If you plan on building a website for your small business, this is the first thing that must be answered: what is the purpose of this website? Having a website just because your competition does is not going to win over potential customers.
A great website has a clear purpose. So before you start building a website, ask yourself a few questions about what you want your website to do. Does your customer need to gain more information about what you do? Do you want your customers to sign up for your weekly newsletter? Do you want them to make a purchase through your website? Or maybe you want them to contact you by phone, email, or in person so that you can build relationships.
Make sure that you have a concise purpose so that you can develop your website around it. This will make sure that you are building a website that works for you and the potential customers finding you online.
SEO: How Will Your Customers Find You?
What’s the point of having an awesome website if no one can find it? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be one of the most important considerations when building a website. SEO is no longer about just keywords, although keywords are still important. A lot of other elements go into designing an SEO-friendly website.
Start by using strong keywords which are relevant to your business. This means that not only are web users searching for that keyword, but your website offers information specifically about that topic. Next, place them on your website effectively – in content, URLs and file names – and don’t spam keywords by gratuitously repeating them in your content or in every page of your site. You can even implement keywords in your image file names and descriptions. Just remember the rule: keep it relevant.
What you do offsite is important, too. Build out social media accounts and link them to your website. Work with your vendors, partners, and reputable local businesses to see if they will link to your new website from theirs. The more links you have from other valuable websites, the more value search engines will assign to your website.
Finally: give it time! SEO is a long game. For a brand new domain (that is, your www…), it can take 6-18 months to see serious traction in search results. What’s more, many of the factors which influence search results are entirely out of your control. Things like the amount of competition, market demand and the ever-changing whims of search algorithms. As you take that time building your online presence, consider alternative marketing avenues such as running Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads through Google or advertising over social media.
Whatever you do, do not skip on SEO, or your website may never be the revenue-generating, relatively low-cost juggernaut you want it to be.
Content: What Are You Saying to Your Customers?
Content has and always will be king. Google will generally give higher rankings to those who provide unique, high-quality content that adds value to the person reading it. Content refers to all of the consumable elements of your website: text, images, videos and interactive features. However, if your goal is for potential customers to find your website through search, it is vitally important that you have readable text on your website, as this is what search engines “read” to determine how and where to serve up your website in search.
Think of your web content as the solution to a problem. After all, customers are just people with problems. Their problem might be that they need information. Or they might need a service. Or they might need help getting out of a situation. When planning your content, start by thinking about customers from their perspective. What is their problem, and how can you help them fix it? Then, be sure to also prioritize the information your customers need to fulfill your solution.
Let’s take the example of a local hardware store. A potential customer’s problem might be that he wants to build a shelf, but he doesn’t know the best wood to use. On the website, the hardware store provides content about their large wood selection and, more importantly, the presence of in-house experts to advise customers on their projects. Now a solution is in sight, but what does the customer need to know next? It’s simple: location, business hours, a phone number to talk to an expert. A good website will have this information readily accessible, so customers can easily get the solutions they need. (It’s common sense, really.)
It’s often easy for businesses to go on and on about who they are and what they do. Tooting their own horn, in other words. But too often businesses forget that simple question: what do our customers want to know? Understanding and answering this question is the biggest piece of the content battle.
Quick Tips for Web Content Writing:
Keywords matter, but relevancy is more important. Let’s go back to our hardware store: using a keyword such as “hardware store in Frisco, TX” repeatedly on a page about tool rental might make sense in terms of the overall business, but it’s not relevant to the topic of that page. A better keyword would be “tool rental in Frisco, TX.”
Google sees duplicate content as a negative, so repeating content throughout your site, particularly keyword-stuffed content, can negatively impact your search ranking. Similarly, NEVER duplicate content from another website by copy/pasting. As much of your content as possible should be original.
Design: What Do You Want Your Visitors to Do?
This will relate to the purpose of your website. Coming up with a layout will depend on what you want your users to do once on your website. If you’re building an informational website, make sure that information is easy to find. If you’re building a website for email capture, make sure your users can easily find the form to enter their information.
If you’re building an online store, then make it easy for your customers to buy products.
Google also takes into account the length of time users spend on your website as a positive – the longer they are on your page the better, so design your website to keep them on there!
Now that we’ve got all that out of the way – design a website that is both functional and beautiful. No one wants to spend long periods of time looking and navigating through an ugly outdated website – fact.
Mobile/Responsive: How Are Your Customers Getting Online?
Since April 2015, Google has taken mobile-ready sites seriously. Google is trying to put a mobile user’s needs first, and that is why they will be punishing any website that is not mobile friendly. When creating a website, you must make sure that your website is functional on screens both big and small.
With the trend of mobile searches these days, this is a no brainer. Users will most likely be put off by a website that doesn’t work on mobile. What would you think of a company that couldn’t be bothered to create a website that works on mobile for you – their consumer?
Finding a good hosting company is easy to do. Finding a great one is hard to come by. There are a few main things you need to look for when choosing the right hosting company for your website. You are looking for a company with a guaranteed high uptime, that is reasonably priced, is fast and has a great support system.
Do your research and make sure you ask the sales support staff before you commit. If they cannot answer your basic questions, look elsewhere.
Speed: Does Your Website Keep Up with Today’s User?
Ain’t nobody got time for anything these days and that includes a slow website. Guess what a slow website also impacts? That’s right – your Google ranking! (Do you see the trend here?) Making sure that your images are optimized and that your code is clean are easy ways to make sure that your website loads as fast as possible.
There is a lot of information to take in, and you can see that building a website is not a walk in the park. Having a vision is a great starting point, but getting it developed is another story. It does take a lot of time and effort to create something great, but once you start seeing results it’s all worth it.
There are benefits to hiring an outside agency to build your website so that you can focus on growing your business. If you decide to hire an outside agency, just make sure that they are well established, have a proven track record, have examples or their work and have the reviews to back it up. Even if you don’t go with us we want to make sure what to look for in a great agency.
Here at Osky Blue, this sort of thing is exactly what we live and breathe. We offer a wide range of services from web design, search engine optimization, and marketing. You can contact the Osky Blue team at 1-866-675-9411.