The Website Checklist for Small Business Owners
In my experience, small business owners fall into one of two categories.
Some are right on top of the newest trends in marketing—digital, social, Adwords, the works. There’s not a marketing buzzword they won’t throw at you in a meeting.
The rest are experts in their field and just want to get on with the business of doing what they know best. “Website?” they ask, “yeah, I think we’ve got one of those”.
Which category do you fall into?
Well this article is for you!
Yes, it doesn’t matter which one you are. That’s the whole point. (Made for a nice intro through, didn’t it?)
Ok, I’m assuming that you’ve got a website. If not, we need to have a serious chat.
But you’d be amazed how many websites—even those that receive all the love and attention in the world—miss some of the basics. Let’s make sure we get all of these things right.
Purpose to your Pages
When I start with a client, one of the first things I do is take a look through the site to see if I can tell what it’s trying to do.
You want your entire website to serve a purpose. Sell your products, provide information, generate a lead, whatever.
Every page on your website should be serving that purpose in some fashion. One page to introduce people to your brand. Another to show off what makes you different. Another for them to contact you. And so on.
Do this as clearly as you possibly can. Don’t try to get fancy—internet users are too inattentive for that. Smack them over the head with what you’re trying to say.
Once you’ve made your pages easy to understand, now make them easy to find.
Please oh please, do not make your website navigation menu look like a hoarder’s backyard. Pick AT MOST 5 categories to put there. Yes, including your Contact page.
You can put sub-categories underneath if they are important—but remember that every time a user sees a giant long list of pages an SEO somewhere in the world has a stroke.
Social Media Integration
Facebook! Twitter! Instagram! LinkedIn!
Love them or hate them (I personally do both), you need them. Get them. You don’t have to post anything if you don’t want to, just make sure you own the relevant pages for your business name and fill them out with your contact details.
Now link them to your website. You know, the fancy little buttons that your users can click that will take them straight to your social media sites.
The point is not that we are generating clicks this way. Social media integration signals to users that you are authentic, the real deal, fair dinkum. It shows that you are to be trusted.
So if you’re not about that social media life, get on it. If you are already over the Twittersphere like a rash on school camp, then make sure you’ve got everything linked in (heh) to your website, and get posting! Social signals are an SEO ranking signal these days—this stuff matters.
What’s the best way to convince a potential user that you are the crème de la crème? The bee’s knees? The pick of the litter?
Show them that that’s what your customers think.
Reviews, testimonials, star ratings, all that.
Integrating Google reviews on your website is usually a quick and easy way to do this, but if you have written reviews or testimonials, then that’s even better. If not, get them, then display them.
Contact Information Throughout
You want your leads to contact you, right? Right!?
Then for the love of all that is holy, don’t make it hard to do. If I have to make more than one click to find a simple phone number, I’m just abandoning ship right now and swimming to your nearest competitor.
Contact details on every page. No exceptions.
Uh oh, we’ve entered technical territory.
Don’t panic, this isn’t that hard to get.
You know how some websites start with https:// while others don’t? No? You’ve never paid attention to the random strings of letters in a URL?
Well, I’ll bet you have noticed this one. Because websites that don’t have that little s at the end of https nowadays come with a big ol’ warning that says something like “Your connection is not private”.
I’m sure I don’t need to convince you that this is about the worst thing imaginable for your website.
The good news is, it’s a very simple process. You just need to buy an SSL certificate, which essentially encrypts communication in and out of your website.
If you’re not sure how to do that, have a chat to your hosting provider – many have built in security features for free. Or Google it. That’s pretty easy too.
Ok, that’s your website sorted! Done and dusted.
Now, there’s a few Google tools that are going to make your life a whole lot easier, so you really should get on these. Best of all, they’re all free!
Google My Business
Google My Business is probably the single most important tool for your website’s success, aside from the website itself.
In a nutshell, GMB let’s you manage how your business appears to people in Google Search, Google Maps, and more.
It gives you control over your location (for Maps listings), photos, customer reviews, and more.
When done correctly you can get a fancy-looking Knowledge Graph when people search for your business:
Aside from just being a great way to help your customers find you and get in touch with you, GMB is also the first step in local optimisation. So if you want to rank highly for “ice skating Chatswood”, then telling GMB that you are an ice skating rink based in Chatswood is the first and, I hope, most obvious step.
Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools)
Search Console is your place to check up on your website health from an SEO perspective.
Google wants your website to succeed. Through Search Console, Google will let you know if it is having trouble crawling your website, if there are issues with mobile useability, if there’s problems with your internal linking, and tonnes more.
It’s also your way of communicating with Google. Do you have parts of your site that you don’t want showing up in search results (such as pages behind a private login)? This is where you can ask Google not to index parts of the site. You can also use GMB to show Google the entire structure of your website, just to make sure they are indexing everything that matters.
As a professional SEO consultant, Search Console is one of my daily tools that I use to manage my websites.
Curious to know how many people visit your website? Which pages they’re checking out? How long they’re staying? What they’re clicking on?
This is how you find out.
Google Analytics tracks every session to your website, then tracks how it interacts with every page. You can use it to track your traffic, engagement, and even sales.
Once you know how to use it, you can find the answer to almost any question about how users use your website.
And if you’re anything like me, you’ll quickly get sucked down a hole of trying to learn everything there is to know about it.
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