With technology changing at the speed of light, many small business owners may be wondering what makes a good website these days and how they can keep up with all the changes in technology. Luckily, there are some fundamental elements that remain the same, no matter what changes are happening in the technological world.
1. Control. You, as the owner, should have full control over the site and the content. Never work with a company that won’t allow you total access. You could find yourself held hostage by the company should a dispute arise, or worse, if the company folds and you can’t save your website. That means you need access (login and password) to your domain name, the cpanel and the website itself.
2. Concise content. The content on your website should be concise and interesting. For instance, a long-winded biography isn’t going to interest anyone. However, the story of how your business came into being could be very relevant, especially if the story is compelling. The website, Gem Cutters shows a great example of clean, concise content.
3. No duplication. Beware of duplicate content on your site (or duplicating content from anywhere else on the Internet). Search engines frown on identical content, so make sure your content is fresh, original and compelling on every page and every blog.
4. Clean look. A website should have a clean look and be easy for user to navigate. Don’t make it hard for people to find what they want to find on your site.
5. Minimize. Minimize the number of menu buttons. Too many choices can leave customers bewildered and they’ll leave your site in favor a competitor with information that is easier to find. The website, SeeTheSouthwest.com, does a great job of making it easy for visitors to find the information they are looking for.
6. Header. The header of your website is all important. It should contain your logo, a phone number if you want to be contacted that way, and a call to action. Here’s a website that provides a great example of an effective header … Culture Shock Coaching.
7. No Slideshow. Slideshows can be both useful and harmful. For some small businesses, a slide show might make sense. For instance, a slideshow can be useful for an auto dealer who wants to showcase the most recent makes and models. However, for a business coach, the slideshow may distract potential clients and prevent them from looking deeper on the website for more information.
8. Data/analytics. You should know who is visiting your site, what they are looking at and how they are navigating through your site. Simple free tools like Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are essential. If you don’t know what isn’t working, you can’t fix it.
9. No links out. If you are like many small business owners, you spend a lot of time and money trying to attract visitors to your website. Don’t send them away from your site via links out.
10. Social media. Use social media to send visitor to your site, rather than sending them from your site to your social media.
11. Responsive. With the advent of smart phones and other mobile devices, website should be responsive. That means they should size down appropriately when viewed on a cell phone, pad or other device.
12. Blogs. More and more, search engines are ranking website with significant content higher than those with minimal information. A blog is a great way to add significant content … but what is significant content? It should be relevant and useful to your readers. A plumber should talk about how to prevent frozen pipes, but not add his favorite pot roast recipe. The number of words in a blog isn’t as important as how interesting the information is. You have to attract the attention of visitors before they’ll stay and read more, so good headlines are important. The website by Pool People offers and excellent example of a good blog. The information is useful and helpful to clients and according to the owner, he’s even gotten from as far away as Florida thanking him for the advice.
13. Update. Stay current with updates in programming. If you are using Word Press as a platform for your website, make sure to back up your website and then update Word Press when it is called for. Older versions and programming are easier for hackers to get into and corrupt.
14. Innovate. Fashion and tastes change all the time, which means your website needs to be refreshed periodically to keep up with the changing times. That could mean a complete redesign, or just a refresh.
For further reading, take a look at this article provided by Google that may help, 4 Tips from Google to Make Your Website More Compelling.