“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” might be a saying that applies to many a small business website, at least according to business owners about their own site.
While that might be the case, times do change. Customers come and go, markets evolve, and so do your business needs in response to all these developments.
Our team has worked with enough websites to come to the conclusion that there are still a lot of businesses and brands out there that need a brand–new website, or at least some practical tweaks and adjustments to better compete suit their ever-discriminating target audiences. And here’s why:
- The market is now mobile. An intent to buy begins with an online search on a mobile device, and 82% of smartphone shoppers conduct ‘near me’ searches when they’re looking for something.
- Greater emphasis on search, and thus, being found online. SEO is still important in 2019, allowing you long-term, sustainable, online visibility for when your market is looking specifically for your products and services online
- A greater need to establish expertise, authority, and trust within your chosen space. It’s the best way to differentiate yourself from other players in your field as a legitimate business with years of experience and a solid track record in your community.
- Marketing evolves constantly. With new advances in technology and marketing best practices, business owners are constantly looking for ways to connect with their target audiences as efficiently, effectively, and more meaningfully as ever.
With that in mind, there are a good number of specific, actionable items you can do to make your website so much better today. Here are 11 tips on how to improve your business website right now:
Move to a self-hosted WordPress site
We get it: your site on Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Blogspot, or even WordPress.com works just fine. But soon enough you’ll discover that as your business grows and you need to add more functions or your site or upgrade your existing plan, you’ll find that it can get increasingly expensive.
Switching to a self-hosted WordPress site allows you to have all the flexibility you need from your site, add whatever extra functionalities you need via themes and plugins, without the crazy costs.
In fact, WordPress powers one-third (34%) of all the websites in the world, and for good reason. WordPress simply gives you a lot more benefits than any content management system currently around.
What do you need to get started with a self-hosted WordPress website today?
- Your own domain. A .com is still the best if you can get one. You’ll find that there are dozens of online services that will allow you to purchase domains for about $10 apiece.
- Your own hosting account. You can get a year’s worth of hosting for about $100 a year, and probably less if you sign up for a contract that lets you stay with a provider for say, 3 or 5 years.
- Installing WordPress on your new domain is free. In fact many hosting providers have easy installation guides or processes available for new site owners.
And that’s it– that’s really all you need to get a new site up and running on your own domain, which you fully control and have access to.
Get your branding on point
One way to make your business website really stand out is to make sure you’ve got branding efforts done right.
Remember: your brand is the image and voice of your business, and your branding conveys what you’re all about to your target audience. Specifically, we’re talking about:
- Your company’s brand colors and fonts used. You’ll want to work within the design elements you’ve decided for yourself for a consistent and coherent look.
- Your company logo. Make sure your logo is of high resolution and that it looks great on your website.
- Your choice of photos and visuals. Start building up your own image bank of original photos specifically shot for your brand and other online channels.
Here’s a tip: have a folder where you have all your branding assets compiled: various high-res versions of your logo, brand guides, color palettes, and even documents with your mission, vision, core values, and more.
Make sure your site loads fast enough
Your site doesn’t have to be the fastest. It just has to load fast enough.
So how fast should your website load? Ideally, your site should take about 2 to 5 seconds to load. However, studies show that each second beyond 2 seconds results in greater bounce rates– the likelihood a visitor may abandon your site (and then move to another).
This is particularly the case as more users browse on their mobile phones. In fact, Google has mentioned that the majority of mobile sites can take up to 15 seconds to load.
People today simply have no patience to put up with poor user experience, and just bounce out of the site to look for another (which hopefully loads faster).
What bogs down a site in terms of loading speed? Way too many resources like heavy media files, or some poorly written code, or a bunch of unnecessary plugins.
According to Google, the most important impact of speed is this: slow sites have a negative impact on revenue, and the opposite is also true. Users constantly leaving your site because it’s slow means a lot of lost opportunities to gain (and nurture) new leads already coming to your site.
So take the effort to make sure your site is lean and mean– able to do what you need for it to do without it being hindered by unnecessary modules and functions that slow it down.
Have a clear call-to-action (CTA)
Especially on your home page, your site will most benefit with a clear, obvious, and prominent call-to-action that you want your guests to do.
- Do you want them to set a meeting or a consultation with your sales team?
- Do you want them to sign up for a free resource?
- Do you want them to try out a special limited-time promotion?
- Do you want them to download an application to try out?
- Do you want them to browse through a special section of your online store?
Whatever your business objectives are, make sure you have a clear purpose in mind when you have new leads coming in, so you can guide them through their buyers’ journey towards conversion and sales.
Everything else on your site (i.e. your blog, your resource sections, your testimonials) all help to accomplish this goal.
Make sure your site looks great on mobile
It’s not enough that your website is responsive– which is to say, your site automatically adjusts to whatever screen width any given user is on, allowing your site to properly scale or reconfigure whether someone is visiting your site from a mobile phone, a tablet, or a desktop computer.
Again, studies have shown that a site may be responsive, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s mobile-friendly.
So what makes your business website mobile-friendly? Keeping in mind what makes for a great user experience for your online visitors, your mobile site, for starters, should also have:
- Large enough buttons for people to click.
- Large enough fonts for easier reading.
- Easy-to-find navigation so people can easily find what they’re looking for on your site.
- Optimized photos and code. Make sure you’re photos are adequately compressed, as is your site’s CSS.
- Do away with Flash. Android and iOS phones don’t support Flash anyway, so you’re better off not using this outdated tech for your business website.
Secure your site
Trust has been even more important these days, particularly for websites, and even more so if your business relies on the collection of personal information (say, in the case of building an email list or generating leads) or payment details (in the case of ecommerce businesses).
