Creating a website is daunting. It can also be very humbling. Website Essentials for Small Businesses means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
From the home page to the links, forms and sub-pages, figuring out what you want on your website is an all-encompassing exercise.
Your developer is supposed to be the ‘expert’ who knows what to do and what you need. Then you have a website designer; she/he is focused on the aesthetics and storytelling.
All of this can take forever (or hopefully no more than 3 months for your sake).
Finally the website is complete. Now what? It takes a lot of time to get to this point but you are certainly not finished.
Here are some steps I’ve outlined for you as checkpoints along the way of website development. Following that, I’ve compiled a to-do list of what needs to happen once the website is completed.
Don’t forget to communicate with your website builder, designer or developer about the follow items throughout the website build process:
- Step One: Keyword Research
What are the keywords and keyword phrases associated with your business? In other words, what do people type in to Google for your business name to pop up in search? There are several options available to do a thorough keyword analysis. Tools such as Ahrefs keyword explorer has a price tag, however their 7 day trial is well worth checking out. Google Adwords Keyword Planner is the prime resource for finding out exactly what your customers are keying in to find your website. Once you create a list of keywords and phrases, share it with your website developer to incorporate the words into your website’s content. A big boost to your website’s SEO is having keywords throughout your content.
- Step Two: User Experience
How simple is it…
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), most notable to provide accessibility for all, is in the spotlight recently as many business websites have been sued for non-compliance.
Your website is designed but is it also checked for compliance factors for the ADA and with the GDRP?
What are the costs of non-compliance? A lawsuit and the associated publicity could cost a brand it’s reputation in a particular industry. Besides the monetary costs of hiring an attorney, website developer and possibly paying extremely high fines, the main cost of non-compliance is alienating part of your website’s audience.
The ADA law says it needs to “Establish requirements for making the goods, services, facilities, privileges, accommodations, or advantages offered by public accommodations via the Internet, specifically at sites on the World Wide Web (Web), accessible to individuals with disabilities.”
Here’s some articles referring to checklists and what you (and your website developer) will need to do in order to make your website ADA Compliant for users.
Items such as Alt texts, Close Captioning in Videos and Font contrasts are just of handful of the many technicalities a website should overhaul if it is not adhering to these guidelines.
There’s even a website which does an ADA compliance website checkers here. We’re not sure how compete the checker is, however, we do know that most website developers will know what needs to be fixed on your small business website.
Now on the subject of GDPR and your website. The General Data Protection Regulations creates privacy rules about one’s personal data, such as
- Basic identity information such as name, address and ID numbers
- Web data such as location, IP address, cookie data and RFID tags
- Health and genetic data
- Biometric data
- Racial or ethnic data
- Political opinions
- Sexual orientation
Adding content to your website’s blog or social media channels is an ongoing challenge, especially for a small business. How much can you toot your own horn without turning off your followers? There has to be more to write about or post when sharing on your company’s social media sites.
The 80/20 rule applies here. Post about ‘related’ topics to your business 80% of the time. Sell your products or services through about 20% or less of your posts.
-Our friends at Hubspot found the perfect answer. Its called the blog ideas generator. And it does just that.
As an example, I added these 5 words to the generator:
- Dining Out
- Small Plates
The topics which were created include:
Food: Expectations vs. Reality
Will Restaurants Ever Rule the World?
The Next Big Thing in Small Plates
Italian (Cuisine) Explained in Under 140 Characters
This Week’s Top Stories About Dining Out
Some of these are pretty worthwhile posts.
-Another way to find new content is through Google Trends. Type in your subject matter and a bunch of related topics will show up. For this example, I typed in the words “Exercise Class’, Google Trends Shows me the locations where the phrase is trending, trending topics related to the phrase and related queries.
The queries which stand could be potential topics for this blog or social media post. What is NIA exercise? or Where to find the best hip hop exercise classes near you.
– Use a tool such as Buzz Sumo’s Topic Analyzer to see what’s trending on the web. This tool captures recent articles and blogs related to your topic as an idea generator for your own blogs or post.
-Monitor your competitors social media posts and websites to see what they are talking about. You don’t want to copy what your competitors are doing and you want to find your own voice on the web,…
From October through January, every small business owner should be anticipating what’s to come. Obviously holiday sales are on the horizon for retailers, however, a variety of cyberworld-created events and opportunities will help all types of businesses spread their holiday cheer.
