What makes a good website for promoting your brand in the digital world? You may think it’s a revolutionary new layout or a certain color CTA button that psychologists say triggers impulse purchases, but there are a number of website basics that businesses overlook. From something as simple as displaying your contact information or including a pricing page, we put together the 21 must-haves for small business websites to help turn your site into an effective marketing tool.
1. Displays the Company’s Contact Information
As obvious as it may sound, 44% of business websites fail to display their contact information. What many don’t realize is how this can be to the detriment of a business website. By not displaying information, businesses do not appear trustworthy, with a surprisingly high number of visitors exiting your page. A good way to include your basic contact information is by adding it to your site’s footer. This way, it will be displayed no matter which page a visitor lands on.
2. Reviews Are Embedded for Social Proof
Prospective customers make buying decisions based on what others are saying. Nearly 90% of consumers look at reviews when making a buying decision. A good way to build trust and generate more leads and sales is to embed reviews from other platforms on your website. For example, if you largely depend on reviews from Google, then you can embed your Google reviews into your site so they automatically display on your website.
3. Web Design That Stays On-brand
Your business’ brand is more than just its logo. It’s also the type of language you use, the font, the color schemes, and even your layout. Be sure to maintain your branding throughout your website. This not only helps strengthen your unique brand, but it also helps set (and manage) user expectations, which in return, can lead to more leads and sales.
Need some extra help designing your website? Check out this article on how to design a website.
4. It Loads Quickly
Website load time is not the most exciting part of building a website, and yet site speed is critical if you want your site to rank in search results. Top-ranking results in Google are known to have a load time of 3 seconds or less. Not only is a fast-loading site key for creating a good user experience, but this also tells us that if you want to stand a chance at ranking, then you need a fast site.
There are a lot of factors that contribute to your site’s ability (or inability) to load quickly, for example, using too many plugins or including very large images. However, one of the largest and easiest factors is your web hosting service. Make sure you’re using a fast web hosting provider, such as InMotion Hosting or SiteGround, which are known for speed.
Not sure how fast your site is? Check your website speed with one of these free website performance tools.
5. Customer Data Is Protected
Business websites are a target for hackers because they’re a source for collecting tons of sensitive customer information, such as contact information and payment details. Sure, you know you need an SSL certificate, but further protect yourself and your customers by using a security plugin for WordPress. It’s a free way to help keep hackers out and keep your business from facing the headache and possible expense of a data breach (which averages a whopping $200,000).
Here are a three of the best security plugins for WordPress:
Learn more about safeguarding your business and customer information with these small business cyber security tips.
6. It’s Easy to Navigate
Good navigation is a big part of what makes a good website, well, good. It may seem obvious to offer a site menu that seamlessly leads site visitors to the information they’re looking for. However, many businesses still fail to create a logical site structure and navigation. To help, think about what people are coming to your site for. Break those audiences into different groups or buckets, and consider using those as your menu, and lead people through your content.
Navigation is just one of the many facets of what makes a good website and a good user experience. Learn more about the UX design principles you can easily implement.
7. Visitors Can Easily Call With Click-to-Call
Giving site visitors a way to easily call you is vital for local and service-based businesses. People are navigating to your site with questions. Some may be looking for your number, others may have questions your site doesn’t answer. Either way, giving your site visitors a fast and easy way to call your business will help increase leads and sales—around 23% more sales overall, to be exact. Rather than simply displaying your phone number, use a click-to-call button.
8. It Speaks the Language of Its Audience
No, this doesn’t literally mean that if your target audience is largely comprised of English-speakers that your site needs to be in English (hopefully that was evident). Instead, use the type of language your audience expects. For example, a law firm or medical practice should sound highly professional, whereas a children’s day camp should read very differently—otherwise it would sound sterile and off-putting to parents.
Another tip while we’re here is to keep it short. Use the language your audience expects of you based on your industry (and your brand), but keep it concise. Blog posts aside, the more you write on your web pages, the less that will be read.
9. Built for Search
Part of what makes a good website is its ability to be found in search. 72% of consumers who search for local businesses actually end up visiting stores within five miles. However, not all sites are built for search engines. A common mistake web design novices make is not thinking about how a website will get found in Google until after its been created. Instead, bake search engine optimization (SEO) into your site from the start. It takes time for search engines to recognize your site, so this will help your site get found much sooner.
Not sure where to start? Check out this article on how to rank higher in Google.
10. It Gives Readers More Than a Sales Pitch
The best websites aren’t solely sales pitches for a product or service. The best websites provide valuable information that resonates with their audience. This usually comes in the form of a blog, which publishes relevant content. For example, a probate law firm may write blog posts about a recently passed estate law and how it affects those in a trust. What’s more, this also helps a website get found in search, increasing your visibility.
11. Looks Good From Any Device
Sure, nearly every website theme and template is responsive and mobile-friendly these days. However, don’t let that fool you into assuming your website looks good on all device types. You need to actually check how your site looks on different screen sizes, as you may find that the alignment gets weird, or that photos become too large or too small.
