WEBSITES FOR SMALL BUSINESS

WEBSITES FOR SMALL BUSINESS

What Can a Website Do For Your Business?

“Websites for Small Business” may sound like a cheesy infomercial, but I promise we’re serious about the topic.

Your website is either helping or hurting your business. Sadly, it’s the later for many of the businesses that need it most – small businesses. A website for small business should be much more than a brochure, an online menu, or some contact information and a fancy logo.

It’s your calling card. Your brand. It’s your 24x7x365 sales/ customer service employee. It can take messages, greet potential customers, or even welcome back current customers. It might persuade prospects to use your products and services instead of your competition.

Or vice-versa.

Your website can answer questions or track and manage inventory. It can reach out to search engines to bring you more traffic from prospective clients. It can even tell you how people are finding it. Did I mention it can sell things 24 hours a day?

A website for small business should be a critical resources that is well built and maintained.

A New Era for Small Business Websites

The fact is, the web has entered an era where a website can—and should be—a primary part of your business model. Customers shop based on how easily they can find information on your site and how it looks. Consumers investigate businesses online before stepping foot in a retail establishment or office. Today, people look for phone numbers and addresses on Google far more than they reach for a phone book (for you young folk this is a giant book they used to leave on your doorstep that had the phone number for all the businesses and people in your area).

With this in mind, here are five questions to ask yourself about your website—and these apply whether you have a site already or are planning on making one.

websites for small business are important

How can websites for small business make Life easier?

Sometimes, it’s as easy as building a Frequently Asked Questions page to help cut down time spent answering common questions. Sometimes it’s a more complex solution, like e-commerce, real-time inventory tracking, or something built around your business model. It could even be as simple as a forum where customers can help one another.

For restaurants, a well built site can take an order or reservation saving you both time and the potential for errors. Plus you get paid before you make anything…

Remember, your website works 24 hours a day. What could it be doing while you are at home with your family, enjoying a good movie?

Websites for small business should improve the overall operation of your company.

Does your website really represent the business?

Your business is your brand. When designing websites for small business it’s important that it authentically represents your business. If there is a difference between what your website communicates and what your customer ultimately experiences it can cost you. If your website sucks, they may not ever do business with you. Conversely, if your website sets high expectations and the customer experience underwhelms, you could lose future business.

Your website should accurately represent what a customer would feel if they walked into your business.

Is your website easy to use?

Actually, don’t ask yourself this question. Ask your customers. Ask your mother. Your grandmother. Next time you’re at your in-laws’ house for dinner, ask them to sit down on your web site and perform a specific task, such as finding a certain product, locating some specific information, or just surfing through it. Do not intervene. Just watch quietly and note where the stumbling blocks are. For your customers, send them an offer to get a 10% off coupon if they test your site and provide answers to a questionnaire about your site. You will begin to notice commonalities in the feedback you get, and those are where you want to start.

Do the search engines like websites for small business?

Search engines have become much more sophisticated over the years. It used to be that “clean” code and a bunch of links to your site could get you a higher rank. To a certain extent that’s still true, but as website builders have grown in popularity, their user friendly nature can come at a cost.

WordPress was among the first website builders and now powers tens of millions of websites – many of them small business. However, there are other platforms that have grown in popularity in recent years. Squarespace, Shopify, Wix, and Webflow are a few of the most popular.

Choosing the right platform for your small business website should be based on what you need it to do. The considerations range from technological competence to whether you plan on selling online, or not. Each service comes with it’s own strengths and limitations, so being clear on what you are trying to achieve is critical.

Among those strengths and limitations is how easily and effectively the SEO aspects of a website can me managed. Most of the platforms we listed do a decent job of the basics, but there are big disparities once you get beyond the rudimentary stuff.

How are people finding your site?

Once your site is up and running, there are a number of things you can do to help drive traffic to your site, many of them being quite simple. Search engine optimization is great, but it can take a while, and/ or incur a significant cost for a new website to generate meaningful traffic. Although this is an excellent way to build a long term stream of potential customers, there are other things you can do in the short term to help.

Start a business blog, making sure to keep it updated with real, useful information and content related to your business or industry. Make sure your blog has a link back to your site and vice-versa. Make sure your content is not just selling your business, but is useful and keyword-rich.

