You know who you are….the busy small business owner who threw up a website using a simple “drag and drop” template or one offered through an industry trade group. Maybe you read a book- or even a blog! – that inspired you to create an online presence, but didn’t have much time or money to invest.
Just as advances in telecommunications have made clunky old cell phones obsolete, a static, poorly-designed website is a sign that you are not keeping up with the times. In the case of your business site, however, the costs are greater than looking ridiculous; you are missing efficiencies and losing opportunities to attract fresh business.
How do you know if your website is old-school?
Shop around! Act like your own potential customer. Take 15 minutes and pretend you are seeking your services.
- Most importantly, determine whether you can be readily found online. No fair typing in your business name; the idea is to assume the role of someone seeking out your product or services. Try asking a friend what search terms they would use; you may be too enmeshed in your own “identity” to be completely objective about this. Your awareness of how you rank in likely searches is an important reality check.
- Notice what your competitors’ sites look like and what features they include. Are there social media share and follow buttons? How do they distinguish themselves?
- Identify the last time you updated your content; was it during the Bush administration?
- What must prospects do to reach you, either to buy something or to indicate their interest in your services? Access to your contact information is key; after all, it’s an online “presence” you are seeking. So be present.
What are the most important upgrades you can make that won’t cost you a fortune?
Effective, modern websites, aside from looking clean and uncluttered, must have some key features, including:
Google values new, original, high quality web content and rewards those who provide it with higher search engine listings. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by blogging, which ideally provides relevant, fresh, new, original, high quality web content added regularly.
Call(s) to Action
Your site should have at least one call-to-action on every page.
In addition, Small Business Marketing advises on some things to avoid to bring your site into the 21st century:
- Flash – Search engines cannot read Flash files and smartphones usually cannot display them.
- Text only in images – Search engines cannot ‘see’ images, so they appear blank.
- Cloaking/Hidden text – In simple terms, if you show one thing to human visitors and another to search engines, you are cloaking. This trick can backfire, damaging your search engine results or even resulting in having your website banned.
- Spamming/Keyword Stuffing – People unfamiliar with proper SEO writing try to game the system by using a particular word or phrase far more often than you would normally in an attempt to manipulate the search engines.
Your business website is far more than just an “electronic business card.” Tap into its potential so you won’t convey an unprofessional, dated image to your prospects.