Small Businesses need different types of web design and SEO than larger companies. We talked to other small business web design experts – to get many perspectives. What we’ve found is a really solid set of web design tips – that goes deeper into marketing strategy, and even some coding suggestions to get the most out of your website – whether you’re redesigning, or modifying your existing site.
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Add schema markup to enhance your visibility in search results
An often overlooked opportunity, schema markup is code that you add to your website that search engines use to display information about your business, services and products in search results. This can bring critical information into your organic search results, such as reviews, breadcrumb links, company logo and product prices. These enhancements can improve your keyword click-through-rates, earning you more traffic for simple site improvements.
Don’t consider yourself technical? That’s OK. Schema markup is easy to implement. Check out my favorite schema markup generators, which will create the code for you so that all you need to do is copy it over to your website.
Telling your story to the right audience works.
Make your site mobile-friendly, blazing fast and convert it to HTTPS
Three things that imperative for your website in 2018: mobile-friendly/responsive/adaptive design, website speed and performance, and converting from http to https (SSL certificate purchased from your hosting company). All three have been highlighted by Google as ranking factors starting in the summer of 2018.
Use a Google Respected System – and make it fast
There are 4.9 billion mobile device users in the world, your site has to look across desktops, laptops, tablets, and phone, all of varying size. Avoid using DYI site builders like Wix and Weebly, to name a few. They are limiting from a design perspective and they don’t play well with Google for SEO purposes. Website speed and performance is reliant upon a great hosting company and a well-coded website. WPEngine is the top shelf of hosting, the most expensive and worth it. Bluehost cloud service is a great choice for the budget-conscious. Avoid GoDaddy.
Original high-quality photography from a local photographer
This separates a great site from a good one. Include interactions with happy, smiling clients; action shots (if applicable), case studies/portfolio of your work, and current headshots of your team. People relate to the human aspect. Keep the design consistent, use the same size page header photo (2000×600 is a good size) across the site. From a potential customer perspective, provide a clear message of how you can help them above the fold (top 1/2 of the page) with a clear call-to-action (CTA) button including action words (Request, Download, Call, Submit, Email).
Be sure to claim your Google My Business listing
Less than 50% of business owners claim the free listing from Google. Build your local directories/citations from your Google My Business listing. Consistency including exact spelling, abbreviations of street names, business hours, and 100% completion across these directories is key to Google viewing your business as trustworthy. Ask clients for Google reviews, at minimum you want 15 Google reviews.
Prioritize and vigorously keep it simple
If everything is important… nothing is important
It’s tempting to try and make everything bold and stand out on your site, but it will most likely have negative affect with your users not knowing what to do. Have a refined experience on your site that lets people explore the content they want with ease.
Make it easy to digest
There is such thing as TOO MUCH content. Most people skim through websites and don’t want to read a book to find the information they are looking for. Splitting up your content into clear sections with simple headlines will improve your site tremendously.
KISS Principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid
De-clutter your site so it is easy to navigate and read. People can be overwhelmed If there’s too much going on. This could be too many colors, patterns, or even too many calls-to-action.
Pick a color… or two
A great way to brand your site is to implement your company colors. For the best results, use the chosen color for buttons. People will associate that color with taking action and can easily see what they can and cannot click on.
Create a sincere emotional connection with visitors
Nothing matters more than emotional resonance. If you don’t connect personally with your ideal customers – someone else will. Just making it beautiful, accessible, and Google-friendly – is the baseline, and if your competitor can create a magnetic connection with your ideal customer with compelling images, and headlines that truly speak to their pain points and desired outcome – they’ll get that customer not you.
Focus on your headlines, and delight them
If you can make them fall in love – with one headline, you’ve found the one. Romance them with the idea of working with you – draw in their attention by addressing their main pain point. Then seduce them by offering a solution, without all of the trivial details about how it gets done – just help them imagine themselves in a post-problem scenario. Enjoying the delightful benefits of your service or your products. You are a bad-ass – use your current ideal clients as a model for how you write out what they will love about your work.
