If you’re a busy owner who considers themselves in any way savvy about the ways of the world, then let’s be realistic: You don’t need to be told that you need a website for your business. We live in a digital world these days, and if you don’t have a website, then you’re making life extremely hard for yourself when it comes to promoting your company. The simple truth is that without a solid online presence, it’s almost impossible to make your business successful these days.
A business website is never just a case of I need one, so I’ll get one, and then I can forget about it. To solidify the benefits of your site, it needs to be a constant source of work. You need to stay on top of all the developments and innovations, keep abreast of social media changes, and be ready to implement solutions to any problems you or your customers encounter. A business website isn’t a thing you can have and forget about; it’s a living, breathing (well sort of) entity that needs constant care and nourishment.
Are you reading this and thinking about all the things you’ve been meaning to do with your business website… but never quite found the time for? You’re not alone. Let’s run through the 8 Golden Rules of a business website; how many have you achieved, and where do you potentially need some work?
- Clear Call-To-Action
One of the most surprising things that businesses leave off their website is a call to action. A call to action is an encouragement for the customer (or the potential customer) to do something; usually to contact the business, or to make an order. Many business websites have a tendency to be more like basic portfolios, which are a nice showcase, but don’t create a sense of “and here’s what to do next”. Customers need to be walked through the website, learn the information you want to share, and then encouraged to call/email/meet with you.
- Responsive Theme
Once upon a time, websites were accessed from large computer screens. That meant that you could largely do as you pleased regarding design because navigation could be simple. However, in 2017, more and more people will first encounter your business via a cellphone.
A responsive website theme means that your site will be able to detect when someone logs on using a cellphone. Rather than being shown the standard desktop version of the site, they are shown a slimmed-down, quicker loading version that is more suited to mobile viewing. If your site doesn’t have this, then there’s a good chance you’re losing customers before they have even read your site. No one likes having to zoom and navigate around a non-responsive website, so if your site still has the same non-responsive theme it had five years ago, it’s time for a change.
- Readable Text
The above text is nice, isn’t it? Pretty; decorative — but it’s a prime example of the kind of fonts you should not have on your business website.
Admittedly, text is not as big an issue when it comes to modern websites as it used to be. Remember the dark old days, when amateur web designers would put together a page with a black background and neon lettering? Or when they use a pale yellow color on a white page? Shudder at the memory.
So while you might not have created a site with those problems, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your text is readable. With the advent of Google Fonts, more and more sites are now choosing to use non-conventional text — at the expense of their readers’ patience. Stick to the basics by using Arial or Verdana, and your potential customers will thank you for it.
- Good SEO Usage
How much do you know about SEO, really?
You know what it stands for. You also probably know that it’s pretty important for your site. But do you know the major differences? Do you know what would win a battle of long tail keywords vs. single word keywords? How about onsite vs offsite SEO? Could you really pick a winner?
The simple truth is that you’re not an SEO expert; nor are you meant to be — that quite literally is not your job. You’re a business owner; not an SEO guru with their finger on the pulse of the latest developments. While it’s understandable that SEO isn’t your strong point, that does mean you have to cover for your weakness. You have two options:
- Vastly increase your personal knowledge of SEO (which is cheap but time-consuming)
- Outsource your SEO needs (which is more expensive but arguably more effective)
It’s important you pick one of those two options; SEO is simply too important to the success of your website, and thus the success of your business, for you to ignore.
- As Short A Domain Name As Possible
There are multiple reasons why you need to try and keep your domain name short:
- No one remembers long domain names.
- You’re really going to struggle to get a long domain name onto a business card or leaflet.
- It really can’t be overstated: People don’t remember long domain names. If you meet someone at a networking event and tell them to check your site, they’ll remember: www.mybusinesswebsite.com — they’re not going to remember www.mybusinesswebsitewhichoffersavarietyofservices.com
Of course, if you currently have a long domain name, then you might think it would be complicated to go switching it now. That couldn’t be further from the truth; simply buy a new domain name and redirect it to your existing site. This simplifies life for the customer and ensures you don’t have to worry about moving your site to another server.
- Social Media Links
Nowadays, customers like to get a better idea of a company before they order from them (or hire them, if you’re a service-based business). One of the simplest ways of achieving this is by keeping an active social media presence. This can be used to show your business is thriving, that you have lots of news and plenty of engagement with your customers. All of these are very good things for the nervous consumers of the modern age.
However, so many business websites don’t include links to their social media pages on their site. A little button in the footer doesn’t really count, either; potential customers don’t want to have to go hunting for the links, they should be apparent on every page. There are plugins you can use to do this, or just ensure you finish every page with a simple toolbar of all your social media links.
It’s also worth adding social media share buttons. That way, if a customer likes what they see, they can share the link with friends or family they think might share an interest. Anything that allows you to potentially win more customers should be embraced wholeheartedly.
- A Ratings System (For Ecommerce Sites) Or Testimonials
Customers don’t want to exist in a void. If you don’t include either a ratings system for individual products for an ecommerce source, or testimonials if you’re a service-based business, then you’re existing in the void. It’s effectively asking customers who don’t know your business, have no experience of how you work, to just… trust you.
It’d be nice if that were possible, but let’s be realistic: It’s not. Anyone can claim to be anything online; the most naive of businesspeople can claim to have been in business for 20 years. Without anyone to substantiate those claims, they are largely meaningless — so use a review system or testimonials. It provides that extra bit of reassurance to your potential customers. The more reassured your potential customers are, the more they are going to trust to get in touch and potentially buy from or hire you.
- Plenty Of Contact Information
Finally, it’s essential that your site is packed to the brim with contact information. You need to ensure you include all of the following on your site, preferably in as many places as possible:
- Contact telephone numbers, both a landline and a mobile phone is preferable
- An email address or contact form. Ideally, include both; most of us have personal preferences about which one we would rather use.
- As mentioned, all of your social media details. At the very least, you should have active and maintained Twitter and Facebook accounts. Instagram and Pinterest are also important, but Facebook and Twitter are the main two you must include.
- Skype details, if you have them.
- A number you can receive texts on, preferably through WhatsApp.
This contact information is essential. It’s essential for customers who are buying a service and might want to make an order. It’s essential if you have an ecommerce site, in case customers have questions. Without this contact information in an easy-to-find place on your website, you could lose customers who don’t want to have to hunt for contact information. Put everything front and center, and let them come to you.
By following the above, your business website should be better than ever.