What Does a Small Business Website Need
I’m often asked, “What features does my small business website need?” In almost every situation, my answer is “Only what you need.”
Small business websites are capable of many different bells and whistles these days, but in many cases taking a straight forward approach will enable you to reach your goals. Technology has certainly improved over the past decade, but the core concept of a website hasn’t changed: it is still a quick and efficient means of selling your brand to an audience.
That means that your site’s focus should be on achieving this rather than getting bogged down with impressive-but-unnecessary features. While every small business is different, some general principles apply when considering their small business website needs. My personal top-three priorities are as follows:
Whether you use text, imagery, or video, your site’s messaging must be clear and efficient. Many websites make the mistake by overloading their content with too much information or trying to be all things to all people on a single page. That winds up disorienting viewers and muddying communications.
Instead, try streamlining and consider what new visitors need to know. In general, that’s 1) a clear identification of who you are and what you do and 2) how you help them. Your message needs to be packaged in a way that resonates with your target audience. This often means tone, word choice, and length — if you’re trying to appeal to tweens and their parents, you’ll use a much different tone than with, say, older adults.
Here are some examples of efficient messaging. (Full disclosure: Forward Push worked on these sites)
Call To Action
Getting your message through is great, but what happens there? A call to action on every page is important for conversion. In particular, strong call to actions on the home page are important. For nearly every site out there, the home page gets the most traffic, which means the goal is to funnel that traffic flow into several key next steps. Determining those next steps usually involves a good, hard look at your target audience and prediction what they might want to do.
For instance, let’s assume you’re a local plumbing company. It’s probably safe to assume that someone visiting your site is looking for a plumber, possibly for an emergency job. Sensible calls to action would be:
1) Contact page for emergency service
2) About page for people vetting their options
3) Services page for people looking for a specific need.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and imagine what their needs are — you should be able to identify the appropriate calls to action and begin to integrate them into your site.
Social Media Integration
At Forward Push, we often talk about the importance of content generation when establishing a digital footprint for search engine and inbound purposes. The goal is for content to get picked up by search engines as well as to go viral, and for that to happen, social media sharing has to be enabled. Sharing content is much more effective than sharing a home page or a general site, so that means your content management system should utilize plug-ins that allow for one-touch social media sharing on each post or article.
For any and all content-rich pages — be they posts, articles, or how-to pages — make sure that this is enabled. Google and other search engines favor incoming links from social media platforms, and if your content is strong enough, it may catch fire on social media and go viral. Social media is one of the easiest ways to gain traction with your audience, so be sure that your site’s functions support it.
Identifying Your Site’s Needs
These priorities are general enough that they could apply to just about any business. However, if you’re not sure about things like identifying call to actions or technically adding social media to your site, get in touch. I’m happy to answer any questions, and if you need further work, we’re here to help.