- Making your website easy to understand will help your customers engage with your brand and deliver a positive user experience.
- Hosting and SEO are critical for your success online.
- Developing a cohesive brand identity will help effectively deliver your message, and increase the perceived trustworthiness of your business with users.
It’s important that customers are easily able to find what they are looking for when visiting your site.
As a small business in Cleveland, having a website is all about making it easier for your customers to find the products and services that you offer when they are searching for them online.
Whether you are in the process of having a new site built or are just looking to make your existing site more effective, here are 11 things it must have.
A Clear Domain Name
A domain name is the www.[name-of-your-business].com that people will use to get to your site, or what they will see in the search results when deciding to visit your site or not.
Be Sure To Make It The Name Of Your Business – Branding is important. If the name of your business is “Valley View Ice Cream,” it’s important that your domain name reflects that you are an ice cream shop in Valley View.
It could be vvicecream.com or valleyviewicecream.com for example, but something like bedfordautoparts.com would certainly confuse your customers and make them wonder if they are on the right site.
Keep It Short – Short domain names are easier to remember.
Make It Easy To Spell – Avoid using any slang, or made up words.
Use An Authoritative Domain Extension – This is the .com, .org, or .net that is at the end of your website’s address. People more commonly recognize .coms versus something more obscure like .biz and lend sites with recognized extensions more trust.
Avoid Numbers & Hyphens – Domain names with numbers or hyphens are harder to remember, and again, do not receive the trust associated with more common word-only domain names.
Secure, Reliable, Managed Web Hosting
For people to find your site online, it has to be hosted someplace.
Cheap/Shared Hosting can be found very inexpensively but will come at the cost of your website being slow, potentially having a large amount of time it is offline, and offers very little in the way of security or support.
Dedicated Server Hosting is commonly much more expensive, but offers your site the full utilization of server resources meaning it will be fast. With a dedicated server, you will have to hire someone to configure, manage, and run it, which will only add to its expense.
Managed Hosting is in the middle of these two. Your site will often still have dedicated resources for it like with dedicated server hosting, which means it will be fast, but on a managed hosting platform the host takes care of all of the maintenance and security work on the server for you. This greatly reduces your monthly costs and comes with the added benefit of having security built-in on a platform level as they take care of everything for you.
We offer managed hosting for our clients as it offers the best possible outcome for what most Cleveland small business owners need.
Clear, Helpful Navigation
Once your customers are on your website, it’s important that they are able to easily find what they need. Clean, easy to understand navigation is how you achieve that.
Simplicity is always best when it comes to website navigation. Your customers should be just two clicks away from anything they need on your site at all times.
Typically your web developer will be able to help you meet your customers’ needs with navigation as they will be able to implement effective navigation bars to help your customers find what they need no matter what kind of device they are viewing your website with.
Easy To Find Contact Information
Having your address and phone number(s) in easy-to-find places for your customers will help them reach out for more information or complete a transaction.
Typically you will want this information in the footer of every page on your website, as well as having a dedicated “Contact Us” page.
A contact form on your contact page will help them more easily send you questions that you can follow up on later and should be considered an important part of every site build.
Responsive, Modern Design
Long gone are the days when you could get away with having a 5 or10-year-oldd website. Customers will immediately leave your website and are unlikely to return if it is hard to use or view no matter what device they are on.
Responsive Design is the concept of designing and developing a website so that it changes shape and style based on what device it is being viewed from. It simplifies your site and makes it easier to read and use when your customers are using it on their cell phones or tablets.
We only design and develop websites that look great no matter what device they are being viewed on.
Core Products & Services
Almost every website we build features our client’s core products or services on their homepage.
You can think of your core products or services as the fields or problems to which you are best known for providing solutions.
If you were a residential Cleveland contractor some examples of your services might be home additions, home remodeling, bath renovation, or garage construction.
Your website needs to call out and feature these topics prominently on your homepage so that customers get an immediate sense of what it is you do and can offer them, as well as drive results for your bottom line.
Strong Brand Identity
When you think of brands like Apple, you might think of the black apple with the bite taken out of it or the rainbow logo from the 80s and 90s.
When someone says “Nike,” most people instinctually think of the swishing check mark.
Your brand identity can be defined as the collection of elements that your business uses to portray the right image to your customer. In terms of website design this comes down to things like your logo, the font(s) used on your website, your brand colors, and being from Cleveland, your business may use some Cleveland-based imagery that is easily recognizable.
Your brand identity is what will set your business apart from your competitors, so it must be cohesive, recognizable, and distinctly your own.
When helping a new client through digital marketing consultations, brand identity is one of the first and most important things we look at. A strong brand identity helps businesses like yours form meaningful connections with your customers that will last for years, potentially increasing their lifetime value with your business.
Real Trust Elements
When a potential customer is using your website for the first time and isn’t familiar with your brand, one of the factors they will be looking at is your perceived credibility. They are deciding if it’s safe to do business with you.
Trust elements are normally broken down into two big categories.
Social Proof – Does your website feature testimonials, case studies, and reviews showing that other customers you’ve worked with have had positive outcomes?
Certification & Licensure – Does your company have certifications, licenses, or other industry-specific recognition that you are experts at what you offer?
Small Business Specific SEO
The number one reason businesses want a website is so that their customers can more easily find them online. That is often done via search engines when someone searches for “Euclid plumber” or “Mexican restaurant near me.”
SEO is the process of ensuring that your website can be found and indexed by search engines and increasing its visibility to your potential new customers when they are trying to find a product or service that you offer.
Small Business Search Engine Optimization can involve:
- Making sure the site is always online and accessible to search engines and does not include sitewide noindex tags or anything that would prevent it from being listed in search results.
- Keyword research and content creation around topics that your customers want to discover.
- PageSpeed Optimization to help ensure that your website is fast loading and provides a positive user experience.
- Being mobile-friendly so that your site works on all devices.
- Proper internal linking so that both users and search engines can navigate and understand your site easily.
Being a local, Cleveland business, it can also mean:
- Adding valuable, helpful content to your website that resonates with your local customers.
- Collecting positive local customer reviews on your site, as well as important signaling sites like Yelp, Facebook, or Google.
- Maintaining an active and up-to-date Google Business profile.
We have a whole guide for Cleveland small businesses that want to learn the basics of SEO that you can use to start implementing on your website or use to better educate yourself on the topic.
Implement A Website Maintenance or Care Plan
Websites are just like your car; they need regular care and maintenance to perform their best and help you achieve your ideal business outcomes.
You might not realize this at first, but your website runs on software that needs to be regularly updated, just like your computer.
Most websites are made up of a combination of a CMS, plugins, themes, and custom code that all need to be regularly maintained to help your site continue to run its best, and protect you from hacking attempts that can take your site offline or worse.
Website content is like a plant. It needs regular care and feeding to help ensure that it’s up-to-date, accurate, and helpful for your customers.
When website content is clearly out of date, it costs brands consumer trust that is very hard to earn back after that negative first impression.
It’s important to regularly review analytics for your website so that you know how you are doing, how many people are finding you online, and if you need to make some content/SEO adjustments to address any needs you may have.
Clear Call To Actions
Clear calls to action help your customers know what they should do next to resolve their needs and provide a favorable outcome for your business.
If your website sells products, it should be clear to customers how they can buy those products and complete transactions.
If your business generates leads that you follow up on later, your potential customers should know exactly how to submit those leads with the information you need to help them best.
Need Help Adding These Things To Your Site?
Your website is the cornerstone of your business’s digital presence. If you need some help making sure that it represents you properly, let us know!
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