Looks aside, this helps ensure your site provides a good user experience and reduces your bounce rate. One study found that 38% of people who land on your site will exit it if they find it unattractive. In other words, that drops your odds of a sale by nearly 40%.
12. It Uses reCAPTCHA in Contact Forms
Contact forms are great. And yet if you’ve used them before, you probably also know how much spam your website contact forms can drive. Ditch the dummy contact form submissions and confirm that those submitting contact forms are indeed human by using reCAPTCHA. If your site is built with WordPress, you can add reCAPTCHA to most of the leading contact form plugins, such as Contact Form 7 or WPForms.
13. It Gets Found in Search for Target Keywords
Search engines such as Google are looking for the best possible search results for a given search query. Google isn’t actually looking at websites—it’s scanning them to determine which appear to be the most relevant. To help Google recognize your site as a good search result, identify target keywords for each of your web pages and posts. Then, use that keyword in the page title, metadata, H1, and within the content of your page or post.
Want a little extra help with your search engine optimization efforts? Get the assistance you need (for free) with one of the best SEO plugins for WordPress.
14. Includes a Strong Call to Action on the Home Page
Every website should include a call to action (or CTA), and yet 70% of small business business-to-business (B2B) websites fail to have a CTA. So what is a call to action? Most commonly it’s in the form of a button (think “Call Now” or “Sign Up”), but it’s any action you’re looking for your audience to take on your site. It may also be to register for a demo or to make a purchase.
Think about what you ultimately want your site visitors to do on your site. Then use a call to action that helps bridge the gap between your desired action and where your audience is in the decision-making process. For example, a company that sells expensive software may use a demo rather than a “Buy Now” CTA, as site visitors aren’t likely ready to buy, but are interested in learning more about the service.
15. It Builds a Personal Connection With Its Audience
Amid all the technical aspects of designing a website, don’t forget to create an emotional connection with your visitors. When building a site, it’s easy to forget the human aspect. Websites that are completely void of any sense of the people running the business may struggle to gain new customers. Consider your audience’s pain point or the problem your product or service solves. Provide insight into how your businesses will make their lives easier, or better.
16. There’s a Press Page
If your business is getting positive press, include it on your website. Displaying earned mentions from trusted publications will boost your credibility with customers. Build a press page, which is a designated page on your site that features mentions in the media, quotes, article snippets, a press kit, and your media contact’s email or phone number. Take it a step further and include recent press as a news banner on your homepage.
17. It Showcases Its Value Proposition
The best websites effectively showcase their value proposition right away; they immediately let you know why they’re different or why you should choose them. In other words, when someone lands on your site, they should instantly understand you, your business, and whether your services are right for them. This communicates your value and unique selling point, which in return, helps promote what you offer.
18. It Lets Visitors Book Online
What makes a good website in the service industry is giving visitors a way to make an appointment or reservation online. As communication moves away from voice and to the written word, people are becoming a bit phone-shy. Many don’t want to have to pick up a phone to make an appointment or reservation. One study found that 35% of customers prefer to schedule appointments after working hours, so an online booking can help you reach them at any time.
While it may sound complicated, it’s actually quite easy with the help of booking plugins for WordPress. And if you’re not using WordPress? Most site builders offer built-in online bookings tools. For example, GoDaddy offers one of the easiest and most comprehensive online booking platforms.
19. It Takes Advantage of Useful Integrations
No matter which industry you’re in, there’s most likely an integration you should be using. From email marketing integrations such as Mailchimp to shipment tracking integration from FedEx, there’s likely a tool that will help you and your customers. For example, what makes a good restaurant website is giving visitors the ability to make reservations. You can easily integrate platforms and tools you’re already using, such as OpenTable.
20. It Starts the Conversation With Live Chat
Chances are you have site visitors who have questions. While you may evidently provide your contact information and have the information they’re looking for within your site, sometimes people just want an answer quickly. By using live chat on your site, visitors can quickly reach out with any questions and get the answers or information they’re looking for. In return, businesses better serve their audience, increase leads, and more effectively convert visitors.
Still not convinced? According to a study, 51% of consumers are more likely to stay with or buy again from a company if they offer live chat support. In other words, offering live support can actually boost your repeat business and overall sales.
21. It Doesn’t Hide Pricing
So many businesses want to hide their pricing, but what a large number of people want to see is your pricing. You may think this will mean that prospective customers or clients will reach out for more information, but more often than not, they will simply exit your site in search of a competitor who does list pricing information. Even if your pricing is custom based on individual client needs, you should still include some sort of benchmark figure to give people an idea.
There are so many different factors in what makes a good website. Ultimately, you need to create a website that easily gives your audience what they’re looking for. Whether that’s as simple as displaying your contact information or giving visitors a way to book an appointment, if you give your visitors what they want, you can reduce sales friction and more quickly turn leads into customers.
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