25th October 2019
Business start-ups and small local enterprises with a few employees can find it daunting when they come to think about building and maintaining a website.

Today, most businesses whether they are a local builder, hairdresser or insurance broker need a presence on the web. Your customers are all searching online and even if they find you through a referral or press advert, they will want to check out your website to find more information before making contact.

A website gives your business credibility by providing additional information about your business. What you do, how you do it and where you are. Additional proof of the quality of your services or products is provided through images and testimonials on your web pages.

Small-Business-Website-Design

Domain names, hosting, HTML, website builders, content management

These are words you will be hearing regularly when you start looking into getting a website built.

You can write the content, take the photographs and even build it yourself these days if you have the time to get to grips with what is needed to develop a presentable website. The risk is, you will end up with a website that does not work properly, cannot be found on local searches and turns visitors off instead of converting. If you decide to do it yourself, these are some of the elements you will need to get right.

Developing websites for small business

Because your competitors will already have well-established websites, you need to make a good first impression when you launch. Your website must have a great visual impact and contain well-written content that helps to sell your products or services and gets you found on local searches.
 

Design
A well-designed website with intuitive navigation will give your site a unique presence on the web. Web designers have to keep up with the latest trends in design and technology to provide a website that will convert visitors and perform well on search rankings so you will have to do some research on your competitors and other websites that you consider have good design and perform well.

Website copywriting
Google search algorithms reward websites that are well written, have good grammar and spelling and are easy to read and understand. Search engines and your readers will value content that quickly explains what you do and how you do it. Highlighting the features and benefits of your services will make it easier for them to choose you over your competitors. Duplicate content, thin or low-quality content will put you at a disadvantage in the search rankings.

Before you start writing content, you need to know the keywords your target audience will be using to search for your product or service. You can use Google’s keyword tool or a proprietary software platform to find out how many searches are being made on your keywords and then include them in your content.

Our_Work

Photography
There are many stock image libraries where you can buy images and some of these are free. However, if you can take your own photographs of premises, work you have done for clients or products, they will often have a greater impact than generic stock images.

If you do take your own pictures, they will need to be high quality, fit the layout of your web page and be relevant to the content. Images taken from a mobile phone or camera will give you a large jpeg file that will need to be compressed so it does not slow the web page down.

Web development
The technical quality of a website helps it to rank in searches.  Broken links, large images (uncompressed) that make a web page slow to load and pages that cannot be crawled will all affect your local page rankings on search engines. Speed is a big ranking factor especially on mobile phones and your visitors will not thank you for making them wait while your page loads.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
This is a huge subject that has been covered in some of our other blog articles. The same principles apply whether you are a local or global enterprise, the better the quality of your content, the better your website will rank on search engines. You also need to continue to add content and keep your content up to date. The best way to do this is with a blog. Writing articles about your business sector and informational pieces about your products or services will add new content to your site and help improve search rankings. To read all our articles covering Search Engine Optimisation, click on the SEO tag below.

Online marketing
Once your website is complete, you will need to have a marketing strategy that will drive traffic to your website. It does not have to be expensive. As a small business, you will probably be working with a limited budget to spend on advertising. Social media pages are free to set up and post on except for your time. Email marketing can be a very cost-effective way of keeping in touch with customers and informing them of new developments in your business and there are plenty of free email platforms you can use to design and send multiple emails.

Google My Business
To help get your business listed on local searches you need to register with Google My Business. You can add information about your opening hours, location map, business profile and relevant images together with a link to your website.

Website prices
You may prefer to leave the website build to a professional web developer and supply the content yourself which is a good balance of resources. The cost of developing simple brochure/information style websites has come down over the last few years as template designs and content management tools have improved. The process can be quick and cost-effective if you can gather all the information you need for your web pages.

One of our recent articles covers all you need to know about working with a web designer to get your website built, click on the website design tag below to read all of our website design articles.
 
Website design has changed significantly over the years and is constantly evolving as our use of the web via different devices increases.

Web-design-and-user-interfaceA web designer will consider a number of factors that will determine the navigation, layout and placement of content on a website to get the desired action from the user.

You may have noticed that modern web designs generally follow a similar theme these days. There is a good reason for this. From studies on user interface and the use of eye tracking software, we now understand what attracts a viewer’s eyes and where they tend to look first. We can then make sure the important information such as menu and calls to action are placed within these areas.

There are other factors to consider, such as how search engines will rank your web pages from the content and keywords on the page. The headings and where they are placed will influence which keywords search engines will prioritise and rank your page for.

These are the stages a designer will go through when developing your new website:

Research
  • Competitors.
  • Keywords (software is available to help with this).
  • What makes your business unique in your market?
  • Visitor analysis if you have an existing website (use Google Analytics, if installed).
Site map, navigation and wireframe
  • What do you want to communicate?
  • Plan the navigation and pages needed.
  • Consider content for each page, text and images.
  • It is more efficient to design around your content than fit your content into a design.
  • Create a wireframe for your website.
Copywriting and keywords
  • Identify best performing keywords.
  • Include keywords in your headers and your content.
  • Break down information into bite sized chunks with sub headings.
  • Write a new page for each subject and set of keywords.
  • Select suitable images to complement and break up large areas of text.
Engage and convert
  • What are your main messages?
  • What do you do, how do you do it?
  • Required call to action: sign up, telephone call, gather information or email?
  • Testimonials, reviews or case studies to back up your content.
Search Engine Optimisation
  • Build your site to the latest web standards.
  • Develop the site to ensure search engines can crawl all of your pages.
  • Check for errors and site issues before going live.
  • Continuous research and improvements to pages and content.
  • Measure and monitor keywords and site rankings.
Your input is valuable at every stage to of the design process. Whether you decide to write the content yourself and supply images or hire a copywriter and photographer, you should always have the final approval on how your business is presented on the World Wide Web.

