Small business websites, as a whole, have some major room for improvement. Maybe it's because many companies don't know what to put on their site, or maybe it's because people still think of small biz websites as "digital business cards." A company's website should be a priority, not an afterthought. More and more people are using the web to research companies and products, and if your site doesn't appeal to online searchers, you might lose a sale. There are plenty of ways that small business sites can improve. Here are five of the most common mistakes that small business owners make.
1. You don't fill out your about page
The about page for most small businesses is, at best, a contact page. However, the customer might want to know more about your company if they're thinking about spending money on your products or services. Aside from all the contact info and addresses, you could also include these elements:
- Company values. If a customer is on the fence about choosing your services, knowing more about what your company believes and does could be the thing that convinces them.
- The company's story. Each company has a different story, right? Tell it! How were you founded? Is there anything interesting about the history of the company? All of these things might be valuable to the customer. After all, nothing sells like a good story.
- What your company actually does. Sounds crazy, but many small biz sites don't really give clues as to the services they provide. (More on this below.)
- Pictures. Pictures are a great way to add a personal touch to a business. Pictures of team members, founders, buildings, offices, etc. Heck, even pictures of happy customers can help spruce up the about page.
There are plenty of other things that a small business could add to their about page, but the idea is to show that the company is more than a site or a building. About pages are excellent places to show the human element of the company. For more ideas, check out Smashing Magazine's excellent article on effective about pages.
2. You don't actually say what your business does
It's crazy, I know. But many small business websites don't explicitly explain what services they provide. And if they actually do, it's buried on the about page, or some other secondary page. What your company does should be above the fold, and where the customer doesn't have to look for it. Web visitors are becoming increasingly fickle, spending less than a few seconds before they've decided to click away from your site.
Your company's description should also be on nearly every page, not just the homepage. A good portion of the search traffic to sites bypasses the homepage and lands on a secondary page. So it's important that all of your visitors have the opportunity to see what your company does. Also, when you're describing your company, lose the jargon. Like we mentioned earlier, you only have seconds to "hook" the visitor. If they're confused, or something doesn't make sense in your company's description, they're back to Google faster than you can say "L-L-C."
3. You don't strut your stuff
Who have you worked with? What have you done for your clients? What have they said about you? Have you won any awards? These are things that your site visitors should be seeing. They need to know that your company has experience, and you're good at what you do. Aside from showcasing your accomplishments, it's also vital to let others praise you. After all, there's no better recommendation than from a satisfied customer. Testimonials can make all the difference. Testimonials allow your business to showcase accomplishments without saying a single word. Powerful and effective.
4. You don't capitalize on social media
Sorry folks, but social media is here and it's powerful. If your business doesn't have an active Twitter account and Facebook page, then you're already behind the competition. There are plenty of success stories of companies capitalizing on Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. They aid in customer support, and they give yet another element to your site. Social media can be powerful for small businesses and ecommerce sites, and it's becoming more and more vital for companies to embrace it.
5. You aren't blogging
Unless you've got an ad budget the size of Utah and can buy Super Bowl ads, you need more online exposure. One of the best ways to acquire it is with a blog. A general rule is that the more pages your site has in Google's index, the more traffic you'll receive. Blogs are an excellent way to add more volume to your site that search engines can consume. Each page you create gives Google another reason to visit your site, and adds more keywords that potential searchers can find your site with. Aside from the SEO benefits, regular posting on a company blog means that you can showcase your expertise. Show the world that you're an expert, and they'll buy from you. They'll trust you, and they'll trust your products and services. For example, the online personal finance tool Mint drives tons of targeted traffic to their blog.
Or you could use your blog to highlight company and product news. These types of company news articles are great ways to keep people coming back to your site and excited about what you're working on. Google does this with different company blogs for most of their products. This allows Google to keep users of each of these products on top of recent changes and other product news. Small businesses are at a major disadvantage at competing with major companies when it comes to PR, time and manpower. Blogging helps even the playing field. Anyone can blog. They're easy to set up, easy to use, and can either be professionally written or informal. Remember, your small business site isn't a business card, it's a resource for your potential customers. Your company will never go wrong investing more resources into a better website.Glen Stansberry is the co-founder of Howdy, a way for small business sites to improve site conversions. You can find more of Glen's business insights on Wise Bread, the leading personal finance community dedicated to helping people get the most out of their money.