As we approach the end of the decade and look forward to the future, it’s a great time to reflect on your small business. Maybe you started your business years ago and remember the trouble you went through when trying to save files onto floppy discs. Or you still can remember that piercing tone of a fax coming in. While those days are long gone, it’s time to embrace the future and all the new technology and algorithms to come. Having a business marketing website is one of those elements your small business needs to have. It’s a wonderful way to build credibility and trust, reach your audience, and share your core story.
There are a number of items that are critical to the success of your marketing website. Let’s take a deeper dive so that you can reach those searching for your specific products and services.
But Before You do Anything
At onCOREventures, we preach the concept of strategy before tactics. Meaning that before you can jump into your marketing website, you need to have a few things figured out. You need to know who your ideal client is, what their customer journey looks like, and how you’re going to reach them.
Your Marketing Website is the Hub of Your Online Presence
Have you ever tried searching for a business, only to find they don’t have a website or that it was under construction? And no, a simple Facebook page does not count. How frustrating was it to not have that convenient accessibility? Now imagine how frustrating this scenario is for that small business. Here you were, a customer ready to engage and even make a purchase. But you cannot, because of a disheveled web presence?
Once a website is published, it’s constantly available to potential customers no matter the time of day. In the age of the 21st century, we are graced with the luxury of instant gratification. If a customer cannot reach you online, there’s little chance they are going to stick around. Rather they are going to find a similar company that can provide them with what they are looking for.
We would be remiss to not remind you of how different the customer journey is today than it was a few years ago. What used to be a linear journey is now full of twists and turns as customers are doing more research than ever. Your website is an outlet that can provide those customers with the knowledgeable information you possess about your industry. Not to mention is an easy avenue for them to contact you with any inquiries or concerns.
Be Clear on Your Brand Promise and Build Trust
A business website is the online core of your brand. In other words, your brand story (in most cases) begins with your site. Any content on your website should be a direct reflection of your brand values and mission of helping others. Not to mention, it provides you an incredible opportunity to show what makes you different from others in your local industry. Even if a customer doesn’t make a purchase, a great marketing website and subsequent content instills your promise and can allow them to hold you in high regard for the time they (or someone they know) does need the services you provide.
Plus, as a business owner in a specific industry, you have a lot of knowledge, expertise, and insight that others simply don’t have. Your website is a great place to share that wisdom and show your differentiation and specialization in your field. Websites are approachable, as most people would rather do an online search than visit with and talk with business owners face to face. Blogs, videos, eBooks, and other content of the like are great ways to reinforce you know what you’re talking about and begin to build trust with each person who engages with your site.
But It Has to Be Mobile-Friendly
When you’re out and about, have you ever noticed how often the people around you are on their phones? Or perhaps you’re too busy on your own phone to notice! As smartphones continue to become smarter, their capabilities are allowing users to do the same thing as they would on their laptop or desktop computer. Meaning that more and more people are utilizing search on the go. How often have you searched for “restaurants near me” (or something of the like)?
A mobile-friendly site makes your business even more available to potential customers. When a site isn’t mobile-friendly, it can cause frustration, and in most cases, causes that user to search for another business with an approachable interface. When your website utilizes responsive website design (RWD), your content will adhere to different screen sizes and devices. This improves your user experience and simultaneously increases that trust we just talked about.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Metadata
SEO has been the marketing buzzword of the year. And we’re sure your almost as tired of hearing about SEO as those of us who work with it. In case you’ve been blissfully unaware, SEO is the magic behind keyword searches and how your website can rank on results pages. Your marketing website is crucial if you want your business to show up higher in results. And remember, higher rankings can help expand your reach to those searching for businesses like yours.
While you used to be able to stuff your content with keywords and get away with it, the algorithms of today are getting smarter and pickier with what they allow to rank well. When your content is sincerely crafted and full of valuable information, these algorithms reward you. Content that feels sales-y and spam-y simply won’t rank. Blogs are a great way to get noticed by these algorithm crawlers, as they can show how much passion, care, and expertise you want to share with your audience.
While the comments thus far apply to SEO in general, local businesses need to play a completely different SEO game than large corporations. Small local businesses cannot compete for national keywords. You can see if the keyword has the potential for local ranking by typing in a search keyword. Look at suggestions on the bottom of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). If it is a local search when you search for a topic i.e. Chiropractor, Google will reply with “near me” as another term to use.
If you search for Chiropractor near me, you will then get other location-dependent options:
Your small, local business needs a Local SEO strategy completely different than that done by large companies. It is important that local businesses do the things that Google My Business (GMB) is looking for when promoting local businesses in the much-desired Google Snack Pack Map results. A side advantage in ranking in the Snack Pack is the suggestion above for Complete Chiropractic Cranberry – look at the number of reviews in the image below – you will see that they have 222 reviews – more than the others in the Snack Pack. This is another way of getting found solely through Local SEO.
How to Rank in the Snack Pack in 2019
In May of this year, Google changed the criteria on what gets put in the Snack Pack, based on the results we are seeing on our local sites. These are sites that have locally optimized SEO, optimum mobile performance, great online reviews (which are also posted to the website), regular local content posted to GMB as posts (either directory or abstracts back to the blog), and directory entries. Each of these factors is helping local businesses see geometric increases in the number of times their site shows up in the map results.
Business Marketing Websites Allow You a Domain Connected Email
Finally, a business website is incredibly important for success because it gives you the means of a domain connected email. Remember when we talked about trust earlier? Can you trust a business that emails you from an account that doesn’t match? What does that say about them if they don’t? Custom domain email addresses continue enhancing the trust curated by your website. They come off as more professional and credible than their mismatched counterparts. And in today’s world, consumers expect your website domain and email address to match.
There is also the factor of being in control of your own email, as opposed to using a third-party. With the number of scams and spams occurring online, domain emails are a great way to keep your business – and more importantly, customers – safe and protected. Besides, no business wants to get flagged and sent to spam folders.
If Your Business is Missing a Marketing Website, or In Need of an Update – Now is the Time
When done correctly, your business website is a liaison between you and a potential customer. It has the power to make or break a sale based upon the factors we just discussed. A website that authentically tells your story and shows why you are different from the competition is always bound to resonate with the right consumer. And a site that is mobile-friendly, utilize SEO and has a domain connected email are all means to make that happen.