Today we are going to look at the 4 small business website essentials that you need on your site now.
1. Plan of Attack
“No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
While your website will never perform exactly as you expect it to that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a plan in place.
A small business website essential is to set some goals so that you know exactly how to set up your site.
Here are some of the things that you should look at before setting up (or redesigning) your website:
What is the goal of your site? Do you want to people to buy your product or service? Do you want them to sign up for a quote?
Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Do you want them to click on as many pages as possible for advertising?
Whatever it is that you want them to do your site needs to have a focus.
Johnny Cupcakes has his shop page set up to show off their new products. It also has the same rebel/hipster vibe that his products do.
What is your target market? Your site design will vary based on who you want to visit it. You should have put together your buyer personas so you know who you are aiming for. Regardless you will have a much different site for a sixteen-year-old girl than you would for a retiree.
The linode site on the other hand is simple and clean. No extra frills or animations, just what their users would be looking for.
2. Responsive Design
Responsive web design (RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).
Responsive web design focuses on having different user experiences based on the device they are using to view the site. This means that they won’t see a tiny version of your site when they use their phone. Instead they will see a simpler site that is set up to use on the phone.
Purely Branded shows here a simple representation of how responsive web design works.
As small business website essentials go this one is gaining importance every year. The PewResearch Internet Project found that 58% of Americans have smartphones. That 63% of them use their phones to go online and that 34% go online “mostly” using their phones. So if your site looks awful on your phone you are in trouble.
3. Call To Action on Every Page
Now you know who you want to see your site and that they are going to see a good looking site no matter how they view it. Time to make sure that when they get to their site they do something more than just looking around and leaving.
At Copyblogger they have a great article on Call to Action Beginner Mistakes. Their number one mistake: No Call To Action.
This is probably the single biggest small business website essential mistake that I see. So many websites are nothing more than a brochure that does little to draw in the user and push them towards a course of action.
Curator and Mule has a great CTA. Simple and to the point. You know what to do, why to do it.
A call to action is simple when you think about it. When we go into a restaurant there is a sign (or a person) telling us what to do. One: seat yourself.
Two: wait to be seated. Three: go to the window and order. Your website should work the same way.
On every page there should be instructions on what the user should do.
4. On Page SEO for Every Page
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is something that every site should include. I could create an entire site just about SEO and post every day for the rest of my life and never cover everything.
The intricacies of algorithms, garnering backlinks, white hat SEO and so on are topics for another day but there are some simple things that you can do to your site right now to help with SEO.
Unique page titles – Each page should have a unique title that contains the keywords related to that page.
A few quick rules here. Important keywords towards the beginning of the page and keep your titles to around 65 characters. If you are trying to rank for local search you can include your location also.
WordPress SEO by Yoast is a great plugin that allows you to easily optimize titles and descriptions right in the post screen.
Optimized meta description – Google doesn’t always show your meta description in search but when it does the description better be good. Make it interesting and keyword rich so that people will want to click. Make sure that it is around 150-160 characters.
Friendly URLs – First off URL is uniform resource locator, or the address that is in the bar of your browser.
If you are using a CMS (ie: wordpress, drupal, etc.) make sure it is set to use human legible URLs. You want http://yourdomain.com/article-name not http://yourdomain.com/123/98736.php. If you are not using a CMS then make sure all your domains are intelligible. Include keywords if they are in the article also. For most pages you can just use the page title as the URL.
It’s easy to change the permalink settings in WordPress. Go to settings->permalinks and then change.
Phone Number at Top of Page – If you are interested in local search (which you should be) include your phone number at the top of the page as text not an image.
Search engines use area codes to help with local listings and smartphone users will be able to click on the number to call.
Sitemaps – You need to have an XML site map for your site for search engines. If you use a CMS you should be able to create one with it. If not you can use http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ to create it then upload it to the root of your site.
If you have a website check it and make sure that is is covering the small business website essentials. If it doesn’t then get to work on your site so it can get working for you.
So there you have it. 4 Small Business Website Essentials. This only scratches the surface of all the ways you can use a website to help your business but it gets you a start.