Whether you’re building your first website or refreshing the one you already have, it’s important to take a moment to make sure your website has everything it needs to help your business thrive.
Our small business clients often ask us about what to include on their own websites. After years of experience, we’ve developed a general list that can be applied to any type of business with the mission of improving user experience and overall web success.
Take a look at the items below to see if your small business website is missing anything it needs to succeed:
1. Put Yourself in the Customer’s Shoes
This seems like a no brainer, but it is important to think about your website from the customer’s perspective.
For example, if a customer who knows nothing about cars goes to your website looking for information on oil changes, you’ll want to make it easy for them to navigate your site and learn about your services.
If the only service you have listed is “full service tune up,” your potential customer may become confused and intimidated—therefore more likely to seek services elsewhere.
This isn’t the only customer you’ll lose, either. If you don’t specifically list “oil change” as a service option on your website, your listing won’t show up when I search for “oil change in [my city].”
Why? Because a website needs to feature exact phrases in order for Google to pick you up, catering to internet users that use those exact phrases in order to find businesses like yours.
Try to be as specific and obvious as possible when it comes to listing your services online.
2. Contact Information
Add more than just an email address or phone number to your website.
Not everyone is ready to reach out or feels comfortable enough to pick up the phone right away, so it’s important to give them options.
Another great way to make your business accessible to customers is by including a chat feature on your site. Chat features are considered an important, low barrier to entry in the web world as they allow potential or returning customers with questions to contact you in one simple click, straight from your website.
Having a phone number, email address, business address, contact form and on-site chat options work together to ensure that your customers will have choices and feel comfortable reaching out to your business. Don’t forget to include hours of operation!
Including testimonials on your website are a great way to advertise your business’ credibility. Testimonials help potential customers learn more about the positive experiences of your previous customers, which in turn makes them more inclined to do business with you if others recommend the service.
Further, testimonials are wonderful for highlighting your business’ most celebrated attributes. Are you known for superb customer service? Rapid turnaround on projects? The widest selection of your product in your region? If these are the reasons customers keep coming back, get that in writing and feature it on the web!
Another option is utilizing a service like Yelp, Thumbtack or other sites that require customers to verify themselves before reviewing your business.
Embedding these positive reviews on your website will allow your potential customers to validate that your reviews are real, and reliable.
4. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Any great website includes images—and let’s be clear, you need real images, not stock photos.
Why? Stock photos often come off as phony or appear “too good to be true.”
Instead, using images that feature your real business, your real face and your real staff if a great way to build trust with your potential customers.
When a customer visits your About Page and your feature image is immediately apparent as a stock photo, however, that trust is broken and you may unintentionally drive away potential clients.
You don’t need to completely write off stock photos, though—they often come in handy as background images.
The takeaway? Investing a bit of time or money into a portfolio of business images consistent with your brand goes a long way.
5. Trust Logos
Using a trust logo on your website is one of the most common ways of building trust with your potential customers.
You might think that everyone includes a couple of trust logos on their website, but in reality, many businesses choose not to use them because they can be expensive or hard to obtain.
Even so, we strongly encourage our clients to invest time and money into accumulating at least a few trust logos. Not all of these logos have to be from the BBB, Paypal or services like Truste. They can also be logos of associations you belong to, nonprofits your company supports or certification images.
Need more ideas for trust logos? Checking out your competition’s website is never a bad place to start.
6. Comparisons, Service Options & Pricing
Customers are often hesitant to buy goods or use services if they are required to jump through hoops before purchasing. In other words, it’s important to present your business as the easy choice, especially in the face of competition.
While thoroughly listing the services or goods that you offer is one component of a successful small business website, there’s one more step that never hurts: providing your potential customer with hard and fast reasons to choose you.
Often, this presents in the form of a chart or a list that serves as a comparison of your services against your competition. Do you offer any extras? Highlight that.
This will help to keep your business transparent and give customers real reasons to choose you.
7. Social Media
We’re sorry—we know everyone tells you to utilize social media, and it can often feel worthless.
Instead of making Social Media feel like a nagging item on your eternal to-do list, think about it as an opportunity to show past, present or future customers that you’re not only “on top of it,” but also a leader in your industry.
Choosing a social media platform that is a little more low-maintenance (think Instagram) is a great way to hop on the social media train of the modern world without feeling overwhelmed.
Not only does utilizing social media platforms open up the door for usual opportunities, but it will also show your customers that you’re truly dedicated to your business.
8. On Site SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Here’s how it could help your business:
If your site is built right and you’re a small business with a niche—like a specialty cheese shop in Boulder, CO, for example—then there’s no reason why your website shouldn’t show up on Google on the first page if someone in your area searches for places to buy cheese.
In other words, prioritizing SEO from the back-end of your website will help manipulate Google into prioritizing you when someone searches for goods or services like yours.
Lots of companies might want to charge you extra for this particular genre of website optimization, but know that it should be considered a “best practice,” not an up-sell.
If you’re developing your website’s SEO on your own, try thinking about it from a customer’s perspective—what would they search Google for to find you? Whatever your answer, adjust your content to fit that and you’ll be on your way to an optimized website.
9. Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools
Google Analytics is an analysis platform that “helps turn action into insights,” with the goal of improving the performance of your website. Similarly, Webmaster Tools can integrate with Google Analytics to show you your position ranking, Click Through Rate (CTR), or overall search volume (i.e. impressions).
With these tools, you can see who comes to your site, for how long, what pages they visit, what search terms they used to get there—and pretty much anything else you’ll ever need to know.
Even well-known, giant eCommerce sites—think the best of the best—rely on this information to operate, grow and make general business decisions.
Sign up for and install them, explore a little to get acquainted and watch a YouTube tutorial or two on how to use them. We guarantee you’ll be surprised at what you learn about your business from these analysis programs. These tools are powerful, and the information you’ll learn through them is indispensable.
Once you start using them, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without them!
10. Mobile/Responsive Design
These days, we all know that everyone seems to be on their phones “Googling” information at any given moment and constantly making decisions on the run. Tablets are the new laptop and many seem to leave their PCs at home.
If you want to generate business success in the modern world of entrepreneurship, you’ll have to be able to adapt to the culture of mobile devices.
To have a responsive design is to ensure that no matter which devices your customers are visiting your website from, the experience will always be clean, efficient and present itself relative to the screen sizes of your customers.
Prioritizing responsive designs shouldn’t be considered an option. Instead, it’s a best practice that every passionate business owner should arrange for their website.
Wrapping it Up
Whether you’re cleaning up an existing website or developing a new one from scratch, you’ll want to make sure all your details are in order and that you present well enough to garner the attention of your target market.
It’s important to note that the process of building and managing your small business website is never really over. You’ll want to stay up-to-date on the latest extensions, upgrades and capabilities of your site while keeping the content engaging and fresh for your customers.
So be realistic—chances are that you won’t launch into phase two of your website development until much later than you had originally anticipated. We all know that life happens, things get pushed aside or forgotten and you might encounter roadblocks that slow down your progress significantly.
No matter what happens, it’s important to get it right.
Have others review your site and provide you with feedback to make sure your business’ website is presentable and ready to go live on the world wide web.