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Small Business Website Must Have Checklist
So you've started a business, and you're looking to launch your website, but you're not quite sure if you have all your bases covered. There are so many platforms, styles, designs and features to choose from when building a site; it is really up to you. All that freedom can be overwhelming especially if online isn't your set of expertise. Launching a website and getting it right sooner rather than later is critical or you'll fall behind or worse be non-existent on the web.
As a digital marketer, I've audited my fair share of websites and see the same mistakes made too often. So in the interest of my sanity and hoping I never have to repeat myself so I thought why not put together a checklist for small business owners to use as a guideline for building their website, so here we are. What are the most important elements a new website needs? Let's dive in and see.
1. Opt-In/subscription area
If you don’t already know or realise the importance of building your email list, then you need to get doing some research, sir or madam! The majority of your site visitors will be window shoppers, simply browsing around with no real sense of intent to purchase or contact you. The chances of them visiting again anytime soon are anyone's guess, so it's always a good idea to ask them for their contact details.
Your website should have multiple Calls to Action to subscribe. Don’t get crazy with it, two or three maximum on one page is great. You could have one in the footer, and if you have a two column site, you can have one in the right column. Remember its a suggested action so don’t bombard people with like 17 pop-up notifications to sign up for your list. Often this does do more harm than good.
2. The copy is written for your audience, not you
When adding the copy to your site, please make sure every bit of it is written with your target audience in mind. Whenever I visit a website, and it says something like we provide bespoke full turnkey solutions I'm like ok if you don't tell me exactly what you do in the next five words im out. While that copy might be great for your ego, it's not great for your customers.
All they want to know is what you do, how you do it, what experience do you have and how much it's going to cost them. If you're still not convinced let me put it this way how many people use the word bespoke in their Google searches? Not many I can assure you, keep your language simple and reach a broader audience with your content.
3. Visible call to action
Make sure all your call to actions' are as obvious as possible. When a user visits your site, it should be obvious what you want them to do. On some pages, it might be to signup for your email list while on others it might be to get me to buy your product or contact you. Also, make sure you're CTA's are consistent with font, size, colour and position on the page.
4. Say No to cheesy Stock Photos
No stock photo in the world can do justice to your website. Office lady shaking hands might be easy to find and purchase, but it makes your site stale and boring. I don’t care if you’re the most conservative, financial services industry consultant, you should be able to generate your images. Using photos especially being lazy and just using the most popular ones users tend to see online is likely to undermine your credibility and makes people wary of trusting you. Real, authentic photos – combined with excellent web copy of course – create a positive brand image, and will make people think you’re legit when they land on your site.
5. You should be blogging, yeah
How many times have you visited the blog/news section of a website, hoping to find some great tips, I know I have. Blogging is a great way to attract users interested in your product or services by providing authentic up to date information on topics in that particular field. A blog only works to bring in traffic and engage your readers if you’re going to use it, so if you're going to start, make sure you don't stop. There's nothing more off-putting than visiting a site and seeing the last the blog was updated in 2013.
6. Optimise for search engines
I'm not going to spend much time on this one. If you're not visible in search for relevant keywords, don't bother having a site at all. Why not shut it down because that hosting fee alone is money down the drain if you're not going to submit to serach engine best practices.
7. Don’t be mobile friendly, be mobile amazing
Being “mobile friendly” used to mean that a website was passable when viewed on a phone. Like maybe you couldn’t do everything on that website, but you could do some things, that was last year, and in mobile years it's like a century ago. Long story short, everybody’s on their phone nowadays, so you NEED to make your website FULLY functional for mobile users! Mobile friendly doesn't just mean iPhone users on 4G networks; it means everyone even the guy still rocking blackberry on EDGE connection, yes him too.
8. Have a comprehensive about page
Make sure your About page tells readers the following:
- Who you are
- Team members
- Partners or clients
- Your expertise
- What you do
- Fun facts
- Location and contact details
PS! Use some images the office, the factory, you, the staff, something that shows who you are in reality and dispells the myth that you some chance taker from gumtree trying his luck. No, you're a legitimate business.
9. Social prompts, validation & social accounts
Humans are social creatures, and it has hugely influenced the way we use the internet with social media sites being big traffic generators for the little guy. Make sure you cover these three essential social media elements
It's strange that so many sites ignore this one when it's so important. Internet users are lazy and want everything done for them, so make it easier for them to share your content with their social media feeds by adding social media sharing buttons to pages.
Adding to the previous point, you should make sure you activate share counters on your social sharing buttons. This will show visitors how many times your content was shared. Which is an excellent indicator of how popular your content is and gives users that fuzzy feeling you get when you're part of a collective, it also encourages more shares.
Make sure you create social profiles and link them on your site so users who visit your site can find you on social media and follow your relevant pages
10. A Portfolio, Testimonial, Past work
Showcase your talent, success stories and body of work. If you need me to go into more detail on this one, then you should not have a website.
Get your site up to par
Using this checklist, you will be able to create a website that can attract traffic, cater to a number of user and search behaviour trends, build up a client database and finally convert your visitors into either leads or sales. Once you have a baseline, you can then start optimising based on your analytics as well as including more marketing channels. Adding channels such as email, paid search and paid social media to your marketing mix will ensure your site is seen by a wider audience.
If you want to know more about marketing attribution don’t be shy we’re happy to assist. Simply contact us