Building a Small Business Website
- Your business needs a website because it gives you credibility.
- A business website provides a way for your customers to access information about your business 24/7.
- Determine the type of website you need: brochure, portfolio, or ecommerce.
- Make sure you have a memorable domain name, and a simple navigation: about, contact, and additional pages for content specific to your industry.
- Have a specific call-to-action, and make it easy to find.
Having a website is critical to any small business’s success. First off, it gives you credibility. There’s no bigger red flag for consumers than a business without an online presence. Imagine a restaurant you couldn’t find on Yelp.
A website also creates a stronger connection between you and and your customers. It gives you a central space for communicating with them, and allows you to provide some customer service components, such as a support desk, FAQs, and contact information. You can keep customers informed.
Customers (and potential customers) have heightened expectations when it comes to customer service. Nowadays, they expect to be able to easily talk to someone to ask a question. As a personal example, I recently was on a quest to find a good repair shop in my neighborhood in San Francisco. I found one nearby that had great reviews, so I tried calling. 5 minutes later, the phone was still ringing. Another 10 minutes later, the ringing continued. I searched online for an email, or an alternative phone number, but nothing. Needless to say, I ended up going with another repair shop.
As a small business owner, your goal is to figure out how to make yourself accessible with the limited resources you have. At BusinessBlocks, we use a helpful tool called Intercom. It allows visitors to your website to start a chat box with your business, which then gets sent to designated members of your team. You can leave a note that lets people know how often it typically takes for the team to respond. It’s a really easy-to-use tool!
But before we continue discussing helpful tools for your website, let’s start with the basics: what makes an effective website?
First off, a website’s effectiveness should be defined by your website’s goal. Do you want to showcase your work? Do you want to generate new leads? Do you want to increase sales? Whatever your goal, you need to make sure you align your message and call to action to that goal. Effective goal setting requires time spent understanding your customer, which we cover in this blog post here.
After you have determined the type of site you need, you should focus on developing a sitemap that include the basics. A sitemap is a list of pages of a website accessible to users. Think of it as the blueprint for your website.
First, you need a memorable domain name. If you need help creating a strong domain name, try brainstorming 5 keywords that are related to your business and start with variations of those words as possible domain names. Try to make it unique or memorable. And lastly, make it easy to type and avoid hyphens if possible.
Next, let’s talk about the navigation for your website–this is how people will find specific information on your page. The “About” section is a another important component of your website, but is often undervalued by many businesses. According to AIS media, it’s one of the first 3 pages a consumer visits on a webpage. This page provides credibility to your brand, and you can also use it to show the human side of your business by sharing team photos and bios.
Contact information. You can include this in your About section, or on its own page, but just make sure it’s easily accessible. Also, think about how your audience prefers to communicate, and make that channel available to them if possible. If you provide a phone number, we recommend that you invest in an automated phone service system that’ll more efficiently direct caller to the appropriate people and information.
Make sure to also include an address on your website. Even if you don’t have a brick and mortar, it helps to attach a geographic location to your business.
And finally, make sure you have a specific call to action. The call to action is the main action that you want your customers to complete when they are on your website. If you are selling a product online, then it’s simple, you need to make it as easy as possible for a customer to purchase one of your products. It should be very visible on the home page, and be called out with a unique color, text or size. If you’re a restaurant, maybe you want to direct people to make a reservation? And if you’re selling a service, maybe you want people to sign up for a demo or meeting?
After you have the basics down, you can focus on some more advanced website components, such as tags and keywords. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of increasing the visibility of a website in a search engine’s results page.
One factor that affects your SEO are keywords and tags in your website. The goal is to take advantage of all the opportunities you have to incorporate keywords on your website. You can include these keywords in your url, the navigation text of your website, in the body of your website content, or by embedding them as tags in images or metadata. Since this is an advanced topic, we have provided some support materials at the end of this lesson. And as always, you can reach out to your Business Coach to get a better understanding of tags and keywords for your website.