Owning and running a small business now most certainly requires the inclusion of an effective website. Even the smallest business is expected to have at least some sort of web presence. Simply paying the kid down the street to set up a run-of-the-mill boring website is more than likely not worth your money. Being a smart small business owner, you should view your website as a money maker, not a money-taker.
Every business website worth your money should have the following 6 essential features:
1. Customer Reviews and Testimonials
There is no better marketing than word of mouth marketing. Well, in this day and age, customer reviews and testimonials on your website are just as close as we can get. Of course your own website content will scream from the rooftops how great of a company you are, but having the word of satisfied customers makes your claims slightly more believable.
2. Contact Information
This one seems really obvious to have the basic business contact information on the site, but it happens! Also there’s no reason to hide this information. A lot of the time, for whatever reason, it’s difficult to find a basic phone number and address for a given company. Having a phone number, address, and email address in more than one location isn’t a bad idea, either. An emboldened “Contact Us” page, as well as reiterated near the top of the homepage, and contact information at the bottom of each page are a great idea even if they are ever so tiny.
3. Social Links
You’ve seen them attached to nearly every article you’ve ever read online. You know, that bar of tiny icons offering, “share this,” “email this,” or “like this.” These little icons are a great way for word to be spread about your website or information on your website. Allowing your readers to share your information is essentially a customer testimonial that they like what you have to say and want to share it with their friends. Fantastic!
Having a website is likely not enough for most business’ web presence these days. In a matter of a few hours, new social media accounts can be set up for your business on pages like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and many other sites. Creating these social media links on your webpage will create a sort of circular rope of connectivity, which is fantastic for search engine optimization.
4. A Blog
The thought of a blog can scare those new to websites but really is much simpler than most think, and they are a great way to drive traffic to your website. Think of a blog like a more personable voice for your company. Blogs are great to upload new information and exciting news about your company more frequently than you would for your webpage.
Simply put, blogs help make Google happy, and search engine optimization is all about making Google happy. The best way to make the almighty Google happy is to refresh new information frequently, have a lot of it, and include a lot of key words. The happier Google is with these simple factors, the higher your website will appear on a Google search list. A blog is the surefire easiest way to go about doing so.
5. Information Capture Form
Even the best website may not be able to convert a looker into a customer. Often viewers of your site will be visiting at off-business hours, and though they may want to contact you with questions or business, they figure they’ll wait until the morning and then forget. Having an information capture form can be priceless! By allowing your website visitors to give you their information, you’ll be able to make the most of your website’s 24/7 open hours.
6. Newsletter Sign Up
Similarly to a blog, a newsletter allows viewers of your site to sample your product or services without yet having to buy into anything. A newsletter can help build up those tentative but interested prospects into actual customers or clients through constant contact. The content of your newsletter can be similar to that of your blog, but sending a newsletter is actively and consistently contacting your database with your unique information.
It may seem that this is an awful lot of work for a product we can’t physically touch, but if your website is constructed and run correctly, you’ll be able to physically touch the income it will drive to your door. Investing in your website may be one of the smartest moves you’ll make to really launch your small business to new levels.
Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.