Facebook just published a page dedicated to helping small business owners with their Holiday promotions here. There are at least 16 tips listed to get your business page prepared for the Holiday season.
Another informative article about Holiday marketing for your small business can be found by clicking here.
-Update your email marketing list in order to send out digital holiday messages to customers & clients, reps and vendors/suppliers. Schedule your messages accordingly.
-This is also the time to dive into your holiday ordering and shipping processes. Anticipate volume increasing and hire more staff accordingly. Investigate your sales numbers from previous seasons to give you a sense of expectations.
-Do you also need to deliver holiday baskets or gifts to loyal customers? Add this into your frenzied upcoming schedule. It’s always a powerful touch when the business owner is part of making deliveries.
-It’s the start of Movember. Make a statement in support of men’s health and grow a mustache or beard. Challenge your colleagues to do the same and donate to men’s health causes. Snap photos of you (your staff’s) progression to share on social media channels.
-Think about offering a gift card for your product or services.
November 22nd-Thanksgiving (aka Gray Thursday)
The obvious turkey and ‘give thanks’ posts are very common. Shake it up a bit and add unique flair. Since Thanksgiving is the most travelled holiday of the year, offer travel tips on your pages. The folks at Neonbrand.com list additional tips for your Thanksgiving promotions and social media posts. Also remind your followers that it is Gray Thursday–a phrase coined because Black Friday Sales are starting earlier and earlier.
November 23rd-Black Friday
Get Ready, Set and Go! This is the big day. Even if you are not…
Cheryl Friedenberg of High Key Impact discusses the best way to stand out in your social media channel posts. Use video! Talk about your business, talk about your area of expertise, speak about your happy customers, discuss a product or just be your authentic self. Try it! Use your phone and purchase an inexpensive tripod. Then record your video. Ready? Go!
Is Your Small Business Ready for SMS Marketing?
The average email marketing campaign has a 20% open rate. How would a 90% + open rate sound? According to a Dynmark report, SMS texting crushes email open rates at a whopping 98%!
While email is a critical communications tool to stay visible in front of your customer base, small businesses should pivot their thinking and open up to SMS marketing.
SMS stands for Short Message Service, another word for Text Messaging. While MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service, or media sharing via text messaging (photos, videos, emojis, bitmojis, etc.).
Let’s take this one step further, according to Gartner, email response rates are 6% whereas text response rates are closer to 45%.
So let’s jump on the SMS bandwagon and look at our options for small businesses.
What should my SMS messaging look like?
Look at this SlideShare from Jake Jeffries with The Complete Retail SMS Marketing Guide.
Within the framework of SMS, he provides recommendations for the best days of a week and times of day to send text messages.
Message content may include your current sales/promotions, a personalized happy birthday text, holiday greetings, new product announcements and thank-you-for-your-purchase notes, all within 160 characters of a text.
Create content which grabs attention as the text comes through. Calls to action with exclusive offers, are personalized or ask a question make a difference in your messaging.
What are the pitfalls of SMS Marketing?
To be effective at business texting, small business owners must divide the time and resources to create campaigns with a punch. By spamming your customers (sending too many…
As the holiday season approaches, so do the opportunities to ramp up your marketing efforts. Whether you have a retail location, professional organization or service-oriented small business, the amount of possibilities to get the word out are plentiful this time of year.
Here is a list of just a few of the ways to boost your business:
*November 25th is American Express Shop Small Business Day. Small business Saturday is a way to put the focus back on small businesses after the big Black Friday retail box store frenzy. Amex provides digital and print marketing materials to help promote the event.
* Google My Business is a powerhouse for helping your digital marketing efforts. A new, creative tool introduced by Google allows you to search your business and create marketing materials using recent online reviews. Take a peek at Small Thanks With Google to see how it works. All you need to do is to plug in your business name. Google will generate a poster available for print,
Your end result may look like this: (from a bra store client)
Around the holiday season, as more potential customers find your business online, your online reviews are golden as they could make or break getting a new customer. Utilizing Small Thanks With Google promotes your positive reviews throughout your social media channels.
*The most common way to promote holiday cheer is to follow the website NationalDayCalendar.com for fun, unusual and to keep up with National Days such as December 15th–National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day or December 21st–National Re-Gifting Day (just to name a few).
The usual suspects of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa are mixed in with National Days & Weeks including National Hand-Washing Week (Dec. 4-7) or Crohn’s & Colitis Week (Dec. 1-7).
