Your website is the virtual storefront of your local business. It’s your virtual business card. It’s the hub of your online reputation. From a digital perspective, it’s the single most important tool in your business arsenal. Done well, it can make you. Ignored and not attended to, it can break you. We’ve compiled the 4 key elements you need to make sure you do right to have a great local business website.
1. Responsive Design
Chances are, you’ve heard this term bounced around quite a bit. But we’re willing to bet it’s got you more than a little confused. Don’t worry—you’re not alone. When we talk about responsive design, we’re talking about making sure the structure on which your site is built can adapt to different screen sizes.
We’ve all had a crummy experience, where we went to a business website and the text was so small even a baby’s fingers couldn’t click on anything. All the pinching, swiping and zooming in the world can’t overcome a busy, text-heavy website trying to display on a mobile phone. But the fact is, 80% of internet users prefer to access it via their mobile device1! So, it’s a virtual certainty you’ll get visitors to your website from a mobile device.
The sad truth is, if your site is not mobile friendly, 40% of people will leave and go to another site (probably your competitor’s). So, never has it been more important to have a site that displays well across all devices than it is right now.
If I am going to your home page for the first time, you better impress me quickly and tell me exactly what you do. Big, bold professional images tell me immediately that you are a reputable local business who cares about their brand and service. I should be able to scan the page and in 2 seconds or less understand at a base level what you do. Here are a couple examples of websites like that where you land and immediately both understand the service and are impressed with their branding.
Consumer attention spans are growing shorter by the day. So, when they land on your business website, you want to make it clear and easy for them to find their way around. If you have a brick and mortar storefront, chances are the minute they walk in, you’d be there asking them what you can help them find. Or you’d have signs pointing to the cashier, restroom, etc. You want their experience to be easy and hassle-free. Do the same for them on your website.
Keep only the most important parts of your site front and center in the navigation bar. What are the actions you most want users to take—point them there! Generally, just a few top-level navigation terms are all you need. Things like: Home, About Us, Products/Services, and Contact Us are generally the information people are searching for and expect to find readily. So, stick to the biggies like that and you’re golden.
3. Clear Calls-to-Action (CTA)
You may hear people talk a lot about CTAs. This is marketing lingo for Call-to-Action. Basically, a CTA is some sort of invitation to the user to take an action. “Click Here” is a common one. Sometimes they come in the form of hyperlinked text (text you can click on), buttons or clickable images. Whatever form you use, just make it clear to the user what you want them to do.
Generally, pick one or two potential actions per page and make sure everything on that page supports persuading the user to take that action. For instance, if you’re a restaurant, on your “Menu” page, you most likely want to encourage someone to place an order online or by phone. Your CTAs would be things like text or buttons with the invitation to “Order Now!”
Whatever your CTA, be clear, be consistent. Guide the user towards whatever action you want them to take. The more guesswork you can take out of things for the user, the more likely you are to convert them into a customer.
4. Up-to-Date Content
Have you ever walked into a clothing store, found an item you like, and saw the sale sign above touting some amazing discount? Only to walk to the cashier and find out the signage was from a sale that ended two days ago? Bummer. Outdated content can ruin a customer experience. It’s the same with your website. Not only does fresh content help you rank better in search results, but it’s a clear indicator to potential customers that you care about your business, and care about them.
Nothing says, “shady business” like a website that clearly hasn’t been updated in weeks, months or even years. If a business website is out of date, how is a customer to trust that they’re even still in business? How’s a customer to trust that any of what’s on the website is accurate? How’s a customer to trust that the business will care about attention to detail, or be timely in responding to their purchase or request.
Update your website with new photos, new deals, new videos—anything to keep things fresh. It will pay off in the long run. Guaranteed.
So, there you have it. While there’s so much more that goes into creating and managing an effective website, if you can manage to employ these four tips, you’ll be well on your way to website excellence.
Sources: 1.) Smart Insights. 2.) SWEOR