The saying, “the devil is in the details” definitely applies to small business websites. The truth is that many small business websites aren’t reaching local customers. The websites that do get found online are not converting visitors into paying customers.
In both instances, small businesses are leaving money on the proverbial table.
This is why those devilish details need to become a top priority for small businesses looking to market online. Since a small business website is the core of a solid online marketing plan, this is the place for businesses to start investing their efforts and tracking the results.
Website isn’t secure
Following search engine recommendations should be a top priority for small businesses. Search engines can be the source of a majority of website traffic, especially from local visitors. These recommendations are based off of the search engine’s goal of delivering lists of websites relevant to the search and that deliver a full customer experience.
The customer experience starts with a secure website. In 2015, Google admitted to giving a preference to HTTPS websites during the ranking process and promoting the widespread use. Recently, the search engine king started throwing up warning pages about sites that it didn’t feel were secure. The warning page strongly warns visitors about proceeding to these websites; essentially, these warning pages block new website visits and significantly lower website traffic.
A secure website is just the tip of the iceberg. Google also includes mobile-friendly as one of its more than 200 ranking signals. This preference is based off of statistics that show insight into consumer behavior. In 2016, Google reported that more than half of all online searches were done on a mobile device.
The use of mobile devices has exploded since then, making a mobile-friendly website an absolute top priority—and one that, surprisingly, many small businesses have not embraced in their website design. That choice can be a major turn-off for customers; Google has reported that “52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company.”
Slow Website Loading
A slow website can sabotage the customer experience just as much as the lack of a mobile-friendly site. According to Google, forty-six percent of online users put “waiting for a website page to load” on their mobile devices at the top of their dislike list. The news—and the statistics—get worse for slow websites.
As the loading time of a webpage increases, the chance an online user moves on also increases. Google reports that when a website loading time increases from one to three seconds, the risk of an online user leaving increases by 32%. If the loading time goes from one to five seconds, the bounce rate increases to 90%. That number sky rockets to 106% when the loading time goes from one to ten seconds.
Poor customer experience
All of these factors are part of a strong customer experience. A well-structured website optimized for search engines and built with optimized content written for search engines and the target audience are also key elements in attracting the attention of search engines and visitors.
A website’s metadata and structure play an important role in what terms websites are ranked for, and how high the website is ranked. These optimization elements also determine what information is displayed in search engine rankings, which is a significant part of getting online users to choose the website. Website page headlines, content, and strategic call-to-actions are the last piece of the website optimization effort.
Lack of website promotion
Building a solid website is not enough. Website traffic only grows with solid website promotion tactics included in a solidly built marketing plan. The effort should be continual, which can be done by in-house or outsourced to experienced marketing professionals.
Website promotion should be strategic and include the tactics that reach the target audience. For local businesses, this plan should be aimed at local users that fit within the business’ target demographic. Website promotion ideas include regular social media posts, a complete Google My Business listing, and a complete online directory and review site monitoring strategy.
Irregular (or no) website content
Adding regular, optimized content to a website is an important part of earning search engine rankings and online users’ trust. The effort should be based off keyword research and optimized with topics relevant to target audience searches. Content should be added regularly to the website with minimal breaks in the content publishing calendar (which can be maintained in-house or via an experienced online marketing firm).
In addition to optimized text, a content publishing calendar should also include quality images and video. These images and videos should be carefully produced and strategically chosen as part of marketing efforts. The end result is a variety of marketing topics and pieces crafted for search engines and local visitors searching for the small business’ products and services.