Your home business website is only as good as its content and its usability. Without a well-thought out design and plan, your site is not likely to generate sales for you and your site will be just another one of millions. It needs to give you an identity which is unique in its own field.
So what should your business website have to make sure that you get noticed, generate new business and enhance customer brand awareness? Well of course you need to make sure that it's aesthetically pleasing and that you think about colors, layout and so on.
But there are other essentials which people fail to acknowledge and we have listed some of them here. Without them, your website could create a negative experience for visitors and fail to give you the return on your investment that you are looking for. They are not complicated essentials and they are by no means rocket science but they are, nonetheless, important.
How is anyone going to find you if you have not put your contact details on there? You need your name, your address, a telephone number and an email address. People will not spend hours looking for you and trying to trace you – they'll just go somewhere and find another site. It sounds basic but make sure you have these details on your site and that they are clearly visible from the home page as well as other pages.
Top Tip: Incorporate a 'Contact Us' Form so you can capture essential information from your customers. These forms mean that they can fill out a simple form with questions that they may have and you can either call or email them back. Plus it saves them the cost of a phone call. Please ensure that you do respond – sounds obvious but it's essential!
Photos & Videos
Make sure you add a photo of you and your team if you have one. No it's not being vain! It means that people can see who you are and it assures them that you are real! The more 'authenticity' and 'reality' you apply to your website, the more drawn in people become and the more they are likely to think that you are a genuine business which has its customers in mind.
Using relevant video footage can add a three-dimensional look to your site and is just another way to show people that you are real and that you understand their needs.
Top Tip: Create a free YouTube.com channel for all your videos. Create relevant keywords and search phrases for each video and link back to your website from your channel. Also, create a free account with Flickr.com and store all images for your site with a description and link back to your site.
Creating inbound links from both of these sites gradually increases your search engine position and Google Page Rank.
Newsletters & Sign Up Page
Newsletters are a very important part of any business, particularly if you're a new business. Sending out regular newsletters is a way to involve your potential audience. Allow them to sign up and opt out of your newsletters and you can then draw them in with a capturing, well-written letter on a regular basis.
Top Tip: Incorporating money off vouchers within your Newsletters can be a great way of generating new business, or getting your existing customers to try new products and services. Give your customers a reason to sign up; otherwise your newsletter will just end up in the delete folder.
Customer Feedback & Testimonials
One of the most powerful selling tools comes from word of mouth from others. If potential customers can see that others have used you and were happy, they are more likely to use you themselves. The feedback and testimonials will 'speak' directly to your audience and add yet another dimension. Also do not make them up! Make sure you get genuine feedback which can be accounted for.
Top Tip: Do not be afraid to ask customers who are very satisfied with your service to give a free testimonial. A good incentive is to allow a link below their testimonial on your site to their site – so you create a 'win win' situation.
Email A Friend Link
Allow your visitors the chance to email the link to your site to a friend. What better way to get noticed than if someone else says to their friend "hey look what I found"? It can save you a lot of effort in getting the message out there.
Use Social Bookmarks
Social bookmarks are public web pages which allow you to list the links to all your favorite websites. They are a way for customers to tell others about you and that they like you. There are countless social bookmarking sites out there now and can be found with a quick Google search.
Social bookmarking a website can be a great way to build traffic, as well as increase search engine position, so encourage it on all pages across your site.
Incorporate Social Media (Facebook, twitter etc.)
Again, it's all about bringing the personal touch into your website and giving people the chance to 'interact' with you. These links will mean that your visitors can tell their friends about you and share your website link with others on their own Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages (to mention just a few). It's all about networking and having a presence. Gaining brand recognition; being noticed and being recognized.
Top Tip: Make sure that you link to your website from your social media sites. This improves search engine position, Google Page Rank plus generates a steady stream of new traffic to your site.
Add A Blog
Give people the chance to see what you have been up to and what you have to say. Using your own blog can be a great way to enhance Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your site and introduce regular new content which the search engines love. It keeps your site current and fresh. It adds another dimension to your site and shows people that you are interested in them. It can include a range of topics which can promote discussions and further interest in your site.
Make sure that you social bookmark your Blog on a regular basis, plus create an RSS feed of your Blog. This is great for SEO and can really increase traffic.
Top Tip: Do not use an external blog linked to your site as search engines do not like that. Make sure that your Blog is incorporated within your site and this can simply be a page.
Buy A Domain Name
Make sure that you buy a memorable, short as possible, domain name for your business website and preferably a.com. Do not use a free domain name that is so ridiculously long and there before unmemorable, or one that holds no relevance to your business.
Domains can cost as little as $ 10.00 per annual, which is a great investment if it means that someone will remember your domain. Search engines also like relevant domains, so take your time in choosing your domain. If necessary use a domain broker, as this gives you more choice, but will cost you more.
Top Tip: Register your domain name for 3 years. Search engines rank sites with a longer domain expiration date higher than sites due to expire within just a year. Also, the quality leading directory sites will not spend the time adding your site if it could disappear within a year.
Complete Your Site & User Test It
Please make sure that you complete your website; Ensure that all internal and external links are working plus test its usability. Invite friends, family and customers to test it. Take on board constructive feedback, fine tune your site and improve it over time. Very few website builders get it right first time.
An incomplete site will mean that people think you are either not trading or that you are not a very reliable business. Make sure that all pages are completed and that your site therefore has credibility.
Finally, by far the best and most economic way to create a website for your home business is to use a website builder. These have come a long way in recent years and really do provide an economic alternative to the traditional website designer.
Not only will a website designer charge you a lot more than you need to pay for creating a professional looking website, but will continue to charge you for updates, which can be very expensive, especially if you are a start-up business.