Top 10 Essential Features Every Small Business Website Must Have
If you have a business of any size or type, you already know that you must have a website if you are going to be successful. In this age of information and the Internet, people expect to find businesses online. Some business owners have a list of reasons why they don’t think they need a website. However, not only is it necessary to have a website, it’s also important to launch your brand and website strategically for maximum impact. Here are the top items you need on your business website:
1. Domain Name
The first thing that your website needs is a domain name. This represents who you are, your brand, your product, and your service. It is always best to choose a domain name that ends in .com if possible. You can check availability and purchase domain names from providers such as GoDaddy or Dynadot. Take some time to think about your domain name. Make certain that your domain name is not too long, hyphenated, or difficult to spell. A domain name should be short, representative of your website, and easy to remember.
2. Navigation at the Top
On your website, always be sure to have your navigation bar at the top of every page. When people come to your website, the first thing that they should be able to do is navigate your site. Only then can they find what they are looking for and thus become customers rather than just visitors. It’s also a good idea to have your navigation in your footer.
3. Contact Information
It is vital that you include important contact information on your website. This includes your location (with a map), phone number, email address, and/or contact form. This information should preferably be placed above the “fold” of your homepage, the area of the page that is visible before scrolling down. It’s also a good idea to have information that pertains specifically to your business such as your hours of operation, social media pages, and other locations.
4. Calls to Action
Nothing can replace a good Call to Action (CTA) on every page of your website. A CTA should be included several times on your homepage, both before the fold and also at the bottom of the homepage. It’s important to include your phone number and a hyperlink to your contact page. Many website developers will add a box on webpages that highlights the contact information so it is more visible and therefore may result in more conversions. On the other hand, you do not want your site to look too much like a sales pitch or it may turn some people away. You can find the best balance by experimenting and seeing which works best for your particular site.
5. Fresh content and images
Without content, your website is nothing. Many business people think that any content will do as long as it fills up their webpages and looks nice. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth. Your website needs to be filled with information that people will find helpful so that they will convert into your customers. If you plan to have someone write your content for you, be sure to give your writer specific information about your site and what you want on the pages. Your webpages should be easy to read and understand. Every page should be fresh, original content with no plagiarism or copied content. Use a program like Copyscape to check all of your content to make sure there is nothing copied. Also, it is vital to make sure that your webpages are long enough, which is at least 500-700 words. Google favors pages with longer content that shows you as an expert in your field.
Images are important to every website. We live in a virtual world and people love to see lots of images as part of their online experience. Make sure that your images are the smallest size possible in order to keep your site’s load time to a minimum. Also, infographics have become increasingly popular because they look more interesting than just words on a screen. There are several sites online that can help you create an infographic if you have some basic facts or statistics to share on your site.
6. Responsive Website
People will be looking at your website on their computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. It is vital that your website is mobile-friendly or responsive. There are two ways to do this. One is to create a separate website that would have a URL similar to your website such as m.yourwebsite.com. These sites are created just for mobile devices and require a separate website, URL, host, domain, etc. The second option is to use a web development platform that will automatically adjust the website to the device. This is a much cheaper option if it is available. The most important thing, however, is to make sure that your site is mobile friendly because Google is now giving preference in ranking to sites that are responsive.
7. Professional Coding
It’s true that you can create your own website. In fact, there are many free tools that may help company owners at the early business stage. It’s important, however, that you make sure that your website is well put-together. That means making sure that your images are loading correcting, your videos are working, and your contact form is actually redirecting to you. It’s perfectly fine if you know how to do these things, but if you don’t, ask for help from a professional. It will be worth your time and money to have your site be the very best. Otherwise, people will see errors on your page and become disinterested.
8. Testimonials and Reviews
The first step is to attract people to your website. Once they are there, they will be evaluating you and your business. What can you offer them? What makes you better than someone else in your field? Why should they choose you? Have other people had success with your business? One of the best ways for people to get to know you is to read reviews and testimonials from your clients. Reading about good experiences from your current or previous clients can go a long way in convincing others to give your products and/or services a try.
9. Trust Badges
If you’re not familiar with trust badges, it’s time to get acquainted with them. Trust badges or symbols are images that shows that you are a legitimate business. It has been estimated that there is a 32% increase in conversion rates when trust symbols are used. There are two types of trust seals: SSL badges that prove an encrypted connection between your site and the web browser of the visitor, and images that show a relationship between its users and your website but no real security. While it’s not important to understand exactly how trust badges work, it is important that you add them to your site if possible.
10. Blog page
Every website should have a blog page. There has been controversy about this, but overall, it’s a good idea for every business. Some of the main reasons for having a blog include: driving traffic to your site, converting traffic into leads, establishing authority, and driving long-term results. While you absolutely need a blog, which is the location of your blog posts, make sure that you update it frequently, at least once weekly. Google will reward you for updating your content on a regular basis. Make sure you include a catchy title, 2-3 subtitles, 2-3 internal links, a suitable image, and a quality call to action. Having good metatags and choosing appropriate categories can also help. Be sure to disable comments if you aren’t willing to check them regularly and respond when necessary. Take the time to invest in a good blog and you will see positive results. If you don’t have the time or talent for this undertaking, you can hire freelancers to handle it for you.
As you can see, there are some key elements to having a small business website. Unfortunately, numerous business owners leave many of these elements off their websites. Spend the time and money to invest in a website that is SEO-friendly, responsive, full of rich content, and easy to navigate and you will easily stand out above your competitors.