We work with small and mid sized businesses every day who are looking for that edge against their competitors. It’s surprising just how many websites we see that are missing some of the basic design and functionality required for a successful foray into the webesphere. I spoke to a group of colleagues a few days ago. These colleagues were all in the “Small Business” category. There were realtors, insurance agents, skin care professionals, my CPA and lawyer. Challenged to share some insight that was relevant to all in the room, I came up with 5 simple elements of a successful website.
1) Site design matches your business AND your audience
This is starting from the ground floor, I know, but one of the mistakes I’ve seen in the website world is not being true to your brand or business. Secondly, it’s forgetting who your customer is and what they want to see on your website. I made this mistake myself with an old version of our website. We added all the “bells and whistles” to show off what we could do. From the “web designer” perspective, it looked amazing. However, from our target demographic, business owners that do not understand web design and may even be confused or scared of the daunting task of purchasing a website, we just caused further confusion. We scrapped it and put together something far more simple but retained its professionalism. (I hope you agree!)
2) Mobile Responsive Design
Responsive Design means that ONE website will show up in a specific way, formatted for the screen size of the person viewing your site. The classic delineation is A) Desktop, B) Tablet, and C) Smart Phone. What is so important here is that you only have ONE website to manage. The alternative mobile solution has been to develop a second “Mobile Website.” This causes all sorts of search engine optimization issues and is a second site to maintain. Having a mobile solution is hugely important.
- 4 out of 5 customers use smart phones to shop. (source)
- 70% of mobile searches lead to online action within 1 hr. (source)
3) Develop Thought Leadership Through Your Blog
One of the ways you can bring in potential new clients is by helping them do their research. I spoke to a realtor this morning who wants to focus on the Arlington, TX market. He was very knowledgeable about the area and the market. I suggested he start developing a blog strategy to help develop that expertise in the community. As people move into the area and are looking for the right home to purchase, we will be helping them do their research, as well as driving traffic and hopefully leads to his site.
- 70% of people learn about your company though your blog posts verses your ads. (source)
- 80% of blog visits are new visitors. (source)
- Businesses with 51 blog posts gain 53% more traffic. That number is multiplied by 3 if you have 100 posts, and 4.5 times with 200 posts. (source)
4) Have a Simple Site-Map
This is a super simple fix. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing, but it will help Google’s bots know which pages are most important on your site and ensure they are indexed. In its simplest form, we place a link in the bottom of your site to every page of your website. This means every page is only one click away, which increases SEO value, and for people who know what they are doing, it gets them to the page they want the fastest. I’ve seen a site-map be 5 simple links, and I’ve seen a site-map with over a hundred. Here’s an example of a Sitemap in the footer of the Wall Street Journal’s website:
5) Have “Shareable Content”
Shareable content is exactly what it sounds like. Blog posts on a website that are well written, relevant and helpful are shareable. Adding social media sharing links helps make content more shareable. Other great pieces of content are images and especially videos. When items are shared from your site on platforms linked to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, you are leveraging this content to be part of an overall lead generation strategy.
I truly believe if you will take these 5 steps, you will be on your way to out performing your competitors when it comes to your online presence. Would you like me to take a look at your site? We can run a free analysis on your website and let you know how it’s performing. We are always willing to help business owners have a complete online presence, whether they are clients or not.