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8 Tips for Small Business Website Design

June 6, 2010

By Susan Ward at About.com

Often people tell me, “My small business website isn’t working. I’m not getting anything out of it.”

The trick to getting what you want out of your small business website, such as leads and sales, is to have a small business website design that attracts the visitors you want and encourages them to do what you want them to do. Look at your small business website (or your plans for one) and ask yourself these eight questions to create a small business website that works.

1) Does your small business website have a professional appearance?

Your small business website design needs to look professional. Cookie-cutter website templates and/or home-made websites stand out like sore thumbs, and do nothing to encourage anyone to do business with you. Unless you are an experienced website designer, you should hire one to design a small business website for your company.

2) Does your small business website provide ‘real’ content?

The endless sales pitch approach is vastly overdone and an instant turn-off for visitors. People come to your small business website to see information about your business, and your products and/or services. They are already interested. So provide more relevant, additional content for them. For instance, if you offer bookkeeping services, additional information on keeping records or tax tips are great value-added content. If you sell tiles, provide not only detailed information on your product lines, but how-to information on installation.

3) Does your small business website make it easy for people to do business with you?

Somewhere on your small business website, you need to have a page that has your full contact information, including your mailing address and your phone number(s). It’s not good enough to just have an e-mail address, especially one that starts “webmaster@”. Carrying contact information on every page is even better.

4) If you have an ecommerce site, do you provide adequate online payment options for your customers?

If you want people to buy your product, you have to make it easy for them. Invest in a good shopping cart, and make sure that you offer payment options such as credit cards and other online payment options, such as PayPal. People don’t want to have to bother to print off and mail in a form and a check.

5) If you’re selling a product or service online, does your small business website address your visitor’s security concerns?

Customers are concerned about transmitting personal information, such as credit card numbers, over the Web. You need to not only have the appropriate technology (such as SSL) in place, but let your potential customers know about it, by putting your Secure Site certificates in prominent locations, and having a page that addresses your visitor’s concerns, such as a FAQ.

Now your site showcases your business, and the products or services you offer in a way that makes doing business with your company attractive. What’s next? Signage; showing the prospective customer the path to your small business website’s door.

How do you show prospective customers the path to your small business website’s online door? Primarily through good search engine placement, which means spending time on search engine optimization and search engine submission. Look at your small business website and ask yourself:

6) Have you built search engine optimization into your small business website’s pages?

You need to give every page of your small business website the best chance of ranking well in the search engines. Search engine optimization means that every page of your site has title tags and meta tags that are appropriate in terms of the keywords you have chosen for that page (see Effective Search Engine Optimization) – and that you’ve used each page’s keywords or phrases the ‘right’ number of times throughout each page (see Keyword Density Explained).

7) Have you put any effort into search engine placement?

The Web is full of spiders that constantly search for new and updated pages for the search engines. However, as there are millions of pages online, just putting up your small business website and waiting for the spiders to find it is not wise.

While I’m sure you’ve seen those ads that offer search engine submission to “hundreds” of search engines, this kind of automatic search engine submission is not effective. What works is taking the time (or paying someone else to take the time) to manually submit your small business website pages to a selection of the top search engines and directories.

Some businesses also find that pay-for-search-engine-placement search advertising is an effective way to attract the customers they want.

8) Does your small business website have adequate web hosting?

While there are some free web hosts out there, many visitors will turn up their nose at your site when they see that your business is using one. The assumption is that a quality business will have quality website hosting.

Using a free or ‘inexpensive’ web hosting service can also cause you problems because of excessive downtime – periods of time when no one can access your small business website at all.

Finding The Best Website Hosting Service, tells how to find the kind of quality web hosting that you need to draw and keep site visitors.

Making Sure You Create a Business Website That Works

The purpose of a small business website is to provide your potential clients or customers who use the Internet access to your business, and make doing business with you, rather than someone else, an attractive proposition. If you can answer “yes” to the eight questions in this article, you have a small business website that will be well on its way to bringing in those leads and sales you want.

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