Now, more than ever, small business owners are waking up to the reality that they can no longer afford to have a bad website. If your small business website is not actively attracting, engaging and converting new clients for you, it is holding you back. But before you run out and hire the best website design company you can think of, it is important to know what constitutes a website that works for your business.
By now, you’ve probably noticed that not all websites are created equally. Imagine for a minute that you’re buying a new car. There is obviously a wide range of price, functionality and quality to consider. Are you looking for a pint-sized smart car, or the latest model BMW? The same goes for your website. Are you looking for a quick and easy DIY Wix website or a professionally-built website that will serve your business well for years to come?
Despite the similarities between buying a car and buying a website, there is one big difference that can trip you up if you don’t know what to look for. With a website, it can be harder to look under the hood, so to speak, and know what you’re actually getting. Because most small business owners don’t know what to look for when it is time to invest in a new website, we’ve boiled it down for you here. After building hundreds of websites for small businesses across the country, we’ve identified the top 3 ingredients of websites that work.
Ingredient #1: Attract
Your website should not just sit there waiting to be discovered; it should actively attract people who need your services. Yes, you can side-step a lazy website by paying for things like Google Ads to put your website in front of people. While there is a place for paid advertising, it should not be the only way people find you. A website that works will have a well-organized sitemap and keyword-optimized content that makes it easy for searching engines like Google to pair your website with people who are searching for your services.
Just for fun, type your primary service offering followed by your city and state into the Google search bar (ex: accountant dayton oh) and see who comes up. Once you skip past the ads and any national directory sites at the top like Yelp, take a look at the individual business websites on the list. Those first few businesses have each invested at some level in a website that actively attracts quality clients. That is where you want to be.
TIP: If your website pops up first in your search results and you have done absolutely nothing to get it there, don’t get too excited. Google often tailors your search results to your recently web activity. So, if you’ve been on your own website recently, Google may be listing it at the top of your search results for you, but no one else. To see where you really rank, first clear your cache, and then enter your search again.
So how do you get your website to actively attract quality clients? This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. To actively attract people to your website (without having to pay for ads), you need a website that is optimized for search engines. An entire industry exists around the ever-changing world of SEO. We won’t overwhelm you with the details here, but here are some of the best ways you can optimize your website for search engines:
- Structure your website so Google (and people) can make sense of it
- Integrate your industry keywords into your page titles, headings, image names, alt text and meta descriptions
- Add new keyword-rich content like FAQs or a blog
- Mobile-optimize your website for all devices
- Make sure your website loads quickly
- Measure and monitor your website traffic with Google Analytics
While some of those items, like a blog, may be an ongoing effort, most of them should come standard with a good website design service.
Ingredient #2: Engage
Alright, so let’s assume your website is actively attracting quality clients. Congratulations, you can check that box! Now let’s look at how those people are engaging with your website. Imagine you have 1,000 people a day visit your website. That is great, but if they aren’t staying long enough to click around, read about your services or contact you, something is wrong.
TIP: Your bounce rate is one of the easiest ways to get a quick read on your website engagement. It tracks how many people are “bouncing” off your website before they click around or read anything. You want your bounce rate to be low — like your golf score. If you have Google Analytics hooked up, you can take a look at your bounce rate there.
If those 1,000 people per day are bouncing off your website like hot potatoes, your website has engagement issues. For one reason or another, those people don’t like what they see within those first few seconds on your website. Instead of clicking around, they bounce off your website and go to your competitor’s website. Ouch. So how do you make your website more engaging? Here are a few of the best ways to make it easy for people to engage with your website:
- Make sure your website loads quickly (this matters here, too)
- Create a strong first impression “above the fold“
- Speak directly to your ideal client with your messaging
- Clearly describe your services so people aren’t confused
- Keep the design crisp, clean and clutter-free
- Avoid dead-end pages
- Have clear, intuitive user journeys that invite people deeper into the website
- Minimize design distractions
- Balance your use of color, graphics, and movement with ample white space
- Pepper in tasteful hyperlinks, downloadable resources, etc.
- Have a well-placed call to action (CTA) always within view (ex: schedule a consultation)
The experience of your web design team is critical when it comes to creating an engaging website. If you invest in a “BMW-level” website, these things should come standard.
Ingredient #3: Convert
Finally, you have plenty of people visiting your website each day. They are staying long enough to read your bio, learn about your services, check out your blog and maybe even sign up for your free download. Now what? This is the moment of truth for your website. It is time for those people to contact you about becoming a paying client. There are a number of ways you can invite someone to start the conversation about using your services. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Have a consistent call to action (CTA) that is always within view
- Invite people to fill out an email form where you’ll follow up with them
- List your phone number for people to call (or text) to start the conversation
- Add a booking calendar where people can schedule a free consultation
- Add your preferred contact method to the website header and/or footer
- Prompt people to take a survey where you’ll follow up with them about the results
The options are endless. It is just a matter of choosing and implementing the right call to action for your business.
So there you have it, the top 3 ingredients of websites that work. How does your website stack up? If your website is not actively attracting, engaging and converting clients for your business, we can help you fix that. Book a time to talk with Sarah, our Co-Founder & Brand Strategist, to start the conversation about getting a website that works for your small business.