So you’ve got a website, or maybe you’re looking to get a new one built. That’s great! A 2017 study shows that 71% of small businesses in the U.S. have a website, and 92% of small businesses without websites plan to get one by the end of 2018. That’s a lot of digital real estate!
Unfortunately, not all websites are created equal. If you want your new site to 1) accurately represent your brand and 2) function as an effective marketing tool that brings in more customers or clients, then your website needs some important elements that other sites may lack.
Here are Lightpost Digital’s 7 essentials for your small business website:
1. Use easy navigation and uncluttered design.
Have you ever gotten lost on a website? The last thing you want is for potential customers to click away because your navigation is too confusing or your web design is too cluttered.
Make everything important to your clients easy to find. This includes the following considerations:
- Keep your navigation bar options simple. Visitors shouldn’t have to strain trying to find “About Us,” “Contact Us,” or your most important pages.
- Speaking of “Contact Us,” make contact info readily available. (Not just on your Contact page!)
- Use internal linking to help site visitors out. Make sure the links actually work too!
- Use short and simple URLs. http://tonyspizzainsandiego.com/about-tonys-pizza-learn-more is tough to remember and looks unprofessional—plus long URLs can negatively affect Google rankings (SEO). http://tonyspizzasd.com/about is much better.
- Clearly-labeled headers and page titles will go a long way.
Remember: first impressions matter. What will your site visitors think the moment your page loads? Here’s the best-case scenario: “Wow—this site looks awesome, and it’s user-friendly too! If their services are as excellent as their site, then I want in.”
2. Place clear messaging about your business and services up front.
This goes hand-in-hand with clear navigation. Some websites are beautifully-built and responsive. But when you scan the homepage copy above the fold, you’d be hard-pressed to figure out what the business actually offers!
Yes—grab attention with hi-res photos and memorable taglines. But you must answer this question for site visitors on your homepage sooner rather than later: “What is this business about, what do they have to offer, and who are they offering it to?”
This calls for effective, informative headlines. This calls for clear messaging in an appropriate tone. And this calls for not burying descriptions of your actual services and target audience where no one can find them. If you can’t quickly and concisely tell your site visitors what you have to offer, they’ll click on to a competitor who can.
3. Include clear calls to action as appropriate.
In case you haven’t realized, clarity is key when it comes to business websites. Ask yourself, “Does my site homepage have at least one clear call-to-action (CTA) on it?”
Every business website has something they want people to do, whether it’s getting a quote, scheduling an appointment, calling the office, or buying/reserving/registering now. What is it for you? Make this CTA straightforward. Draw attention to it design-wise, and make the rest of the site drive towards it. If not, you’ll miss serious conversion opportunities for your business.
As a disclaimer, you also don’t want to drown your site guests with calls-to-action. No one likes an aggressive salesperson! Just don’t be the business with a great-looking website and excellent services, but no clear strategy for turning visitors into customers.
4. Spruce up your site with photos and videos.
Here’s an important tip: Avoid massive walls of text on your site which can bore visitors and discourage them from learning more about your services. Instead, use multimedia like photos, videos, and infographics within your web design to do the following:
- Grab the attention of your site visitors and keep it
- Add a personal touch that will lend credibility and affability to your business
- Be informative and engaging—the hallmark of a great business site
- Enhance your written content and make it more readable
If you have any doubts about the power of photos and videos on your business website, consider this fun fact: Hear or read a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture, and you’ll remember 65%. Watch it in a video, and you’ll retain 95%. (Hubspot, Wordstream)
The verdict among online marketers is clear: leverage the power of multimedia and watch as more leads and conversions come your way.
5. Feature great content.
This offers a necessary counterbalance to the previous point. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but if all you’ve got are great pictures, your website will still be deficient.
Well-written content that is informative, engaging and audience-appropriate is worth its weight in gold. A blog and/or customer-focused articles can help you become a resource that will improve site traffic, educate your prospective customers, and raise your credibility. Not only that, but sites with high-quality written content have a better chance of ranking higher on Google compared to sites with plenty of images but minimal text. Quantity counts too—more content and more traffic often go hand-in-hand.
Of course, poor content can prove counterproductive in many ways. Does your site copy feature numerous spelling and grammatical errors, long-winded run-on sentences, and hard-to-read industry jargon? If so, your visitors will scratch their heads as they close their browser window on your site. Poorly-written content is unprofessional and frustrating to read. Additionally, copied content can be penalized by Google if you want your website to rank well SEO-wise, so keep that in mind!
Lastly, here’s a pro tip to avoid “wall of text” syndrome: Use bullet points, headers, and short paragraphs whenever possible. Visitors will love your site for it—and with quality content, they might even come back.
6. Add trust and credibility through testimonials, badges, and logos.
Here are some testimonial-related website statistics that you need to capitalize on:
- 63% of people are more likely to do business with you if they see user reviews on your site. (Econsultancy)
- Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%. (Social Fresh)
- 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts. (BrightLocal)
It’s no wonder that featuring testimonials on your site is so effective—it builds the “trust” factor essential for generating conversions like nothing else. You can proclaim your own greatness until the cows come home, but visitors will be unlikely to respond to your calls-to-action without social proof of your services.
Engaging with customers on business directories like Yelp, Google Places, and other sites can help you corral testimonials and uphold the quality of your brand. (If you want to go to the next level, reputation management services that we offer can help as well!)
Of course, testimonials aren’t the only way to demonstrate credibility among potential customers. Have you won any awards or worked with popular clients? Feature them in the form of logos. Do you have certifications and licenses? Wear those badges proudly on your site. You can even leverage the power of great reviews further by featuring Yelp five-star badges above the fold. Place logos of trust and images of credibility prominently on your site, and your visitors will be way more likely to hear what you have to offer.
7. Be generous.
Do you really want to make a memorable impression on your website visitors? Then don’t follow the status quo—go above and beyond for your prospective clients or customers! Embrace the spirit of generosity through the following tips:
- Offer a web-exclusive coupon, discount, or incentive.
- People love free stuff, so highlight free consultations or gifts if you have them.
- Use newsletters to present additional resources, tips, or deals to prospective customers. Newsletters are excellent lead generation tools as well.
- Know your audience. This can help you promote valuable incentives for customers throughout your web content.
Customers know genuine generosity when they see it, and your reputation and conversion metrics will be all the better for it.
Do You Have These Website Essentials? There’s Still More to Learn!
If you currently have a website, how many of the 7 essentials do you have? Not every great website capitalizes on all 7, but the more of them you have, the better. Still, they’re not the only factors to consider. Things like site responsiveness/speed and SEO are extremely important. How effective will a dazzling website be if every page takes too long to load, or if no one can find you when searching for keywords on Google?
Is your head spinning from all these essentials? You could try to do everything yourself or get help from someone who isn’t an expert. However, there are serious pitfalls:
- Your site could break or end up in worse condition than you started
- It could be a long, frustrating, expensive process if you get help from the wrong person
- You may be able to remedy some of the website problems, but not all of them
That’s why working with an affordable, trusted, professional agency is so valuable. Lightpost Digital can ensure that all the essentials on your website are handled properly. Not only are we web development experts, but we can be your all-in-one solution for services like SEO and online marketing as well. Check out our free website audit to see how your current site measures up—or contact us to have us design and develop the business website you’ve always dreamed of.