Is Your Business Website Like an Old Cell Phone?

modern website featuresYou 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. Identify the last time you updated your content; was it during the Bush administration?
  4. 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:

Fresh content

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:

  1. Flash – Search engines cannot read Flash files and smartphones usually cannot display them.
  2. Text only in images – Search engines cannot ‘see’ images, so they appear blank.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

BLOG: Ugly Name for a Beautiful Concept

benefits of business blog I know, it’s a hideous-sounding thing….kind of what your six-year old would say when tasting your spinach smoothie.  Or maybe what goes in the thought bubble above Snoopy’s head?  But a business blog is an incredibly cost-effective way to add fresh content to your website, and there is a direct and profound connection between fresh content and building link popularity (“the total number of web sites that link to your site”).  The benefits of a business blog are numerous:

  • drive traffic to your website
  • identify yourself and your firm as an authority in your field
  • provide helpful resources and information to differentiate your business from competitors
  • connect with customers with a more personal voice
  • engage clients in an interactive dialogue through comments
  • attract a social media following

Most busy entrepreneurs and business owners are rightly focused on their primary objective:  meeting the needs of their varied stakeholders and doing the job they are hired to do.  Many rely on referrals for additional business, and intend to enhance their online presence…..SOMEDAY!

According to Hubspot, a business blog is central to a successful inbound marketing strategy that will help you get found and generate more inbound leads online. They offer 6 reasons your business needs to blog:

1. Build thought leadership by showing your expertise and becoming a go-to resource for prospects and media.

2. Get SEO (search engine optimization) value for each blog article, resulting in more opportunities to get found online.

3. Engage in a dialogue with customers and prospects through blog comments. Host conversations and respond to issues or questions.

4. Attract social media followers. Businesses that blog enjoy more social media reach because they have content to share.

5. Generate more leads online. A HubSpot study found that businesses that blog generate more than 67% more leads online compared to businesses that don’t blog.

6. Humanize your brand by giving your company a voice of the people behind your brand.

It can be daunting to enter the world of business blogging without assistance.  At times, it can feel that there is TOO MUCH information available, making getting started overwhelming.  Let us help you tap into the potential to position yourself as the expert in your field with customized, professional content targeted to your industry or specialty.