If you are considering setting up a new small business website or looking to improve an existing one, here are some tips to get you started in the right direction.
1. Register a Keyword Rich Domain Name
Register a domain name that includes keywords related to your business. For example, if your business name is Jack Black & Sons, it is a good idea to choose a domain name such as: manlyplumbing.com.au rather than jackblackandsons.com.au to show your customers and search engines what your business is about. You can always register additional domain names with your business name or product names to protect your brand, but the main domain name, should have some keywords included. This will help with search engine optimisation later on.
If you already own a domain name and can’t easily change it, ensure you name your pages with keywords within them. For example, rather than naming your pages:
name your pages as follows:
2. Research Keywords People May Use To Find Your Business, Products or Services
Before you start putting together copy for your small business website, find out what words or phrases people are using to find your business or products. Ideally you should find keywords and key phrases which are searched for often, but that don’t have a lot of competing websites optimised for them.
There are two kinds of keywords that people use: “research” keywords and “buying” keywords.
Research keywords are words and phrases people use when researching a product or a service. For example, someone looking to buy a new vacuum cleaner, would start with a broad search, such as “vacuum cleaner”, or “reliable vacuum cleaner”.
Next they may narrow down their search to more specific keywords, such as the brand name “Dyson” or “Electrolux”. At this point, the visitor is still researching. It is only when they start looking at keywords such as “Dyson DC29 Multi Floor Vacuum Cleaner” or “Electrolux Super Cyclone Bagless Vacuum” that they are ready to buy. As such, you want to have your site optimised for keywords that people are using when they are ready to make a purchase.
Two great tools you can use for researching keywords include: Google Keyword Suggestion Tool and Wordtracker.
3. Create Your Small Business Website with Original and Relevant Content
Include as much information about each product & service that you offer as well as details about your business. When people are looking online they want the information straight away - they don’t want to wait until they can talk to you on the phone or email you. If you don’t address their questions, they will simply go to your competitor’s website.
Search Engines love original content, so make sure you write your own text – don’t copy from other people’s website –you may get penalised for duplicate content and may breach copyright laws.
Pages you may wish to include on your website:
- Home page, also known as Welcome or Index page
- Products / Services – break them up into different pages for different product categories or services
- Pricing – even if you can be specific, include a range, eg. $55 - $99 per hour
- Frequently Asked Questions – turn the copy of your website into questions
- Contact Us – include on its own page, but also at the top and bottom of every page
- Testimonials from happy customers
- Product Reviews
- Photo Gallery / Portfolio of projects completed
- About Us
- Guarantee – the longer the better
- Site Map
- Media Information
- Awards / Achievements
- Online Store
- Social Media Networks
- Trade Associations you belong to
- Qualifications you and your staff have
4. Include Call to Action
Make sure you include Call to Action on your homepage and other pages, where appropriate. Tell people what you want them to do when they arrive at your website, for example download a report, subscribe to a newsletter, phone you, follow you on Facebook or request a quote. Remember 98% of people won’t buy from you the first time they visit your small business website – you need to build trust and credibility with them first, so it’s a good idea to encourage them to leave their contact details so you can stay in touch with them.
5. Website Credibility
Credibility is a big problem for many online businesses, especially if they are just starting out or their products / services are not well known. Lack of trust is one of the main reasons, visitors don’t buy from businesses online. The great news is there is something you can do about it. Simply include as many of the following elements as possible:
- Testimonials and product reviews from current customers
- Contact details including street address, postal address, landline, email address
- Before & After photos of how your product/service resolved a problem
- Offer money back guarantee
- List details of any reputable trade associations you belong to, including a link to their website
- Include useful information, so you are seen as the ”go-to” expert in your industry
- Add any media articles that have been written about your business, products or staff
- Include About Us info such as business hours, photos of your staff & their qualifications
- Supply details of any awards you or your staff have received
- List community projects and charities you are involved in
6. Social Media Interaction
More and more people use social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ to keep in touch with their family, friends and business associates or clients. So don’t get left behind – find a social network where your customers hang out and create a profile, whether it be a Facebook Business Page, Twitter account, YouTube Channel or a LinkedIn Profile. The more you interact with your customers, the more they will trust you. And the added benefit is that search engines will take notice of that too and may rank your small business website higher.
You should never sell via social networks, instead provide useful tips, industry news and build relationships with your visitors. If done correctly, this will lead to trust and many future sales.
Creating a successful website takes planning, preparation and testing. If you register the right domain name, include appropriate keywords, write original content and prove your credibility, you have a much better chance of not only ranking higher in search engines, but also converting visitors into paying customers. Remember though, having a website is not a one off exercise. You need to keep tweaking it to meet the needs of your customers and search engines.