Show of hands: How many of you have taken a good hard look at your small business’ website lately? Really? That ‘About’ page? You’ve recently revamped that copy? I don’t believe you.
Since I can’t see how many of you have hands raised, I’m going to venture a guess that staying up-to-date on your website’s copy & functionality is not at the top of your To Do list. I get it; you have a business to run. In the battle of new projects and new work, your own site often gets put on the back burner. But in 2012, if you’re not planning an update to the website you first launched in 2010 (or worse, earlier), you’re asking to be left behind.
We’ll make it easy for you. Below, we’ve compiled some of the best tips from expert sources that sum up the most basic features your website must have to be successful on the web. Got fancy Flash or frames? Toss ‘em (unless, you know, being found on search engines isn’t important to you). Think product images are just a nice-to-have? You’re missing out. Bookmark this list of 10 things your website must have:
- DESIGN: Tighten the page design. Subtlety doesn’t work on the web. Visitors should be able to scan a page in no more than two to three seconds to find what they want. The more complicated the design, the more likely a visitor will bounce. (source: Jeff Haden)
- NAVIGATION: Your website needs to have a clear, user-friendly navigation system, because otherwise your visitors (i.e., potential new customers) don’t know what you want from them. Do you want them to buy something? To fill out a contact form or call you? Make an appointment? Make sure that you’re directing them to the right place so they can take advantage of your services as easily as possible. (source: Vital Design)
- FOCUS: A prospect is not looking for information about you; they are searching for a solution to their unique problem or need. THAT should be the focus of your home page. Use words and phrases they would use to describe their pain and then outline the solution you offer. (source: bplans.com)
- CONTENT: Fresh and updated content is a good way to ensure search engines are indexing your site often and increases your chances of appearing in search results. (source: Shashi Bellamkonda)
- CONSISTENCY: Even if you’re just blogging a couple times a week, it’s going to help you build a community, give you valuable information to share with your audience, and help you in search. (source: Lisa Barone)
- TESTIMONIALS: Real, honest to God testimonials from happy customers are a must. When potential customers see that others have used your services and products and been happy, they are more likely to buy from you . Ask your friends and family to test your products or services first and gather early testimonials and then as you get more people, you can replace these some from customers you don’t know. (source: Find My Blog Way)
- COLOR: If the website’s goal is to sell something, choose colors that will inspire an emotion in your visitors. (source: CrazyEgg)
- SPEED: Nothing frustrates savvy online users more than a slow website (pop-ups are certainly up there on the list too!). Increasing the speed of your website will help users download content faster, view photos with ease, watch videos quickly, and of course, buy products. (source: Gerald Weber)
- METADATA: Search engines scan text to determine relevancy. If your fancy website is heavy on audio, video, or pictures, it may be visually appealing, but search engines won’t recognize the content. Make sure to include text in the form of titles, captions or transcripts with any of this type of content. (source: Flowtown)
- SOCIAL: Be sure to place social sharing buttons on your blog posts. Also, make sure sharing options are available for all platforms. Unless your readers want to take the time to copy and paste your heading and url, you are going to miss out on your content being shared somewhere. (source: Inbound Marketing University)
Bonus: MOBILE. Optimize your site for mobile. It’s not a matter of whether people are reaching your site through their phone (they are), but whether or not they are bouncing immediately upon reaching your site. Putting in the time and effort to make sure your site looks good on a smartphone will soon be the equivalent to having a website at all. If you look bad on mobile, you look bad, period.
What are some of the features you feel are an absolute must for having a successful small business website?
Photo sources: propublishingservices.com