I’ve recently been updating my website to add a new social media service page, fleshing out the FAQs page, and at long last, filling in some Resources for my clients and site visitors. Having had the content of these pages prepared in some partially complete form for many months, I came to the conclusion that it was better to provide the information on those pages in a slightly imperfect presentation (at least to me!) than not have the pages populated at all. I would advise you to consider the same for your website. (A little bit of something is better than zero percent of something!)
Having been more entrenched in my own site as well as my clients’ sites recently, I thought it was a good time to look at what’s most important for a small business owner to do for her website. After all, you’re probably hoping that once your site is up, you can forget about it. But, unfortunately, since the internet is 24/7/365, there’s always someone to take a look to see if your site looks like it has cobwebs all over it from neglect. Or does your site look constantly up-to-date, receiving new additions and edits throughout the year?
If you haven’t given your site much attention in the last several months (or are planning to build a new one), now might be a good time to give it a checkup to see what’s needed.
Since I regularly review everyone else’s checklists for great websites I see many are chock full of the same, tired suggestions: “Keep the design clean; use common navigation design and button names. Be sure to optimize! Blah, blah, blah!”
If I were in your shoes reading all of that, I’d click on to the next email in my inbox or blog story to review out of sheer boredom! That type of advice is for designers. It’s not particularly useful or attention-grabbing for the business owner. Great visual design and navigation should automatically be taken care of by a good designer.
Essentials from the Owner’s Point of View
The essentials I compiled are targeted to you, the business owner who’d like to hear prospects say, “Your site was really thorough and answered most of my questions, so I was impressed. That’s why I picked up the phone to you.” Then you know your site is doing the job you hoped for and expected from it!
Let’s take a look at these top seven areas (assuming you’ve already got a good designer working on it) that will make a positive difference in your business relating to your website.
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The number one problem with most small business websites is simply getting found. Now think about this: You probably paid decent money to have your site built, populated it with lots of useful content, great photos and copy. But just like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, if no one’s there to see all the hard work you put into your site, what good is it doing you?
Not one of the remaining six recommendations matters a hoot unless you give some attention to being found easily. And I’m not referring to someone finding you on the other side of the planet necessarily.
If you are a local business and a local resident does a Google search for “X Service in X town” and you’re not there, what’s the point? That was supposed to be your future customer, but she found someone else in search results.
I could use the dirty word phrase “search engine optimization,” but I don’t want to scare you. You already know you’re supposed to be doing that. Let’s talk about an even simpler element of your site: When you are being found, who is finding your site? How long do they stay on it? Where did she come from? And so on.
If you don’t know the answer to those questions, please ask your designer how you find that out. After all, you spent good money on that site. Don’t you want to know if you’re getting your money’s worth?
Just like radio and TV shows use Arbitron and Nielsen services to find out who’s tuning in to aid in determining the value of any given program, I hope you want to know the value of your show, “The Great Small Business in This Town!”
Any site without Google Analytics attached to it (I know, I used more jargon again), or another tool for measuring site performance, is darn near worthless if you’ve no way of knowing how well it’s doing for you!
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Buy Better Domain Names to Redirect Traffic
Cornucopiacreations.com is a bit of a mouthful, I know. (And it’s even more challenging for two-finger typists!) So I’ll use my own business name as an example of some things I should do to improve mysite’s performance.
- Buy the domain names near your own that are commonly mis-typed. In my case, folks frequently mis-type “Corncu-“ instead of “Cornuc-“ at the beginning of the URL. I should just buy the misspelled domain name and redirect the domain name that’s misspelled to my correct site name.
- Buy the domain names that include keywords related to your business. I should buy “CornucopiaCreationsMarketing.com” and others (“CornucopiaCreationsDesign.com”). These small steps can up your find-ability. (I didn’t want to say Search Engine Results and get more jargon-y!) In my neck of the woods, lots of wineries have variations on their formal names: XYZ Winery, XYZ Vineyards, XYZ Wines, etc. Unfortunately, most of the wineries fail to buy all the variables on their domain names. And the reason it’s important to do so is for good customer service. Why? Because as soon as I type XYZWines.com and nothing comes up in my results, I get pissed. So I’m already mad at the winery for not doing something super-simple to improve customer experience. Domains cost less than $10 a year (and much less if you buy in bulk or for longer terms). It’s a set-it-and-forget-it task for your webmaster to redirect all the wrong-name domains to land on your home page (or another landing page).
- Buy the domain names available that depict your product or service. For myself that would be names like marketinginnapa.com or napagraphicdesign.com or greatgraphicdesigninnapa.com. (Greatgraphicdesign.com is already taken!) All you have to do is redirect the results of that URL to your website’s home page so that when someone types in GreatGraphicDesigninNapa.com, they land on CornucopiaCreations.com.
If you’re not sure what keyword phrases folks may be using to find your website, start at Google’s Keyword Tool Box. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are using Google’s AdWords. Learn what words in your prospects’ minds trigger their searches for you (or your competitors). Figure out how they can see you first (or second!) when they are searching for you!
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Get a Home Page Makeover
If your home page hasn’t seen a bit of change in several months, you’re doing yourself a disservice. (My own makeover is still in the works, but I’ll let you know when it re-launches!) Let’s forget for a moment about the dreaded search engine robots overlooking your home page for its inactivity. Let’s focus on your existing clients instead.
If your home page isn’t regularly updated with a recent video, photo, blog post or other change, it’s unlikely your clients are moving further into your site to find what they’re looking for either. They may assume the entire site hasn’t been updated without looking further on other pages.
If nothing else, reword the copy on your home page. Spritz it up: new haircut, makeup—a “webi-cure” to freshen up your site.
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What’s New on Your About You?
If your About page reads like a traditional resume, it’s time for a makeover. If you received new training, attended a workshop or seminar or got certified in a new skill, please add this to your About page.
This page usually receives the second highest amount of traffic on a website – particularly if you’re a professional providing a service and not just an e-commerce site. Use your LinkedIn updates for guidance and ideas if you’re stuck.
Hire a professional writer to makeover your page content if you can’t bring yourself to write about yourself. This is the page visitors get to know you; it’s essential this page provide the ability to make friends through your About content. Use humor. Tell stories. Make it fun.
Include your contact information. You may win them over with your fabulous story. Make it easy for them to email or phone you directly from the end of your personal information on this page.
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Fill in the Empty Puzzle Pieces on Your Site
Like me, do you have a few web pages you always meant to get filled in but forgot or haven’t had time to take care of them? Here’s a short list of very different types of website content that could dramatically bolster your results:
- New Product or Service
- Case Studies
- Testimonials / Reviews
- FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
- Resources / Links
- How to…