It is not news that even small businesses need quality Web sites. Even if you have a physical location, it is just as likely (if not more so) that someone will find out about your business through the Web than by passing by your place of business. So your Web site needs to make a good first impression. To do so, it important to avoid the three most common mistakes most small businesses make when launching a Web site.
A major mistake that many small businesses make is leaving the entire Web site design process up to the “professionals.” Yes, web design professionals may understand how to use search engine optimization (SEO) so that your site will rank highly on search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo!. They will also understand how to create the quality, well-written content your potential customers seek. But they will NOT know your products and services as well as you do – and it is unlikely that they will understand your target audience as well.
So before contacting a professional Web design company, create your own Web design plan. Include a basic description of your target customers, as well as the pages you would like to see (e.g., About Us, Contact, Products, Testimonials, Blogs). In addition, surf the Web to find other Web sites that appeal to you so you can show the Web design firm your preferences. Similarly, have a list of your competitors’ Web sites so that the Web design firm can create something that will stand out from the competition.
Being Too “Flash-y”
If I am purchasing a new drill set, I don’t need to see a cartoon version of the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes building a shed. I just want to know about the drill set’s price and features. In fact, if I have to wait a long time for the flashy images to load, I’ll likely close the Web site and go elsewhere.
Many businesses use Flash animation when all their clients really want is a simple Web site that loads quickly, has quality content and is easy to navigate. Again, know your clients. If you are selling multi-media presentations to Las Vegas hotels, Flash animation may be the way to go. If you are selling pet food, simpler may be better.
Poor Content and Keyword Phrases
More people visit the Internet to find information than to make a purchase. Only after they feel comfortable about products and services do they actually begin the buying process. For example, many people want to know the benefits of allergy-proof products, and the science behind them, before purchasing them. That is why companies such as Overstock have information about allergies along with sales of allergy-proof bedding.
People like to buy from those they can trust, and helpful articles about products and services are a good way to establish that trust. Once people have decided on the goods or services they need, they will likely return to purchase from those who helped them get the basic information they desired.
In addition to building trust, helpful articles can help your company’s SEO so that it will rank well on Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERP). In simple terms, Search engines use special algorithms to rank Web sites according to their content. One of the key factors is the use of “keywords” and “keyword phrases” that indicate what the site is about. If the site is constantly updating its content with helpful, keyword-rich information, it will likely rank highly on search engines and entice potential customers to stay, learn more and, ultimately, purchase its products or services.
With a little thought and effort, your small-business Web site can be an investment that pays dividends for years to come.