You’re probably wondering how these National days may help your business? If you are in the medical field, national days revolving around medicine are apropos. Some National Days may not apply to your business, however, if…
One of the biggest ways to make an impact with Digital Marketing posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media sites is with your small business posts. You’ve probably posted handfuls of articles and blogs about the same old topics. These topics can only get recycled a few times until your followers get bored with the same-old, same-old.
What should you do if you’re on the hunt for new, refreshing content which will revitalize your social media feeds? Where should you turn?
I’ve compiled a list of 5 ways to jumpstart your small business social media posts:
Using animals will help you sell. Posts with dog pix get a wide range of viewers and likes as compared with posts including people pix. People love cute dog photos.Here’s an example of a recent Instagram post I created for my Realtor® client. The bottom line: Animal photos sell services and product best!
Quippy quotes will capture more views.
Posting a well-known, overused quote such as “Do one thing every day that scares you.” anonymous
Posting a quote with a little more humor and imagery such as the Thrifting quote shown here.
“I don’t need therapy, I just need to go thrifting.”
What’s the difference? One is more serious and is seen day in and day out on many social media sites. The other is refreshing, new and niche specific. It will get the attention of those who are passionate about thrifting.
What’s the lesson learned?
Stand out from the pack with unique, fun & humorous sayings and quotes. Have fun with your marketing images.
Moving images are gaining traction. We know that video is king when it comes to social media posting. There are several image-based apps out there which utilize moving images with unique features. By utilizing these quick, hit apps, you’ll take a huge creative leap and save time with video editing.
Boomerang-Create captivating mini videos that…
Ready to learn more digital marketing secrets? To help small business owners become more aware about the opportunities available online, I’ve developed this list, along with the first list published last month entitled: Digital Marketing Secrets Revealed.
By empowering business owners to take charge of their marketing efforts, my hope is to help them understand the latest tools available.
No small business is immune to online reviews, good or bad. Your small business is no exception. Yelp is the ‘go-to’ for online reviews. Claim your Yelp page by visiting https://biz.yelp.com . They typically offer $300 worth of free ads. Try it just for the free version to see what it may do for you. Free never hurts. And Don’t forget to respond to ALL online Yelp reviews, whether positive or negative.
Just as Google My Business offers a free business listing, Bing Places for Business does the same within it’s search engine. Register your business by going to Bing Places, fill out your company’s profile and get verification from Bing. Add photos, reviews and utilize their platform to help advance your company’s SEO beyond Google.
Through your Google My Business page, your small business may easily set up an Adwords Express campaign to further your reach. The key benefit of using Google Adwords Express is that it is virtually maintenance free. Set up a campaign, choose an audience, define your budget and then Go! See results quickly.
Google Adwords is more complex. Typically small businesses in highly competitive industries need a larger monthly spend on Adwords to see substantial results. Google Adwords usually involves hiring an agency or Google partner to help set up the ad, oversee it and tweak it as necessary. The complexities are taught online with video lessons, however, if you are spending the ad dollars, it’s worth hiring an expert or Google Partner.
Get your business page Verified on Facebook to maximize it’s reach. It can be said for Facebook…
The Ultimate List for Small Business Owners.
As a small business owner with a website, the ultimate question you should be asking is “What else should I do to get my business found by potential customers?”
What do I need in order to get my small business found on the web?
There are a plethora of tools available, both free and paid, supporting your marketing efforts online. However, small businesses may not have the time and manpower to take advantage of these supports.
Read the following list of Google tools and supports and find a way to set these up ASAP:
Google My Business
Sign up for a business listing, add your logo, add a cover photo, fill in key business details, upload photos and get verified.
Take a look at how a Google My Business listing for my business, High Key Impact, LLC shows on a Google search. (below)
(It’s the box with my profile photo and map on the right side)
Do a run-through using directions from Google Maps to find your business location. Map your address from a variety of locations. The ultimate ‘map-app’ helping customers find your small business location is key! Let’s make sure it works properly.
You have a small business website presence, but how do you know it is working correctly? Google Analytics is another free tool available from Google. Sign up for Analytics (search “google analytics” while signed in), ask your website developer to add the code and within days you will see your website’s visitor data. While there are several key data items in Analytics, ask yourself what numbers are most important to your service or product.
Read this Beginner’s Guide to find how to read and interpret Google Analytics data.
Google Search Console
Keywords are the ultimate search tool used on websites. Many small business owners believe their keywords are all set, however, changes in business focus drive changes in keywords….