A lot of small businesses don’t have a website, or if they do, they don’t pay attention to the site. If you just starting out to create a website for your business or want to update/add features to your existing business website, Then This Guide Is For You. I’ve Crafted a List of Must-Have Features for Small Business Websites. From Choosing Domain Name to Displaying Trust Seal, Here Are The 14 Must Have Features that will Effectively help you Market Your Small Business Website Online in 2017.
Let’s start with Statistic, If we have a look at the Clutch’s Small Business Websites in 2017 Survey, We’ll get an idea about United States Small Business Website Status.
Small Business Websites in 2017: Survey
- 29% of small businesses do not have a website. In 2016 This were 46% small businesses.
- Of the small businesses that do have a website, 79% say their website is mobile friendly.
- Only 58% of Midwestern small businesses have a website compared to the Northeast (72%), the South (73%), and the West (77%).
- Low-revenue small businesses (those earning less than $1 million a year) are about 30% less likely to have a website than higher-revenue companies.
- High-quality web content and increased mobility are top website priorities in 2017.
It’s time to think about your business website. Take a deep breath.
The very first question you should ask yourself when you set out to Create or Update/Add Features your Small Business Website is: What Features Should be on my Website?
Answer is Simple, You should include As Little As Possible, But As Much As Necessary Information to Accomplish your business goals for the website, and Deliver Right Message To Your Website Visitor. Your site will be more complex if you use e-commerce feature, or if you rely solely on internet marketing for your business leads and sales.
But If Your Goal To Get A Simple Website Up And Running, There Are Only A Few Elements That Are Absolutely Essential On Your Business Website.
14 Features Every Small Business Website Needs
1. A Simple, Memorable Web Address
Don’t make things complicated. Your domain name is like your brand. It should be easy for a user to type it into a Web browser or an e-mail address.
I always recommend the .com domain as users are conditioned to type that extension when they enter a Web address. For non-profits or organizations, I usually recommend using a .org domain for branding purposes, but also recommend having a .com version of the domain in case a user accidentally types the .com address.
I also suggests avoiding dashes (which can cause SEO headaches) and numbers (which can cause confusion for customers).
2. A Clear Site Description
Someone who stumbles upon your website shouldn’t have to do investigative work to figure out what, exactly, it is that you do. That means clearly stating your name and summing up your products or services right on the homepage.
Tell people this is the right website that they have been searching for, A Clear description of Who You Are and What You Offer will attract the visitor’s attention immediately within 2-3 seconds, and encourage them to stay on your website longer.
3. Easy-to-find Contact Information
You wouldn’t want to lose a customer to a competitor just because you made it difficult for them to get in touch with you.
Not every online visitor has the patience to click through every page on your website to find the contact information.
The best place for the contact information is the top left or top right corner of the home page. It is also a good practice to include contact information in every page of the website in the footer or side bar or even in top right corner, which helps the visitors to find it more easily.
You should also be sure to include several ways for them to contact you — phone, e-mail, and a standard contact form, are all good options. Forbes also suggests including your address, and even a link to your location in Google maps.
One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is to force only one way to reach them. The point is to make it very easy for users to communicate with you on their terms.
4. Display Customer Testimonials
Some people don’t realize how important a customer testimonial can be. Testimonials help build relationship for the business for first time visiting consumers, and you want your business to look the best, don’t you?
The Importance of Testimonials:
- According to Nielsen research, “92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, and 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.”
- 88% have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business (vs. 85% in 2013)
- 39% read reviews on a regular basis (vs. 32% in 2013)
- Only 12% do not read reviews (vs. 15% in 2013)
For many businesses, it’s ideal to have a website page devoted to testimonials where all of them are visible, but it doesn’t end there. They’re particularly valuable on website pages that drive important conversions, where your potential customers are making decisions.
It’s well worth your time to select the testimonials that best complement the conversion you’re trying to achieve. Depending on the content and format of the testimonial, it can achieve different goals at different stages of the sales process.
By choosing testimonials that address potential customers’ questions and concerns at a given point, you’re using social proof to guide them down the sales funnel.
Testimonials aren’t only for your website, though—you can also share them on social media and incorporate them into emails, blog posts, ebooks, print materials, videos, broadcast ads, and beyond. Hey – if they’re the most effective form of content marketing, then why not use them?
