9 Essential Keys to a Great Small Business Website in 2010

by Marcus Sheridan

I‘ve been working quite a bit lately with small business owners on their web presence and it’s amazing how many of these good men and women just aren’t getting it when it comes to the design of their websites. What’s crazy is that in general, small business owners want to have a great website. They great small business websitesknow that things aren’t quite right. Notwithstanding, whether it be from a lack of knowledge, funding, or motivation; they’re just not doing what it takes to have a quality and user-friendly website.

For this reason I offer an absolutely free small biz website analysis here at the Sales Lion. Although I give such a service away for free, the rewards I’ve gotten over these past 6 months for taking the time to help others has been nothing short of awesome.

But it hass been during this time that I’ve truly studied the core components of what makes a great small business website. Although all businesses are different, the following suggestions essentially apply to everyone, so please do not see your business as the exception. This stuff works, so do yourself a favor and act first then ask questions later, as the results will resolve any doubts or concerns you might have . So without further ado, here goes:

9 Features You Need to Add to Your Company Website TODAY

1. YouTube videos

Dang I love YouTube. It’s benefits in terms of SEO, branding, and education are profound. I truly believe it’s the most underused tool for small businesses in today’s economy, especially considering it costs almost nothing. Other than a flip camera and a computer, all you need is a desire. My company has a literal library of YouTube videos and we have many, many more in the works. We take the time to produce these videos because we live in a visual world. More and more people learn through visual means. In fact, the customers I see on my sales appointments have usually watched at least 3-10 of our company videos before we’ve ever even met. As you might imagine, this is 3-10 more videos than any of my competitors have given them.

2. Blog

I will beat this horse until my last breath. Blogging is sadly not appreciated my so many entrepreneurs and business owners, mainly due to their ignorance of its inevitable benefits. Although its benefits are practically boundless, here are 5 reasons you should be producing 1-2 blog article a week.

  1. Organic (free) search visits will skyrocket.
  2. Leads will continue to come back to your site.
  3. You will be known as an industry voice and innovator.
  4. If you’re in sales, you’ll spend less time teaching clients and more time selling to them.
  5. There are incredible cognitive benefits to writing out our thoughts daily. (This is an article in and of itself)

3. Owner / Staff Bio Page

What’s the deal with owners of companies hiding their face when it comes to their company’s website? Although websites need great content and consumer information, they also need to be personal and instill a sense of trust in the consumer. Just look at the example of Dave Thomas from Wendy’s or Colonel Sanders from Kentucky Fried Chicken. These men were truly ‘the face’ of their companies. Over 50% of the customers I see on a sales call look at my bio page before I even get to their home the first time. The impact this has on my ability to earn their trust is profound.

4. Lead Capture

If you don’t remember anything from this article, remember this one phrase:

Every page on your company website should include a lead capture form of some type.

Now I know some of you may be wondering how to achieve this without looking terribly redundant and spammy on your site. Here are a few examples:

  • Blog Subscription Form
  • Quick Contact Form
  • Receive a Free eBook Form
  • Free Report Form
  • Receive a Quote Form
  • Questions/Comments Form
  • Order Our Free DVD Form
  • Newsletter Sign Up Form

As you can see, there are many potential ways in which to add lead-capture forms to your website. All these forms, which can also be referred to as ‘Call to Action’, are critical in your efforts to increase leads and build up your customer base. Remember, leads are much more important than traffic when it comes to a great website.

5. Social Media

Whether it’s a ‘Become a Fan on Facebook’ or ‘Follow Us on Twitter’ form, every small business in 2010 needs to accept, embrace, and leverage such social mediums. I recently consulted with a restaurant owner to essentially  rebrand his company and our key tool in spreading the word was through Facebook. What’s crazy is that we pulled off a wildly successful event without spending a dime on advertising. This is the power of Social Media.

6. Statements that Ain’t About You

What I mean by this statement is the fact that most business websites come right out the gates bragging about how great they are. This is a huge mistake. The fact is, when consumers are in the research phase of making a purchase they don’t care how great you are. They just want to know what you are going to do for them. What makes you helpful? What information do you have to offer?

To see an example of this go to the homepage of my business website. What’s the first statement you see?

If you are considering the purchase of an inground swimming pool, this site was built for YOU!

Again, it’s not about you or me, it’s about the customer. And the best websites are the ones that think like customers, not like business owners.

7. Easy Navigation

Internet searchers don’t like roadblocks. They also don’t like confusing sites full of frivolous text. Unfortunately, small biz websites are famous for this.

This is especially the case with business home pages, which are often chock-full of text and wasteful information. Essentially, a homepage should be one keyword link after another, easily allowing the visitor to find the information they’re looking for.

8. Proper Font/Colors

I made the big mistake of having a black background with a very light font color for quite some time on my company’s website. Fact is, a dark background mixed with a light font is difficult for the human eye to read. This is also true with font styles. I’m always amazed when businesses design their site with fancy writing and colors, like cursive font for example. Although conceptually this may sound nice, it’s a dumb move when it comes to readability and user friendliness. So do yourself a big favor and keep your site’s font and colors simple, clean, and consistent.

9. Testimonials

We live in a world of doubt and disbelief. Consumers are slower and slower to give their trust away to other companies. This is why testimonials are the key to any great copy, advertisement, or marketing campaign. For example, my company website has a customer testimonial on almost every page of the site, as well as an entire page dedicated solely to testimonials. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many testimonials are listed on my website right now?
  • How many video testimonials do I have on the site?
  • What percentage of the site’s pages have some form of ‘social proof’?

If you’re like 99% of the small business websites I’ve analyzed, you’re likely seriously lacking in this critically important area.

So there are 9 keys to a great small business website in 2010. What are some other keys you  can think of? As always, your questions and comments are invited and appreciated.

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