“Running a small business successfully is easy”, said no one ever. Many diverse factors go into the day-to-day management, and as the owner, you wear all the hats. You know you must have a website, but your priorities lie with selling and designing kitchens, not thinking about website structure and overall marketing strategy.
Someone you know recommends a website developer you contact, only to get a quote for a couple thousand dollars. Yikes. So you go online and search out less expensive options and find a company that will create your website for $600. That’s more like it.
You lay out the cash, send them some photos of your work, complete their questionnaire and – voila, you have a website.
But will your inexpensive website do what it needs to do for your business? Will it
- Attract prospects
- Create trust
- Inform visitors what your business is about
- Educate visitors concerning what the kitchen remodel process
- Nurture prospects
- Convert them to customers
Before signing on the dotted line for the $600 website, you should know that an effective website – one that accomplishes the goals outlined above, especially the part about converting prospects into customers – should include:
- SEO to increase your visibility in search engine results so prospects can find you
- Intuitive navigation to make it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for on your site
- Content that informs, educates and helps visitors solve problems
- Calls-to-Action that encourage visitors to take the action you want them to take
- Great photos that tell your story
- Testimonials to create trust and validate your skills and expertise
- Personality – give site visitors a peek “behind the curtain” of your business to establish a connection
- Optimization for mobile devices
- Integration with your other social media sites
Let’s look at each of these more closely, starting with
If you want to grow your business, you can’t ignore Google, or Google will ignore you. If your website doesn’t show up in search results, you’re missing out on sales because potential customers may not even know you exist.
Many small business websites are poorly structured for SEO, making it difficult or impossible for Google to understand the content and rank it accordingly. The result? You are invisible in Google searches.
Will your inexpensive web developer optimize your site for SEO? If you haven’t signed yet, be sure to demand this critical feature.
NAVIGATION & EASE OF USE
Good navigation is intuitive and simple and makes it easy for visitors to quickly find what they need. Poor site navigation, like you might get from a cheap website, can hurt you. Confused and/or frustrated prospects don’t buy, they bounce.
Don’t authorize any trendy design elements or other distractions for your new site that don’t add to your overall message. It's been proven that your website’s design is important for a visitor’s first impression, but ultimately, the design is not as important as the content. If all your inexpensive website developers talk about is the design, you should probably move on.
Your content should quickly deliver an answer to your visitor’s question: “can you help me?” You do not want your cheap website to do nothing more than list product features and benefits.
Ask your web designer if your $600 site includes a page for frequently asked questions (FAQ) and answers. If the answer is no, keep shopping.
Find out in advance the procedure for updating site content. Visitors want to see content that is current and relevant. If your article “Trends 2015” is the last entry to your blog, you have some work to do.
Cheap websites often have confusing calls-to-action or don’t have any at all. Your visitors should be politely directed where you want them to go next. Don’t assume they’ll know how to contact you, or sign up for your newsletter, or find your showroom. If your website doesn’t make it easy for visitors to contact you, they won’t.
A website that only speaks in generalities is not going to convince visitors that you can do the job they want you to do. You want to establish trust, build credibility and provide proof about how you get results, so make sure your new website will include
- before-and-after case studies
- a gallery section with beautiful photos of your projects
- stories telling specifically how you helped customers solve their problems and how you will do the same for your visitors
- And, the most impressive credibility element is customer testimonials.
Do not allow your cheap website to include weak language and lame claims. “We’re the best,” “we’re the cheapest,” tells your visitors nothing. Provide details about why your company is different or what they can expect when they do business with you.
To save costs, your inexpensive web developers will try to use stock photos. Don’t let them. Hopefully, you have invested in professional photography to capture your completed projects to their best advantage. They will make your company feel real and authentic so use them and stay away from stock photos.
People do business with other people; don’t let your cheap website omit a section where visitors can read about you and your business. Prospects want to know who they’ll be dealing with. Tell your story. Let people get to know you.
OPTIMIZED FOR MOBILE
More people access the internet from mobile devices than from desktop computers today. If your website is not mobile-friendly, you are losing customers. You don’t have to know how to optimize your site for mobile – that’s what you’re hiring professionals to do. Just make sure the ones you decide to work with know what they’re doing.
NO SOCIAL SHARE LINKS
Your website does not exist in a vacuum. It’s a part of your digital marketing strategy and overall web presence. Icons for social sharing should be included on all your pages, to make it easy for your customers to get information about your business to their friends. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn should have icons on your website that activate with a click.
Don’t allow the developers of a cheap website to overlook or marginalize the importance of the key components to any effective, successful website: make it easy for site visitors to find you on Google; create trust and credibility for your business using testimonials, professional photos and before-and-after studies; inform and educate prospects about how you can solve their problems with well-written content; then convert them into customers with well-designed calls-to-action.
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