Your Small Business Website:
How To Make It More Effective.
For some small businesses, their small business website is something to be done once, never to be touched again.
They might be lucky. The website might receive loads of visitors and convert those visitors into paying customers.
But it’s unlikely.
So what do you have to do to create a business website that does the business?
1) Get Your Website Properly Built (Or Learn How To Do It Yourself)
It’s not as difficult as it used to be (and much cheaper!) to get a really good website for your business.
There are plenty of free website builders that can be used to build a professional-looking business website.
But as these systems are proprietary, you don’t own the website. You’re not creating a valuable asset that increases the value of your business should you wish to sell it in the future.
If money’s tight, then the free website builders might be a temporary solution. In the long-term, you’ll need your own website.That leads us on to what you should actually use to build your website…
2) Use WordPress
WordPress.org is an open-source content management system.
‘So what?’ I hear you cry.
It provides a great framework on which to build a business website. WordPress.org powers about a quarter of the world’s websites and rising.
You can read more about WordPress by clicking here.
To understand why you should use WordPress to build your website, let me tell you about my young nephews.
The boys love the products of a certain Danish toy plastic brick manufacturer. They can’t get enough of the seemingly millions of kits.
They’ll build each kit so that it looks like the model on the box. But then after awhile they’ll start being creative and add to the kit with other parts.
Sometimes, they’ll even take their big plastic bin of bricks and build something completely out of their imaginations without plans.
WordPress is like the Danish plastic bricks. You can build a straightforward kit, add to it or even build something completely new. WordPress has a massive ‘eco-system’ around it, making it highly flexible for small businesses (and big businesses for that matter!).
WordPress can grow with your business.
3) Make Your Sure Your Business Website Is Mobile Friendly
Increasingly, people are accessing the internet on the go via smartphones or tablets.
If you watch one of those TV shows about storage bin auctions, you’ll often see the bidders value items by checking eBay on their smartphones. That’s just one example of many.
What’s clear is that people expect to be able to view websites just as easily on mobile devices as they do on their laptop and desktop computers.
If you’re not using WordPress, then you’ll need to pay a professional web developer to program a separate mobile version of your website.
If you’re running WordPress, you have another option. Instead of a separate mobile website, you can use a ‘responsive’ WordPress theme (themes are template web designs, read more about them by clicking here).
‘Responsive’ just means that the theme knows what type of device the user is viewing the website on and it changes to work properly on whatever the viewer’s device is. It’s the reason why if you look at many modern websites, they’re made up of a series of horizontal rows. They work much better for responsive design.
4) Don’t Ignore The Legal Stuff
As we’ve seen with the Dabbler, the legal stuff could come back to bite you in a big way.
They Limit Your Legal Liability To People Who Use Your Website
You’ll want to have disclaimers that deal with:
– limiting your liability if there are errors in your site’s content;
– limiting your liability if visitors post content on your website, e.g. comments;
– limiting your liability if your website causes a problem with a visitor’s computer, e.g. through malware that a hacker has installed on your website;
Then you’ll need a notice protecting your website’s copyright.
Then you’ll need ‘separability’ and ‘jurisdiction’ clauses.
Different countries also have different legal requirements.
In the European Union, you’ll need to have a ‘Cookie Law’ compliance notice (easy in WordPress as there is a range of free plugins that solve the problem), whilst in the US, you may need FTC and DMCA compliance notices for example.
Either get a lawyer to draft suitable documents for you or buy legal templates ( ‘precedents’ in legalspeak) and follow the instructions about how to modify them for your website.
5) Get A Well-Designed Logo
It doesn’t matter how big your business is, branding is important for projecting a professional image. A keypart of branding is to have a well-designed logo.
It’s easy to get a logo designed for you. Fiverr is a great site to go to if money’s tight. Each job or ‘gig’ costs $5, although sometimes you might need more than one gig. Look for the providers with the highest ratings for logo design. Order a gig each from the top five providers and you should get at least one great logo design that you can use.
Make sure that the gig provider signs copyright in the designs over to you.
Another option is https://www.20dollarbanners.com/ where you can get a logo designed for as little as $20, as the name suggests.
If you’ve got a bit more cash, 99designs.com is a great place for graphics like logos. It runs a deign contest for you. You get designers competing with their designs to win the contest.
6) Don’t Go Crazy With Colours And Fonts!
Many modern websites are largely white for good reason. They look clean and are easy to read on a variety of different devices. Colour is often used as a highlight.
Here are some great articles that can help you choose the right colours for your website:
Unless your business sells tea, coffee or wooden products, avoid BROWN! It rarely looks good.
There’s much more to the choice of writing font than you might think.
The content on your site needs to be easy to read on screens of all sizes. It also needs to be read by the text readers that many visually-impaired people use to read online material.
