25 Guidelines for a Successful Small Business Website
I wanted to take a moment to list my guidelines for producing, developing, maintaining, and maximizing the productivity of a proper website. There are several aspects to be mindful of on this list. Some of them tend to get neglected upon creation of a new website. To make this article reader-friendly, I’ll refrain from going into a thorough explanation of each point, since these guidelines serve more as REMINDERS, as opposed to new information for most of my followers.
With that, if you have a question about something on this list or aren’t clear about any of my thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below. If you feel I’ve omitted something, you can also drop me a line.
- You should own a fast-loading website, which users and search engines will appreciate. Speed is paramount on mobile devices as well, and your site will probably be abandoned never to have that individual return if it takes too long to load on their phone or tablet. Good WiFi or Internet connections notwithstanding. In addition, if you are using WordPress, Joomla, etc., always be mindful of conflicting plugins or plugins that hog memory, as they can inhibit the speed of your site.
- Keep your website safe from hackers. It’s paramount to always backup your website. For the most part, most hosting providers will do this on your behalf, but it won’t hurt to also do a manual backup often, which you should store offline.
- Your hosting provider should have live support available 24/7. They should be accessible the moment things go wrong if they do at all.
- Use a “.com” extension if you can. Try to refrain from using a hyphen or dash between words in the domain name you choose. Try to use the keywords someone would use to find you in the domain name as well.
- Develop an email list from the moment your site launches. Look into “Popup Domination.”
- Websites aren’t indestructible! If you’re using a CMS, and you update it periodically, incompatibilities with plugins and the CMS can and will happen. Without warning, a web page could start showing error pages instead of the content it’s supposed to, or your links could start pointing to unintended pages. This tends to happen with plugins you use in conjunction with WordPress. If a plugin is drastically updated, it would affect how your website is displayed, since the plugins are connected to WordPress or whatever CMS you’re using. When it comes to broken links that point both internally and externally, use a third-party Broken Link Checker program, many of which are free.
- Make use of social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc…focus on one and dominate it, rather than spreading yourself thin over multiple social networks. If multiple social networks are important for your business, it may be prudent to hire a social media marketing expert and let them handle the tasks full-time on your behalf. Further, if you do decide to try to use multiple social media sites, your message on each should differ if you can make the time to make that happen. Users of each social media platform use them differently and expect longer messages on Facebook than Twitter, etc.
- Stick to a plan. If you had a brick and mortar store, you wouldn’t operate it without having a plan in place. Your website should be no different. Create an objective over a specific period, perhaps a 3-month plan or a 12-month plan, for example. What will your website look like at that time? What kind of traffic will it get? How much money will it generate during that duration, and what is the plan to produce that revenue?
- If your source of traffic is coming from a single place, you’re already dead in the water. Social media, search engines, email marketing, videos, podcasts, link bait, and infographics are all practical traffic sources.
- When publishing content, consistency is everything. Weekly, monthly, yearly, or even daily - decide how frequently you will post, and stick to that schedule.
- Take constructive criticism professionally. If someone makes a negative comment about your website, rather than be defensive, investigate what caused them to make such an observation. There will, of course, be people who complain because they are negative by nature, but some of the criticism you will receive can be a blessing in disguise. For instance, I obtained a vast amount of emails from people this year about spelling mistakes and slow-loading web pages, and I might not have discovered those faults myself!
- Show people what you intend to do, don’t just talk about it. If you talk a good game, ensure you follow through on your claims. Doing the opposite will destroy your credibility.
- If you blog or have comments turned on, don’t argue with anyone, ever. People will call and email you or leave comments that may offend you. Remember - everyone is entitled to an opinion, regardless of whether you agree with it.
- Ask questions. You can find out so much from a simple query, as well as lead the prospect down a path of becoming a customer by learning what their needs and desires are.
- Always ask yourself – in X many years from now, if you were to go back in time and make any changes, what would they be? This is a good way to see any current chinks in your armor and adjust them accordingly.
- Understand your cost of acquiring customers. In modern times, those who earn a strong living online purchase a large amount of their traffic via paying for advertising. These people understand CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) and lead generation. That is a skill you need to master if you haven’t done so already. If your website is going to be part of your business, you need to know what it is going to cost you, and it costs more than just the build fees and hosting fees…
- Invest in your future. Don’t assume that what you’re doing at the moment will be the same approach you’ll use down the road. Stay educated and innovative, especially online. As lead generation evolves so must you and your website. As nurturing prospects to customers evolve, so must you and your website.
- Keep yourself surrounded by successful people. Read about successful online tools, implement, and test them to see if they make sense for your business.
- If you are creating partnerships with local, regional, or national organizations, ensure you have an agreement written and signed by your joint ventures/business partners. Greed can motivate people into doing destructive things, so it’s important to prepare yourself for things that could happen right under your nose. It’s proper business development.
- You get what you focus on. If you want more sales, then focus on that! Find a mentor such as Grant Cardone, and learn from him. Always be mindful of those who owe you money, review the payments you are anticipating, and ensure those deposits are being made on time. If someone pays you a cheque, deposit it immediately in case the funds aren’t able to be withdrawn later.
- A highly competitive field isn’t necessarily a bad thing! I prefer dominating my market if I can, however, the truth is, people, compete because there is money to be made in your vertical market/business. You can take a large piece of the pie by providing more value than others. Figure out how to provide high-value information to your prospects and customers in return for their personal information, needs, and desires. You’ll convert them to customers faster than your competitors.
- Know when to stay quiet during a negotiation. Many people find silences uncomfortable and panic in such situations, which usually leads to a lowered price for the sake of ensuring a deal goes through.
- Make getting in touch with you simple. A potential customer isn’t going to put a lot of effort into finding a way to contact you. Click and tap to call is a great option, as is a short “contact us now” form with name, email, and phone number only.
- Be productive early. It's simpler to begin your day getting the hard stuff out of the way then hustling and scrambling to meet deadlines at the end of the day.
- Most importantly, keep progressing and never give up. That’s the big difference between failure and success.
Jack Brandt is President of Mixed Media Ventures. In his 18 years in the online (Internet) space, he has worked with organizations of all sizes, with one employee to 50,000+ employees consulting them on how to grow their businesses and help their clients/customers achieve their online goals. He's worked for some of the top Internet companies of their day, and some you've never heard of. In every case, Jack has helped his clients to achieve their online goals with unique solutions that helped them generate new revenue streams. He now leads Mixed Media Ventures and helps businesses with their Digital Marketing efforts, helping them generate leads, prospects, and clients.
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