Things TO Do
Set Measurable Goals
Don’t just build a website that looks good and contains all of your information. Set some goals that you want your website to achieve. How many phone calls a month should it generate? Online form submissions (inquiries and contact forms)? How much should your website traffic increase in the next 3 months? Can you tie it into your sales tracking to see how many sales it generates? A website can and should do all of this. It should not be just an online brochure.
A free tool like Google Analytics will give you all of the information you need and more but it’s useless unless you set it up properly and review the reports on a regular basis. Google Analytics (along with phone call tracking) can tell you how well your website is achieving your goals.
- How many phone calls did it generate? (you will need call tracking installed for this)
- How many inquiry or contact forms were submitted?
- Where did the visitors that performed the above actions come from?
- Is your website traffic growing or shrinking? What days and times are the busiest?
- How long do people stay on your website? How many pages do they view?
- If using offline marketing methods like radio or print – how do these visitors behave in comparison to online marketing visitors?
- What percentages of your visitors are using an iPad or iPhone?
Without this information you cannot make informed and intelligent decisions about your website marketing. For example if you see that visitors that come from Facebook buy twice as much as other visitors you can adjust your marketing plans and budget accordingly.
WordPress is usually the right solution for most businesses. The main reasons are;
- Easy to make minor updates yourself
- Most popular business website platform there is so support is easy to find
- Will typically have valid website code so as not to hurt your website rankings
- Can be cheaper to find a nice design to use as a starting point
- Newer themes use the latest code like HTML5 and CSS3
Build a Mobile Friendly Website
More and more people are using their smartphones or tablets to view websites so make sure yours can be read and navigated easily when viewed on them. Almost all new WordPress themes are designed to be “Responsive”, that means they “adjust” automatically depending on what device the visitor is using.
Even though a Responsive design will be sufficient for most websites if you get a very high percentage of smartphone users you should also design a version of your website just for them, it isn’t expensive to do.
Make Your Website Navigation (menu) Logical and Simple
Usability is crucial to your small business website success. Your visitors need to easily find what they are looking for. Make it logical and organized and keep it simple. How your website navigation is structured is the framework that holds your entire website together.
I highly recommend you create a “sitemap page” where visitors can get a simple overview of your entire website with clickable page titles to immediately locate a page even if it’s a few levels deep. If your site has hundreds of pages than break your “sitemap page” into more than one page or set the page up as more of an outline.
Few websites do this and I have no idea why. It will not only help your website visitor find what they are looking for it may also help you with Google and Bing rankings.
Create a Website Content Publishing Plan
Depending on your industry and the marketing of your competitors you will probably need high quality, original content added to your website on a regular basis. To rank well in search engines like Google and Bing when you are in a competitive industry will require;
- Regular original, high quality content
- Links from other website to your website
- Getting frequent shares of your posts on Social sites like Facebook
Sometimes I see small business sites get traffic and leads without doing much of the above but they are fairly rare and are usually in a non-competitive niche or industry. They are usually heading for trouble down the road unless no aggressive competitors ever show up (unlikely).
If you do not plan on adding content to your website on a regular basis DO NOT bother creating a Blog area. Nothing looks worse than old, stale posts to both website visitors and Google.
Write Persuasive Content – Calls to Action
At first you must write the requisite informational content such as who you are, what you do, how to contact you and why your product or service is so good.
Once that is complete you should start writing to persuade the visitors to DO something. Whether it’s to phone you, fill in a form on the website or give you their email so you can talk to them that way. Give them a GOOD reason to take an action. Without actions and goals there isn’t much to measure and if you can’t measure then you don’t know if you’re marketing efforts as succeeding or failing.
Just providing information is a passive and almost always an unsuccessful strategy. In most cases your small business website needs to do a better job of selling.
It’s Not All about You
Identify your prospects problems and then explain how you can solve them. Talk about THEM not only about you. Informational sites are almost always all about the business – how long you have been in business – your number 1 in your industry – you’ve have many satisfied customers etc. etc. but that won’t get you sales inquiries. Sure use this on part of your site but the majority of the site should be about your potential customer – solve problems – provide examples etc. etc.
Make Contacting You Easy
Most business websites should have their phone number and email address on every page and it should be highly visible. Your full contact details should always be one of your main menu items and, if you are a local business, be sure to include a map and directions along with your business hours if relevant.
Get Better Hosting
Most clients skate by with $10 per month hosting. This used to be adequate as most of the time the site still responded well enough with only occasional slow load times.
Things changed in 2013 and now Google will penalize you if your website loads too slowly too often, consider it one mark against you in where they choose to place you in search engine result pages. Other factors are more important but every small benefit you can get you should.
If you want to get every advantage you can then I suggest better quality hosting (typically $25 per month and up). Prospects are also less patient these days… typically if your web page has not loaded in less than about 3, maybe 4 seconds there gone and some even less than that.
And A Few NOT To Do
Build Your Own Website
Unless you have done it before, several times, this just isn’t worth your time or energy. If you provide all of the content (create it in Word or something similar) you can get a high quality, responsive, premium, 5-10 page WordPress website for as little as $999. This would contain all of the forms and tracking code that you would need. I’ve built hundreds of websites and I can tell you that it usually takes more effort and time to create quality content than build and nice looking, effective WordPress website structure.
Spend Your Entire Online Budget on Your Website
Save some money for marketing. Paid advertising on Google, Bing and Facebook can be very powerful and, compared to traditional marketing, cost effective. If you’re online paid advertising has the budget hire a professional to manage it for you.
One of the best uses of your budget is to occasionally hire a professional sales copywriter to improve the copy on your website and in your advertising… online or off. This can make an amazing difference to your ability to achieve the goals you have hopefully set for your website.
And finally hiring somebody to manage your Social Media activities and link building efforts can improve your position dramatically in the search engines as well as your relationship with clients and potential clients.
Put Social Media Icons on Your Website
It’s almost done by default these days, A row of Social Media icons on your website that link to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest etc. etc. DO NOT link to any Social Media site of yours UNLESS you are active there and have reasonable engagement already. Linking to a barren wasteland of inactivity makes your company look bad NOT good.
Just hold off until that Social Media channel has been developed to a level of professionalism and activity that will send the right message to your prospect or client. For now just link FROM IT back to your website and not the other way around.