Despite the interest most companies have in marketing online, I still find too many small businesses making basic mistakes with their websites. These mistakes sub-optimize their overall marketing efforts, suck visitors away from their sites, and reduce conversions to devastatingly low levels.
The businesses that can overcome these hurdles and thrive usually have an amazing product or service, or will tell anyone who will listen that they “get all of their leads from networking and referrals”. Mainly because they’re not helping their website pull its weight in the lead generation department – their site has both arms tied behinds its virtual back!
Based on my interactions with hundreds of small business websites, most are missing at least one (if not several) of the following critical components.
Most small business websites…
1. Don’t include the right keywords that search engines need
Despite some of the most advanced technologies in the world, search engines still work off the written (typed) word. So, your company has to describe what it does in plain English so Google, Bing and the others can understand your business clearly. Not only this, but search engines don’t “infer”. If you serve clients from San Francisco to San Jose, Google won’t understand that you also serve clients in-between those two endpoints in major cities or towns like Palo Alto, Redwood City and San Mateo. Be explicit with the words on your site – including geographic keywords.
2. Don’t provide great content to attract visitors and keep them around
These days, your potential clients are looking to be educated before they buy. In fact, they want to be educated before they talk to anyone. If competitors A and B have great (or even just good) educational content and you have none, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Great content establishes your company (or you) as an authority in the eyes of potential customers and moves them a step down the sales cycle. Many of my new clients tell me they’ve been reading my posts and are ready to get to work! This is not uncommon for companies that have embraced educational content as a marketing means.
In addition, blog posts, articles, videos and other content can really help you rank higher in the search engines as well. What are you waiting for?
3. Don’t allow for easy navigation to important pages or great content
There’s nothing worse than a site that is hard to navigate. How do I find out what services your offer? How can I find out your location or geographical range? Where’s the pricing? How can I contact you? How do I get started? Do you have any tips, advice or a point of view on the industry?
Hiding (or not including) important information or great blog posts is such a wasted opportunity. Review your navigation with an eye to making it easy for customers to find what they need in order to buy from you!
4. Don’t encourage sharing in social media
Your great content – most likely housed in your blog – is meant to be shared. The best way to make sure that your content goes as far as possible is to a) share it yourself in social media or to your email list, and b) to enable and encourage readers to share it themselves.
This means that you need to have sharing buttons with each post (for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, email or other relevant media) that allow people to share immediately to their contacts in any given social network with one button.
5. Don’t entice prospects to provide contact information
For small businesses, one of my favorite approaches is to have a bold button that declares something like, “Click here to schedule a free 30-minute consultation” or similar. This is one way to turn visitors into leads. Other options include allowing them to sign up to your mailing list in exchange for a checklist (“5 point employee hiring checklist”) or a simple eBook with tips (“10 Yoga Exercises for Travelers”).
6. Don’t clearly encourage connecting in social media
Separate from the sharing of your blog content (see #4 above), you should encourage people to connect with your company on any social media platform in which you’re active.
If you’re active in that social media platform (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.), then each time you post, you have the opportunity to remind them about your company. This allows them to become more familiar with your company. They may share your content with other people, engage with your content (comment, “like”, etc.), they may come to your blog and read it. And they may eventually contact you and tell you, “I’m ready now!”
So is your company making these mistakes?
Try this little test. Get someone who has never been to your site and watch them navigate through your site. Tell them to pretend they’re a customer trying to learn about you, form an opinion based on what they see, and then contact you.
This simple exercise may allow you to see what you’ve been missing on your site for years. Good luck and happy selling!