Everyone needs to make a small business website checklist. In a world where first impressions are everything, small business owners need to put their best foot forward for potential customers or clients. Your digital footprint — any social media you put out there, as well as any website content — is going to make that impact.
At the end of the day, a few core variables will determine the success of your website’s performance on search engines, which will, in turn, impact the traffic you receive. So here’s your website launch checklist:
1. Simple, Effective Navigation
First up on your checklist is the way you structure your site, from its navigation and menus down to the flourishes you put on each page. Simple, effective navigation can sometimes feel like the hardest thing to get right when you’re designing a new website, but give it a shot!
Your menus should be intuitive, following logical channels to create a user-friendly experience.
2. Utilize Headings For Readability, Search Engines
It’s important that your website has strong header text for two reasons. It’s easier to see bold, title-cased letters when someone’s eyes skim down the page. Search engine algorithms also love these “H1” or “H2” or even “H3” text blurbs.
If you aren’t hiring a web designer to create your website, a content management system (or CMS) can help you create your web pages from pre-existing templates. Some of them even allow you to make edits to under-the-hood “meta descriptions” and other cryptic data that search engines will pick up on and display.
3. Maintain A Concise URL Structure
Make sure that each web page URL is easy to read. It’s good practice to take out small words like “a” and “the” to keep things from getting too cluttered. Additionally, make sure the URLs make sense! Your contact page shouldn’t be www.yoursite.com/talk-to-the-hand/, it should probably be www.yoursite.com/contact/ instead.
4. Use Your Logo and Specific Color Palette To Enhance Brand Recognition
A lot of people rely on visual cues to remember brands. Your small business website, therefore, should incorporate those memorable aspects of your brand identity. (Learning about complementary colors can be a very effective starting point!)
5. One Domain Name To Rule Them All
Next up on your website checklist is making sure your domain name is unique and memorable. You know, the stuff that follows the “www” and ends with a “.com” or similar extension. As with building out sensible URLs, your small business should look for a concise domain name.
6. About Us and Contact Us
An “About Us” page is essential for conveying your brand’s mission statement and valuable information that visitors may be looking for. This includes some of the basics, such as location and phone number, but isn’t limited to the cold, hard facts. Many people visit the “About Us” page for more information on the people behind a company since a little human touch can go a long way in most industries.
A contact page is equally essential. If a prospective lead can’t figure out how to get in touch with you, they’ll never convert into a customer.
When you have a contact page, you can include an email address — something professional, like firstname.lastname@example.org — as well as your phone number. Some people even choose to use intake forms, where a customer can send you their information.
7. Lights, Camera, Call to Action!
Your potential customers are always a single click away from making a purchase — or at least obtaining more information that will lead to one. A call to action, sometimes abbreviated as CTA, is all about getting your audience to tread the ideal path for their customer journey.
Whether it’s “click here for more information” or “call us today”, you’re inspiring prospective customers to act with a strong, concise verb.
Every page should feature a CTA if possible, preferably in a prominent location. The header is a very effective place, especially if your website utilizes a global header or one that’s shared by and applied to each and every page of your site.
8. Conversion-Focused Pages Are Key
When you focus your marketing strategy on conversion-focused pages, you’re stating that you want to focus on conversions over anything else. Make sure you have solid calls to action on those pages, as well. Many of these pages are more bare-bones variants of other pages of your website — basically just a landing page.
9. Crowdsource The Good Stuff – Get Reviews!
Ask and ye shall receive. No website for businesses, big or small, is complete without a section for reviews or testimonials. Again, it’s looking for a human touch — this time, not to verify that you’re human, but to establish that other humans can give you those two thumbs up.
Our reviews are straightforward, listing our customers’ names and quick blurbs that state what they like about our services. We’ve pulled many of them directly from our Google My Business listing, which is a very effective method of collecting this information.
You can get reviews in any number of ways. For those of us with tech-savvy customers, consider a QR code on the back of your business card that leads to a review collection page. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can even use automation services to set up text messages with links to your Google or Yelp pages. Some people prefer to make a testimonials blog to store all of their reviews, but you can just as easily slot them into any section of any particular page.
10. Your Data Will Speak Volumes – Start Collecting It Immediately
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are powerful tools you can use to collect analytics about your small business website to learn about how audiences and users interact with your website.
Google Analytics will measure your website traffic, as well as information about the demographics accessing your web pages. You may have to add code to one or more pages to establish the flow of data, though a number of web hosts have plugins, or website add-ons, that will allow you to do this more efficiently.
Meanwhile, the Google Search Console focuses on the queries people type into search engines to find your website. By learning the subtle differences in search terms, you can go deeper with search engine optimization techniques to tailor your pages more specifically to effective keywords.
The sooner you establish a link between Google (or other search engines) and your own website pages, the more information you’ll have from the get-go!
Quick Tip #1:
Don’t forget to consider that your Facebook business page should automatically collect similar data! You can always cross-reference it with the information you get from Google to further enhance your understanding of your prospective customers.
11. Mobile Friendliness
We know you’re guilty of taking your phone everywhere: into bed, into the bathroom, wherever. It should therefore come as no surprise that it’s important to optimize a website for mobile devices and tablets. It’s extra important now that Google has started using mobile results rather than desktop results as a determining factor in search rankings!
Websites run differently on desktop computers than on mobile devices, and sometimes tablets will often have their own browsers and views. Your goal as a business owner should be to convert website visitors into leads no matter what device they’re using to access your site.
12. Blog About It
On your website checklist, make sure one of the first things you address is blog content. Your own small business website should be full of content — written by you, hopefully! — that teaches Google to recognize your website as an authority. By building up your “domain authority,” you’ll rank higher over other, less relevant sources.
Using internal links and external links to pieces of supporting content is another way to build authority. Search engines love the pathways we create between pieces of content, following one page to another, to another, to another.
Tip #2: Do Some Keyword Research
Trying to find a primary keyword for your blog post can occasionally lead you down some pretty intense rabbit holes, but ultimately you’ll learn a lot of interesting things about what people are searching for.
Some keywords are harder to rank for than others, but if you focus your marketing efforts on the right tools, they won’t steer you wrong. For instance, Google incorporates a keyword research tool with Adwords that you can access for free once you’ve created an account. Industry news also makes for excellent blog topics!
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, or anything in between, you should always have social media pages linked on your website. Dedicated pages with these outbound links are fine, or you can include them in your header or footer, with small images that link to each social media platform.
If you utilize any marketing channels that we haven’t mentioned, by all means, add them, too!
13. A Secure Site Is A Secure Home For Your Content
While setting up your small business website, make sure you have a current SSL certificate. It’s a digital certificate that identifies your website and, more importantly, establishes an encrypted connection between visitors’ browsers and the site server.
There’s a lot that goes into it, but if you’re curious, there’s a ton of in-depth information available. Small businesses don’t need to worry, though! Usually, the SSL certificate is included by the hosting provider, who will help keep it up to date.
That’s Your Small Business Website Checklist
Your business website checklist probably feels huge right about now, but don’t lose hope! You’ve made it to the end! Just remember: user experience is paramount. If you wouldn’t use your website – especially on a phone – then it probably needs additional changes or optimizations.
If you’re looking to start over from scratch, or if you haven’t started just yet, Instinct Marketing can design a user-friendly new website for any business owner.
We specialize in WordPress site design, e-commerce web design, as well as social media strategy, and we work with business owners nationwide and in our Northern California region. If you’re local, stop by Instinct Marketing HQ in Sacramento to talk web design!
Let us help grow your business with our proven digital marketing strategies. Call or contact us today!