Small business owners are quickly grasping the concept that their website is critical to the success of their company. Having a good online presence levels the playing field and allows you to put your best foot forward and showcase your expertise to attract quality client. However, websites should never be passive “online brochures” and in fact need fairly consistent attention in order to be effective. It’s important to understand what every small business owner should know about their site in order for your web presence to be successful.

A bad website is worse than no website at all

Since small business owners wear many hats, there are times when they can’t give their full attention to every aspect of their company. Oftentimes, that includes their website. That’s a big mistake since the website can play such a crucial role in lead generation and customer acquisition. There are a few key components that every website should have, according to Entrepreneur:

  1. A clear statement of who you are – have you ever visited a website and still not completely understood who the company is or what they do?  That’s a problem, since the average searcher has a very limited attention span. Be sure you clearly state your company name and summarize your products or services right on the homepage.
  2. Have a straightforward URL – it should be simple for a user to type it into a Web browser or an e-mail address.
  3. User-friendly site navigation – make it easy for searchers to navigate around your site easily with as little clicks as possible. If a search can’t find what they want, they will likely leave the site.
  4. Clearly show your contact info – sometimes people want to just pick up the phone, send an email or stop by the business in lieu of getting all their questions answered from your website. Make it easy for people to contact you:  name, address, phone number and email.
  5. Use customer testimonials – they have more weight than you telling searchers how good your product or service is
  6. Tell searchers what they should do next – on every page, include a call to action so searchers know what to do next. Examples are, “Call now for a free quote” or “download or app demo now”.
  7. Make sure your website is SEO-optimized – more on this later, but make sure someone familiar with SEO optimizes your site.
  8. Keep adding content – websites can’t be stale, and the best way to avoid that is keep adding new content, such as an onsite blog.
  9. Host on a secure platform – make sure your website is protected by hosting on a secure platform. Not sure?  Ask your hosting company how your site is secured.
  10. Make it easy to scan your site – people have shot attention spans so the more you can use bullets, bold type and highlights to break up the content, the better.

WordpressWebsites need maintenance

It’s important that someone is keeping an eye on your site on a regular basis to keep it safe and secure. For WordPress sites, one of the most common platforms out there for websites, that means making sure plugins and themes are kept up to date on a regular basis. If you are not familiar with how to do this, don’t try this yourself; you can end up crashing your website altogether. Though many WordPress plugins are quite simple to update, some can cause issues if not done correctly. It’s much less expensive to use a WordPress professional to do the updates up front than pay them to fix a site after it’s gone down. If you’re confident that you can do it, be sure to back your site up first. That way, should you have an issue, you can bring the site back up fairly quickly.

If you have an onsite blog, you also want to keep an eye on comments. You need to delete the spam comments and engage in the legitimate comments. This is important to keep your blog active and engaging.

Know how to log in to your hosting site

Most people think that there’s little reason to have login credentials to their hosting site if they have a 3rd party managing all of this for them. Not true. You should always have access to be able to edit your own website (even if you don’t do anything with it) and you should always have access to your hosting site. Why?  Consider this scenario: you have hired a web designer to create and maintain a website for you, and that designer has ignored your requests for the site to be updated. Though not too common (it’s common enough), there are bad web companies that will refuse to turn those logins over to you and now you’re at the mercy of them since you have no control over your site. You would never turn over control of your banking to someone without having logins yourself:  why do that with your website? Protect your site and have all the logins, even if you never use them.

Make sure your website is SEO-optimized

Websites need to be more than pretty. They need to be useful and informative, but even if you’ve checked all the boxes to create a useful, easy to navigate site, you’ll miss the opportunity to bring in more traffic is your site isn’t optimized. Your website won’t attract business if no one can find it. Become familiar with the SEO basics, or hire a small business marketing professional to make it more accessible by search engine. Simply make sure your website is coded correctly and follows basic SEO best practices. That means using the correct keywords throughout your website text, putting in plenty of links to help with navigation, naming your page titles and URLs correctly, and leveraging optimized images and videos.

Add new content on a regular basis

We mentioned it before but it’s worth mentioning again: keep your website fresh. The best way to do that is to add content on a regular basis to your website through blogs, articles, images, videos, infographics, white papers, etc. It’s important for a few reasons. Fresh content may influence Google rankings for one. Posting more frequently makes it attractive for your site to be indexed more often by the search engines. It may help your site rank for more keyword phrases as you expand the depth and breadth of content on your site. Content positions your company as an authority on the subjects your writing about, which makes you attractive to prospective buyers. And last, adding new content helps keep audiences engaged. If you’re consistently creating content that speaks to past, present and future clients, you’re increasing your online footprint while gaining serious cred with your audience. Small business content marketing will garner big results if you commit to doing it.

Website are critical to small businesses and understanding what every small business owner should know about their site will put you ahead of the game.

Patty Hughes
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