Online presence is crucial for any business.
People want to know who you are before they buy, so making a solid first impression is crucial. In the small business world, being visible on the web is an area that a lot of small businesses don’t spend a lot of time.
They might be showing up in directories and online review sites like Yelp, but a lot of times they don’t have their business listed with Google My Business, barely have a Facebook page and sometimes don’t even have a website.
Making sure that you are owning your backyard is critical when you are trying to grow a small business. When you are trying to get a potential client to know, like and trust you, their first impression of you is a backbone component.
So here are some of the keys to building a local website that can help you grow and thrive as a small business.
Bring your contact information to the forefront
Having contact information readily available in multiple places on your site allows you to appear accessible if your customer has any problems or questions. When people are making a decision on a purchase, they want to know that you are there for them if they need anything.
There are also the questions that come up around the the quality and reliability of your work if you don’t want to be contacted directly. Think about it like this: if you are unwilling to give your contact information that readily, then perhaps there is something less legitimate about the business your are doing.
In addition to appearing accessible to your potential customers, consider search engines as well. Google and other search engines have been known to give a little boost to businesses who put their information contact information on the homepage, even moreso when paired with placement in online directories that have the same contact information.
Keep your customer in mind when building your site
From navigation to images to language and jargon, your potential clients and customers will be at different places in their journey to purchasing your product or service.
Whether you are selling a lawn mower to a new home buyer or selling packaging materials to a local manufacturer, you know your business, products and terminology -- but your prospect doesn’t. If you immediately start talking about things like deck size to a new home buyer, you are going to lose them. If you are deep into talking about break strength for the hand grade polyester strapping that you sell, you are going to have a problem.
Many small business owners feel like using this type of language really establishes them as a credible and informed seller of their goods and services. However, the customer is getting more than they need to make an educated choice.
When your prospect comes to your website, they are looking for a solution to a problem. They trust you to be able to take the information that they have given you and be able to apply an adequate and not over-sold solution that will not take advantage of them and will meet their needs. They are buying locally after all.
Other areas to consider include the actual design of your site and how your “user” will experience it. Making sure that you take into account the way that your website makes you look specifically to your target market is an essential key to building a website that works locally.
We recently had a client who was having a hard time driving down into their target market, which was local private practice health care providers, because their website was making them look too high priced and corporate or enterprise level. Their images were very technical and included a number of board rooms and glass walls, two things that don’t exist in a small private practice.
So we redesigned their website so that the language and the funnel that was developed moved their prospect to the areas of the site that they needed to be in order to get the information that they need for the problem that they are having.
Reach your potential prospect where they are and build for mobile
If your potential customer or client is looking at your site on the go, making sure that the site that they are looking at is responsive (or modifies the content in a way that is digestible on the device that they are using) becomes critical. If you are asking your prospect to zoom in and out of pages and click tiny links and navigation buttons to get around your site, then you will almost always lose them as a buyer.
When you are building your site and keeping the mobile experience in mind, make sure that you are asking the question of what does your prospect need when they are engaging with your content through their mobile device.
If you are a local pizza delivery company, they probably do not need as much information about whether you are hiring or the history of your company or photos of the staff. However, they probably need to know what your specials are and how they can contact you for a delivery or carry out.
Small to medium-sized businesses are way behind the curve on developing mobile websites, with nearly 95% of SMBs have not built a mobile platform. This is a key area where SMBs can improve, grow and thrive.
Regularly update your site with fresh content
I can’t tell you how many small businesses miss the mark on the content that is on their website. They allow the website to become stale and the language and way that they are representing themselves to be stilted and dated.
People want to experience what it is like to work with you. If you are an traffic or criminal attorney, you may want your potential clients to know that that you are professional and established but also that you are a common person who understands the problem that your client is facing and why it is important to them. You don’t want to come off as though you live in an ivory tower.
Additionally, keeping fresh content on your website that talks about the problem that your prospective client is facing allows you to further legitimize yourself as the expert and solution provider. When you are talking about the problem, they know that they have a local resources that they can tap into with questions who can help them get over that next hurdle.
Content marketing also allows you to re-purpose some of that content on other areas of your marketing. You can build that content into a mailing list, strip out some content and use it on social media, have it as a resource that you can point people to who are asking the same question over and over again, and, since you know it is a problem people are having locally, use it to drive the content of your ads.
Content marketing can be a lot of work; but when done correctly, it can become a vital component in growing your local business.
While this list is in no way comprehensive, it is a good place to start for things that are important to remember to look for when you are having your website designed. If you are hiring a local web designer, these are the types of things that you want to hear them talking about to help your business’s website be successful.