Get linked to (and link to) other sites. Google likes this and will ultimately improve where your site shows up in search engine rankings. Using Google My Business is like a secret weapon for increasing traffic to your website. Another option is to get you business listed on legitimate online business and industry directories. Just be sure to add your website links with links back to your site. Avoid getting into any arrangements with SPAM directories.

Share Your Website

Cross-pollinate with other sites like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or any of the other social networking sites your customers use. More and more businesses are creating profiles on social networking and Web 2.0 sites. These profiles can ultimately act as another springboard to get more traffic to your site and to help you appeal to entirely new demographics.

Track your traffic. Take advantage of Google’s Webmaster Tools. Their Analytics product is simply powerful and there are multiple ways to display the data right on your WordPress website. Oh- and they are free. You can track your web site traffic, sources of traffic, paths users are taking through your site and even set up conversion goals to see how many people are following through with specific purchase paths. Did I mention it’s free?

So that’s it—a great starting point for you to use as a barometer to make your web site not only more useful to your customers, but also to you. If you would like a more in-depth consultation on how your web site may be able to help your business more, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Do You Have a Bad Website

Do You Have a Bad Website

IS YOUR WEBSITE HELPING OR HURTING Your business?

HOW DO YOU KNOW If you Have A Bad WEbsite?

The best way to determine if you have a bad website is to look at the data.  Unfortunately, not many business owners (small ones in particular) are doing it.  We’ll save the sermon on using data to make better decisions for another time, for now you can use our “3 Question Website Review” to get started.

How Not To Have a Bad Website: A 3 Question Website Review

Your website is often the first impression potential customers will have of your company. How it looks and functions is a direct reflection of what people can expect from working with you. Make sure your website is communicating the right message.

1. Is your website current?

  1. When was the last blog post published?
  2. Do all of the links still work?
  3. Are all the images viewable? Do they have appropriate alt tags?
  4. Is your contact information accurate? Is it super obvious and easy to find?

WHY Having a Current Website MATTERS

Missing or obsolete information leaves the impression of neglect. It’s hard enough to run a business without frustrating customers before you get to talk with them.

2. is there a distinct action you want visitors to take?

What do you want people to do when they visit your website? Is it easy to find your product or service and take action?

WHY A Clear Call to Action MATTERS

Don’t let customers visit your site without giving them a good reason to take further action. Reviewing site statistics will provide valuable insight into
customer behavior.

3. does your website work well on a mobile device?

Can you see the page contents without having to zoom in? How long does it take to load without a wifi connection? Is text getting cut off?

WHY A Mobile Friendly website MATTERS

Purchases made on a mobile device are expected to quadruple in the next 3 years with more people using mobile phones than computers. If you’re website is up to date, full of valuable content, and have a distinct call to action, but don’t make it look and function well on a mobile device you’ll potentially be frustrating half of your customers.

What If You Have a Bad Website?

Yes, we can fix your bad website…c’mon you knew it was coming.


Send a message to: [email protected] and we’ll get you fixed up.

SEO For Local Business – 4 tips TO IMPROVE

SEO For Local Business – 4 tips TO IMPROVE

SEO For Local Business

Improving the SEO of your website is one of the best things you can do for a local business. If done well it will make it easier for prospective customers to find you and can be a real asset to your business.

Unfortunately, most small business owners and their employees don’t have the time to keep up on the effort required to get the benefits of search engine optimization.

In this blog post, we will explore four SEO tips for local businesses. These SEO techniques are a great way to improve your website SEO and generate more traffic from organic search engine results pages.

Before you can improve your sites SEO – you must first understand the purpose of SEO and what it actually is.

SEO can be a very technical and complicated topic – and for very competitive keywords it’s worth knowing and implementing. For most businesses there’s a much simpler way to think about SEO.

The simplest way to think about SEO is what questions are people asking Google about your business and how are they asking them? What is their search intent when they search Google?

It’s that simple.

“Doing” SEO at its simplest form is thinking about what questions might be asked that are relevant to you business, and creating / organizing the information on your website that makes it easy for Google to find and display in search results.

The goal of SEO for local business is simple – to get more organic “free” referrals from Google ultimately resulting in online sales or visits to brick and mortar locations.

