Things every small business needs

Ten Things Every Small Business Website Needs (Part 2)

In an earlier post, we covered items 1-5 on our list of Ten Things Every Small Business Website Needs to be successful. Read on for items 1-6!


Your call to action (CTA) is just that – the action you want your visitors to take. Share, follow, submit, sign up, join, subscribe, order, view, learn more, purchase, apply, compare, register – marketers use these active verbs to provoke a desired response from the reader.

What action should I ask them to take?
The purpose of each call to action depends on what type of website you have and the goal of the page on which the CTA will appear. Examples include:

• a landing page created for the sole purpose of acquiring webinar signups
• a non-profit sending out newsletters to build your list
• a comparison-shopping site
• an online boutique

Your call to action should be placed logically on your page.
The important thing is to lay out each of your site’s pages with thoughtfulness. With the rise of responsive design and scrolling dominance across browsers and devices, the notion of prime real estate has shifted, making all visible areas of your website equally important.

Most CTAs are visually inviting buttons intentionally placed right where the end user is ready to take the desired step. They are often stylized to grab the attention of site visitors with vivid colors and clear, concise wording.

7. Design & UX

Your website’s design and style should be clean and user-friendly. There are two parts to this: the look and feel of your site and user experience (UX). Of course, you want your site to accurately reflect the aesthetic of your brand. For instance, if you are a luxury furniture retailer, you’ll want an elegant aesthetic. Every design element of your site should reflect this, from font and color choice to logo design to the use of negative space and so on.

Keep it simple.
Cater your message to your demographic and make it easy for them to digest. Keep your key points short and concise. Use lots of headers, lists, and short paragraphs for easy readability. Sonnet-like stanzas, no matter how well-written, are not likely to be read by today’s site visitor.

The user experience, or UX, ties neatly into the next item on our list (basic SEO). You should ensure that you have optimized your site not just for search engines but for the end user. This provides real value to the reader, keeps them engaged, and encourages them to stay longer on your site.

Page load time
If your website is not user-friendly, your bounce rates – the number of people who leave your website without interacting – will increase. A slow-loading site is one of the most common reasons for a high bounce rate. Not having optimal page load time can also negatively affect getting indexed and ranked by Google. Here are three free tools you can use to test your site speed:

Google Pagespeed Insights
Pingdom Speed Test

Is your site intuitive and easy to navigate? The industry standard is horizontal navigation across the top of the page with a vertical dropdown and site anchor links on the bottom (footer navigation). While it may be tempting to try something unique, non-standard navigation can be frustrating to the user.

Clear Purpose
First and foremost, what you do or sell should be immediately evident when one visits your website. If you are an online nutritional supplement retailer, for instance, your lead messaging should make this very clear. The last thing you want is for a confused audience to leave your site unsure of what you sell.

8. Basic SEO

You may have heard about a shift in classic search engine optimization (SEO) practices in the last few years. The good news is that SEO is moving toward quality content that provides real value to its intended audience, and we like that—the days of keyword stuffing and spammy websites winning are over. The challenging news is that SEO techniques are no longer as cut and dry as they once were. Still, there are a few things that you can do to give your site a boost.

Define your keyword strategy
You do not have to get fancy. Clear keywords make it easier for end users to find you. Each page should have primary keywords and longtail* keyword phrases. Identify the most commonly searched words and phrases using a free keyword tool. Google’s Keyword Finder is a great place to start. You’ll need to create a Google Analytics account to use it if you don’t already have one.

Keyword strategies differ: you may want to go after the more competitive keywords or try for the low-hanging fruit of the less competitive searches. Most SEOs will do a combination of each for short- and long-term goals.

*it is estimated that more than 70% of traffic results from longtail search phrases.

Use keywords in URLs
For instance, if your business is called “Monkey Madness” and you sell stuffed monkeys, then you can build your site’s domain using the following: (527,000 searches) (1,360,000 searches) (1,710,000 searches) (433,000 searches*)

Use keywords in the content
A blog post or FAQ page can get those targeted, and exact match searches for specific key phrase queries, like “Where can I get a stuffed monkey with Velcro hands?” (169,000 searches*). You should also use them organically in content throughout the site.

*The keyword search result numbers are regional and fluctuate regularly. They are not a national search number and are intended to give you a baseline search comparison.

Use keywords in page titles and descriptions
Use your keywords and phrases to create a unique title and meta description for each page. Let the keywords flow naturally, and don’t overstuff. Try to use the primary keyword at the beginning of the sentence or phrase, if you can.

Content is king
Finally, content is getting top billing from Google. The most effective content is engaging and compelling and will pique your reader’s curiosity. It will make them stay on the page longer and come back often. It will be quality, relevant content that provides information, answers, or solutions.

9. Security

Website security isn’t just for ecommerce sites. Google now considers a valid SSL certificate a factor in search ranking. Most hosting providers will include a basic SSL package with your plan – talk to your host for more information.

What is SSL?
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption will scramble your transaction data and provide a safe link between the browser and web server, protecting private data. When your customers see the SSL “handshake” on your site, they instantly get the boost of confidence needed to continue the purchase and come back for future sessions.

10. Mobile and Responsive Design

The rise of smartphones and tablets for browsing has changed the website development landscape and brought about the adoption of responsive design. Responsive design will adapt content on the fly, optimizing it for all screen sizes and browsers. In other words, all design is now built to scale.

Well-executed, responsive design can result in an increased, more engaged audience. Studies have shown that responsive sites experience conversions at a rate that is 11 percent higher than non-responsive sites. Plus, Google favors them.

And that’s it! Ten Things Every Small Business Website Needs, Part 2. If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1 with items one through five!

Kristin Heffley

Kristin Heffley is founder and Chief Executive Caffeinator at Caffeinated Design Studio, a visual marketing agency based near Seattle, Washington. She loves coffee, her family, and helping clients create knock-their-socks-off brands, among other things. Her favorite caffeinated drink is a sugar-free vanilla Americano.

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