Ten Things Every Small Business Website Needs (Part 1)
When you launch a website, you are making an incredibly powerful statement about your business. Your website needs to do so much more than just share information – the design, layout, content, colors, even the fonts that you choose speak volumes about your brand. It can boost your credibility, improve search engine optimization, and drive conversions – or it can have the opposite effect. A website has the potential to make or break a company.
So how do you know if your website has the elements it needs to be successful? These ten items are a great place to start.
1. Relevant Pages
The most-visited pages on a typical website are Home, About Us, Blog, and the Contact page, so be sure to include these. You’ll most likely also need a page that describes your products or services.
The need for a home page is obvious, of course. It’s where most people will start, and will often be where a potential customer forms their first opinion of you, making it the most important page of your website. When one lands on your home page, it should be immediately obvious who you are, what you do, and – more importantly –what you can do for the customer.
About Us Page
A good About page is crucial to building trust. It should introduce you to and build a rapport with the customer. People want to buy from people, not from companies, so give them a peek behind the curtain. Share information about the team. Give a short history of your business. Tell them what makes you different from your competition.
Products / Services Page
The goal of your Products or Services page isn’t just to tell people what you do. You want customers to know what you can do for THEM.
You may be tired of hearing it, but it’s repeated so often because it’s true – blogging is an integral part of a successful online marketing strategy. Consistent blogging will:
• Drive traffic to your website
• Improve your search engine rankings
• Position you as a thought leader in your industry
• Build relationships and trust
The goal of your Contact page should be to provide as many options for getting in touch with you as possible. It must be prominently featured so that it’s easy to find – typically it is the last item in the navigation menu, or is featured in the header. It may include:
• Contact form
• Mailing or physical address
If you have an office or storefront, be sure to include a map and directions.
• Phone Number
• Social Media Links
• Email Address (optional)
While it’s helpful to include an email address on your site, it can set you up for a lot of spam.
2. A Simple, sensible URL
The best web address will make it as easy as possible for potential customers to find your website. If a domain is too long, hard to spell, or uses an uncommon extension, you may be losing business without knowing it. Following these guidelines will help you to make the most out of your URL.
Choose a .com domain if at all possible.
When typing the web address in their browser, people will often default to .com without even thinking about it. If the .com you want isn’t available, try a variation (such as thedomain.com instead of domain.com) or add your city/state (domainwashington.com)
If you want to use one of the new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) such as .marketing, .company, or .legal, go for it – but keep your website on the .com domain and redirect the new URL to it. For instance, if you type in CaffeinatedCommunications.Studio you will still end up at CaffeinatedCommunications.com.
Choose a domain that is short, memorable, and easy to spell.
We know – we’re the pot calling the kettle black! Caffeinated may be one of the most misspelled words in the English language. If you must use a difficult word, make sure that you also purchase common misspellings and redirect those to the correct URL.
Avoid using hyphens and numbers.
Hyphens (these-things-are-hyphens) and numbers can be confusing to the user, especially if you’re sharing your web address verbally. If you must use a separator, don’t use underscores (these_things_are_underscores), even on interior pages or blog post titles. Google doesn’t recognize them as word separators.
3. Testimonials/reviews/case studies
Whether compiled on a dedicated page or spread throughout your website, testimonials play an important role on your website. According to BrightLocal, 88% of consumers say that they trust online Reviews as much as they do personal recommendations. That can go a long way toward building the trust factor that is so important when converting visitors to customers.
4. Social media
Business today is as much about relationship-building as it is about selling – in some markets, the relationship is crucial. Your website should include icons that link to your social media pages so that you can continue to engage and share useful content with your customers.
Be sure to add share links to your blog posts, too.
5. Newsletter signup
Bonus points: opt-in giveaway
Email marketing is still an effective way to generate and market to leads. Even if you aren’t actively leveraging email marketing, include a signup form so that you can start building a contact list. We recommend MailChimp, a user-friendly service with a free level that’s perfect if you’re just starting out.
For even better results, offer a freebie to those who opt into your mailing list. Often called a “lead magnet” or “irresistible free offer,” it involves sharing something of value for free on your website in exchange for an email address.
So there you have it – one through five on our list of the ten things every small business website needs. Be sure to read part two, with items 6-10! Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments – we love to hear from you.