It is pretty much a given now that all businesses should have a website, whether they are international corporates, or one-man operations. And to be fair, most do. BUT DOES YOUR WEBSITE WORK FOR YOU?
During my extensive career in web design, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. But all too often, they are built more as an ego-site, or as a business card that gets thrown into a drawer, than as a useful client/sales generating tool.
After all, that’s the whole point, isn’t it? A website is generally built to generate leads that turn into business.
So where are businesses going wrong, and what can you do to change that? If you have a website already, see how many of these critical errors you are making, and if you don’t have a website for your business:
a) you need one, and;
b) make sure you have these bases covered!
Let’s take it from the top!
Have you heard of then expression “above the fold”?
In print terms it is what is seen on the front page of newspaper that is folded in half – the branding, the headline and most likely an eye-catching photograph.
In website terms, it is what you can see as soon as you visit a site, without having to scroll down. Given that the average visitor will only give a website 3 seconds to impress them, it is essential that you grab their attention straight away with the content that is “above the fold”.
- The logo – your brand is important. And it should be the first thing they see!
- Navigation – should be clear to the visitor how they can find the exact information they require
- Headline – just as in the print world, a headline is super-important on a website. It should be a clear message conveying what the website is about and it should encourage the visitor to look deeper into the site.
- CALL TO ACTION – strangely, this is probably the most overlooked aspect of websites for SMEs that I have encountered! You visit the page, love the content, want to contact the company to either make a purchase, or hire them… And you can’t find their contact details! One of the largest complaints about websites is how difficult it can be to find contact details!
OK, let’s now assume that you have everything in place above the the fold. What else do you need to know?
IS YOUR SITE MOBILE-READY?
This is HUGE. With 80% of local website traffic coming from mobile devices, is your website viewable on mobiles and tablets? f course it is, you might say. But is it readable. How often do you visit a website on your smart-phone and have to squeeze and zoom to read what’s on there? If that’s your site, guess what. People will not give it the time of day. Oh, and they probably wont find it in thne first place anyway. As of April 21, 2015, Google began rolling out their “Mice” update. Effectively, any site that wasn’t ready for mobile would NOT show in the search results performed on mobile devices. So these sites could be missing out on thousands of visitors, and potential business.
There are two options really. Firstly, you could have a separate site for mobile devices that would automatically be displayed when viewed on mobiles. A little coding on the site recognises the device being used to view the site and it automatically delivers the correct version of the website. This has its limitations since it would generally mean that you need to maintain 2 websites. You desktop site and thne mobile site.
The other option is to make your website mobile-responsive. This basically means that the site is in a readable format, and will resize and rearrange according to the device used.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN VISITORS LEAVE YOUR WEBSITE?
It sounds a bit daft, but have you considered what happens to visitors once they leave your website? The answer is pretty simple really. Normally they will forget everything they know about your business, never come back, and more than likely take their business somewhere else. It sounds terrible, but that is the harsh reality!
So what can you do to make sure that doesn’t happen?
COLLECT THEIR DETAILS!
It’s well known in sales that you generally need 7 “touches” before you convert a cold prospect into a buyer. And it’s the same with buying online. So, collect contact details of as many visitors as possible and keep in touch with them. in this day and age, it is simple to offer a free gift, or bit of advice, or quote in return for an email address. It is also simple to set up a sequence of emails to send the visitor over a period of a few days or weeks. And that keep you at the forefront of their mind and encourages them to return to your website and/or hire you!
DOES ANYONE ACTUALLY VISIT YOUR WEBSITE, AND HOW DO YOU MEASURE THE TRAFFIC?
OK, so you’ve got the perfect website. It looks lovely on all devices, it has calls to action, you have a mechanism in place to collect email addresses and phone numbers, the navigation is clear. In fact it’s the perfect looking website!
Now all you need is for someone to stumble across it and take a look!
TRAFFIC is essential for the survival of any website. It’s the lifeblood, and it saddens me when I see small businesses struggle to pay for a magnificent website, only to let it sit un-visited, unloved and unwanted.
Search Engine Optimisation is a whole new subject, and there are thousands of considerations, but I’ll narrow it all down into a few basics that should help.
A 1 MINUTE GUIDE TO SEO
- Meta Data – this is the under-the-bonnet code that helps visitors and the search engines understand what the page is about. Include the “Title” and “Description” meta tags and make them unique to each page
- Sitemaps – The main search engines EXPECT to see a site map – it doesn’t have to be visible to the viewer, but it should to the search “bots”
- Page headlines – should include the keywords you want to be found for. It may also help to include a location if you trade locally.
- Keywords – should appear in your content, throughout the page, but certainly in the opening paragraph
- Links – links in to your website and links from your website all couunt in the eyes of the search engines.
- Images – use “Alt” tags to describe the image and include keywords.
- Schema – to increase visibility and the chance of being indexed, in particular by Google, you should try to use the correct schema for various aspects of the website and “rich-snippets” for data such as Company Name, Industry, Address and other contact details. And While I’m on the subject of addresses, you should keep your company name and address 100% consistent across your own website AND directory and social media websites to increase its visibility.
Now you are getting traffic, how do you measure it?
Google Analytics is always the answer! Yes, you can get traffic details or hit counts with on-site tools, but Google Analytics goes WAY beyond what you can measure with these other tools. Not only ca n you find out how much traffic you are getting, but you can find out HOW they found you. WHAT THEY WANT and were searching for. How they maneuver around your website. What pages they enter your site by, and where they leave. All this is essential information if you are going to develop your site further. In my opinion, Google Analytics is THE essential tool to help you learn about your audience!
A few other things to consider…
At the very least, your local business should have company pages on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google my Business. And all of the name, address and contact field should be filled in EXACTLY how they appear on your website.
You might also consider advertising your website on local business directories – when I say local, they may be national, even international, directories, but they will be arranges so that visitors can search locally. For example yell.com, yelp.com, foursquare.com, thompsonlocal.com etc. There may well be genuinely local directories and directories specific to your industry.
Many of these local directories will also allow visitor and clients to leave reviews about your business. Many people are scared by this, as they only believe people leave reviews when things go wrong. This is not the case and the benefits far outweigh the cons. And let’s face it, if you see a load of great reviews, and one bad one, you’re OK with it IF you can see that the business or business owner has done something to rectify the issue. These sites give you a platform to show that you care!
It’s been a bit of a whistle-stop tour, but I hope that you have found a few little nuggets within this article that will help you build or change, and BENEFIT from your business website. And, of course, I am always happy to help, be it with your website, search optimisation or making the best use of social media for your business.
Wide Blue Consulting
E: [email protected]
T: +44 (0)1424 531150