A high quality website is crucial to the success of all businesses. Despite this being common knowledge, a 2012 survey conducted by the US Census Bureau found 75% of businesses don’t have a website. Although the numbers are based on US businesses, those figures can easily be interpreted as a snapshot of the rest of the world. Clearly, businesses in the 75% are missing a huge opportunity.
At the same time, Borrell Associates discovered in late 2012 that more than half of all small business marketing spend goes into establishing a web presence, while a vSplash audit from March 2013 identified many shortcomings in business websites, including the alarming statistic that 25% don’t show up in Google. Overall, this means that less than one on five businesses is making a success of establishing a web presence and earning revenue through their website.
For local businesses, who don’t have and established brand or name recognition, their website might be their only means of reaching out to potential customers and encouraging them to purchase their products or services. As a result, it is crucial local businesses get their website correct; they cannot afford to be in the 75% without a website or the 25% who cannot be found via search.
These eight keys to building a successful local website will enable you to avoid the mistakes identified by vSplash and establish a presence that will help you drive traffic, conversions, and revenues, whatever your industry.
vSplash also identified that 94% of businesses don’t have a contact email address on their website. We can understand that, as many don’t want to put their email address in the business (at) website (dot) com format just to avoid spam and opt for a contact or enquiry form instead.
More alarmingly, nearly 50% didn’t have a phone number visible on their site.
The best approach is to have your contact details on every page, with priority given to how you want customers to get in touch. If you’re looking to gain attention online and convert offline, you need to have a Google Map showing your location on each page. This is important information; don’t bury it in the footer of your website pages or have it hidden in About Us or Contact pages. Use schema mark up to highlight your contact details to Google and enjoy an SEO boost, too.
Contact forms are great because potential customers can leave an enquiry and you can call them back with the information they want; this is a particularly good way to prevent those short on time from bouncing off your site if you only have a phone number as a contact point.
Live chat is something seen more with larger companies, so if you install a live chat platform on your site it’ll instantly add to your credibility as a local business. If your business involves you being online all day anyway, then live chat won’t take up a lot of time; you’ll only use it when you have a customer.
Both of these methods enable visitors to your site to connect with you 24/7, giving you an instant advantage in competitive markets.
Your customers are looking for a website that is slick, simple, and makes it easy to get in touch or answer a call to action. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you need to go over the top with a flash introduction and have your pages filled with plugins and applications.
Not only is it likely you don’t need them, they’ll slow down the loading time of your site, which won’t achieve anything other than annoying your browsers. Flash and other features might not be compatible with smartphones and tablets, either. Given that the number of local searches being carried out on mobile devices is growing, a simple site really is the only way forward.
Thorough, in depth keyword research is the foundation of any website when it comes to SEO. Before you start building your website or hiring a designer, ensure you’ve seen this process through. When you begin the content creation process, look to build this around your keywords. Use a platform like Google Analytics or SEMRush to discover the best keywords for your site and your industry.
You already know that an increasing number of searches related to local businesses will be conducted on a mobile device, so ensure you’re following the latest mobile keyword research practices to ensure you’re building the most relevant site and creating the most relevant content for your audience.
When putting your site together, remember to tag photographs with keywords, incorporate keywords into page titles, and use keyword rich, but not necessarily exact match, anchor text when linking internally.
Another common business website mistake is for a site to be set up and then left alone. Not only might this make it look like you’re out of business, it does nothing for your SEO.
The easiest way to keep your site ticking over with fresh content is to commit to uploading a new piece of blog content at least once each week. Depending on your business, you could also feature your latest products on your home page, photographs, or anything else that keeps your site fresh and gives people a reason to keep coming back.
One final shocking figure from the earlier cited vSplash study was that 91% of businesses don’t have a Facebook ‘like’ button on their website, while 94% don’t have a Twitter follow button.
If you’re not currently active on social media, make it the first thing you do after launching your website; this brilliant infographic tells you all you need to know. Outside of your on-site blog, social media is the way you’re going to be able to engage with your audience and attract more visitors to your site.
Rather than paying a developer to produce separate websites for desktop and mobile devices, build a site using responsive web design that will look brilliant on whatever device visitors to your site are using. This caters for the increased numbers you can expect to see looking for you and using mobile devices to visit your site, while also producing a clean, easy to use website for those using a desktop device.
Of the 25% of businesses who do have a website, SiteApps found an incredible 75% of them weren’t measuring their success or tracking performance in anyway. Reasons varied from not having the time to measure performance to a lack of understanding of Google Webmaster Tools and other platforms.
What other parts of your business do you set up and not track? The answer is probably none, so why would you do that with your website?
Putting all of the numbers together that are cited here proves the value and opportunity a great local business website represents. You simply cannot afford to not be getting every last percentage point of performance from your site; ensure you implement these eight keys and you’ll be on the path to local business website success.