Every small business needs to have a website. But business owners aren’t exactly sure what should go on their website. A website needs to be an asset to your company. It needs to make money, rather than cost money. With that in mind, last month we put together a checklist of 5 must haves for every small business website. These were so popular that we’re back with another essential checklist. Here are 5 more must-haves for a small business website.
Small business owners need to include all of these to make sure they’re getting the best value from their website.
This is a half way house between your website and a newsletter to your customers. A blog gives you the opportunity to add personality to your website, and start an open conversation with your website visitors. It adds a human element to a company site, and gives you the opportunity to showcase your knowledge, products and industry. And because visiting a blog is anonymous, many more will read your blog than will sign up to a newsletter. Not only that, most blogging platforms allow visitors to comment and add to the author post. This means that having a blog allows web visitors to see that there are other people spending time on your website, and interacting with your business. We all prefer to eat in a busy restaurant than an empty one!
The other real advantage of a blog is that it allows you to add fresh, relevant content to your website, which is one thing that Google really likes to see. If Google likes it, then the chances are you will be boosted up the Search Engine Results page for searches relevant to your products.
2. Customer reviews and testimonials
What’s the most convincing way to sell your products? Its by having other customers recommend them. Its one thing for you to go on and on about how great you, your company and your services are. But at the end of the day, any website visitor is going to take all that with a pinch of salt. Of course you’d say that you were great! But if other customers give recommendations or reviews of your product and service, then that adds real weight to what you are saying. Of course, you’re hardly likely to publish reviews and testimonials that show you in a bad light. But if it is a genuine comment from a real person – and that person doesn’t mind you publishing their contact details, so that other web visitors can check they’re real – then that comment can go a long way to reassure people that buying from you is a good decision.
3. Email to a friend
This is one of the oldest and most basic website features, and one which is sadly overlooked these days. The BBC gets it right – few others do. As mentioned above, the most effective way to convince someone to buy from you is to have someone else recommend your products. An ’email to a friend’ feature on your website does exactly that – it allows a website visitor to send details of your products to someone they know, which is of course an implicit endorsement. Include an ’email to a friend’ link with each product you sell, and you will really see the benefits of the personal recommendations.
4. Social book marking
Have you ever wondered what that strip of icons across the bottom of each BBC article actually does? The icons are often accompanied with a message like ‘share this’, or ‘add this’. The icons all represent – and link to – social book marking services. Social bookmarks are a public web page where you place all the links to all your favourite websites. They’re a way of you creating a simple web page and saying to everyone ‘I recommend these websites’. Popular social book marking services are called Digg, Stumbleupon, Delicious, and Furl. When you place social bookmarking links on your website, you allow your website visitors to quickly add your website to their list of social bookmarks. It is yet another way of them endorsing your product.
The other added benefit is that when people link to your website using a social book marking service it can also help boost you up the Search Engine Results Page for searches that are relevant to your product or service.
5. Twitter & Twitter feed
Twitter just makes it onto my Top 10 list. Such is the pace of growth of Twitter that I wouldn’t have thought to include it 12 months ago. In short, Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that allows you to send and receive short messages. I’m not here to discuss the ins and outs of Twitter, but it can effectively achieve lots of different things. First of all, it allows you to communicate and have a conversation with your customers or visitors to your website. Second, it allows other people to sit in on these conversations, and find out what you’re saying. Both these help add a human element to your website – turning a computer screen into a real person again. And as stated before, its so much harder for a web visitor to walk away from a real person than their computer screen. It makes they will be much more likely to get in touch.
by Ken Builder