With all the problems that people seem to be encountering with social media sites at the moment, it’s now even more important to ensure that you have a website. Social media sites are dependent on algorithms and they decide who sees and who doesn’t see your business page. But if you have a website, you own it and your domain, and are in control of how it’s seen by your target audience.
The most obvious reason to have a website is to convert your visitors into customers. Your website is your shop front and, if your products or services are what your audience is looking for, you’re more likely to get customers that buy from you.
A good homepage
The first thing people will see when they visit your website is your homepage. It can feel a bit overwhelming to try and decide what you want your website visitors to see first and it’s really tempting to give as much information as possible on that first page. You want to show off your products, services, awards, contact info etc., but keeping your homepage (and the rest of your website) simple is the key to more conversions.
- Keep text to a minimum so it’s easier for your visitors to scan the page and focus on the headlines.
- Have good headlines
- Don’t have too many tabs that people have to go into to find what they want, and keep the navigation simple
- Have a clear message on what you want your visitors to do – this is via a Call to Action (CTA). Position this before they have to scroll, so near the middle of the page. This could be asking people to sign up to your newsletter or sign up to a service for free. It could be a direct link to your product page
- Your homepage design needs to make it obvious what you offer your customers in a clear and concise way
- Use your brand colours, but don’t overwhelm you visitors with colour – again, simplicity is the best way to go
Conduct a website analysis
The first step to making sure your website is effective is to conduct a website analysis.
- Review your navigation bar (or tabs) to ensure that anyone visiting your site can easily find and access what they’re looking for – are they labelled clearly
- Look at the font sizes and colours – are they easy to read? Can any images be seen and do they load quickly?
- Check out your website on all devices – desktop, iPad or tablet and mobile – most people use a mobile these days and it needs to be easily viewed or people will find one that is.
- If you use Google Chrome, log into other browsers, such as Firefox or Bing and make sure it can be loaded easily from others, as well as the one you use.
- How long does it take for each page to load? People will lose patience really quickly if your site pages don’t load quickly.
- Look at your content – is it easy to understand, written in plain English and more importantly, written with your target audience in mind? Does it give them solutions to their problems and tackle their biggest challenges? Are your headlines attention grabbing?
Once you have all this information, you can focus on fixing anything that doesn’t work or that needs a little tweaking!
Search Engine Optimisation
The next thing to look at is to ensure that your website is optimised for SEO. This is all about making your website attractive to search engines, such as the browsers that your audience use.
Use keywords and keyword phrases that are relevant to your business, and words and phrases that you think your audience will use when looking for your type of products or services.
Keyword research is crucial to your website being found and ranked on search engines. There are lots of keyword research sites out there that you can use – the Google Keyword Tool is a good one. It will help you find terms that are relevant to your type of business and help you understand how many people are searching for those terms online.
Once you have a list of your keywords and phrases, plan your content to include them. I don’t mean changing your content to absolutely stuff it full of keywords so that your content no longer makes sense or is valuable, but use some them to help your content – still make sure that your content is informational and entertaining, so it adds value to your visitors once they arrive.
On-site optimisation – Another way to boost your SEO is to look at your headlines, Meta descriptions, images and image tags. Use keywords in these.
Link Building is another important factor. Search engines look for content links to help determine whether the content on your site is valuable. You can do this by submitting your site to different business directories, register your website with Google My Business, and to other browsers, such as Bing.
Add a blog to your website, giving valuable information about you, your business, your special offers, competitions or discounts. A blog can help you be seen as an expert in your field. You can share the blog link to social media, which will help drive traffic from there to your website.
Set up an email list – if you haven’t yet got an email list, it’s a good idea to set one up, that your visitors can sign up to. This gives you their email address. You can then send them a monthly email giving details of new products or services, special offers or discounts. In order to be compliant with GDPR, you must get the permission of anyone who gives you their email address – they must know that you will be emailing them with your newsletter and it must be clear that this is what they are signing up to.
Adding a pop-up on your site is the best way to get people to sign up to your email list – AND if you ensure you use the double opt-in, you will be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). As well as a pop-up, you can also set up a landing page, which entices people to sign up to your newsletter, by offering them something for free in exchange for their email address. This could be a checklist, eBook or pdf. It could be a recording, a podcast or instructional video. People like to get freebies and this is the ideal opportunity to do this for your customers and get something back in return.
Add testimonials – add a testimonial or review of your products or services on your website. It’s a good idea to put a testimonial on your homepage – this is social proof that you can be trusted and that your business is what you say it is – or that you do what you say you do. Generally, before people buy anything, they look at reviews or recommendations.
Images – make sure your images are good quality, clear and are not too large in size and don’t use too many. This makes your page slower to load. Use images in jpg format wherever possible as png format is slower. DO NOT take images from Google – they are often subject to copyright and you could find yourself with big fines. Use your own photos, or find images on a site whose images are free for commercial use. Sites such as unsplash, pixabay or pexels are good. When you add an image, add a caption to your image (this can be hidden), as this helps with SEO.
Paid ads – you can also use paid ads to boost your visibility and bring more visitors to your website. This could be through Google or through social media sites. You can also tailor your ads to a particular target audience by age, gender or interests.
Although not done as much as it used to be, if your local area has a freebie paper or magazine, you could advertise in there too. This still works for a lot of people.
Social Media can help you in driving traffic to your website. Pick a couple of sites to focus on and use content to attract and engage your target audience. Don’t try and use loads of sites as being on social media is very time consuming, so ensure you do at least two sites really well…research your target audience, so you know which sites they hang out on and use those for your content.
Keep your branding consistent on both website and social media, so your customers know that it’s you. As I said before, you can use social media to publicise your blogs – give your audience a taster sentence, then put the link to your full blog article. On social media, you can also show the human side of you too, by posting the odd personal thing – what you did at the weekend, or a photo of your pet or a family day out. This helps your audience relate to you on a more personal level and let them get to know you better.
Finally, make sure that visitors to your website know how to contact you. Give them your telephone number and email address. Make sure that this is prominent and obvious on your website, so that visitors don’t have to go searching for it. Usually, this is either on the homepage, on a tab at the top of the page, and also in the footer of your website. If your business has physical premises, make sure you include your business address.
I hope this has helped you think about your website and how you can maximise the opportunities you have to convert your visitors to customers.
If you don’t yet have a website and want to find out about the best web hosting company for your small business, check out digital.com who have a fabulous list of the best hosting providers for 2021.
If you need help with your small business, feel free to email me – firstname.lastname@example.org