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Updating your website should be a habit, not a hindrance.

In the case of most small business websites, the first few weeks after the site has been launched are usually the busiest (ever) for traffic through the site.

The owner of the site is pumped and giving the website their utmost attention with both new content and inbound links from their social media accounts. However, as with many things, life (and business) gets in the way and the website sadly becomes neglected over time.

A website should not be seen as a once-off investment, something that you tick off a checklist. To be truly effective, a site needs to be an integral of the small business which it represents. The business is expected to evolve over time, keeping pace with changes in the world around it. The website needs to evolve too.

There’s nothing worse than visiting a website that isn’t cared for – in fact, it can be a waste of your time. The content is stale and boring – totally irrelevant to the customer who is looking for helpful information to help them achieve their original for visiting the site. And the worst thing about an unloved site…. It reflects directly back onto the business.

“If they don’t care about their website, maybe they don’t care about business in general.”

Whilst this statement won’t be true in most cases, it’s a bad feeling to give to your customers and, like most things, it’s incredibly easy to avoid.

The easiest way to avoid a stale, old website is to make the website part of your regular routine, a habit that you tend to regularly.

A great analogy would be to look at your website like you do/should look at your health and fitness regime. The best way to a healthy lifestyle is to put healthy habit into practice every day. Diets with deadlines rarely achieve a long-term successful goal. Changes to eating habits and regular exercise program are more like to achieve long term success.

With your website, don’t do the one-off update to the site and think “well now that’s done – we can leave for a few months”. Put a habit into practice where the site becomes part of your everyday routine. Maybe first thing every morning, add a new piece to the site or give it plug on social media. Or set aside time every week to review the content on the site, move it around, repurpose it, check site visitors, check popular pages, anything that is going to ensure that the site is relevant to those customers looking for it TODAY, not three months ago.

From my own experience, I have found that using a content calendar, pinned to the cork board in my office, helps me to keep my content relevant. It lays out an entire month of changes, new content, social media placements – I create all my content for an upcoming week (according to the calendar) on the previous weekend, ready to roll out.

Make your website a long-term partner with your business by making it an integral part of your business.

Why does your “small” town business need a BIG business website?

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic limiting access to goods and services at times, there has never been a more important time to invest in a website for your small business.

A website opens a range of online possibilities for small businesses, and benefits that go beyond the bricks and mortar of a physical store.

Even in a small rural community, like Ingham, where I live and work, it’s vitally important to remember that there are no borders to business anymore and technology has made the world a much smaller place. Regardless of who your customers are, they will be searching for you online and if they can’t find your business, you can guarantee they’ll find your competitors instead.

If you need more convincing than that, here’s three clear-cut reasons why your “small” town business needs to get online.

A website expands your business beyond the borders of your community.

With a website there are no boundaries for your business. Once online, your site can sell products and services around the globe – it can even sell them while you are asleep! And, with the multitude of shipping options available nowadays, you can “move” your products very quickly to any destination on the earth.

Why would you settle for doing business with a limited audience when you could go global?

Websites level the playing field for the “little guys”.

Regardless of the size of your small business or its location, your website can compete on the same level as any other business in your industry. You may not have the flashy storefronts of your competitors or the sheer magnitude of their operations, but a website doesn’t have to worry about these things.

Your site can compete on the same level if it offers:

  • An easy-to-use interface.
  • A clear Call to Action (CTA).
  • Helpful service (through contact forms, online videos, pop-up chats, tricks, or tips).
  • High quality products or services.

In short, if your website can deliver the same service as expected from the “big guys”, it has a chance at grabbing customers that would have once dismissed you as “too small”.

You can connect with customers like never before.

Businesses, both large and small, can now build their brands and followers using an effective Social Media strategy. With little effort, you can start a conversation with your customers and, as a result, grow a better understanding of their needs and wants.

Conversely, customers can carry on these discussions separate from your business being involved and, if those discussions are positive, this will help to build the public image of that your brand.

Examples of this include:

  • Fashion products being spruiked by customers on their Instagram accounts.
  • Special announcements being launched instantly on Twitter.
  • A loyal Facebook following (a great source of testimonials).
  • Hashtags leading directly back to the source – your website.

As stated, a properly built and effectively managed website allows a small-town business to build and expand beyond what was traditionally possible. By making your business easy to find, helpful and value for money – you will not only encourage locals to stick with you but may just hook into some lucrative “outside” business and from there – the only way is up!

Information Overload + High Bounce Rate = Poor Website Performance

In numerous blogs, books and forums, small business owners are told from the very beginnings of their online forays that content marketing is a must for a successful website.

Any solid marketing advice will say “You must create FAQs, blog posts, videos, podcasts, Facebook feeds, how-to sheets, free e-books, Tweets and Pins for your site to REALLY connect with your target audience.” This is good advice, after all, Google loves fresh content and so do those visitors who return to your site.

But there is inherent danger with all this information – having been told to create it, some website owners get carried away. And, unfortunately, your website visitors may not appreciate this content as much as you do – especially if it is displayed to them all at once.

By this, I mean displaying it all on the very first page of a website – known as the landing page.

