It’s time, isn’t it? Your website, built five years ago by someone’s cousin for free, is showing its age. You’re embarrassed to send clients there. It has out-of-date information. And nobody can find it on Google. And it takes your Web developer two weeks to update it because just the thought of working on it makes him queasy.
It’s time to update your website. Take a deep breath. You can get through it.
Planning a new website design for your small business can be daunting. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but there are a few basic functions and content areas you should include to make it an effective marketing tool.
1. Contact information on every single page.
This seems simple, but a lot of companies miss this. Include the phone number you want people to call for sales inquiries. Preferably at the top of each page. Include a clickable “email us!” button that either opens an email client or links to your contact form.
2. A blog.
All social media marketing and other online marketing requires quality content. So if you’re considering any online marketing effort, you should start with a blog. To get maximum SEO benefit, your blog should be listed under your domain (something like www.yourcompany/blog) instead of off-site through a service like Blogger.com. A blog can help your business in so many ways that you may be crazy if you’re not considering a blog for your business.
– search engine optimization (SEO)
– communications channel for your company that produces content shareable on social sites like Facebook and Twitter
– a way to establish your company as an expert in your industry and connect with your customers
3. An SEO strategy that targets your services and products
The customers who know your name can find your website. So optimizing your site so that people can find you through Google when they search “your company’s name” isn’t necessary. Of course you should include your company name on your website and in the metadata, but the fact is that your company’s name is going to be on your website so much that you probably can’t help but be found on Google for it. Instead, focus on generic terms that customers who may not know your business are searching for. For example, Vital Design wants to be found on Google for “Website design, Portsmouth, NH” rather than just “Vital Design.”
4. Geographic information in your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
Most businesses with brick-and-mortar locations rely on customers within a certain geographic area. Fortunately, when most people search for a product or service, they include a location. For instance, if you need a plumber, you might search “plumber in Portsmouth, NH.” This is why you should use your location in page titles and other metadata as well as in the text that appears on your website. If you have two or three main cities that you serve, you should consider creating landing pages on your site for each location.
5. Testimonials or case studies.
Potential customers need to trust you before choosing to work with you. Use your website to build your credibility and to share your expertise and track record keeping clients happy. Often, a testimonials page is one of the most-visited pages on sites we create for our clients. When you do get testimonials, ask your clients for permission to use their real names. Real endorsements from recognizable community members means a lot more than an anonymous testimonial.
If you provide case studies on your site, come up with a consistent, concise format to explain what problem your company solved and what process you went through to get there.
6. Photos or video of your work, your venue, or your team.
Customers like pictures. And they like to see that you know what you’re doing. If your company provides a service such as landscape design, custom cabinetry or IT cable clean-ups, show before and after pictures of your work. If you don’t have a portfolio (take some pictures) but in the meantime, you could show your impressively maintained fleet of trucks and equipment. If your service is something less tangible, such as insurance or life coaching, show pictures of your friendly staff and your clean, comfortable office. Better yet, include video. If you don’t have any of these kinds of photos, think about including imagery of the recognizable landmarks from your area to show you are part of the community.
7. A newsletter sign-up.
Give people a way to stay in touch with your company such as a newsletter sign-up. This will let you share information about your company through email marketing. Yes, you can certainly send out a newsletter by email each month, but you can also use this list to share information you think your clients and prospects will find valuable whenever you have it. If you have a blog or news page, an RSS feed subscription button is another good idea. This will let you stay in touch with your clients each time you add a blog post.
8. Social media accounts.
If you’re active in social media, include a page (or a section on the Contact page like this) where you list which accounts you have as well as how your company uses them.
What do you think? Have more questions about a website design? Comment below and be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed to get regular Vital posts when they’re fresh.
Are you considering writing an RFP for an upcoming website project? If so, save yourself some time and read our guide on How To Write a Website RFP (and even download a free RFP template).