Here are the essential elements that every small business website needs to do
business online effectively.
When it comes to creating a successful small business website, it’s common for people to get tangled in the weeds, overthinking how the site looks before considering the essential website elements that are fundamental to the site’s key purpose – attracting and converting customers.
These 10 essential elements for a successful small business website will set you on the right path.
Choose a simple, memorable address
When it comes to a lot of website fundamentals the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle is king, particulary when it comes to picking a Web address.
Also known as a domain name, short, clear and intuitive works best.
It’s best to avoid using numbers and dashes in your domain name that can be confusing for customers.
Typically, the .com extension or country extensions, such as .com.au (Australia) or .co.uk (United Kingdom) are recommended for business.
However, depending on what’s available when registering your domain name, other extensions, such as .au (Australia) or .co (worldwide) can be equally effective.
Tip: Don’t get too hung up on choosing the perfect domain name. It can be paralyzing. The quality of your website content and search engine optimisation is far more important in getting your site found by customers.
Grab your visitor’s attention immediately
You’ve only got a few seconds to grab the attention of a visitor to your website and entice them to delve further into your website to find out more about your products or services.
An attention-grabbing headline at the top of your homepage is essential.
Clearly describe what you do and what makes you special
Your website homepage is also the place to reassure visitors that you have what they are looking for by briefly describing your business, what it does, and what makes it special.
Include a brief and succinct paragraph (or two) high on your homepage, preferably what’s called ‘above the fold’. This means that a visitor will see it within the bounds of the browser screen as soon as they arrive at your site.
Ideally, this would include who you are, what you do, who you do it for and what’s unique about your product or service.
Depending on the design of your site, this information might be included as a subheading below the headline or in a separate section below the headline section.
Make it easy to navigate
A clear navigation structure is essential to assist a visitor in finding the information they are looking for quickly.
Including a navigation menu across the top of your site is common and effective way to this. Typically this would include links to your product or service pages (e.g. our services), your company information (‘about’ page) and contact page, and possibly work examples or case studies.
Using what’s known as drop-down menus is an effective way to enable your visitors to find exactly what they want from anywhere on the site.
Ensure you are easy to contact
Possibly the most crucial element for any business website is enabling visitors, prospects and customers to get in contact with you easily.
By placing your contact information in three strategic places on your website you’ll have all your bases covered.
Firstly in a bar running across the top of your homepage will enable visitors and customers who are already familiar with your business to get in contact quickly and simply.
A contact page is essential for any business website. This is where a visitor will find all of your contact details, including you phone, email and street address, your hours of operation, plus a contact form for an easy, direct contact option, and, ideally, an interactive map (such as an embedded Google map) showing your exact location.
It’s also good practice to include your contact details or a link to your contact page in the footer of website that appears at the bottom of every page. This enables a visitor who has reached the bottom of a page to get in contact directly without the hassle of revisiting the page above.
Any good quality WordPress website theme or out-of-the-box design should include a place to include all of these as standard.
Include an effective call to action
More to the point, it’s essential to include effective call-to-actions (plural). Call to actions should appear all through your site, guiding the visitor from section to section, and from step to step in the sales journey.
The most obvious types of call-to-action (often contracted to CTA), include statement and links, such as ‘call now for a free quote’ or ‘subscribe know to our free newsletter’ or ‘add to cart’.
It’s common to draw attention to these actions through the use of coloured buttons or highlighted text.
As starting point, think about how each section of your website naturally links to the next appropriate section or action, guiding the visitor along the steps to a purchase or another goal, such as calling for a quote. Each step should have a concise and clear call-to-action that tells the visitor exactly what you want them to do.
Showcase your company information
A well written about page is another essential element of a successful small business website.
The main purpose of your about page is to build credibility and trust.
This might include a succinct history or your business. However, similar to the brief description on the homepage we discussed above, an effective about page must include information such as what you do, how you do it, who you do it for, and what makes what you do unique or special.
Your about page might also include why you do what you do, if, for example, you’ve started the business to solve a particular need or you are serving a particular group that you felt was neglected.
There’s an old marketing truism that people buy from people, not from companies. Adding photos and names of the founder(s) or owners and team members is a great way of humanising your business.
Let testimonials speak for you
Building on the adage above, people are also much more likely to buy a product or service they’ve heard about from somebody they like, trust or respect. That’s why testimonials are so powerful. And your website is the perfect place to showcase them.
A good way display these is as a scrolling gallery at towards the bottom of your homepage above the footer.
An effective testimonial should include a succinct quote from the person in words, a photo and their name and title.
Ensure your testimonials are from real people and are correctly quoted.
Get the basics of SEO right
SEO or search engine optimisation is the art and science of getting your website listed on search engines such as Google and getting it noticed by your potential customers.
SEO is a big and often complex subject, but by ensuring you have a few of the basic SEO essentials done correctly will go a long way to getting your website listed and found.
Keywords are at the core of SEO. A keyword can refer to a single word, but more often a short phrase that a person types into a search engine to find what they are looking for.
Each page of your site (including the homepage) should have a carefully chosen keyword that correctly represents it within search engines.
Carefully chosen page tiles and meta descriptions are also essential in getting your site found.
A page title (not necessarily the page headline) is what appears in the tab of a web browser, such as FIrefox or Chrome, and typically includes the keyword phrase that best represents the content.
A meta description is the brief paragraph of text that appears in a search engine when your page appears in the search results.
There are a variety of ways of adding page titles and meta descriptions to you web pages. One of the easiest if you site is built using WordPress is using a plugin such as Yoast.
Given the complexities of SEO and you’re not familiar with the subject, it’s best to speak to you’re website designer, developer or SEO specialist for assistance.
Keep your content fresh
One aspect that commonly lets down small business websites is the failure to update content and refreshed with high-quality new information.