5. Include Several Calls-to-Action On Your Website
Calls-to-Action Tell the online visitors literally what you want them to do with clear tones of commend. For instance, you may want them to call you now for free quote, or sign up to your exclusively online coupons, or add products to the online shopping cart, etc.
Call-to-Action act like you Suggesting your site Visitor to Perform an Action — Lile Contact You, Subscribe To your Site, Share your Site or Buy Something, for example.
If you’re creating a website to gather leads or interact with potential customers, make sure you’re clear on what you want your prospects to do.
Want your customers to call you or buy your product? Ask them. Want them to contact you? Show them where they can do it.
Overall, inviting people to call or buy your products is important. Some people may not even realize it’s an option unless you specifically tell them that it is an option.
6. Fresh Quality Content
Your website is your first impression on a customer, You want to give them what they’re looking for, and perhaps even give them a reason to keep coming back.
Fresh Content is Critical for Your Website Search Ranking. You can keep your content fresh by incorporating a regularly-updated blog or connecting in your social media feeds.
By Fresh Quality Content, I Mean:
- — Fresh can mean a lot of things. It can mean content that is relevant to a current issue or about a current event. It can simply mean up-to-date. It’s important to make sure that the information in your content is current and accurate – one of the many reasons Cascade Server’s Broken Link Report is so helpful. Since you’re not the only one updating your content, you need to make sure that when others update theirs, it doesn’t create broken links on your site.
- — Quality can feel subjective, but everyone has read content that was clearly not quality. Quality content is accurate, well-researched, targeted, free of spelling and grammatical errors, and intentional. Intentional content serves a purpose – it tells a story or imparts knowledge to the reader. Nothing is worse than finding a piece about a topic you’re interested in, and realizing it doesn’t actually give you any useful information.
- — Great content is either timely or timeless. Meaning it has the freshness of being current or the freshness of being content that transcends time. With information and technology advancing at an exponential rate, it’s getting harder to create timeless content, but periodically refreshing your content can keep it feeling timeless. As we mentioned before – a blog about best SEO practices is more of a timely piece which will need be rewritten as standards change, whereas a guide for creating a content calendar can be timeless with only minimal updating.
- — Quality content adds value. Once you know who your audience is, and what you want to achieve with your content, you have to make sure you’re giving something in return. True value is also original. Think of what only you can offer, or an angle that no one else has approached. Unique content is essential as more and more marketers are utilizing content marketing.
7. Know The Basics of SEO
Your website won’t do you as much good if no one can find it. Become familiar with the SEO Basics to make your website more Accessible by Search Engine.
You don’t need to Use Mysterious, Ninja, black hat SEO types to rank well on the search engines. Simply make sure your website’s User Experience is Good and Properly Accessible by Search Engine.
Good User Experience Means:
- Design For End Users’ Perspective.
- A Clear and Functional Website Architecture.
- Intuitive Visual Presentation.
- Responsive Design.
Search Engine Accessibility Means:
- Ensure site meta titles and description are descriptive, yet Concise.
- Use alternative text for all of your site images.
- Use a clear and proper heading structure and avoid empty headings.
- Provide descriptive link text (i.e. Avoid “click here”).
- Avoid mouse dependent interaction.
- Use standard web formats when possible
- Provide transcripts and captions for video.
- Declare the language of your site and pages.
- Allow multiple ways of finding content (i.e. search, a site map, table of contents, clear navigation, etc.)
- Use text instead of images when possible.
- Providing useful links to related and relevant resources.
- Ensuring URLs are human readable and logical.
- Presen a clear and consistent navigation and page structure.
- Avoid CSS and other stylistic markup to present content or meaning.
- Define abbreviations and acronyms.
8. A Secure and Reliable Hosting Solution
While most business owners see the value of creating awesome website and content, the importance of selecting a reliable web host often takes a back seat. In my experience, most small businesses end up making a wrong choice in the beginning because they do not properly evaluate their needs.
Choosing A Secure and Reliable Hosting Solution is a major consideration when launching a site; remember that without a web host – how can anyone view your site! Figuring out which web hosting provider and level of service you need can be mind boggling. This can be especially true for Small-Business starting out who may lack technical experience in this area.
It is imperative that you go with a secure, trustworthy hosting company to keep your online information safe and your content up and running. It is also very important to keep your content management system updated in order to stay one step ahead of the hackers.
