1) BUILD TRUST AND RELATIONSHIP
Trust + Relationship = New Business
Websites are the great equalizer allowing small businesses the ability to compete with larger businesses. If you showed up at a potential client's office wearing outdated fashions that were not well maintained, do you think you would have a good chance of getting new business? Maybe not. Now if you went to visit the same potential client and you looked professional, and you spoke with authority about your services, and could answer all the common questions your clients have, you stand a very good chance of earning that new client relationship.
Now apply that to your website. Your website is representing you 24/7. People are researching you, to see if you are a person of authority in your subject area, and if your business is a stable and trustworthy vendor/partner for their needs. If your website design was "cool" 5+ years ago, it may not be so cool today. If what you say on your website is 5+ years old, it may not be true today.
TRUST comes from looking professional, presenting your professional affiliations in your industry, and speaking as an authority in your field.
Trust alone will not encourage your visitors to do business with you. For example, If I'm looking for a new banking relationship, I may trust all the banks I consider, but that doesn't mean I'm going to do business with all of them. The bank I make some relationship connection to will most likely be the bank I do business with.
RELATIONSHIP comes from several sources. Testimonials of happy clients, offering to give the visitor something for free in exchange for their Email address or creating a 30-60 second video of you identifying your potential clients and their needs and letting them know how your products or services are going to help solve their problems.
2) TALK ABOUT THE NEEDS OF YOUR CLIENTS, NOT YOUR SERVICES
Don't you just hate it when you are in a social setting and someone in the group can't stop talking about themselves?? Your website is an extension of YOU, so don't get stuck in the trap of only talking about how good your products or services are. For example, if I'm a dentist, I can talk forever about everything I know about Dentistry, but that will not get me a new client. Until I change the conversation to engage my audience and find out what their needs are, I will never have the opportunity to build a relationship with them and earn their new business.
In the example of a dentist's website, on the homepage you would not want to list all the services you offer. Most dentists will offer the same services, so what is going to set you apart? It's not the services, it's your willingness to engage your visitor and find out what they need. For example, a dental patient may be afraid of painful procedures, so you would say something like "Are you afraid of painful dental procedures? We have multiple methods to make your experience pain free." Can you see how this conversation is more about your visitor than the methods you use to solve their fear of pain?
Your new website needs to be "Mobile Responsive", which means it needs to look good on a mobile phone, or any mobile device, without having to pinch in to read content. By January of 2014 50% of the traffic will be from a mobile device. It is important that only the most important, and most uses products or services are presented on the mobile phone. Want to have some fun? Go to this website, www.site-ninja.com. Drag the right browser window in to make the webpage smaller. Notice how the content shifts to adapt to the size of your browser window, even to the point when you are at a mobile phone size, the navigation changes. This is Mobile Responsive, also known as "Responsive Web Design".
3) DON'T OVERWHELM YOUR VISITORS WITH TOO MUCH CONTENT
Unless you are a new organization, the homepage of your website needs to be the place you feature content, from other areas of your website, not give full descriptions of your products or services. Compare these two websites, www.kenfrye.com and www.jlfurniture.com If you do a Google Search for "Custom Hand Crafted Furniture" you will see both these websites on the top 5 listings. Which company would you rather do business with? The www.keyfrye.com site does not overwhelm you with content on the homepage. If has big featured sections that represent different areas of content that you can click on to get more information.
A very bright Website Graphic Designer once told me, "If I had more time I could make the page more simple". Don't be surprised how long it takes to really think about how to group your products and services into the smallest possible categories and only represent these few categories on the homepage, with only a few featured products. A BIG tip.... on your homepage, don't represent all your products or services, only the ones that represent the bulk of your business. For example if you are a dentist, and only 1 out of 100 clients have TMJ services, don't put TMJ on the homepage of your website.
4) CREATE A "CALL TO ACTION"
In the real work, if you want someone to purchase your products or services, you need to ask them. Same is true on the Internet. It's not good enough to just list your products and services, you have to give your visitors and incentive to reach out to you and start building a relationship with you. In marketing it takes up to 7 contacts with your potential clients before they are willing to take action to become new clients. If you give them something in exchange for their Email address, now you can start that 7-point relationship building.
Often on websites you will see "Enter your Email address to create success using our Top 10 tips". You may think this is silly, but it really works. Example: http://straightforwardsuccess.site-ninja1.com/one-to-one-business-coaching, who specializes in One-to-One Business Coaching. Look at the bottom of the page. You will see the site owner gives the visitor the opportunity to get even more rich information if they only give up their Email address. They follow this same technique on each major page of the website.
5) DON'T FORGET THE POWER OF "ONSITE-SEO" Search Engine Optimization
"Onsite SEO" is the process of structuring content on each page of your website, so the page has a single focus that Google will want to promote by sending you visitors from Search Results. I call Onsite SEO a "Pull" technology because it is pulling traffic from the Search Engines. And, best of all, Pull technology is free and lasts a very long time. In the example given in Tip #3 above, I referenced this website, www.kenfrye.com. As of this writing, that website was only live for less than 30 days. If you Google the phrase that the homepage is optimized for "Custom Hand Crafted Furniture", you will see the site ranks #5 nationally in a very competitive industry. So how does a small wood craftsman rank so high? It's all in the Onsite SEO.
Every page of your website needs to have a hierarchy of structure that allows the Search Engines to correctly catalog the most important phrase for that page. In order of most important areas of a page, they include:
Here is an example of a page that has very good SEO structure and is ranked #1 in the nation for the phrase, "Subdomains and SEO" http://www.site-ninja.com/article/233-subdomains-and-seo-pros-and-cons-of-subdomains-vs-subdirectories
For more information on Best Business Practice tips for your new website, Contact Michael Kramer at Ameravant Web Design, Santa Barbara's #1 small business website developer. 805-456-6011, michael @ ameravant.com