THE BLOG

11 Things You NEED on Your Small Business Website

03/11/2015 11:01 GMT | Updated 02/11/2016 09:12 GMT

Is your website bringing you business? Is it attracting the right people? Are you making lots of sales, consistently from it? Or is it sitting out there on the web, not fulfilling its potential?

I see so many websites out there that look beautiful at first glance, but don't do what they've been designed to do. I see lots more that look, well pretty uninspiring really and definitely let the side down when it comes to showing their business off at its best.

Sometimes it's a question of design over substance. Sometimes it's because the business owner didn't really know what they wanted when they had the website built (this happens more often than you might think). Whatever the reason, if this is ringing alarm bells with you it's not the end of the world.

I've put together a list of the 10 things you should have on your business website if you want to attract the right people (people who are likely to buy), get them to spend their hard earned cash with you and keep coming back. Not all of them are essential (there's one even I don't have yet) but if you have half of these on your website then you're doing really well but the more you can include, the more awesome and effective your website is going to be.

1. A Very Clear Home Page

Not just clear but aimed at your Super Customer. Your Super Customer is the type of person who is most likely to buy from you because you cannot market to everybody - here's a blog explaining more about it. www.bitly.com/supercustomer

Your home page is your shop window. It's the first thing most people will see if you turn up in a Google search or they follow a link from social media.

You've done the hard work, you've GOT them to your site, so don't let the side down now.

Make sure your home page is really clear and shows, immediately, what you do. Make sure your navigation is clear, not confusing. Make it EASY for people to find what they want, and buy.

You need a potential buyer to be able to quickly and easily find their way around and BUY, with enough information available so they can make their decision there and then without having to contact you or do more research.

2. A Great 'About' Page

Your 'about' page is your chance to tell people about you and your business. It's a chance to start a relationship with your visitors, to let them see if they feel you're their type of person. It's your chance to tell your story and the story of how the business came about.

Don't waste it by sticking a bunch of stuffy, sterile text in there that could belong to anyone. Fill it full of your personality - it will filter out people who are a bad fit and attract people who 'get' you. Give your about page a makeover now!

3. Contact Page

Even if you don't want to put your email address on your website for security reasons, you can still put a contact form on there very easily (by the way in most countries it's a legal requirement to have your contact details on a website if you are selling on it).

But don't just leave it at a contact form - if people are looking at the page, let's make the most of it! Put your social media icons on there too and encourage people to follow you.

Put your hours of business on there - even if you don't own a physical shop with a door you lock at the end of the day, you still need to put boundaries in place. Manage people's expectations and let them know how long it will be before they can expect to hear from you if they enquire.

4. A Frequently Asked Questions Page

Take all the questions people ask you in the course of your business, from pricing, delivery, returns, plus any product related questions and put them with your standard answers on a page on your website.

This will make it easier for people to buy because you're answering their questions while they are browsing - it takes away the barrier of having to contact you before they can make a decision. It makes it easier to buy. And you can put a link to your FAQ page on your Contact page, too .

5. A List Builder

Just think about how many people land on your website - what happens to them if they aren't quite ready to buy? They click away and you've lost them and you have to rely on their memory to find you again when they are ready to buy.

But that doesn't have to be the case.

Start capturing your visitors' email addresses so that you can build a relationship with them away from your website. You can add value, share great stories, send them monthly or weekly newsletters where you can get to know them and prove your credibility. You can put offers out there too.

You need a a reason for them to sign up to your list and we call that a List Builder - and you need one on your website. It could be as simple as a discount voucher or a tips sheet, maybe a little e-book or a 'how to' video.

Anything your Super Customers would love and that would entice them to hand over their email address in return. Remember to tell them they will be added to your mailing list when they sign up, just so you are marketing with integrity and they know what to expect.

6. Up To Date Information

I cannot count the number of times I have been to a website and their last blog was in 2003 or their prices don't work or the links are broken!

Or you can see the news page hasn't been updated for five years and the social media stuff is out of date. They've put their Twitter account on there and had it feeding in and they haven't tweeted for a year!

There's nothing more likely to put me off buying from a website than seeing it's been 'abandoned'. To me, that's saying that they don't bother with it and who knows if the company is even still in business?

