Five Non-Negotiable Requirements of Small Business Websites
I work with the Garland Chamber of Commerce in Garland Texas on a committee called the Small Business Council. The way it works is this: small business owners and entrepreneurs bring their questions to a meeting and get to meet with a group of industry experts. There is one expert for each business discipline (accounting, sales, legal, HR, insurance, and marketing). I was tapped to be the marketing expert, so folks would come and ask me marketing questions. One of the topics that keeps coming up is “I want to build (or redesign) a website for my business. What do I look for in a website company? What do I avoid?”
So, for those of you who run a small business who are about to hire a web team, here is a non-negotiable list of requirements.
The website has to be responsive. What is a responsive website? It has to run properly on both phones and tablets – at the functional level, not just look good.
Your new site must be built on a CMS. It also must be built on a CMS (content management system) that they teach you how to use. You CANNOT be calling them for every little text change, page update, or blog posting. If they do it in a CMS and charge a lot of money – make sure they are developing a custom theme for you.
If you worked at a large company, you would have the budget or staff to make ongoing changes to the website at the code level. If you work for or run a small business, make sure they build it on a CMS.
We recommend WordPress.
SEO Plan / Traffic Plan
Make sure people building your site have an SEO plan in place. If they DO NOT HAVE a defined search engine methodology, run for the hills. Make sure it’s an actual content based strategy. Content helps improve search engine optimization. Make sure your content is relevant and useful, like ‘How-To’ videos or articles. This can also include paid search, but its a slippery slope with paid search; make sure you are actually getting a decent ROI from any money you spend in paid search.
3a. Make sure you have an integrated social media plan because social media will help with your SEO ranking. Search engines, especially Google, rely on social media sites to validate the responsiveness of any company in regards to its users. Using social media for your company will connect you to your customers and make it easier for them to share their interactions and customer experiences with others.
In Business to Consumer markets focus on Facebook, (customer is over 35) Twitter (any age / customer service or outage issues), Instagram (customer is under 35), and Youtube.
In Business to Business markets focus on LinkedIn, Alignable, YouTube, and Twitter.
Make sure they offer to install analytics. You need to know how your site is actually performing and if your search engine/traffic plan is working. You can also set goals and targets for traffic and marketing strategy. If they tell you analytics is too expensive, let them know Google Analytics is actually free. Then, never return their calls because they don’t know what they are doing.
Understand that your website is part of an overall marketing strategy. As a part of your overall strategy, you should also use it to drive revenue and create sales. Make sure to integrate your website marketing channel into any other marketing you create – email campaigns, Youtube campaigns, etc… so that it moves the needle.
Use your analytics and search strategy to create conversions (defined as people actually doing things you want on your website – usually contacting you or buying something) and drive revenue.
So, that is my list. Please holler at me if I missed anything or if you have any questions regarding your small business website.