There are a LOT of small business websites out there that are built for entirely the wrong purpose. Is yours one of them?
92% of consumers will visit a business’ website for the first time for reasons other than making a purchase. I would say that 92% of small business websites are built for people ready to make a purchase. See the disconnect? Your website needs to be built for all those people who aren’t ready to make a purchase because they will get there if you set them on the right path.
Your website is the first step in the journey so make it one worth taking. The website is the hub for 99% of marketing for most companies today.
For that reason, a small business website has to start with strategy. It has to be built to attract and engage your ideal customer. Design has to be balanced with function and driven by strategy. To get there, you really should start with a strategy that defines your ideal client and your core difference that I’ve written about in another blog post.
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Small Business Website Must Haves
When a person first visits your website, all they know is that they have a problem they need to solve. They probably don’t know what it’s costing them, they’re certainly not sure your products or services are the solution. They want to know that you understand their problem.
The purpose of the promise headline, above the fold on your homepage, is to show the visitor that you understand the challenges they face. You need to make them a promise that will solve their problems. If you do a good job here, they’ll be encouraged to read your story.
Your website should tell a story that speaks to the customer. It shouldn’t be a story about you, the prospect should be the star. But your business will play a key role. You have to immediately let your website visitors see that you know what they’re struggling with and that you’re the right person to solve it.
3. Core offerings
You want to highlight your core products or services. Create boxes with about 100 words of content summarizing these elements. You’ll probably have full pages or sections on your site for each of these, but you need to have them on your homepage to introduce your customers to them and you’ll also get some additional SEO value.
If you serve more than one ideal customer type, try having a representation of each that leads to a clear path that you want each target market to take.
If you’re a local business, adding local content and resources to your homepage is key. Include Google Maps, your name, address, and phone number, and links to any relevant local content on the website.
6. Testimonials and Trust signals
Part of any customer’s journey is coming to trust you. Different people require different things for this. Trust signals can be logos of your customers, testimonials, logos of associations that you belong to, or your partners. Make sure you have some or all of these elements on your homepage.
7. SEO content
Your home page is your best opportunity to rank for your most important keywords that your potential customers are using. For that reason, you want to make sure you have enough content on your homepage to make Google think it’s useful, and that will keep people on your site longer. It’s also a great idea to update it regularly. You can achieve this by posting summaries of your blog or social feed on the homepage that shows recent activity. You should try to have about 1,000 words of content in total on your homepage.
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More and more companies are featuring video on their homepage, and there are good reasons for that. Video entertains and engages website visitors, keeping them on your site longer. There is evidence that it will improve your SEO. Video tends to be shared more than text and it can vastly increase your lead conversion when used correctly.
A call to action (CTA) is an image or text that invites a website visitor to take a specific action, like requesting a consultation, downloading some content, or joining a mailing list. CTAs provide the opportunity for visitors who are ready to take the next step to make that move. Because there are many different steps in the customer journey, it’s important to have multiple CTAs on a scrolling home page and throughout your website.
More and more website traffic is coming from mobile devices. It’s a given today that a website should be designed to be mobile-first instead of simply responsive to mobile. This means making sure content is readable, phone numbers are clickable, images should be mobile-friendly.
If you’ve ever visited a website and saw the “not secure” notice in your web browser next to the URL, you’re seeing a site that is not https (this is a higher level of encryption). The fact that Google is doing this is a clear signal that they want websites to migrate to this level of security and all websites should be making this move.
Check the speed of your website using a tool like GTmetrix. If your page load speed is higher than 4 or 5 seconds, you are very likely losing a lot of potential visitors who won’t wait for slower websites to load. A few of the likely suspects to slow down a website include a sub-par hosting service, large images, older WordPress themes, certain plugins, and no caching.