Most business owners today are aware of the importance of a website. Even with the prevalence of social media, a website helps to establish a business as legitimate and professional. However, while it’s fair to say that a website is a requirement for doing business, don’t look at it as simply another expense, or a box to be checked. Instead, view your website for what it is: a fantastic opportunity to build your brand.
Seeing your website from this perspective will help you create a better site that uses the full potential of the internet for establishing and growing a successful business.
Help Customers Get to Know Your Business
Your website is a place to spotlight your business, what makes it special, and everything that makes you the best choice for your potential clients. Ultimately, you are trying to lead your website visitors to decide to buy from you rather than a competitor. Don’t pump up every page with big promises and sales language — this will only turn visitors away. Instead, your approach should be straightforward, interesting, and humanizing, which shows your value in a much more genuine fashion.
Take this opportunity to introduce your business, including a detailed “About Us” page, which is often a visitor’s first stop when discovering a new company. Include information about the owners and/or founders, complete with pictures. This helps your business seem relatable and human rather than like a faceless corporation, which makes it much easier for customers to trust you.
Your website should incorporate your unique value proposition wherever possible. Your method for doing this will depend on your business’s UVP, but it needs to shine through right away. Online visitors don’t give websites much of a chance to make an impression, so you need to catch their attention immediately.
Finally, design your website to reflect your brand’s personality. This includes visuals like your logo, colors, and font, as well as your business’ “voice.” These contribute to your brand identity which helps you become more memorable among the crowd.
Build Authority with High-Value Content
Your website’s content serves two important purposes that are closely related. One is to improve your SEO rankings, and the other is to help establish your business as an authority in your industry. The content you create should serve both of these goals at the same time, which is the only effective way to do it. Anything created just for algorithms will fail, as will anything written solely for human readers with no concession to SEO techniques.
The most successful website content is helpful to readers (i.e. adds value) and keyword optimized. Fortunately, it’s easy to achieve this balance as long as you know what keywords you’re targeting and sufficiently narrow down the topic of each page or blog article — which also makes it easier to write the content itself.
Each page on your website should have useful content that tells visitors the purpose of the page and how to proceed, but your best tool for building authority is a blog. Blogs are made to be updated frequently with fresh content, which search engines take as a positive sign. Your goal is to create interesting, informative content that helps readers. This serves to build your reputation as a knowledgeable leader in your industry: an authority.
Useful and well-targeted content will boost your SEO, leading to more visitors discovering your website, which in turn leads to higher brand awareness. It also increases trust in your business once you’re established as a good source of information. Even if a customer has never bought from you before, after repeatedly finding your content useful, you’ll be one of the first brands they think of when they’re finally ready to buy the type of product you sell.
High-value website content also serves as a linkable asset, making it that much easier for you to get backlinks to your website in the future.
Provide a Memorable eCommerce Experience
If you sell products or services directly through your website, it means another opportunity to prove the quality of your brand. A great shopping experience will help further increase your reputation in the public eye. This relies on your use of reliable, feature-rich eCommerce software that will provide your customers with an organized online store and streamlined checkout system.
Don’t choose your website’s framework lightly. Free, open-source solutions can be tempting, but fall short in support, features, and ease of use. Licensed software (the type you purchase once) is often too expensive for a small business and, like open source, leaves you responsible for updates and hosting. Support often comes with an extra charge and you’ll usually only get free software updates for a year before you’ll need to renew the license or pay for an upgrade package.
Despite their monthly fees, hosted eCommerce platforms will save your business the most time and money, since you won’t need to find hosting, install software, or perform updates — and if the eCommerce platform is PCI compliant, they’ll handle your site’s PCI audits too. With a hosted solution, you simply sign up, log in, and start building your store, while the provider handles all the technical details. Some hosted platforms such as Shift4Shop also include a blog module, which ensures your main website gets all the SEO benefit of your content marketing, unlike hosting your blog under a separate service or domain.
You should choose a platform that enables you to build a fast, mobile-ready website that’s easy to navigate and can allow customers to pay in an assortment of ways. The better the shopping experience you give them, the more likely they are to come back, especially if your website truly stands out from others.
Customer loyalty begins with customer experience. Your website gives you a chance to provide the type of experience that leads to the long-lasting customer relationships that businesses always find the most profitable. Presentation, SEO, and functionality all matter. However, instead of looking at your website as another task that needs to be done, see it for what it is: an opportunity to make your mark.