Guest post by Luke Hallam, Munch Design
Small businesses websites are pretty hard to get right, budgets can be limited and expectations sometimes extremely high, in what is an increasingly noisy and competitive space online.
Getting the basics right can be the difference between your website being an invaluable asset to your business and your customers, or money and time you’ll never see again, and the assumption that “online just didn’t work” for our business.
So what are the most common things you are likely getting wrong?
Mistake 1. Your website talks about you, your product or your service
Wait, what? No seriously, no-one cares about you or your product, they only care about themselves! Every small business lists their services, qualifications, skills, experience etc; all great to know when someone is searching for a reputable operator, sure. But, everyone else is doing that too, so where’s your point of difference and what’s in it for your customer? That’s what they want to know, and will help them make the decision to buy.
How to fix it: Start by outlining the benefits of selecting your products or service. How will it make your customers day/business/life better? And what is the benefit of working with you over your competitors? Is it price, service, quality, after sales care, or your business ideology that helps you stand out as the best choice? Say all of this in your customer’s language and you have a much higher chance of making that all important connection with your audience.
Mistake 2. Your website doesn’t tell your visitors what to do
You have a customer on your site, they’ve researched your product or service and decided it’s a great fit for them, it seems like the right choice. They’re ripe for conversion but they’re not sure what to do, they don’t get the nudge that they need, lose interest and wander off to check out the competition…
How to fix it: Have a “call to action”! A gentle (or not so gentle) “nudge” to move a visitor from being a prospect, to becoming a customer. A big “CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW!” isn’t always the right solution, if you’re not selling a product online it makes no sense. But a little guidance in relation to the next steps a visitor should take to experience the benefits your product or service provides, can be the difference between engagement and them bouncing off to your competitor.
Mistake 3. Your site is not optimised
One of the least understood aspects of online marketing, and most renowned for snake oil salesmen (that like to perpetuate that theme); Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the big, scary, be all and end all of your business success online, or so it would seem. One thing you can’t afford to do with your small business website is ignore SEO altogether, the other is to pay someone $99 to “get you on the first page of Google” but that’s a blog post or 3 all on it’s own.
How to fix it: This is a big one and an industry unto itself these days. The important things to remember, is that Google’s goal is to deliver the most accurate and highest value content to a user for any given search query. That’s it in a nutshell, if your search for “red dog” for example, Google (or Yahoo or Bing, people really use those?) will return, what it has defined through massive algorithmic data, are the most relevant search results on the web, in order, to you, and possibly in relation to your geographical location, browsing history, interests etc. depending on what you have chosen to disclose to them… It gets complicated fast ok? But let’s stick to the basics because they work and you can apply them easily to your own website.
Basic SEO is not hard, you know your business, you know your customers, you’ve created your website content around the benefits you deliver, the locations you service, and how you are different and a better choice than your competitors etc; you’re already most of the way there! Follow this up with some research, test the terms you think your customers will use to find your business, analyze the results, who’s on top, what does their content look like, what words are they using?
Want to know more? Check out: https://moz.com/beginners-
Any tricks, hacks, or purchased page juice is Google’s number one target for removal from the index, and can have devastating consequences for any website’s search ranking that gets caught gaming the system.
Mistake 4. Your site is an island with no connection to other marketing efforts
While a lot of businesses now exist solely online, the “build it and they will come” mentality is well and truly outdated and debunked, the big guys don’t do that, so it won’t work for you either. If your website is not part of an integrated marketing strategy, you’re limiting the potential gains that can be realised.
How to fix it: Develop an integrated strategy, use the right tools and have a holistic approach to marketing your business. This strategy could look very different for different businesses, start with your most important goal for the business and work backward to define how you will achieve this, If something seems out of place or not in sync with the strategy, question it.
A tradesman with a killer website, but no vehicle signage is a great example of a flawed strategy; they’re driving their billboard around town all day, park it on job sites in full view, but don’t leverage the opportunity to tell passers by who they are, what they do, how they can learn more, and how they can buy from them.
A website is like a cog in your marketing machine, without the rest of the cogs spinning it will have little impact. Leverage the opportunities you have to get targeted traffic to your site and it can become a very powerful business tool.
Mistake 5. You haven’t added new content to your site for 2 years
Whoa, wait! 2 years? That’s like 10 “internet years”, I’d be checking that the business was still operating if I was visiting your site. At the very least it’s a sign of an abandoned website, the tapering off of enthusiasm that closely follows a disappointing ROI – or maybe the site is such a success you are smashing it and can’t keep up with the business the site generates, I hope so but it’s less often the story.
How to fix it: This is a big part of your SEO strategy right here, your point of difference and domination of your niche. Google loves sites that get updated more than sites that don’t. Posting consistently can be challenging without a plan, random off the cuff updates are time consuming and not sustainable for time strapped small businesses. Develop a strategy for the type of content you can publish, that will help your audience make better choices, create a schedule, delegate and publish.
You’re not using Google analytics – if you’re not tracking site visits and engagement, how do you know if you’re winning or losing? Free and priceless at the same time Google Analytics Ask your web developer for access details and start tracking your site.
Not sharing – Creating high value content and not sharing it on social media is not on in this day and age, it encourages your supporters to share your content as well, which can be invaluable.
Your website isn’t visually appealing – A small business website is an opportunity to play with the big boys, don’t sell yourself short and let near enough be good enough. Presenting your business in the most professional manner online, through the use of excellent branding, design, content and imagery should be a top priority within your marketing strategy.
Your website ins’t mobile responsive – At best, it’s probably a chore to view on a mobile device or tablet. At worst, some functionality may not function at all. The percentage of users accessing the web via mobile and tablet devices is growing at a rapid rate and will eclipse PC and laptop use before long. Your website needs to deliver the best possible experience across all devices, but most importantly the ones your customers are likely to be using.
Luke Hallam – Munch Design
Luke is a digital marketing consultant with a background in graphic design. With over 18 years experience in the design and marketing space, Luke’s passion for helping businesses in all aspects of online marketing flows through in his down to earth consulting approach, working with clients to develop solutions and help them reach their goals online.