In a recent blog post I mentioned Google Analytics which is an excellent tool for tracking and reporting on website traffic. One of the key statistics from Google Analytics is the “bounce rate*” for the site on which it is installed.  If your site overwhelms visitors with the information displayed on that first page, then you may find that your bounce rate is quite high.

The key to solving this problem is to always remember this simple point: your site visitors have arrived at your site seeking only one of two things, information, and engagement. Think back to any site that you have ever visited – you have sought out those sites out to either find out more about the business and their services/products or, engage them in further conversation (which can take many forms) and maybe make a purchase.

So how do we avoid information overload on key pages of your website?

Try to keep information in line with the five basics of a good home page:

  1. A catching headline that includes your keywords. If you are a plumber in Innisfail, use a title liked “Professional Plumbing Services – Ingham.” Keep Google happy by staying under its preferred title length which is 70 characters.
  2. A solid sub headline paragraph (or two) that briefly describes who you are and what you do. Visitors love a story so you could also talk about what you can do for them but don’t get use jargon, remember to apply the K.I.S.S. principle here.
  3. Display your immediate contact information in the top right-hand corner of the page. If you want people to ring you, show the phone number in a large font. If you prefer emails, show the email address. Remember to keep it all mobile friendly by ensuring that both can be clicked/tapped.
  4. Make your Call to Action noticeably clear. In most cases, this is what you prospective customers will be looking for so make it STAND OUT! Don’t make customers search for your latest deals or booking forms, make them so obvious that a blind person could find them.
  5. Everyone loves a good slideshow (that’s why every site these days has one). But don’t just use it to display pretty pictures – make it part of your marketing plan. Make it part of your HOOK* to immediately engage your visitors.

Get those things right on the front page and everything else is superfluous – put the extra information on other pages. Use your navigation effectively and your visitors can find it if they want to dig further.

With the advent of Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, there is the ability to create a multitude of cascading pages for your website so there is no excuse for not using this to your advantage.

Keep the front page of your small business site clean and simple using the five items above and monitor your Google Analytics. Done effectively, you will watch that bounce rate drop away as your prospective customers come and, most importantly, stay.

* the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.

* a hook, which is a short phrase or jingle designed to entice a customer to purchase a product or sign up for a service.

Boost your bottom line using your website!

Whether it be from service awareness, online bookings or product sales (as examples), a website must be utilised in such a way to help a business generate increased income.

After all, an income is what allows business owners to further development their companies, pay their employees and live the life that they want with their families.

To get you on the right track and start making income through your website* – here’s five simple ways that your website can make money for your business:

* no guarantees here unfortunately….

#1 – An Online Store

If you have any kind of product to sell, the “no-brainer” way to make money is to establish your website as an eCommerce store. An eCommerce store, if set up correctly, basically does all the work for you – with the exception of purchasing stock and sending packages out the door. Your customer select products in the online store, pays online via a multitude of methods and then selects the preferred shipping to their address.

Our current eCommerce solutions feature the excellent WooCommerce plugin for WordPress. WooCommerce is an affordable option for small business that is highly customisable to any individual store’s requirements.

#2 Google AdSense

For the uninitiated, Google AdSense is a system used by website owners to make money by displaying Google ads. Perfect for individuals and service operators, the ads that are displayed on your website usually compliment the services you provide so for example, our company blog could display ads for web server companies such as Digital Pacific.

The system works by crediting your Google account each time a site visitor clicks on an Ad. Once the credit in the account reaches a certain amount. depending on where you are in the world, you receive a payment into your bank account from Google.

#3 Affiliate Links

Affiliate links work in much the same way as Google AdSense however they are generally set-up by individual companies. An advertisement is displayed on an affiliate business’ website and for every sale that is made through that advertisement (i.e. on your website), the business earns a small commission. It can be very effective – Pat Flynn at Smart Passive Income makes the majority of his income through his affiliate links.

#4 Online Courses

Many small business operators have a wealth of knowledge to be shared with their customers. Often this knowledge is given away for free in the form of advice and instructions.

The alternative to giving this information away is to structure it into an online course. The course can be delivered in video, audio, written, interactive or any combination of the four. Through the introduction of a simple payment gateway (monthly or overall course payments), participants can access the course material and use it at their own pace. The added advantage of this is that the information only has to be created / delivered once before being used many times over.

#5 Online Bookings

Perfect for service industries, a website with a booking system allows a business to “fill up” their time schedules without even picking up the phone. This model is used globally by hotels/motels, doctors, chiropractors, electricians and even plumbers. A simple calendar allows potential customers to see what timeslots are available and book their service to suit their own needs.

Some sites even take care of payments at the same time – removing the need for invoicing at a later date.

Please note that all the methods above need one important thing to get started – Site Traffic. Creating a steady flow of Site Traffic is a whole industry in itself but for the site manager, there are three simple keys to get right (and we’ll cover these in more detail in a future post): Effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), content that makes your site enticing and worthy of a visit and finally, good reasons for your target audience to return again in the future.

With quality offerings, effective site practices and a target audience wanting to buy, any website can start generating a passive income that can be re-invested into your small business and boost it to the next level.

Tropical Coast Web Design