This blog post has been updated. Original post published November 13, 2019.
Image isn't everything, but it’s essential for attracting small business customers. Forty-eight percent of people cited a website's design as the top factor in deciding a company's credibility. Once a web page loads, users form an opinion in half a second.
As a new business owner, you have your hands full. Figuring out how to build or modify a website is just one more item on your list. It's enough to keep you up at night.
Fortunately, making a professional, results-driven website is easier than you think. After helping more than 3 million businesses with their online needs, the pros at Web.com have learned a thing or two. We know what works and what doesn't. That level of expertise means we get your small business website up and running when you need it.
As a small business owner, you may wonder if you need a website or if updating your existing one consistently makes sense. In both cases, the answer is yes.
Your website is the nucleus of your brand. It serves as your pathway to the online world – and to your customers. People search for products on sites like Google, Yelp and Yahoo daily. Your website is where they find you.
A properly designed site with optimized content tells new and existing customers who you are and what you do. It showcases what makes your company unique and encourages online purchases. In every way that matters, it enhances your business.
Understanding a website's value is just the first step. Where do you go next? Time is at a premium for small business owners. How do you create an impactful website without losing focus on the day to day?
There are two options, generally. You can take the DIY approach with a website builder, which typically includes industry-specific, customizable templates. Alternatively, you can pay a team of professionals to build your site, design it and create content for it.
You're bound to have questions about which option is right for you. To gain insight into what makes an effective site, we spoke to the website building experts at Web.com.
A wide range of small business owners contact Web.com daily in search of a website that’s right for them and their company. Web.com’s Jack Spurr, director of Design Services, and Ryan Delaney, Design Services supervisor, help businesses establish an online presence.
“Every small business is different, and every small business owner has a unique perspective on what they are looking for in a website – it can be a confusing process for them,” says Spurr. “That’s where we come in. We help to make things easy, from site idea, to creation, to ongoing guidance and support throughout the lifecycle of the website.”
For small business owners who want to take on a web project themselves, Spurr says a responsive website builder is a solid – and easy – option. Web.com offers a version with intuitive tools that guide users through every step, including domain name and email address selection, industry-specific page layouts and images and an easy drag-and-drop editing process. This tool helps business owners create a website and get it online quickly.
“This is a great way to go if you want to be a little more hands on and participate a bit more in the building of your site,” says Spurr. “But make no mistake, it’s a fast and easy process that really doesn’t require any design experience to make happen.”
DPro Website Services
For people looking to create a small business website, partnering with a professional website building team is a great choice. If you choose to work with the Web.com custom design team, you’ll first be walked through a brief presentation so you fully understand the website-building process. Next, a team member will interview you about your goals, business and customers. They’ll also talk about what you want to accomplish with your website, to determine the best approach.
“Typically, the custom website design process takes seven days from start to finish,” says Delaney. “And we offer customer support throughout the lifecycle of the website.”
Once your website is created, it needs a safe place to live and thrive with a dependable web host. A web host is a resource that has servers you will access to store and deliver the content that makes up your website.
Web.com offers free web hosting services with both the Website Builder and Pro Website Design Services options and guarantees 99.9 percent uptime for small businesses, with ample storage and email account options.
If you already have an open-source application website such as WordPress, you can set up web hosting on Web.com in just one click. Find more information on our web hosting services here.
Websites and the small businesses they are linked to are unique. However, Spurr and Delaney agree that great websites all have key features that accurately represent the business or service, attract and engage potential and existing customers and create awareness about their products or services.
“Of course, no one knows your business like you,” says Delaney. “You understand the background of your business, and your website resource, like Web.com, will bring beneficial attributes to the equation to help you create, optimize and track your website to ensure success.”
Spurr and Delaney say these beneficial attributes will allow you to:
Customize Your Website for the Specific Needs of Your Business
Just like you, your website should “dress the part” and fit with your industry. This includes industry-specific layout templates, photos, graphics and headline styles for lawn care services, auto dealerships, law firms, photographers and more, all customizable for the needs of your business.