Local SEO for Business

This is where local SEO efforts can stand apart from SEO for other types of websites. You have to think about your business in the context of what questions would be asked by someone looking to find you.

Tip #1 – SEO For Local Businesses: Decide on Local Search Keywords

Perhaps the most important tip is simply contemplating what questions people might be asking about our company and creating a list of keywords that are related to those questions. Without knowing this information you won’t be able to effectively create content to answer their questions.

These should be local keywords to give you the best odds of ranking.

Tip #2 – SEO For Small Businesses: Organize On Page Keywords

Once you have your initial list of keywords, you’ll want to include some of the keywords and phrases throughout your website that are relevant, but don’t over do it or stuff them into every paragraph. There are tools like YOAST that can plugin directly to your website to help you effectively organize this information.

There’s lots of fine tuning that can be done on each page, but the main elements are:

  1. Good title – that references the keyword you are targeting
  2. A good meta description – that references the keyword you are targeting
  3. Created a relevan featured image for the page with relevant alt tag referencing the targeted keyword.
  4. A minimum of 300 words
  5. Use H2 and H3 tags – also relevant to your keyword.

This gives you a higher probability of being included in Google’s search engine listings (SERPs). This is the search box results people see and happens most frequently with blogs / articles, FAQs and relevant local landing pages.

Including a good SEO title and description for these pages will help you improve the seo performance of those landing pages, leading to better rankings in SERPs – which should lead to more organic referrals from search engines!

Local SEO Tip #3 – For Local Businesses: Crosslink to other pages

Another tip for improving your local SEO is to link to other relevant areas on your website. By connecting these “internal” links, you make it easier for Google to “crawl” and discover content that might otherwise go unseen. You can also use this cross linking to other local keywords.

In addition to Google seeing your other pages, it also provides a link for customers to discover the new information as well.

This applies to external links to other relevant sites as well. Perhaps you can recommend or reference other local sites?

Tip #4 – SEO For Local Businesses: More Output

The last tip for improving your local SEO is to consistently add more content to your website. For example, this would typically be articles or blog posts, but it could be keyword specific landing pages as well.

Committing to regularly create local content has 2 benefits.

  1. More frequent updates to your website, let’s Google know to check your site for new information more often.
  2. You expand and strengthen the keywords you rank for, which helps your website get seen more when customers are looking.

If you do a really good job of creating compelling content you might find that you start to attract links from other sites and local blogs, while also building brand awareness and a stronger local presence. This link building reinforces the importance of your site to Google and can increase your ranking from inbound links.

In Closing

SEO for small businesses can be an affordable and powerful way to grow your business, but it does require effort. As a result, many times we’ve seen owner’s planning to do the work, but it never gets done.

Local leads, coming from local searches, with local intent can be among the highest converting prospects available. Which makes it worth the effort to build specific local content. Therefore, local searchers are more likely to buy from you, than someone across the country. Consequently, too many brick and mortar businesses ignore this.

Get The Work Done For You

To help local business owner get the work done, we created a WordPress Management service. This service was desingned to help with things like local business SEO and keeping your site running safe and secure.

How to Make Better Business Decisions

How to Make Better Business Decisions

How to make better decisions

A repeatable way to make better business decisions.

Do you have a systematic “process” for making better business decisions?

I built a tool to help organizations, first for the company I was at, then more broadly for clients, to gain deeper clarity into diverse perspectives, better understand and articulate your own point of view, and when combined with a healthy dialogue, surface better solutions to whatever challenge your company faces.

Use it, change it, and share it if you like, but please give me feedback so we can continue to make it better.

I currently use a combination of a website form, Google Sheets, and some Zapier magic to organize the responses, but you could use other tools to get it done – even a pen and paper! 

If you’d like a PDF version of the questions, let us know where to send it. 

[fluentform id=”1″]

A Post About How to Make Better Business Decisions

My form is organized into five sections with questions clustered around topics to stimulate responses that might otherwise go unexplored and help you make better business decisions.

Section 1

Decide what you are hoping to make a better business decision about.

Question:

What is the decision you are considering?

Section 2

What are you trying to accomplish or avoid with this decision?

