At this point, it’s obvious that every small business needs a website.
People make so many of their shopping decisions online, that having a web presence is a business requirement nowadays.
But simply having a website isn’t enough — you need to build a small business website that’s designed well enough to do its job.
No matter what products or services your small business offers, your website must include a few key things to be functional and beneficial to you.
Here are five things all successful websites must have:
1. Clear positioning
Your website can’t just say what you do; it has to tell people what makes you different. Carefully consider what makes your business unique. Why should a customer consider you instead of the other similar options available?
Developing strong positioning requires identifying which customers you want to reach and what they care about.
For example, if you run a pest control business in a city where a lot of residents care about environmentalism, then you might position yourself as the city’s most green pest control company that only uses the safest ingredients (but only if true, of course).
If you run an Italian restaurant that puts a lot of care into making recipes just like your family made them in the old country, your positioning could be that you the serve the most authentic Italian food in the city.
Figuring out your brand positioning is an important first step because it will shape a lot of the rest of your website. Your web copy and supporting copy will grow out of the positioning you decide on.
2. On-page SEO
What’s the first thing you do when you’re trying to decide where to go buy new shoes or see what movies are playing in town?
For most people, you start with a Google search. People make over 3.5 billion searches on Google every day. Some of those searches are people looking for what you sell.
That’s why small businesses have to care about SEO. You want people to be able to find your website when they go looking on Google.
Small business SEO starts with keyword research to see what words people use when they search for what you sell.
Use what you learn to choose a keyword to optimize each page on your website for, then look for opportunities to use that keyword naturally in every field that matters for SEO:
- The title tag
- The page URL
- The page headings
- The webpage copy
- The meta description
- The image alt tags
If you have a WordPress website, you can find a number of SEO plugins that will save you the trouble of learning HTML in order to update each of these fields.
Pro tip: Don’t force keywords onto the page where they don’t make sense. It’s important that you use them naturally. Keyword stuffing won’t help you much with SEO or visitors and could put you at risk of a Google penalty.
3. A clear goal for every page
Every small business website should have clear goals — not just for the website as a whole, but for every page on it.
As you’re working on the design and copy for each individual page, consider what action you want people to take while there.
Possible actions include:
- Signing up for your email list
- Adding a product to their shopping cart
- Contacting your business
- Following your business on social media
Your page goals should be very clear and easy to act on. Then, set up conversion tracking in Google Analytics to measure how successfully your web pages meet their goal.
4. Customer testimonials
You can talk about how great your business is all day long, but it will never mean as much to your potential customers coming from you as it does hearing it from another customer.
Customer testimonials let your prospects know they don’t just have to take your word for it — other people who have chosen your business are happy they did.
Pro tip: Businesses sometimes put all the testimonials on one page, which people won’t always click through to. Instead, use a plugin like Testimonial Rotator to show the testimonials on every page of your website so all your visitors have the chance to see them.
5. A mobile-friendly version
Almost a third of all online shopping is done on a mobile device. If your website isn’t mobile-responsive, you’re driving away a huge audience of potential customers.
Every website now needs to be intuitive and easy to use on mobile. If you’ve been dragging your feet on updating your small business website so that it’s mobile-optimized, then 2017 is the year to get moving on that.
Many of your customers are browsing and searching on their phones; you need to be where they are.
Create a website you love as much as your small business.
Life as a small business owner is busy and often overwhelming. It can be easy to get a website for your business out in a rush without thinking through everything it needs to truly do the job you need it to.
If your website is missing any of these five things, it’s time to sit down and correct that.