Whether you are going the website builder route or having your site professionally designed, your website should fit into the marketplace you represent yet allow you to stand out as a unique and proven resource for customers.
“Right up front, we find out what you want to accomplish with your website,” says Delaney. “Do you want to sell something, promote a service or call attention to a cause? Tell us the specifics and we’ll design a website for your success.”
Put Your Business in Front of More People Through Online Directories
Online directories (think Google, Bing, Yelp and Yahoo) are one of the first places people look when they want to find you. By maximizing your visibility in these directories, you increase your chances of being contacted by customers.
There are also industry-specific online directories (such as MFG.com and HomeAdvisor.com) that will lead people to your website. Simply put: Making your website highly searchable is good for your business.
How does it work? It is due in large part to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) keywords.
Create a Powerful SEO Keyword Strategy
SEO keywords are words and phrases that people type into search engines when looking for a business resource or solution. It’s important to make sure these specific terms appear in your web content, general copy, blog content and more. Keywords help raise your priority rankings in search engine directories, making it easier for customers to find you.
“Our writers specialize in writing SEO-rich content when creating website copy for our clients,” says Delaney. “And we can help steer you in the right direction if you are using the Website Builder, as well,” adds Spurr.
Keep New and Existing Customers Engaged With Your Brand Message
“Your website is a living and breathing entity,” says Spurr. “Periodically refreshing the content on your site gives people a reason to revisit your site and continually learn more about your company. Plus, every time you make a content update, search engines take notice and give your website a chance to receive a higher ranking in the online search directory.”
In addition, publishing new content on your website gives you the opportunity to include fresh SEO keywords. This allows you to expand your exposure with important search engines like Google, Yelp and Yahoo, and attract more customers and potential customers to your site.
Promote Your Website With Social Media and Email Engagement Campaigns
Social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, allow you to update your followers on the latest happenings about your business and provide links to your website. These channels are a great way to engage with your customers, promote a sale, call attention to a new service offering and update them about company events.
Once you’ve established an email list of potential and existing customers, you can send out highly targeted and personalized content with links to your website to build brand credibility, boost sales and create stronger customer relationships.
“The great thing about social media and engagement campaigns is that they give you an opportunity to call attention to your company and website in a way that can be trackable, so you can find out what works, what doesn’t and continually optimize your messaging, ” says Delaney.
Track Customer Traffic and Behaviors With Web Analytics
Having an online presence offers many benefits for your small business, including the ability to track customer traffic and behaviors with web analytics. Tools like Google Analytics, Quill Engage and SEM Rush Traffic Analytics are easy to access and determine how many people are visiting your site, what they are reading and how they are responding.
“Analytical tools help you collect valuable data and statistics from actual users of your website,” says Delaney. “By understanding website visitor behavior, you can continually reach your target market in a personalized and meaningful way.”
Bring in Online Revenue With eCommerce
The best businesses make money even while they sleep. Adding eCommerce functionality to your website can help you do just that. Depending on your type of business, allowing customers to pay you directly online can boost sales and your bottom line.
From including demo videos of your products to showcasing customer testimonials to highlighting what credit cards you accept (and protecting your customers’ personal information when they make an online purchase) there are proven methods for making the most of online revenue opportunities. The key is to make sure your website messaging complements your company’s overall sales goals.
Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
With over 60 percent of U.S. Google searches now on mobile devices, 63 percent of millennials consistently shopping on their smartphones and 40 percent of all mobile users making a purchase at some point, it’s clear that your website should be mobile friendly to reach your new and existing customers.
Making sure your website is easy to navigate on mobile devices means that all font sizes and buttons should be highly visible and links accessible on a mobile screen. Your photos and graphics should be condensed files so they quickly open on a smart device screen.
“Making sure your site is mobile friendly is critical to your success,” says Spurr. “You need to make it easy for people to find you, and most people will search for you on mobile devices.”
At Web.com, we help you be your own boss with tools to make it happen – like a well-designed, high-performance website that attracts customers.