So you’ve started a small business and you need a great website to turn your dreams into reality. But you don’t want to be just one more player in the marketplace. You want to stand out from your competition and begin to hit your goals from day one.
Your website is the shop window to you and your business. So just how do you go about making it pop? Here are five things your small business website needs.
The copy on your website needs to be substantial, well-written and comprehensive. The content of your site will be read not only by potential customers but also by internet search engines and needs to clearly articulate what you offer. It should contain key words and terms related to your business but these mustn’t be ‘stuffed’ into the text such that it reads in an artificial way.
You may be able to think of sentences you’ve read on websites where the words seemed to be in a curious order, or where a similar phrase was repeated over and over. You need to avoid this so that the text on your site reads perfectly naturally. This makes better reading for your prospective clients but also for the increasingly intelligent bots which will crawl your site and choose where to position it on search engine results pages.
When writing the copy for your website, it’s good to imagine that you are talking directly to a potential customer. You’ll want to clearly convey that you know what you’re talking about but not in such a way that it is filled with jargon or false claims. In order to do this well you’ll need to think about your target market and the people you want to reach, in order that you can speak their language.
Vocabulary and phraseology which are most commonly used by the younger generations are less likely to strike a chord with an older demographic. Conversely the language spoken by the older demographic may not engage with younger people. You need to understand your audience in order to communicate with them effectively.
Website design trends change with time and it’s not always easy to maintain that state-of-the-art look. However, the use of strong images is imperative whatever the design of your site and however those images are presented.
Ideally, the images on your site should be a mix of photographs which display the subject material, people photos, and then any other appropriate images. In my case the subject material would be computers in various states of repair or disrepair. In your case, it will be whatever best illustrates the activity of your business.
The most striking photographs are often those of individuals and, in choosing what types of people to display you’ll also need to think about your target demographic. As you choose your people photographs, consider the emotions you want their faces to convey and how this engages with the overall message you want to communicate in each section of your website.
The Personal Touch
Have you ever found yourself seeking out a service, comparing different websites, and wanting to know more about the company or the individual who would potentially provide this service for you? Many websites say very little about the people who actually make up the business. However, the personal touch can be a game changer, especially if the client is seeking a service which involves someone coming into their home.
You should include biographical snapshots of your personnel, as these create a more personal connection with the client. Customer retention is also key to your growth and the more personal the contact, the more likely you are to retain the customer into the future.
When I launched my own business and began looking at the websites of my competitors, I was amazed by how many of them claimed to be the best. I read quote after quote such as voted number 1 for computer repairs or the preferred onsite computer repair service or the top Sydney computer repair, and the list goes on.
It is important to convey that you can accomplish what the customer requires. However, self-congratulation, together with unfounded claims and promises, is not the way to go.
Much better is to let your customers speak for you and so it’s important to include client testimonials on your website. You can begin to gather these testimonials from previous clients by creating a survey for them to complete following completion of your first job for them.
It’s a good idea to have the words of previous customers prominently displayed on your home page, your landing pages, and on a dedicated testimonials page. Of course you can always be accused of creating false testimonials and the best way to counter this accusation is to use verbatim quotes from a variety of different clients, even if those quotes contain grammatical and spelling errors. I would however use testimonials which are free of such errors on your home page and landing pages.
Even better is to have your testimonials collated on an independent review site, which is above accusation. One disadvantage of doing it this way is that you may not want potential clients clicking through to an external site as they may get distracted there and not return to your site.
Clear Calls to Action
There’s no point in having a beautiful website with outstanding content if you don’t make it clear to the potential customer what you’d like them to do as a result of their visit to your site. This may seem obvious to you but it’s important to provide a clear pathway for the customer.
You should envisage how you foresee a would-be client navigating your site. Whether they remain on the landing page where they started, or navigate through different pages, they should be continually presented with calls to action. These can be in the form of clickable buttons with wording such as Call Now, Book Now or Find Out More.
Your contact details should also be clearly visible, particularly through whatever is your preferred means of contact. You can place your full contact details in the footer of your site and then use clickable buttons in various positions on the different pages with your telephone number or email address.
Hopefully this brief overview has helped you clarify some of the important elements you should incorporate into your small business website. An attractive, articulate website which speaks authentically to the prospective client, and makes clear what you’d like them to do, will give you the edge over your competitors.
Success with your endeavours!
This article appeared previously at businessbusinessbusiness.com.au and is reprinted with permission by the author.