Questions:

  1. What are we trying to accomplish?
  2. What is the primary reason for doing this?
  3. What outcome are we trying to get by doing this?
  4. Is there a phase or time where this decision will be more or less needed? Does it need to happen now? 

Section 3

How does this decision align with our mission, objectives, and KPIs?

Questions:

  1. How does this align with our mission long term?
  2. How does this align with our objectives over the next quarter?
  3. How does this align with our objectives over the next year?
  4. Why should we do this?
  5. What opportunities do we create by doing this?
  6. How is this good for our company?
  7. What results would this decision achieve to cause us to look back a year from now with hell yes! appreciation?  

If you’d like a PDF version of the questions, let us know where to send it. 

[fluentform id=”1″]

Section 4

What risks are we exposing ourselves too? The idea here is to play devil’s advocate even if you are in favor of the decision. What could go wrong if it doesn’t go right?

Questions:

  1. How could this decision harm us?
  2. What are the risks you’ve identified with this decision?
  3. What are the risks you’ve identified with this decision?
  4. What are other areas of our business could this impact?
  5. What would happen if we didn’t do this?

Section 5

Anything Else? An open question for anything not covered in the other sections.

Questions:

  1. Anything else you’d like to say or ask about the decision?
  2. Who else should answer these questions on this decision?

 

Conclusion

This is what I’ve used to help my companies and coaching clients make better decisions. What do you think? Is this a format you would use? If not, how can we make it better?

 

If you have a WordPress website (or want one) check out our WordPress Website Management service. We can do thing like turn these questions into a form on your website that automatically gets emailed to all the people you want to have it!

Not only is it a great way to stay focused on your business, our team will keep your website updated and running fast and secure.

If you’d like a PDF version of the questions, let us know where to send it. 

[fluentform id=”1″]

NAVIGATING COVID-19 & OTHER BUSINESS CHALLENGES

NAVIGATING COVID-19 & OTHER BUSINESS CHALLENGES

Where Are You Going?

Navigating COVID-19 & Other Business Challenges

 

Part 1

 

Introduction

As I’ve counseled, coached, and consulted with local businesses, there’s a common challenge that many of them face, mostly without realizing it: They haven’t clarified why they are in business and what they are trying to accomplish.

I’m not an advocate of “corporate” mission statements and other lip service declarations, but I do believe in developing a clear sense of Why, Who, What, and How for your company.

“When Values Are Clear, Decisions Are Easy”

Once you’ve identified your reasons for being in existence, decide on a goal to point your company at each year (or quarter, or some other reasonable cadence). After creating a defined and aligned objective, the last step is to determine how you’ll measure success.

I’ll share a condensed version of what I’ve learned and read about into simple principles you can start with, as well as a recommended reading list at the end of the post.

“Action to be effective must be directed to clearly conceived ends.”

Why?

A useful “mission” statement is simply a declaration of why you are in business and what you hope to accomplish, stated consistently with your company culture & communications. The simpler, the better. Your “Why” is the basis for everything your business will do. If you don’t have a mission yet – stated or otherwise, get started. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it can change, but if you don’t know why you are doing what you are doing – how will you know if your actions are effective?

Here’s a few “why” prompts to get you started:

  • Why are you in business?
  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • What change are you trying to make?
  • What problems are you trying to solve?

Who?

Once you’ve got an idea of Why you are in business, who is your company intended to serve? Who are your customers? If your instinct is to say “anyone who will pay” you are not alone, and sometimes we have to do what we have to do to survive. However, it’s not a sustainable strategy for your business. Part of deciding who you serve – is to determine who you will not serve. Creating a “customer experience” is only possible if you know who that person is and how they’d prefer to interact with your company.

Here’s a few “who’s your customer” prompts to get started:

  • Who are your favorite customers to work with
  • Who are your most profitable customers
  • What customers refer you to other customers
  • Who are your repeat customers

 

To Be Continued…

Part 2 will continue our journey into better defining what we do and how we do it – followed by a deeper dive into aligning and defining organizational focus to make progress on your mission.

“You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

Part 1 Reading

  1. Start With Why – Simon Sinek
  2. Find Your Why – Simon Sinek, David Mead, & Peter Docker
  3. Clockwork – by Mike Michalowicz
  4. The On Purpose Business – Kevin W. McCarthy

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