Monday, November 8, 2010

What Should a Small Business' Website Do?

Posted by: Steve Strauss, Ask an Expert, USA Today.

What Should a Small Business' Website Do?

Here, then, are the 7 Deadly Small-Business Website Mistakes that you must avoid:

1. The site confuses the Web for a billboard: Every now and then you will run across a small-business website that gets it: It is graphically appealing, it contains valuable, unique content, and it engages the visitor. It is a sales tool, meet-and-greet, advertisement, brochure and conduit, all in one.

But most small-business websites do not do that. Instead, they are simply an online version of a billboard or other sort of basic ad: a big headline with some backup information and not much more.

Mistake.

The days when you could simply throw up an e-version of your Yellow Pages ad are long over. Yellow Pages ads are great because they serve a specific purpose, and do it very well — namely, to get the phone to ring. But the purpose of your website goes beyond that. Sure, a great small-business website will cause the phone to ring (or the e-mail to be sent), but it should also create a positive, lasting impression.

To do that, the site has to engage, not just be.

2. The site lacks a great "About" page: Because your website is your virtual version of your store or office, it must serve that function well, and you do that by having a robust "About Us" page.

The About Us page tells people who you are, what you are about and why they should trust you. It is one of the most-clicked-on pages on any website. People want to know who you are, your history and story, so a well-written, jargon-free, interesting About Us page is essential. Putting a short video there (more on that later) may even be better.

Your About Us page is your online version of a firm handshake and a look in the eye. It helps people to trust you.

3. The site contains mistakes: Dead links, 404 Error pages and typos are the sort of sloppy errors that can turn a prospective client off. After all, if your site contains mistakes, what does that say about the sort of work you may do for the client?

4. The site lacks ways to further connect online: Does your site have a blog and can people get to it within one click from your home page? They should be able to. Can site visitors surf over to your Facebook page from your site? Can people easily follow you on Twitter, or link with you on LinkedIn, by clicking links on your site?

5. The site is not SEO friendly: People should be able to find your site in a variety of ways:

•From seeing your URL in your ads, business card, or store.

•By finding you via forums, articles you have written, or social-media sites.

•From online ads if you use those.

•And, probably most important, by locating you in a search-engine result.

That last one comes from, of course, search engine optimization (SEO). An SEO-friendly site is one where there is plenty of content (updated regularly), where the content is full of key words and phrases, and where there are plenty of incoming links.

6. The site lacks video: This is the YouTube age. People like and watch video online. Use that. Your site visitors will click on the videos you post, so put up how-to videos or videos that introduce your staff or business or product demonstrations — just as long as you have some video.

7. The site's pages lack a call to action: What do you want people to do on your site — buy something, call you, apply, opt-in, download, e-mail or what? Whatever the answer, you have to encourage them to do it. Go on your site and notice how many of your pages lack a call to action. Fix it.

1 comment:

Marc Smith said...

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