Many successful small business owners may ask, “Do I need a website?” The answer most business professionals will give is a resounding “Yes!” A strong web presence is a great way to attract new customers and engage with current customers. The following tips will help you strengthen your online presence and make online interaction with your company a better experience for both new and old customers.
1) Make sure your company is SEO-ready
A 2014 study by Google, Ipsos MediaCT and Purchased found that 4 out of 5 people use search engines to find information about local businesses. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process of strategic web development and design that increases your website’s chances of appearing earlier in the pages of search results.
A key component of the SEO process is the inclusion of keywords throughout your website. You will want to research which words and phrases are commonly used in searches for products or businesses similar to yours, and include those words in text format on the pages of your website’s content.
Search engines also take into account how people interact with sites. Sites with high bounce rates will move lower in the page rankings, whereas sites that keep visitors engaged for longer periods of time will have higher rankings. Therefore, many of the practices that boost SEO are also typical characteristics of a good website, such as frequent content updates or the presence of reviews.
2) Encourage reviews and follow up on them
Operating a strong online presence involves more than just having the best web design. Whether a company has reviews online can influence a visitor’s willingness to do business with them: a survey of 1031 US Consumers conducted by BrightLocal found that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
However, many customers won’t leave reviews unless they are reminded. GoDaddy writer Dan Scalco suggests offering an incentive, such as a discount. He also suggests “meet[ing] customers where they are.” This means that you should ask for reviews through the medium of contact that your customer prefers. For example, if you work with people face-to-face, then you should ask them for a review when you are talking with them. If you are corresponding online, consider sending an email request.
It is also important to respond to all reviews, whether they are positive or negative. By responding attentively to negative reviews, you can demonstrate your credibility as a business – something that will help you stand out in the often impersonal world of digital customer service – and potentially resolve the customer’s problem.
Khaled Saleh, author of Conversion Optimization: The Art and Science of Converting Visitors into Customers, offers advice for how to best respond to complaints: respond promptly, be real and admit your mistakes, correct inaccuracies, highlight your strengths, write like a person (not a corporation), provide restitution if it’s warranted, and be consistent. It may be fitting to first send reviewers a private message first thanking them for their feedback and then continuing with your response. If you are able to rectify the situation, Sherry Bonelli, owner of Early Bird Digital Marketing, recommends politely asking the respondent via direct message to edit their review to reflect the changes that have been made.
3) Make website navigation and action simple
Whether you are a web designer, or are looking to partner with a web development firm, you should seek to design a website that is easy to use.
A good website begins with a good homepage. Your website’s homepage is the window to your brand, and may be the first thing a potential customer sees that is related to your brand. Its main purpose is to intrigue readers and direct them to other pages of the website.
Your homepage should tell the visitor what your brand does and why you are different than your competition. This is may be tricky, as a homepage should also be light on text; the best homepages tell a brand’s story with just a few sentences or words, and make use of images, video clips, and design. Consulting with a web graphic designer or other individuals with an extensive graphic design portfolio will help your website achieve a balance between utility, entertainment and clarity.
The website should also have a single navigation menu that is accessible on all pages. Calls to action should always be present on the head bar. This makes your services available to the visitor at all times, without appearing pushy. When working with our Madison web design clients and clients from surrounding areas, we emphasize the important calls to action as a key component of our IH5 web principles.
Remember that a successful website visit ends with some form of interaction: a call, a purchase, a follow or like. It is important to make it as easy as possible for customers to take this next step.
Following the previous tips will require time and money that could be spent elsewhere. The extra effort is worth it, however, because it will lead to more satisfied customers. By following these three tips, you’ll be on your way to greater exposure and a stronger, more coherent brand image.
IH Concepts is a Madison-based graphic design firm. IH Concepts specializes in custom logo design, web development, mobile app development, and other graphic design services.
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