I am sure you already know that a website is a critical marketing tool for every business, even if you are not selling your products or services online. It serves as a digital business card, providing valuable information about your small business to online visitors who enter your virtual office, while building your business credibility and online presence.
Well, guess what? Thanks to software technologies, there are different options available to get a website for your business, including building it yourself through different online platforms, or hiring a small business website design company to get it done professionally. But the biggest challenge most entrepreneurs and small business owners run into is the website content. It needs to be compelling and attention-grabbing, while providing the right kind of information, so that the visitor finds what he/she is looking for and does not move on, to the next website.
To help you with this challenge, I have compiled a comprehensive list of 21 things that you should have on your small business website, even if you are starting off with a simple, basic website. Here it is:
The color and theme of your website follows the color theme and design of your logo, to build a unified brand image. So if you don’t yet have a logo, it’s time to invest in one. You can get a graphic designer to design a custom logo for $50-$60. If you are looking for a cheaper option, try Fiverr.com. You can get a logo there for $25-$50.
2. Products and Services Pages
This one is pretty obvious. It is important to describe your products and services, even if you are not doing any online sales. This is the whole reason an online visitor came to your website in the first place to learn about what you offer. Give description with some professional images of your products or services being delivered. Include prices, too, if that makes sense.
3. About Us Page
This is often the third-most visited page on a small business website, after Home page and Products / Services. So put some thought on the content for this page. Tell your story and background. This background information is especially important when your business is brand new because you can start building trust with customers who are hearing about you for the first time. This is a great opportunity to be authentic, show off your core values and share the story behind what motivated you to start your business.
Also, put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and try to answer: What is unique about your business? Why should I buy from you?” This is missing from many business sites because the owners haven’t done the strategic thinking necessary to figure that out.
Add photographs of you and your employees. Include their names and what they help out with. It helps build your business credibility that your business is not a one-man shop and is a full-time legitimate business.
Include a bit about your work history, or a few sentences about what prompted you to start your business. Your “WHY” is something another business owner can relate to, helping to build trust.
4. Hours of operation
You might be surprised at how many people are just visiting your website with the objective of finding the simplest piece of information, such as your store hours. So it should be clearly visible on your site.
Consider putting your hours in the header / footer area of your website, so that it is visible on every page. Don’t forget to update your business hours for the holiday schedules.
This is another valuable piece of information, so you might want it in the header / footer on your site. Include a street address and a mailing address, if those are different. The best way to display your location through a map. It is easy to integrate Google Maps to your website, which makes it easier for them to find you.
6. Contact information
As a growing business, you don’t want to turn away potential prospects by making it difficult to get in touch with you. You never know who might find you — through someone sharing a link or finding you by searching keywords — and what opportunities your website can offer to your business.
With most website builders, adding in a simple form can help you field and organize your contact requests. You should give the option of contacting your business through various channels, including phone, email, and contact form and let the prospect choose the one that he/she feels most comfortable with.
7. Phone Number
This is the most basic piece of contact information a small business website can have. And yet, according to the SCORE study, 27% of small businesses do not have a contact phone number on their website. Make sure you’re not part of that 27%. Put your phone number on every page, preferably in the header at the top, so people don’t have to scroll to find it.
8. Email Address
For email address, you can use a generic one, like firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com, or a specific one, like firstname.lastname@example.org. Whatever you decide to use, make sure it has your company’s domain name at the end. It should not be a free email address (email@example.com).
9. Contact Form
Include a contact form on your site, either in footer or on Contact Us page. Make sure you ask enough information so that when you get the inquiry, you can have an idea of what your prospect needs.
Please ensure that all contact form inquiries go to a mailbox that gets checked frequently, so that any new leads don’t get lost.
10. Third-party validation / Testimonials / Reviews
This means customer testimonials, client lists, customer reviews, case studies, awards and recognition you’ve received, positive news clippings and so on and so forth. Potential customers indeed want to know who you do business with, and what current customers have to say about their experiences. Such items help build trust on your expertise. Reaching out to a few key customers to ask for a testimonial can go a long way in building a brand reputation. Often asking for a quote and the permission to publish it is all you need. If you’ve got enough customers saying great things about you and your business, create a whole page of testimonials.
You also have the option to request your customers for reviews on Google and then link it with your website. That way, any new reviews posted on Google automatically shows up on your website and it looks much more credible than the permanent testimonials on your website.
It is helpful to display logos of some of your big customers, but make sure you get approval from them first.
