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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.

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.

Be there for customers 24/7 (even when you’re asleep)

Sit back for a moment and think of a business that you deal with regularly – one that you enjoy returning to time after time. Now, delving a little deeper, why do you go back to that particular business each time? Is it just for the price of the goods and services?

Chances are (with the exception of the big chain stores), it’s not – you go back for their customer service.

At the end of the day, businesses are often not remembered by the goods and services they provide. They are remembered for the helpfulness of their customer service and the promptness with which it is given.

To the small business owner, time is always valuable and providing a customer service that is high quality, helpful and prompt can take a fair chunk of this time. Fortunately, with the right systems in place, you can provide this level of service through your website.


Here’s five website-based systems that could work for your business:

The Helpdesk

Easy to install on most content management systems, a helpdesk provides a simple form for customers to complete which is sent directly via email to the business. With this system, unless you have staff available 24/7, be sure to indicate on your site the hours that the form will be supported. Outside of these hours, link the Helpdesk straight to the FAQ (see below).

LiveChat

A very popular option, this system incorporates a small pop-up chat window (usually in the lower right of the website screen) that is answered by the business’ staff. When staff are not available (i.e. serving customers in a physical store), most live-chat systems will display a message asking the visitor to leave a question that will be answered ASAP.

Troubleshooting Guides

These guides can come in a variety of forms, the most popular being factsheets and tutorial videos. Without taking valuable time to answer the same question from a multitude of customers, a guide can help the customer work through the problem themselves. A great example of troubleshooting guides can be found at the front counter of any Bunnings store with their variety of how-to pamphlets.

FAQ (Frequently Answered Questions)

Similar to the troubleshooting guides above, the FAQ of a website can be built over time to answer those questions that pop-up repeatedly. With a FAQ, you only have to answer it once and that answer is then available to anyone with the same question in the future. An additional part of an FAQ can include a “smart” form that starts looking for an answer as you begin to type – like Google does when you start to search.

Community Forum

Provided you can generate a “following” for your products and services, a forum is great for customers to start helping each other. Users can post questions and they can be answered by either other forum members or members of staff that are available. Once a forum starts “rolling” along, they can be very effective in generating a “tribe” of followers for a business.


Start small and build your support system over time using the questions that you hear every day. By using actual customer enquiries, you can answer exactly what your cliental needs to know without having to re-invent the content yourself. And by simply setting aside a small amount of time each day/week, you can build a resource that will not only save you time and money but can help your customers even while you sleep.

Note: If you opt to use the non-automated systems such as LiveChat and Helpdesk, your staff must ensure that answers are provided as soon as humanly possible, especially with LiveChat where a customer may be waiting for the answer.

Is your small business website becoming a DINOSAUR?

The internet is getting older (29 years old now!) and accordingly, some of the sites online are starting to show their age.

As I have blogged in previous posts, the look of your site (and how it works) can often determine whether a site visitor converts into a customer. It’s time to take a good hard at your site and determine whether it needs a makeover!

Can you maintain your own site?

Fresh content on your site is still the king when it comes to engaging your customers if not attracting the attention of Google (not quite as important as it used to be). To allow easy updating and contributions to your site, do you have a CMS (content management system) installed? Joomla and WordPress are two of the most popular options at the moment allowing site managers to add information and expand their sites without involving a web designer/programmer. If you can’t do this to your own site, maybe it is time for an upgrade.

Does Your Site Still Work?

Some site owners may not even know the answer to this question because their websites have been neglected for so long. Jump online, load up your site on your favourite browser and pretend to be a customer for a while. Do all the navigation links still function? Is the site content relevant to today’s target market? Can you purchase items successfully via your online store? Haven’t been getting much business via your site? This might be the reason!

Do You Have a Frankensite?

If a site has been online for several years and you (and your employees) have continued to add content/imagery/pages to it, the site may have become what is known a Frankensite. A Frankensite is a website that has lost its direction and now looks like a freakshow of links, scattered text, and irrelevant images. The pages have plenty of information to sift through but no real goal or call to action. Site visitors may even get a little lost in there. It’s time to sort out the garbage with an online purge or maybe a full re-design.

Got a Flash website?

Are parts of your old site utilising Flash? You have probably already noticed this but chances are your site is no longer visible on many people’s smart phones. Apple and Android do not natively support Flash (Apple never did) and, as a result, if your site is written is coded in Flash, visitors won’t see a thing. If only small components of the site are, those won’t appear either. With the advent of CSS3, PHP and HTML3, Flash is a dinosaur that is fast becoming extinct.

Is Your Site Social?

No need to explain the benefits of Social Media here but if your site does not incorporate feeds from your Social Media channels (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc), then you are not utilising your site to its maximum benefit. With modern day CMS’, you can quite easily add the platforms into your website and drag customers through that online door. In addition to attracting potential customers, every time you update your Social Media with a post or tweet, your site will automatically display that as fresh content.

If you own or manage a site, take the time to divert from your day-to-day business and log onto your website. Considering the points above, check what you have online and see if work needs to be done to enable your website to become the effective marketing tool it should be.

Tropical Coast Web Design