write short paragraphs with headers
List-style and bullet note content (kind of like this article :) )
Easy to find contact forms
Calls to action
Fresh up-to-date articles
Write short paragraphs:
People don't want to read an essay and are often viewing your site from a phone. This means time is limited and they don't want to read a novel. That's why it's key to have short paragraphs, clear headers, and use list-style writing when you can. List articles tend to perform much better than long form writing.
Have easy to find contact information:
Make sure your contact forms are always easy to access. Your content should all have purpose and ask your customers to act on something. Some common calls to action are "Get a free quote", "Book an appointment now", "Discover", or "Sign up today". The more often someone is asked to act, and the easier it is for them to contact you or purchase from you, the more likely you are to get sales and leads.
Share customer testimonials to prove your reputation:
Customer testimonials are key. If you get someone to your website through your efforts, and you're trying to sell them something, there is no better sales pitch than from their peers who also benefit from your small business services. Peer-to-peer references are essential to solidify a strong reputation.
Keep your content up-to-date:
Lastly, fresh, up-to-date content is so important. If someone gets to your website but it looks you haven't touched it in a year, they're going to quickly think that your business irrelevant to them. You want to include content that is useful to your visitors. Maybe tips in a blog format, or promos that get updated throughout the year. Make sure your content gives you credibility, is useful to your visitors, and helps them build trust in you.
4. Don't forget about SEO.
There's no point in anything we've said up to this point if people aren't finding your site. So don't forget about SEO. All of your content should be written and tagged with proper SEO. It's also important to do ethical SEO, as "black hat" SEO tricks are not only frowned upon, but will hurt your website in the long term. So you have to use the right keywords in your content, tag every piece of content properly, and remember that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It often takes up to 6 months to see the first signs of progress, and should constantly be taken care of to make sure your business is growing in prominence. Great SEO will help a website work on autopilot if done correctly.
5. Make sure your website is mobile friendly.
This should be a no brainer in 2020, but you may be surprised how many websites are still not responsive, nor mobile friendly. The mobile experience is key, as it is quickly becoming the primary way that visitors will interact with your website. This means that a "mobile first" approach to your website is likely the way to go.