11. Secure Socket Layer (SSL)
SSL is an encryption system that helps protect the privacy of data exchanged between a customer and a website. If you have an e-commerce site that takes credit card information, customers want to know that their sensitive data is encrypted. Even if you are doing online sales and collecting payment information, it is better to get SSL, as it helps with your website ranking, as Google looks at those websites favorably. You may have to pay an additional $50 to $100 to your web hosting provider for it.
12. Ease of use and navigation
Have you been to small business websites, where you have to click multiple times and go to different pages to find the information you are looking for? Well, if people can’t find it, they will not play detective and move on to the next website. So it is important to keep your site crisp, clean, simple, and easy to navigate. I would suggest configuring Google Analytics (https://analytics.google.com), so you can study traffic and usage patterns and make any necessary adjustments, based on what visitors are coming for.
13. Special offers and personalization
By personalizing a sale with a special offer, incentive or coupon, small businesses can gain an edge on their bigger competitors. It can be as simple as free gift wrap services or a special discount offer on future purchases for repeat business.
14. Site Map
Think of site map is a hierarchy of all web pages of a single website. It shows visitors and search engines how the site is laid out and which sections are where. Make sure you have one, if you are focused on optimizing your website for search engines.
15. Copyright Information
Your website should carry a copyright notice to protect its intellectual property. It is generally in the form of “Copyright © 2018, Your Company Name”.
A picture can say a thousand words. Investing in your own custom imagery of your products, office, and staff can give a boost of trustworthiness to your business.
If you don’t go the custom imagery route, there are plenty of free or inexpensive stock image resources out there, which you can download and use. Just make sure to adhere to any copyright rules. Some of the most common free image resources are https://pixabay.com, https://stocksnap.io, https://unsplash.com, and https://pexels.com.
17. Social media accounts
According to the Hubspot report, The Social Lifecycle: Consumer Insights to Improve Your Business, 70% of consumers aged 45 to 60 think a brand should be on Facebook. 95% of millennials expect a Facebook page.
You don’t have to be promoting your business on all platforms as it requires a lot of time and effort, but building a social media presence can give you a competitive edge and almost be a necessity in many industries. If you have a company Facebook Page, Twitter profile, or other social media account, don’t keep them as silos — integrate them into your website by including links and asking your web visitors to connect with you. If you decide to integrate, make sure you have a sizable no. of followers and upload posts regularly. Deserted social media business page with few followers doesn’t help the credibility of your business.
18. Call-To-Action (CTA)
Congrats! You got online visitors to land on your website. Now, you lead them to perform a specific action that helps you connect with them. It is not just important to capture their attention, but to engage them with your business on a long-term basis through various strategies, such as a newsletter sign up form, or to follow your business on social media.
If you were trying to sell something, would you skip the part of your pitch where you actually asked someone to buy? Would you just give them the information, and then walk off? Of course not. So don’t forget this part of your pitch on your website. Include at least one call to action, ideally near the top and bottom of every page.
19. Email Sign-up Form
Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing tactics around. We know from our own survey that about 45% of small businesses use emails as part of their marketing strategy. Even if your business is at a stage where you don’t utilize email marketing, it is better to start collecting email addresses and building your list from now onwards, so that you have a sizable list when you are ready to start sending out emails.
You can get started with a free MailChimp account and grow your list from there. Your website designer can easily integrate your Mailchimp account to email sign-up form, so that any email address entered on it, automatically gets added to the list in Mailchimp. Adding the opt-in form to a website is as easy and any good web designer or developer can do it in an hour.
20. Light and Fast Web Pages
Have you heard? People are impatient. They’re especially impatient with websites. Every page on your site needs to load in less than three seconds, and ideally in less than 2 seconds. Missing that 2-second mark could mean thousands of dollars in lost sales over the next few years, simply because your site is a little slow.
Well, how do you get a fast website? Fast hosting will help get your pages to load quickly. So will keeping image sizes small. Beyond that, you may need the help of a website developer or a designer to optimize web content and ensure any large files are compressed to its smallest-possible size.
21. Mobile-Friendly Website
Most of your website’s traffic will come from smartphones, not computers or laptops. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that your website looks good and functions well on mobile devices.
Being mobile-friendly may mean using a “responsive” design – a design that adjusts itself nicely to different screen sizes automatically. Make sure you ask your Website Designer to build a mobile-responsive website and test it on your phone and tablet. You can also test it through mobiletest.me
It is critical to invest some time on your small business website to ensure that it has all basic elements of a great website. It does not have to be perfect from Day 1. As your business grows, you can update your website and add more features and content to it.
If you feel that any important website element has been missed, please let us know in the comments below.