Again, with user experience in mind, it is in your best interest to secure your website with an SSL certificate. This allows your domain to have the “https://” prefix rather than the usual “http://”.
You can do this through one of two ways:
- Your hosting account might already have SSL certificates available for domains you’ve purchased. Get in touch with customer support to see how you can enable this for your site.
- You can install one manually yourself. There are a number of free SSL certificate services online– go right ahead and pick one and install according to the instructions provided.
Make sure your contact details are clearly visible throughout your site
As a business, you want to give your visitors every opportunity to get in touch with you, especially when they’re just about ready to make a purchase. Which is why your business contact details must be prominently up on display throughout your site.
Keeping your phone number and address right at the top somewhere in your header area (where it’s easiest to find) accomplishes this quite nicely. But here are a few other things you can include for your customers-to-be:
- Have a ready Google Map that shows the location of your office or store. You may include this in the “Contact Us” page, along with directions on how to get there, along with your business hours.
- A link to your business email address.
- Links to your social media accounts.
One of the more important things to remember is to keep your brand name, your business address, and your business phone number all consistent throughout your site as well as your social media accounts.
We can dive into more Local SEO tips later, but for now, know that keeping your business name, address, and phone number (your NAP info) helps you rank better on search, and therefore helps potential leads to better find you.
Have a blog
One of the best ways to show your customers your extensive knowledge of a particular field is through a blog. This means you’ll be coming up with a good number of highly informative, market-relevant, and ultimately very useful articles.
Take this opportunity to talk about your products and services, educating your audience, and showcasing your expertise within your space.
Note that you don’t have to churn out content on a daily basis (that sort of content marketing and SEO is outdated now). You’re better off coming out with original and insightful content once a week, or even once a month for as long as it’s helpful and relevant to your readers.
Have an FAQ section
As you know your customers best, you should also be able to list down 10 to 20 of their most frequently asked questions and compile a few quick answers on a handy FAQ section.
This way, other potential customers can also find all the answers to their burning questions (and more) without having to jump to different sections of your website.
Answer each of the FAQs with a couple of sentences or even a paragraph, as long as you do so satisfactorily. If you need to give additional details, feel free to include a link to an appropriate blog post or resource page within your site.
Have a resource section
Another way to get proactive with your clients and potential leads is to come up with a resource section.
If your blog (see #7 above) is for showcasing your expertise, and your FAQ section (see #8 above) shows you know your audience, then your resource page is the next step as you’re tying everything together to provide more practical and even more helpful solutions your readers will appreciate.
So for instance, if you’re a pest control provider, you can create a guide on how to prevent common, seasonal household pests from infesting your home. If you’re into providing camper trailers, you can provide a list of all these great camping sites within your area. If you’re into commercial security solutions, you can come up with a handy checklist on how to make an office or shop more secure from thieves and vandals.
Your original resources can take the form of:
- Downloadable guides, checklists, or brochures
- Videos demonstrating your products and services, how-to’s, and/or reviews
- Industry reports, presentations, and whitepapers
- Infographics, charts, maps, and other pictographs
- Ebooks. In fact, many of your resources can already be made into ebooks.
- Webinars, which you can do live and then have it available for replay for other guests.
So as you can see, the information you have on your resource section can be easily sourced from the articles or posts you already have on your blog, only organized in a more practical, and very specific real-world solution to a very real problem.
Show off your awesome client reviews
More than showing off all these great testimonials you’ve been receiving from clients, reviews serve as social proof– that you’re a real business with real customers, having been in operation and a part of your community for quite some time now.
It is through this manner that testimonials, recommendations, and other citations from clients, industry partners, and other establishments within your space add to your overall credibility and online trust.
Besides, your clients would love to hear real stories about real people who have done business with you and used your products and services. You can’t beat that kind of authenticity, and your market really appreciates that.
Bonus: Next steps
With the nine tips we’ve provided above, you already have a lot you can do to help your business website make an even better impression among your readers and potential new leads.
There’s so much more you can do after you have all these nailed down. Depending on your own business goals (which is likely a variation of “let’s bring in more leads to convert them to sales”), here are some other things you can do next with your site:
- You can set up your blog so that it auto publishes new content to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and your other social media accounts. You can also set it up so visitors can easily share your content with their own friends and colleagues
- Come up with a more comprehensive content marketing strategy with your website at the center of it all and sharing all that great stuff on all your social media channels.
- Use even more video to tell your own unique story as a brand and a business owner and use all that great material to build awareness and interest in your brand, sharing it on YouTube, Facebook Live, and IGTV.
- Collect email info from your guests and tie it into a well-crafted email marketing and lead nurturing campaign
- Run a mix of online advertisements, online public relations, and search engine optimization campaigns to make your site even more visible on search.
- As you create new marketing campaigns for your business, create landing pages for each one so you can nurture separate sales funnels or segment your market for a more customized brand experience.
A Final Word
For your business website, you will be constantly be doing several improvements over time. Some will be one-time fixes, and others can be a series of additions and edits you will be doing on a regular basis.
Think of it as building a new home: there are some basics you want to make sure that is up and operational before opening your doors to welcome new guests, and then there are sections that you can just build as you go.
The beauty of a business website is that it can change as your brand objectives and requirements change as well.
More than just an online version of your brick-and-mortar office, your business website can continue to bring in new business for you through highly qualified leads and returning clientele.
Looking to jazz up your business website today? Talk to our team at LOJO Marketing so we can talk about your unique business objectives and requirements, and how we can best incorporate your needs towards a sexy new website for your brand and business. Give our design team a call at 916-303-4080 today!