If you have a website, check it every 6 months. Make sure the links still work. Make sure the information is still correct. If you have social media accounts feeding into your site, make sure you're using those accounts or take off the feed from your site.

Half an hour spent every 6 months could mean the difference between someone buying or not.

7. Blogs

Not everybody has a blog, but if you have one then see if you can get it embedded into your website. Why? Well, a website is a static thing and when you first publish your website the search engine 'spiders' will be all over it, indexing it to appear in search results. But after that, if nothing changes then there is no reason for the search engines to take much notice.

A blog is a chance to keep adding updated content aimed at your Super Customers and every blog makes you more likely to show up in web searches.

Every time you put new content on there, you're giving it another chance to show up in a search.

It's like giving your business an advantage with the search engines - all because you take the time to write a few paragraphs on a topic your Super Customers will love, once or twice a month. Easy peasy.

8. An 'In The Media' Page

If you're not looking for PR opportunities or if you're not trying to get guest blogs or get on the radio then you're missing a trick. There isn't a business out there that wouldn't benefit from PR and it's much easier to get PR than you think.

If you've been featured in the local paper then put it on your In The Media page. If you've appeared on local radio, write a paragraph saying who you were interviewed by and what you were discussing.

Why? It gives you credibility.

I go out of my way to get featured in places like Marie-Claire or Huffington Post or The Guardian, because it adds credibility to me and my business. For my audience it matters that I'm in those kinds of places - for YOUR customers it could be that the local paper or local trade magazine is brilliant!

Be proactive about seeking PR (here's a blog to get you started) and shout about it on your website.

9. A Clear Route To Buying

Make it REALLY easy for people to buy from your website. Limit the path that somebody can take and make it REALLY clear what they have to do. If you've got twenty seven menu items squeezed across the top of your website, it's really hard for someone to find their way through.

If you've got tons of choices and adverts and buttons plastered all over your front page, people don't know where to look. Make it really obvious what somebody has to do when they get to your website. What do you want them to do?

Do you want them to join your mailing list? Do you want them to buy something? Do you want them to enquire? Really, there are only three things:-

1. Get them on your list.

2. Enquire

3. Buy

To be honest, you want to get them on your list regardless. Everybody needs to go on your list, if they are the right kind of people.

Look at your website objectively, and see if it's really, REALLY obvious what a visitor needs to do when they land on your website.

10. Videos

Videos help people get to know you and your business. They help to bridge a gap. At the moment you are hiding behind a website and you could be anyone. Or you COULD be your business's greatest asset.

If you can have a video of you saying "hi, this is me, this is my family" or "this is my team and here's what we do and where we work from" it will begin to build a relationship with your web visitor.

If you were behind a shop counter or market stall, you could build a relationship with a visitor in person. But when someone visits your site, you are not there in person, so how can you bridge that gap?

How can you start to build relationships with them? How can you help them to get to know you, because they can't get to know you just from words? A video is worth a million pictures and a picture paints a thousand words, so you can see how important videos are!

You may need to get over yourself and over the fact that you don't like the sound of your voice, or you could do with losing a bit of weight (in your opinion), or the fact that you don't know what to say. Just talk!

Get used to doing videos. If you can include them your website, it will count for so much and it will really help to build that know, like and trust factor that you might have heard about before.

11. Great Photos

Have great photos on your website. This doesn't mean that you have to fork out a lot of money in the early days for a professional photographer (but definitely worth investing in as soon as you can afford it).

Try to get a great headshot of you to use on your about page and social media profiles (ask a talented friend or see if your local college students might do it for pocket money while they practise their art). See if you can get some shots of you at work - they can be rough and ready, taken on your phone, especially as you're trying to convey what you do.

If you make products, though you need to pay a bit more attention as the photos are everything! If you're trying to sell products, then people need to be able to see them, so you need to have good photos.

Even if you can only use your phone, make sure that you have them in day light, make sure you try and 'prop' them and that you have good lighting, it makes all the difference.

I've seen many a good small business website spoiled by badly lit, badly detailed photographs that just needed better lighting or some simple props. Don't let that happen to you.

Do You Have Some Work To Do?

Where does your website stand with all of this? How does it fit? Which ones are you lacking?

Try to get as many of these in place as quickly as you can and give your website the best possible chance. It could be one of your best sales tools - don't waste that opportunity.