Have you been thinking about updating your local business website? If so, you’ve probably got a lot of ideas, and even more questions.
You may want to start over with a brand new site, or simply refresh what you already have, but no matter what your plan is, there are a few key questions you must answer before you dive in.
As a local business, your website will evolve over time. When you’re setting up a site for the first time, you typically just want to get it up and running. Then, as your business matures and your site becomes more important, you may want to add more features and upgrade the overall visitor experience.
Before you redo your local business website, you should answer these five questions:
#1. Is Your Site Simple and Easy to Navigate?
When it comes to website design it’s pretty easy to let things get off track. You’re excited, you want your customers to be informed and the next thing you know you’ve got a site with 19 menu options and an overabundance of information.
This is definitely NOT what you should be striving for.
The truth? Simple is what sells.
The goal should be to build a website that is designed to meet your visitors’ needs. The human brain can only process so much in one sitting, so the aim is to create cognitive fluency.
Now, “cognitive fluency” sounds pretty fancy, but it’s a simple concept. The idea behind this is that our brains prefer to think about whatever is easiest to think about. This is why we gravitate to sites where we already know where everything is.
Creating a site that looks nothing like what visitors are used to can be a real turn off. But that doesn’t mean you need to look just like everyone else!
By doing your research and seeing what is “typical” of sites offering products or similar to yours, you can create an interesting design while still applying the principle of cognitive fluency to keep visitors from clicking away.
#2. Is Your Website Easy to Maintain?
With technology being as user-friendly as it is these days, having a website for your business doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated.
Your local business likely doesn’t need a fancy custom website.
Should you choose to have a professional build your site, you absolutely want to know how easy the site is to maintain. Are you going to have to go back to the website designer/developer every single time you need a change? Are you going to have to become an expert at coding to make simple changes?
Having the ability to make quick and simple changes on the fly can’t be underestimated. If you’re 100% dependent on someone with a high level of skill to make updates and changes, that represents an ongoing cost to your business. Plus, having to go back and forth with someone one even the tiniest of changes will be time-consuming, and potentially, frustrating.
Whatever route you choose when it comes to your website, it’s in your best interest to ensure that you have a solid plan for maintenance and updates. (And please, please make sure you own your domain name and have control over your hosting account.)
#3. Are You Producing Regular, Fresh Content?
Think of your website as a living, breathing entity that lives on the internet. The more fresh content you add, the more search engines will recognize your site as a “live” entity. Over time, sites that don’t have frequent updates become considered “dead”, which means they’ll fall in search engine rankings.
Search engines, like Google, are continually looking for new content. Websites that have regular, new content added are automatically considered more engaging, which in turn improves their overall indexing with Google. The higher your ranking, the better traffic you’ll receive via search.
Plus, more quality content means more opportunities to maximize keyword searches. Every time you add something new to your site, you can identify popular keywords that may drive additional traffic.
From a customer engagement standpoint, frequent updates mean more chances to interact with your customers. People are much more likely to visit a site where they know things get refreshed at regular intervals. Your website is the perfect place to keep customers updated and informed, and knowing that you provide new content regularly means they’ll be more compelled to visit your website.
#4. Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?
When it comes to your business website, being mobile friendly is critical. With smartphones and other mobile devices being more popular than ever, it’s a sure thing that at least some portion of site visitors will be on a mobile device while browsing.
People are doing everything from light browsing to serious shopping from their mobile devices, so a site that isn’t optimized for mobile can be a huge turn-off to visitors. The last thing you want is for people to abandon your site partway through because they’re frustrated.
Nearly as important as your site visitors experience is the fact that Google actually penalizes you when it comes to search results if your site isn’t mobile ready. Google will prioritize mobile-friendly websites when someone does a mobile search, and mobile sites will rank higher overall than those that are not optimized.
Bottom line: If your site isn’t mobile, it will impact you when it comes to search engines and traffic to your site.
#5. Are You Collecting Emails for Future Communication with Site Visitors?
Depending on what your business is about, what you want to accomplish with visitors will vary, but there’s one thing that you always want to try and capture when people come to your site: email addresses.
Email addresses provide you a channel to communicate with existing and potential customers on an ongoing basis. You can share business news or promotions, but it isn’t just about selling services or promoting your business.
Your first goal with every new site visitor is to work on building your company’s know, like and trust factor. In order to do this though, you need to have a way to reach them. That’s where collecting email addresses come in.
Once you build a have a database of email subscribers, then you can begin to look at how to regularly communicate with your list of subscribers. Whether you’re sending a weekly email or a monthly newsletter, you’re using email to nurture your relationship with potential and existing customers.
Now that you know what to look for when it comes to creating a powerful site for your local business, take some time to review your existing site and do a quick audit of where you land with the above questions.
There’s no better time than during a refresh to mix things up a bit, so even if you only apply one or two of these suggestions, it will have a big impact on your visitors.
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