Is your small business website effectively pulling in visitors, keeping them around and converting them to customers? If your website is a little more than an online placeholder, it’s time to start putting it to work so you can grow your business and take advantage of the huge potential consumer base for the online market.
Today’s consumers are accessing your website from their desktops and laptops, and also from their smartphones and tablets. This checklist will help you make sure that your site is doing what it should for your small business – increasing your profits.
Your Website Should. . .
Sloppy, plain or homemade-looking websites are a visitor turnoff.
Have a Private Domain Name
Even if you’re using a WordPress.com, investing the few dollars a month in a web host and domain name tells visitors you’re serious about your company—and makes you more trustworthy.
If you accept online credit card payments for products or services, your site must comply with the requirements of the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI DSS).
Have a Memorable Domain Name
Make your private domain name something easy to remember. Preferably the name of your business.
Contain Your Business Name in Text
Search engines can’t index words from your logo image. Make sure your company is findable.
Contain Your Business Address in Text
Once again—no text, no search indexing. Local search results are more important than ever, so your address should be prominent.
Have Your Company Phone Number in Click-to-Call Format
With so many people looking up businesses on smartphones, offering a one-touch way to contact you will bring you more customers.
Make Contact Info Easy to Find
Search engines aren’t the only ones that need easy access to your contact information. Make sure visitors can get in touch with you quickly and conveniently.
Tell Visitors What You Do at a Glance
Through images, succinct descriptions or both, visitors to your site should be able to figure out right away what your company does.
Highlight Your USP
Your unique selling point (USP) lets visitors know why they should stick around and do business with you, instead of click back to the search results. What makes you stand out from the competition?
Show Off Customer Testimonials
The best way to tell people how great your company is is through someone else’s words.
Invite Visitor Feedback
You can learn more about what’s working and what isn’t on your website—and get more testimonials—by having a feedback form for visitors.
Speak to Your Visitors—Not Your Ego
Your website content should focus on how you can benefit your customers, instead of how awesome you are.
Offer Fresh Content
Keeping your site updated makes both visitors and search engines happy. An integrated small business blog is a great way to do this.
Natural SEO (search engine optimization) strategies are essential in getting new visitors to your website.
Make it Personal
You don’t have to share your favorite colors or foods, but including the names and bios of business owners and staff on your website gives things a personal touch.
Link to Other Websites
Outbound links can help improve search engine results and make you look like a valuable resource.
Have Other Websites Link to Yours
Inbound links carry even more search engine juice.
Make Checkout Easy
The more steps customers have to go through to buy something from your website, the more often they’ll abandon their carts. Don’t make them jump through hoops for an online purchase.
Connect with Social Media
Place social sharing buttons prominently on your website for increased reach.
Your Website Should Not. . .
Have a Lot of Bells and Whistles
Like every widget and form you can find stuffed onto your home page. Clean and to the point works much better.
Use Flash Animation, Moving Text, Fancy Cursors or Music
These things are unnecessary, annoying to most visitors and slow down your loading time.
Post Images Without ALT Tags or Text Captions
Because search engines can’t read images and descriptive text helps to increase your rankings.
Have Dead Links
Ones that lead nowhere or to an error page. Check your links frequently to make sure they still work.
List All Your Products and Services
Don’t do this in one long, continuous scroll. Break things up naturally and use smart navigation to help visitors find what they need.
Checklist Photo via Shutterstock
Sloppy-looking websites are a no-no, but I actually like plain-looking sites. Maybe it’s just me though.
I’ve been guilty of not using the ALT and TEXT tags for images.
I find SEO daunting. It probably doesn’t warrant it, but that’s how it makes me feel.
Thanks for your input, Ebele. SEO is a complex and uncertain field, so I understand why it would seem daunting. Best of luck to you!
SEO’s probably one of those things that look scary from the outside, but once you’re in it, the more of it you do, the less scary it is…as with a lot of things in life. Well, I hope that’s what it’s like. 🙂
Megan: I think you have covered everything! Have you checked the Chambers of Commerce site with your list? 😉
Thanks, Martin! And good advice! 🙂
Megan: You are welcome! 🙂 Do you have an international version of your site?
All great business basics for website design. Companies should consider it to be a 24/7 salesperson for their project and it demands the same kind of investment that a salesperson requires. You get what you pay for in my opinion.
Thanks, Mark! I completely agree.
Hi Megan. One more thing you should do is provide a mobile-optimize version of your website. As 17% of cell phone owners now do most of their internet browsing on their phone.
‘Speak to your visitors – not your ego’, I totally dig this. Landing on a page with self glorious egoistic content drive me crazy. I hope my company website adhere to all your tips. Thanks for the useful guidelines.
I agree completely. The customer should always be your first thought. Thanks for reading!
Great post Megan, thanks for sharing it :)I totally agree.
Glad you agree and enjoyed the article!
Spot On! Thanks Megan for summing up User Experience in website design with this list. I can’t deny that this line on speaking to your visitors (not your ego) made me laugh out loud. I guess, a simple change in your wording, like changing ‘We’ for ‘You’, can make a whole new world of difference..
I think nowadays it is also highly advisable that website contains an explainer video –> that makes visitors stay longer on your website!
Flash animation and moving text is not only distracting, but it slows down your site considerably. Many users will go to your competitor’s site if yours loads too slowly.
I definitely think people are wising up and know when a design is crappy. It subconsciously makes them think that other things could be wrong at the business too.
Very good tips here. I also hate visiting sites wherein it takes about a minute or more to load everything in the page because of unwanted things like music or animations. People go after the looks of the website but if you go overboard with trying to make your site “beautiful”, tendency is you clutter your site too much and that is a big NO-NO.
It is amazing to see how many websites fail to have complete contact information or still have dead links. A streamlined, navigable design and clear contact info make the site much more user-friendly to help boost conversion.
Spot on! A website is just like an online brochure and for some, a merchant account to accept credit card payments by selling ebooks, infoproducts and the like.
A great article to read. But, FAQ should be added in this list. As you can not explain every thing on your website’s home page or about page.
Thanks for sharing your professional experience.
The most important thing you can do on your website is tell your story. People want to connect with the brands they follow. I build my relationships with email marketing and social media.
Thanks for sharing things which we want to do for the website and which should not do for the website. Your content is superb the way of representing the content is amazing. I also doing marketing for my website http://www.onedollarwebhostings.com/ and this type of question takes place in my mind but after reading your article. the query becomes solved so keep it up and share all this type of informative blog.
I just read the article posted on the net. Great write up.
I’m wondering about posting a link to the company’s employee portal? Is that a no-go? I’m starting to look at the websites of other company’s and I don’t see a link to the employee intranet. I see very few websites that don’t have a direct link to the employee website. Why? What is the best practice? I’m trying to convince a friend NOT to place a link or any reference to the employee website on the public site. Thanks for the responses.
very nice articel
I put to leave a comment, man do I’ve a difficult time writing
a blog. Im trying to kick start one on my website and I must say
its not easy at all. I do admire people like yourself who
able to write about anything with ease. Keep up
the nice work!