Small business websites: The most important basics
Guide to small business websites: The most important basics
- Top mistakes business / website owners make
It is not always the complex issues which website owners get wrong but often the basics. With technological developments websites need not be expensive and CMS (Content Management Systems) should be user friendly. Here are some top mistakes website owners get wrong:
- Not having a website at all
- Paying too much for a website
- Not having user friendly CMS (Content Management Systems) or reliable webmasters
- Not including the right words inside your website
- Not registering with Google my business
- Not using Google Webmaster Tools
- Missing the mark (not using important key words) with important pages especially the important introductory paragraphs of home and about us pages
- Missing the mark (not using important key words) in headings within your website
- Being unrealistic / relying too much on SEO (Search Engines) and not considering alternative ways to market your website
- Getting the Title Tag of home page wrong
- Content Development Tips
Having fresh, up to date, unique and relevant content on your website is what will attract people to your website via search engines. Not everyone is a writer -you can pay someone for your website copy writing- but here are some tips for generating unique and fresh content for your website.
- Monthly newsletter / regular blogging is a great way in any event to stay in touch with potential clients. (Monthly newsletters need little editing to become an effective blog)
- Adding references / examples of recent work / testimonials should be easy and become second nature – remember to add the Geographical Location of clients.
- A well developed FAQ (Frequently asked questions) section will improve search results
- Monthly specials should be a permanent feature on website
- Get user friendly CMS so you can DIY and save time / money, avoid frustration
- In competitive environments you can still have success with well thought out, longer tailed keywords / search phrases
- Photographs of your business, products and services is an easy way to generate ideas by simply describing the photographs. (Focus on quality photographs plus text and not quantity. Your website is not Facebook or Instagram .
- YouTube Videos are regarded as potentially great content, get results on their own, can include a link to your website and is free. The costs of modern day quality video cameras are irrelevant when benefits are considered.
- Check your email inbox and outbox to get ideas for your Faq section and ideas for content , especially when it comes to important past proposals to potential clients
- Stay on topic. Websites which are topic specific / specialised generally do better plus have higher conversion rates.
- Other benefits of a website
Websites can get you new business but that is not the only benefits of having a website. Technological advances have improved what is possible with affordable websites. Here are some other benefits:
- Time saving: Order process can be speeded up. Less time to quote and provide information about your business, examples of work. Simply refer potential clients to your website.
- Forces business owners to plan ahead. You have to make a public statement of who you are, what you are offering etc.
- Improved public images by having a website. Shows that you as a small business owner are serious about your business and in it for the long run.
- Your print advertising can be shorter by referring to website for more information and can even include a QR code for Smart Phone users.
- Even regular customers can refer to website for current offering and events.
- Email, SMS and Social media marketing is more effective with a website link for more information
- Businesses can gather feedback from customers by having forms and surveys on website and thus possibly avoid negative reviews on 3rd party websites where you have little control over e.g. Tripadvisor, Hello Peter.
- The process of getting a website will force you to spend time on branding and differentiating your business. Without being unique and standing out a business has less chance of long term survival.
- With special modules you can sell your own e Book, sell online tickets for fundraisers, and receive credit card payments even if you do not have a credit card machine in store.
- With members only sections you can increase loyalty by offering special discount to returning customers, have people interacting on your own onsite forum.
- Getting quality websites to link to yours
One of the most important factors which determine your websites ranking on Search Engines are the number of quality websites linking to your website. For small businesses this may be difficult but not impossible. Here are some tips:
- At least link your own Facebook business page as well as your Google my business page to your own website.
- Quality content will lead to quality websites linking to your website over time
- Links can be bought from popular / quality local directories
- You can ask suppliers and clients with quality websites to link to your website
- You can approach other local businesses for a link exchange (Restaurants and Guesthouses compliment each other in tourism industry) similar to the exchange of brochures at establishments
- Avoid buying bulk low quality links. You can be penalised severely
- If you are knowledgeable on a specific topic you can write articles for local digital newspapers and have a link on said digital newspaper in exchange for the original content provided.
- Some industry specific forums will allow if you drop a link provided you participate meaningful to the conversation
- If you know of competitors who have gone out of business you might find companies linking to websites which no longer exists. You can approach those companies if you have similar or better content and ask if they would consider linking to your content.
- You will need to be a specialist and authority in the industry within which you operate to be able to generate truly great content before you can expect other websites to link to your content. You might need to do ongoing research in your business and industry. In tough economic times you need to be doing research in any event to stay at the top of your game and increase or keep your market share. Great content will not only attract links but will also show that your are a specialist.
E . How to be realistic
When starting out with a new website or having a fresh look at your current website it helps to be realistic. The internet need tot be a mystery where you shoot in the dark and hope for the best. Here are ways to be more realistic:
- Consider your specific industry and the competition within the industry. The more generic your service offering the more difficult it is to gain new clients via a website and organic search results.
- Search the internet for your most important search terms and study those websites which get top results under organic search – non paid search.
- Study variations of these search terms and their results
- Ask your intended web designer to show you examples of their current successful clients
- Make sure you understand the basics of how search works. There are good short videos on the Google Webmaster channel which explains in simple terms how search works
- Study your actual results using Google Webmaster Tools or even Google Analytics
- Schedule 6 monthly meetings with your webmaster who should have a solid understanding of SEO and Google Webmaster / Google Analytics where actual results are discussed.
- Google Advertising and other Financial consideration
As more and more people have access to websites and the younger generation coming into the market places as both consumers and suppliers the following are some financial concepts which should become general knowledge for seasoned marketers of small businesses:
- Your time is your money. Both time and money need to be invested on your small business website.
- You need to understand the value of a customer and whether the customer is a potential returning customer. For this you need to have an understanding of the gross profit per client, the fixed and variable costs of your business.
- Google in South Africa has changed from allocating the top 3 spots to allocating the top 4 spots for businesses which advertises with them and then often including Google my business results (with maps) in the 5th spot making it more difficult to attract clicks for organic search results.
- If your competition can afford advertising with Google it might mean that you are too cheap or that your small business need to reduce it’s debt or overheads.
- By advertising you will increase the overall demand for your products and services and you will be able to convert at higher marginal rates.
- Start up businesses should in general budget for more initial marketing expenses
- Profitable and established businesses can increase their margins and build barriers for potential disruptive newcomers to the market place.
- Advertising with Google or spending time on your website, paying a copy writer are investments which should result in the generating of new revenue which will fund the ongoing efforts. If done correctly only the initial outlay should be viewed as an expense and the ongoing spend as semi irrelevant since it “pays” for itself.
- By advertising with Google you will immediately be in the market place at a time potential customers are searching for your products and services.
- Only advertise / spend the real money once you have considered important design issues like having effective call to action buttons and forms on your website.