Choose a hosting company that occupied with latest server hardware, technology and infrastructure and support high level of performance & reliability.
9. A Responsive Website
Smartphones and tablets are driving an increasing amount of web traffic, and the numbers are only going to grow as mobile devices become cheaper and more mainstream. Andy Chu, director of Bing for Mobile, says 70% of task completion happens within one hour on mobile sites, meaning that people are often browsing on the web with intent — they’re looking to do something, buy something or go somewhere. If someone searches for a restaurant on his smartphone, he’s likely to eat at that restaurant within the hour, says Chu. So your website better be readable on handheld devices.
Until two years ago, designing for the web meant designing for a computer, now it means designing for anything with an internet connection, referring to laptops, tablets and smartphones, all of which have different screen sizes. So, how can you do it? Responsive design.
Why should I care about Responsive Design?
Here’re 15 Facts to help you Understand Importance of Responsive Design
- 80% Of Internet Users Own A Smartphone Gadget (Smart Insights)
- Mobile Devices Will Drive 80% Of Global Internet Usage and 60% of Digital Ad Spend Will Be On Mobile By 2018 (Zenith)
- Mobile-influenced Offline Spending Already Over $1 trillion (Forrester)
- 48% of consumers start mobile research with a search engine (Google Research)
- 68% Of Digital Media Time Is Now Spent On Mobile (comScore)
- By 2018, 80% Of Email Users Will Use A Mobile Device To Access Their Email Accounts (Email Monday)
- Tablet devices account for the highest add-to-cart rates on e-commerce websites at 8.58%. (Smart Insights)
- 68% of companies have integrated mobile marketing into their overall marketing strategy. (Salesforce)
- 71% of marketers believe mobile marketing is core to their business. (Salesforce)
- Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead. (MicKinsey & Company)
- 83% of mobile users say that a seamless experience across all devices is very important. (Wolfgang Jaegel)
- 91% of mobile users say that access to content is very important. (Wolfgang Jaegel)
- 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. (CMS Report)
- 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours. (Nectafy)
- 40% Of Mobile Searches Have Local Intent (Google Mobile Moments Study)
Responsive website design enables you to use fluid widths, so that your website layout will adapt to the screen on which it’s being browsed. You can enter HTML code so that your sidebar takes up, say 20% of the screen width, and the remaining 80% is reserved for the body of your website. Layouts are adjustable and images are scalable to make for a better web experience on myriad devices. https://parvezweblog.blogspot.com is good example of site with responsive design, so you can see for yourself.
Need Help Design a Responsive Website? Contact Us.
10. Clear Website Navigation
A Map is useless without a legend and a website is useless without clear navigation. Make sure you use easy-to-understand and logical names for the various pages of your site — Service, Products, Contact, About, FAQ, etc. Being cryptic or clever will just be a turnoff for users.
When developing your navigation strategy, you should consider a call to action. Ask Yourself, What is it that you want people to do on your site? Place an order? Email for a quote? Become a member? Come to your brick-and-mortar store? Call to speak with a customer service rep? Make your goals clear and obvious.
11. A FAQ Section
People have a lot of questions. As you hear concerns from customers and receive feedback via email, gather up the most frequently asked questions into a list and write clear and concise answers. Try to address common customer concerns, questions or objections that customers have. Questions often raise about your services, warranty, specifications, pricing, company history, your accreditation and cancellation policies.
Then Create a Page or Section called FAQ in your website and display all the answers you wrote. By creating a well-structured, planned and thoughtful FAQ page, you can develop a very useful piece of content for your site, and a standalone selling tool – one that is often overlooked, and just as often – not developed as effectively as it could be.
12. Social Media Integration
There are a lot of social platforms out there, and you should promote your presence on them on your website, because social media is critical part of marketing your business. Some of the popular social media are Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, Foursquare.
Integrating these platforms into your website will help boost your site search ranking, improve your business’ footprint on the social media and build your following across numerous social platforms. Is it worth it to maintain a presence on so many social platforms? Yes — as long as you actually maintain your online presence, you’ll keep your brand top-of-mind and keep users engaged. Social media is not going to leave us anytime soon and its worth the investment in time — it does make a difference.
Ways to Make Social Media Work for You:
- Pick the proper social media platforms related to your business.
- Do not over promote your business.
- Write individual posts for each network.
- Have personality to your posts.
- Measure your results and act accordingly.
