In the past a business website resembled a digital brochure, showing off some benefits of a product which has long since changed as part of a design which is a lot to be desired.
Modern websites grow businesses. They grow businesses by presenting the products or solutions of the business attractively, concentrating on the benefits they bring to the customer. The business websites constantly evolve, showing the constant evolution of the business and the growing nature of it's commercial efforts. Below is a quick checklist for those of you who create their own website - a sanity check, if you will.
Your small business website should...
Sloppy, or homemade-looking websites are a turn-off for visitors.
If you accept online payments, your site must comply with the requirements of the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (or PCI DSS, for short).
Contain Your Business Name In Text
Search engines are getting better at reading words in image files but they currently rely on well written textual information on your website. Make sure your business name is written in plain text on your small business website.
Have a Private Domain Name
Even with DIY CMS systems such as Wordpress, spending a few pounds a month for web hosting and a suitable domain name tells visitors you're a serious business - it also makes you far more trustworthy to customers and search engines, alike.
Contain Your Business Address in Text
Again, search engines are not great at reviewing images. Local search results are more important than ever, so your address should be prominent.
Have a Company Phone Number in Click-to-Call Format
Every month, the volume of mobile device users increases. With more users using mobile devices to find your business online, you want to make sure that calling your business is kept simple - making your number appear as a click-to-connect button, will help mobile users poke your number to call your business.
Make the Purpose of your Business Stand-out
With clear images, succinct descriptions visitors to your site should be able to easily figure out what your business does and how it does it.
What is Your USP? Make This Clear For All
Your Unique Selling Point is why customers choose you over others. Make this stand out and easily digestible by your visitors.
Invite Visitor Feedback
Invite visitor/customer feedback by including a way for them to contact you. A simple web form will provide this functionality and can easily be added to most websites.
Your Website Content Should Focus On Your Customer - Not You
You small business website should be designed to talk about the benefit your customers can enjoy from your product or solution. It shouldn't focus on how awesome you are.
Make visitors keep coming back to your site by offering up great content, frequently. Try maintaining a blog on your business website to keep customers coming back and to gain traction with search engines.
Natural SEO (or Search Engine Optimisation) strategies should be in your mind whenever you build content for your business website. It's a powerful tool to get better traction with search engines and attract new visitors.
Make it Personal
Include a little bit about who you are and who the business owners are. People buy from people they like - if you are a little more personal on your website, we're sure it will make a difference with your customers.
Link to Other Websites
Inbound links help your business standout because it will appear to search engines that your website is a trusted source. Outbound links (where you place links to external sites on your website) will have a positive affect too and will make your website look like a valuable source of powerful tips.
Your small business website should Not...
Have Lots of Bells and Whistles
Including lots of widgets or components can distract visitors away from the content of your website. A careful balance is needed - a sufficient mix to make sure your business website looks modern but not too much to where it is a distraction.
Post Images Without ALT Tags or Text Captions
With images still being impenetrable by search engines, you need to place ALT tags with all images and if that's not possible, text Captions.
Head Many Dead Links
Links which connect your site with dead ends make search engines treat your website poorly. It may damage your standing and lower your overall rank.
List All Of Your Businesses Products and Services
No-one enjoys scrolling through a long list - regardless if its a shopping list or a list of products/services. It's not a great experience. Try breaking up your products over a few pages and providing colourful images to capture the attention of your potential shopper instead.