Nothing is more frustrating than wasted time. Blowing time away on stuff that doesn’t work. Stuff that produces no result for your business. Nothing grinds my gears worse. How about you?
I’ve never met a small business owner who didn’t value efficiency. You want better results in less time, no? Let’s work on that.
As you know, your website is a crucial part of your marketing strategy. Having a website that doesn’t produce a meaningful result in your business isn’t really something most of us are cool with. Your website should produce results, just like any other part of your marketing strategy, correct?
If we’re on the same page about that, then this article is pretty crucial for you to read. There are so many thousands of web developers and website providers out there, and you likely have questions. For example:
- How the heck can I know who is worth working with?
- How do I know if my website has what it takes to produce results?
- What do I need to do to get my website set up properly?
- How do I market my website after it’s set up, so it continues to produce results for me?
Today I’m sharing 10 critical factors for website success with you. After building these sites for years and working with clients all over the world, I have noticed a few essential elements that you really want to make sure you address. Please don’t stop here. This article isn’t the end all and be all of how to be effective online. It’s the bare minimum. This is like your tool belt. You need to have the right tools for the job. After you have the right tools, you still need to put those tools to work for you. But at least you can rest assured knowing you have everything you need to truly produce an impressive result.
As you know, starting off with the wrong tools can only lead to frustration down the road. Let’s get you started off on the right foot! Here we go:
- Use your own domain name – A custom domain name is inexpensive and simply a fundamental part of a professional web presence. If your current website is located on a domain name that you do not have control over, then the truth is…you don’t have your own website. This is step one. Get your own domain name at Name Cheap and get your site developed on that domain name.
- Use your own server – After you have a domain name, go set up an account at Bluehost. This is where your website will live, so it’s accessible on the internet. Bluehost is a great web host for small business websites. If you’re a larger business and expect several thousands of visitors a day, then you’ll need a more robust web host that can handle that type of traffic. If you’re in this category, set up an account at MediaTemple.
- Use a professional, flexible design – Rule number one when it comes to web design…you should be able to change it yourself quickly and easily. If you have to go through your web developer every time you want to change something, you’re going to get frustrated fast. This is one of the many reasons I recommend Bluehost. After you log in, you can easily install WordPress with a few clicks of your mouse. It’s fast. It’s simple. It’s totally free. And it’s one of the most feature-rich and flexible ways to build a powerful website out there. After it’s installed, WordPress can be made to look and work however you like. Just like anything, there’s a learning curve. But everything worthwhile does. And even if you don’t want to learn how to set it up, just shoot me an email. I’m happy to hook you up with a custom WordPress setup. You’ll be up and running within just a few days. Pretty easy 😉
- Update regularly – After you’re up and running, update your site regularly. Let both the search engines and your customers and clients know that your site is active and current. No one visits a website over and over again if it’s never updated. Blogging and social media can all be synced up with your site very easily, so keeping your website updated doesn’t have to be time consuming or complicated. If you’re not sure what to publish to your site to keep it updated, here’s a list of 20 ideas to get you started 🙂
- Don’t try to do everything – One thing I see small business owners do so often is trying to add every single widget and feature available to their site. Instead, do something different. Only add the essentials. Be different. The internet is cluttered with websites already that are trying to be everything to everyone. Don’t clutter up your site with so many tools and resources that no one knows where to even start. Let it be simple, clean and easy to navigate. It’s easier for you this way, and your visitors will appreciate not being overloaded.
- Leverage media – Don’t shy away from media. Pictures, video, blog posts. Content like this keeps people on your website longer. If you want your website to produce leads consistently for you, then you need your visitors to stay on your website long enough to get to that point. Keeping visitors on your website for a minimum of 2-3 minutes is crucial. After this point, conversions go up considerably. What keeps visitors on your website? Content. So have lots of it 🙂
- Implement both analytical and emotional content – Many small business sites focus on analytical content. It’s good stuff. Facts and figures. Data. Market stats. Market updates. Industry news. Product and service descriptions. All that stuff. It’s important. It’s great for search engines. It educates your readers. It’s also fairly dry, and it doesn’t compel action. If you want to educate, inform and help solve problems, then analytical content is crucial. If you want readers to take action, then you need to use emotional content. You need to have calls to action (described in the next section of this list), and you need to have pictures, video and testimonials. These can take many forms, and there’s no fixed formula. But pics, vids and testimonials (this also includes user-generated content like blog comments, etc) engage people on an emotional level. People don’t make decisions because of data. They make decisions emotionally. They don’t admit it, but that’s how it works. If you want your site to generate business, you need to understand this. If you want your website to get leads and sales regularly, you need to engage people emotionally. Use emotional content liberally.
- Calls to action – If you want business, you need to ask for it. Sorry. I know you don’t want to be a sleazy salesperson, so I’ve got some awesome news for you. You don’t have to be! If someone reads a post of yours and loves it, what’s the next step? The next step isn’t always to buy something, but let’s face it…sometimes it is. Selling your stuff isn’t sleazy. Being sleazy is sleazy. So…don’t be sleazy. But don’t neglect having calls to action. Go to the About page on this site. Is it sleazy? Is it high pressure? Most people don’t think so. I don’t think so. There are 12 calls to action on that page. Not 1 or 2. There are 12. Can you see them? This page generates new leads for me every day. I end up working with many of them. Many business owners hire me to help them get more business from their site. Very often, I find the entire site has only 1 or 2 calls to action. 1-2…on the entire site. I have 12 on one page. See the difference??
- Optimize your About page – The about page is likely the most misunderstood and under-utilized page on your whole website. First off, many small business websites don’t even have one. So…make sure you have one. From here, let’s take note of what role the About page plays in lead generation. Very few people hit your About page right away. But after they’ve been on your site for a while, they inevitably go there. It’s typically the 5th or 6th or 7th page people visit. If you’ve done a good job providing cool content for them, they’ll be at the point where they’re considering subscribing. But they’re not gonna just do it automatically. They need something to put them over the edge. They’re also looking for any reason they can find to NOT subscribe to your site. So we’re on thin ice here. They’re on their way to your About page now. This is your shot. Don’t screw it up 🙂 How do you make an awesome About page? Make 75% of it about them. Who reads this site? What can you find here? Why is this the best website for this particular subject? How is this website different? Where is the best stuff on this website? Who are you and why are you qualified to have a site on this subject? See…there’s a question in there about you. And it’s important. And every other question is about them. Demonstrate to them that you know what they’re struggling with and that you can help them. Then have compelling calls to action. Do that…and your About page will no longer be a wimpy little bio about your company. It will be a page that generates business for you daily.
- Have access to great support – The web is constantly changing. Does your website update it’s technology on a regular basis? Do you have access to quick and personal answers for any of your questions? If you want to change or update something on your website, do you have access to training that makes it easy for you to do anything that you want to do? Is your website supported by someone that knows how lead generation works and understands your personal goals? These concerns are a crucial part of the equation. I hear from readers at least a few times per week who bring stories about how they have a great-looking website, but it’s not producing the results they want, and they can’t seem to figure out what’s missing or what to do next. Whatever website you have, it should be built for the purpose of accomplishing the goals you have for it. And the process of achieving those goals shouldn’t be a mystery. You should have access to support that walks you through the whole process, so you can get the results you’re looking for.