Sans Serif fonts like Arial and Verdana work really well on the internet. You can’t go wrong with them. I’m using Verdana for this article.
Be careful – some fonts need a licensing fee to use them.
There’s one font that many small businesses use on their websites for the main text…
It’s called Comic Sans.
Perhaps they think it looks artistic.
Don’t use it on a business website.
7) Good Copywriting Is Vital
The time and money that you spend developing your small business website and getting traffic to it is complete waste of time
…the website turns visitors into leads or customers for your small business.
That’s where copywriting comes in. So many small business websites completely ignore it.
To show you why good copywriting is so important, consider this offline example…
You need a new computer system for your business. So you ask two companies for quotations.
Company A sends Jack,its salesman. When Jack comes to see you, he looks at your present system. Within minutes, he’s telling you that you need the WhizzBang computer system and spouting a load of technical specifications that you don’t understand. You’re not impressed.
A bit later, Jill, Company B’s sales representative arrives. She too looks at your present system. But unlike Jack, she spends a considerable amount of time asking detailed questions about what your business does and what you use the present system for.
After asking her questions, Jill recommends the more expensive HyperBang system. She goes through your company’s activities one by one and explains in detail how the HyperBang system would best suit your needs. She also explains that the HyperBang will be cheaper in the long run as it won’t need as much upgrading as the WhizzBang.
Who are you going to buy your computer system from? Jill, of course.
Your website is like a sales rep for you. Its whole purpose is to generate more business for you. But look at most small business websites.
They’re boring! They’re all about the business itself, not how the business is going to solve a potential customer’s problem, want or desire that they’ve come to your website to solve or satisfy.
That’s the importance of good copywriting. It explains how your business can help the visitor and makes them want to take action.
This article is a bit tongue in cheek, but it’s a great read:
8) Make Sure Your Website Loads Quickly
Google takes into account how quickly a website loads when ranking it. Not just Google. If a website loads slowly visitors won’t wait and click away.
The easiest way to increase load speed is to have fast hosting. But that can be expensive. So what else can you do?
If your website is built on WordPress, then there are some great plugins to speed up your website.
Let’s have a look at what they do:
Wikipedia describes caching as:
WP SuperCache is a free caching plugin from the WordPress plugin repository. It’s easy to set up.
W3 TotalCache is also free, but is recommended for more advanced users as the wrong settings can cause problems with your website.
WP Rocket is a paid plugin, but has had some great reviews. It optimizes more of the code in your website. Free plugins for some of extra these functions are available, for example, for gzip compression and minification (don’t worry about the tech terms!). It’s easier to have them all in one plugin.
Optimizing Your Images
Both visitors and search engines like to see images on websites. But the file sizes for images can be very large, slowing your website down. Often an image can be very large and the website shrinks it to fit.
It’s easy to fix.
Go to image resizing software, like the online tool at https://compressor.io/ and size the image to the size you actually need. Compressor.io will also compress the images.
Then install the free EWWW Optimizer plugin from the WP Plugin Repository and upload your image to the Image Library. Run EWWW Optimizer and it will compress all the images in the site. Many images are hidden. Sometimes themes carry images that you don’t see until you trigger a particular option.
If you’re not using WordPress, ask your web developer.
Content Delivery Network (‘CDN’)
Another thing you can do on any website to increase its speed is to use a Content Delivery Network (’CDN’).
Depending on how near your server is to the visitor’s location will usually depend on how quickly a website loads at that location. As you might imagine, the further the distance, the slower the load speed.
CDN’s keep a copy of your website at servers at different locations throughout the world. It serves up the copy nearest to the visitor’s location which should make load speed quicker.
Cloudflare has both free and paid plans. If your hosting has CPanel, then a couple of clicks and Cloudflare is working on your site.
For paid CDN’s, MaxCDN is another good option.
9) Keep Adding Unique, Quality Content To Your Small Business Website
In order to keep both people and search engines coming back to your website, you need one thing:
Optimise your content and the search engines will keep visiting your website.
Put great content on your website and more people will read it and keep coming back for more.
Content is the life blood of your business website. Having a blog on your site with regular additions of quality is vital to your website’s search engine rankings.
10) Have Analytics On Your Site
One of the great advantages of online marketing over offline marketing is the amount of data that you can collect. Data is vital to see how effective your website is.
If you connect your site to Google Analytics, it’s amazing the amount of data this service collects about your website. Not only can you see how many visitors you’ve had to your site, but how long they spent on it. You can also see which posts and pages are most popular.
Ever wondered where people are viewing your website from?
Google Analytics will give you search location information as well.
As the saying goes, ‘knowledge is power’.
With the detailed data from Google Analytics, you can see what’s working and what’s not and adjust your marketing strategies accordingly.
You now know what your competitors probably don’t. Go forth and produce an amazing small business website!!!