- Engage with the community.
- Give your content real value.
13. Add a Sitemap
Sitemaps are organized lists or flow chart diagrams that shows connections between web pages, web page trees, and website content. A visual sitemap is a very effective method for both planning and communicating ideas about a website’s structure. Pages and content are typically organized in a hierarchical tree with root and parent pages at the top, deeper and more specific child pages toward the bottom, and subject matter distributed horizontally.
There are basically two main types of sitemaps; the HTML sitemap that is primarily built for human site visitors and the Extensible Markup Language (XML) sitemaps designed for the search engines. The HTML sitemaps are basically lists of links to all the pages in a website, just like a book’s table of content. In most cases, this kind of sitemap lists pages hierarchically based on the categories and their location on the site. You can use a website mapping tool to create sitemaps of this kind so that your visitors can quickly find the information on your website and search engines bots can thoroughly crawl the content.
On the other hand, XML sitemaps are principally meant for use by search engines. This sitemap is mostly a string of codes to directly communicate with the search engines regarding parts of the website that should be crawled. Note that the XML is a language that is understood by the search engines, which makes it ideal for this purpose. This type of sitemap is highly recommended for sites with complex content. Some websites cannot be easily accessed from the homepage because of some formats like Ajax or Flash that search engines have difficulty crawling.
It is recommended that you include both HTML and XML sitemaps because they serve different targets and purposes. You stand a high chance of improving your SEO with sitemaps because they increase internal linking as well as create a content-rich web page. After using a website mapping tool to create sitemap, place it on the homepage and ensure it is at the footer of all the other pages.
14. Add a Trust Seal
For any website that sells a service or product online – whether it be a service or physical good, there are two primary ways to increase transaction volume. One is to increase website traffic (By Organic or Paid Search Engine Results), getting more potential customers into your sales funnel. The other is to increase the conversion rate, getting more revenue and more customers from your existing traffic base.
A trust seal can increase your website conversion rate. Comodo Prepared a Survey showing a 78% of online shoppers said the presence of Trust Elements, such as Trust Seals, would dictate if they’d trust a website.
So, What is a Trust Seal?
A Trust Seal, sometimes called a Secure Site Seal, is something you’re likely already familiar with if you’ve ever noticed small badges displayed on a website footer or sidebar, Particularly on Small-Business Website.
A trust seal is a seal granted by an entity to website or businesses for display. Often the purpose is demonstrate to customers that this business is concerned with security and their business identity. The requirements for the displaying merchant vary, but typically involve a dedication to good security practices or the use of secure methods for transactions or most importantly verified existence of the company. Trust seals can come in a variety of forms, including data security seals, business verified seals and privacy seals and are available from a variety of companies, for a fee. A Trust seal can be either active or passive. Most seals are validated when they are created and remain so for a specific duration of time, post expiry of which the business/process has to be re-validated.
The function of most trust seals will depend on the company who issued the seal. Some of them indicate trust scores, ratings or sales stats of the websites that show visitors how safe the particular business is. Others indicate the presence of SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer), meaning the site connects over HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) and data transmitted between a visitor’s browser and the server is encrypted and can’t be theft by third party.
Here are Different Types of Trust Seals:
- Security Seals
- Privacy Seals
- Buyer Protection Seals
- Business Identity Seals
Example of Trust Seals for Small Business Website can be showcase of your Business Accreditation, Certificates, Brand or Trade Association Badges and Awards that show You and Your Business is Legitimate with Notable Achievements. This also includes Privacy Seals and SSLs (Secure Sockets Layers). This helps users feel more secure when browsing your website and filling out personal information about themselves. Even if your business is only asking for something as simple as an e-mail address, adding this kind of trust elements will increase the likelihood of a user providing that information.
Example of Some Trust Seal for Local Business Website Can Be
- BBB Accredited Business Seal
- Certificate From Your Local Chambers of Commerce Association
- Federal Licenses & Permits
- SBA Certificate
- Industry Related Certificate. If you are a HVAC and Refrigeration Technician, NATE Certificate Can Validate your Field of Expertise.
- Brand or Trade Association Badges, Like The National Association (PHCC) Association Badge.
- Any Valid SSL Certificate
Above 14 Things are Extremely Important and Must Have Features for Every Local Business Website. So, if you’re running a small business website, consider straying from what people say is right and try out what actually works for small businesses.