Focus on your 5 most prominent images and make them want it.
What will the visitor to your website – the ideal customer – the hero of the story feel, look like, and experience after they use your solution. Focus on images that give them this kind of feeling – and do your best to get original images – at least for the 5 most prominent images on the site. I’m not saying – never use stock photography – I’ll leave that to the big companies who have zillions of dollars to spend on marketing, but I will say ‘pay to have a handful of amazing photos professionally taken so that you can create a genuine and personalized effect based on your companies personality.’
Focus on instilling trust, and making it almost impossible to not take the next step with you.
Nothing matters more than trust when it comes to creating an insanely good website. You have to drive the point home that you have a track record, with badges, with testimonials, and with undeniably awesome examples of your previous work. Then – right as they reach a fever pitch of trusting you, and wanting to work with you – have an obvious next step, a big juicy bright button that pushes them to take the next step with you.
Start with a style guide to ensure consistency
I can’t stress the importance of developing a style guide for your company brand, enough. Documenting the expectation of design quality for your brand is key in ensuring you have a consistent design aesthetic across your marketing material. Leaving a succinct impression on your potential clients. Starting with a style guide is the best piece of advice I can give to any business when embarking on a web design project.
Focus your efforts on your customer’s need
Your customer has a space for your business in their life, figure out what that looks like and design it to be a positive experience for them. Don’t be afraid to start with your assumptions and be comfortable knowing you’ll tweak everything a lot to get it right. Set yourself up to listen to your customers, use analytics, and various user tests as tools toward a better experience for them. The overall goal is to create the reaction you want your ideal customer to experience in all facets of your business. However, I would argue that your website is one of the most important. With it, you have the ability to utilize customer data and behaviors to influence other areas of your business.
I hate the expression, “Don’t be a superhero and take on the entire world.” when people try taking on too much. Who doesn’t want to be a superhero? Instead, I’ll say be a superhero by solving one problem in your customer’s life. People naturally put labels on other people and businesses. Labels keep people organized so when they need something they can easily remember you for that specific something you offer. As a small business owner, you control what that something specific is and how quickly they will remember your brand name for it.
Above all else, be consistent
A common trap small businesses fall into is letting their online presence grow stagnant. I’ve seen businesses set up blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and more, only to have those same pages go for months or even years without updates. This is because it’s easy to underestimate how difficult it is to write a post once a day, or even once a week. While their goals are admirable, they aren’t achievable.
But it’s important!
Consistency is one of the most important factors when running a business, especially when it comes to blogging and social media. There is little more telling than a Twitter account that hasn’t been updated since 2016. Customers will think, “This business doesn’t appear to be active. I don’t think they’ll be very responsive if I have a question or need help.” This reflects poorly on you and your business.
How can I be consistent?
It’s important to start small. Set up a routine and add it to your schedule – for instance, in the case of a blog, two short paragraphs each week. If the goal seems too simple, that means it’s just right. The most important factor isn’t quantity, nor is it quality. It’s achievability – and from that follows consistency. Refine this process further by creating templates or outlines to work from. Automate as much as possible – use services like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule and crosspost to all of your accounts. Once the consistency is the primary goal, momentum, quantity, and quality will follow.
Use free tools
If you’re a small business trying to create a website, don’t think you need to go it alone. There’s no need for you to spend weeks learning how to code a website or how to perform on-page SEO. Rather, there are plenty of free tools available that can help you do all the tasks you’re unfamiliar with.
For example, there are website builders that can construct entire websites for you in a matter of minutes. And nowadays these websites are just basic looking sites, but rather fully comprehensive and modern sites that your business can be proud of. Or you can use a keyword rank checker to see what keywords you should focus on for your site. If you end up using a tool like WordPress, there are literally thousands of plugins you can use for free that will add features to your site.
Creating and running the perfect website for your business from scratch isn’t easy. But no matter what tasks you need to do, chances are there exists a free tool that can help you out. So, save yourself plenty of time and money by making use of the amazing free tools that already exist, and go back to focusing on more important matters.