Casting a Critical Eye on Your Small Business Website
By Beth Longware Duff
In today’s business environment, your online presence is critical to your success. Consumers comparison shop electronically as part of their pre-purchase research, and if your small business website doesn’t measure up against the competition, you’re likely to lose the sale.
BizBest, a website that promotes itself as providing independent ideas, trends, tactics and resources to help small businesses succeed, surveyed thousands of small business sites to see what they’re doing right and wrong. It then came up with 10 common mistakes and how to fix them, which have been summarized below:
“Thanks to the rise of social media and changes in how search engines operate, it’s now more important than ever to have high-quality content on your site,” BizBest notes right off the top. Content that is off topic and/or poorly written won’t show up in search and makes your site look second-rate. Instead of a hard sales pitch laden with industry jargon, emphasize helpful tips, case studies and other valuable information that customers and prospects can really use to solve a problem or accomplish a task — and keep it conversational!
Keywords are critical to online success, so know and use those that apply to the products and services you sell. “Even if you think you know what they are, unless you’ve used a keyword discovery tool to see the precise terms that real people are typing into search engines daily, you haven’t done it right,” warns BizBest, which recommends using KeywordDiscovery.com and the keyword tool in Google AdWords.
If your website doesn’t at least give the minimal acknowledgement of social media, it’s incomplete. BizBest suggests that you include a link to your Facebook page, as well as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and your business blog.
Metrics measure who visits your website and from where, what they do once they’re onsite, the most and least popular pages on your site and which visitors make you the most money. BizBest argues that unless you have this information, you’re flying blind. It also advises that you sign up for a web metrics service such as Google Analytics to get a handle on what’s happening.
“Mobile web usage is exploding, with huge implications for small businesses that lack a mobile-friendly site,” warns BizBest, which notes that mobile sites are designed specifically for the small screen and to be easy to navigate and “thumb friendly,” tech talk for using large, centered buttons with “breathing room” to prevent accidental clicks. As customers increasingly use their mobile phones to acquire local information, your mobile site should accommodate them in their search. BizBest recommends GoMo from Google, a program that instructs business owners and startups about mobile websites and how to find help setting one up.
Don’t make the mistake of omitting obvious business-related information like hours, location and how to contact you. Make sure this info is prominently displayed all across your site so that it’s easy to find. Consumers who have to hunt for it may not bother and move on to your competition. And have a process in place to follow up on all inquiries.
Encourage people to sign up or order with special offers or calls to action. Some options are free trials, discounts or a newsletter. Give visitors to your site some direction and they’ll most likely follow it.
Website design is not all about looking pretty, says BizBest. “It’s about creating a great user experience and being highly functional and effective at attracting, keeping and converting customers,” it explains. “Obvious cookie-cutter sites and over-the-top images undercut your goals. Customers are there because they want to accomplish something, and your design needs to reflect that.” This means keeping order and lead-generation forms simple because the more information you require, the fewer people will fill it out.
The goal of being online is to be found by prospective customers. Search engines take notice of the number of quality sites that link to yours, and they’re more likely to do that if you offer helpful information such as tips, whitepapers, newsletters, press releases, a blog and the like. Another approach is to seek links from professional associations, clients and vendors.
Incorrect or outdated info on your website really makes you look old and out of touch. “If your latest press release is three years old or other content is clearly aging, customers will wonder how up-to-date and vibrant your business really is,” BizBest points out. It advises that you review and update all content on a regular basis to keep your site fresh, timely and a place people want to visit.
Check out our previous articles:
- 5 Social Network Insights that Help People Choose Better Cars
- Niche Advertising and Marketing: Zeroing in on your Target
- Social Media is a New Virtual Market! Know How?
- Content Writing and StumbleUpon Traffic Driving Strategy
- Powerful Landing Page Tips for Your Success
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