Mark Langston
One of my previous Blogs talked about ways of getting more visitors to your website; one of the most effective methods I suggested was Google Adwords.

This is something you can try yourself with a bit of effort. Allow 2 or 3 hours to set up your account and some time to research your keywords and competitors. There is a lot to learn at first and you will need to monitor and manage your campaign on a weekly basis to make sure you are getting the most out of your budget.

Start with your keywords

Do you know the keywords people are typing into a Google search to find your products or service?

You will probably have some idea which your main keywords are, but to make sure you are picking up all of your most effective search terms, you will need to use software that will give you your top performing keywords.

Google’s keyword tool can help you here and though some of the paid for software will claim that they pick up more relevant keywords, Google’s tool is a good starting place.

Setting up your Google Adwords account

Once you have signed in you can set up:
  • where you want your ads to appear – nationally or locally,
  • how you want to pay,
  • your budget,
  • maximum cost per click,
  • when you want your ads to appear.
Once this first stage is completed, you can then start your first campaign using your carefully selected keywords.

Create your first Google advert

Have a look at your competition for your selected keywords. You will be competing against their adverts so your own ad needs to stand out.

Include the relevant keyword or keywords in your advert as this is more likely to catch the attention of searchers as it will be relevant to their search, for example:

Keyword search – web design
Advert  –  

Web Design Worcester
Local Experts, Design and Build.
Let Us Take The Strain, Call Today.
www.crystalthought.co.uk
 
You can write multiple adverts and Google provides statistics to enable you to see which of your adverts is performing best.

A relevant advert will improve the “quality score” of your keyword. The higher your quality score the lower you will have to bid for your keyword, see below.

Bidding price of keywords

Once your adverts are written you can then insert your keywords. I would suggest you always set your keywords up for “Phrase match” or “Exact match” or both, never “Broad match”. You can find out what these terms mean in the Google Help menu.

You will have already set your maximum cost per click for all of your keywords. At this stage you can view each keyword to find out if your keyword has a high enough bid to show on the first page and decide whether to increase the bid so that your related advert will show more often to your target audience. You can automate this process and let Google work out how much you need to pay; however, there is a risk you will be paying more than necessary for your keywords.

Test, measure and evaluate

You need to monitor your campaign at least weekly to ensure your campaign is working for you. Continuous testing of new adverts and adding new keywords or pausing keywords that are not performing is required.

Keyword quality scores

Checking keyword quality scores which measure how relative your keyword is to the advert and the quality of the content on the landing page on your website will affect how much you have to bid for your keyword. If your keyword has a good quality score you will be paying less for your keyword than a competitor who has a low quality score.

Summary

I hope this has given you an insight into how Google Adwords works and don’t forget Bing/Yahoo advertising which can provide another source of traffic to your website.

Pay Per Click advertising provides a controllable and very measurable method of advertising which is difficult to match in traditional methods of advertising such as press adverts.

Warning: PPC advertising is not for every business and you have to make sure that the traffic it brings to your website will convert to enquiries or sales. It is also important to control costs and ensure the value of sales or enquiries covers the cost of your advertising.

To find out more go to our online advertising page

Mark Langston
You have less than 10 seconds to convince a visitor to your website that they have landed in the right place to find what they are looking for.  If readers do not find what they are looking for after a quick scan, they will abandon the site and try another.

Research tells us that users read only 20 percent of the words on a web page.

So how do you make sure a visitor sticks around to read your content and delves deeper into your site?

Breaking information down into bite-sized sections with bold headlines and subtitles helps. Readers will scan the page and pick up the subheadings they are interested in.

Including your main keywords in headers and subheaders will help the reader find what they are looking for. Software is available to help find your most suitable keywords.

Well written, engaging and informative content is needed to tell your story and inform the reader about your products and services. Web pages should encourage the reader to move around your website, find more information and take action.

Call to action

By including bold “call to action” messages such as; register for newsletter, add to basket, call us, fill in an enquiry form etc. you can quickly grab the reader’s attention and encourage them to take action.
There are various ways to make the call to action stand out on the page:
  • Bold type
  • Larger font
  • Coloured border
  • Coloured text box
  • Related images – eg. shopping basket, telephone.
  • Movement

Journalists and icebergs

When writing your content and working out your page layout you should try to think like a newspaper journalist and start with an attention grabbing headline. The first paragraph should get straight to the main point of the story. Once you have captured your reader’s attention, lead them through the rest of the page using your sub headings.

Make sure all of the important information is at the top of the page, visible in the screen. Llike an iceberg, this is the first and may be the only thing your visitor will see.

Mark Langston

17th December 2012
It is all too easy to get discouraged when you have to find new and interesting topics to write about that will keep your audience captivated. Here are a few thoughts that will help to keep you motivated.

Who is your audience?
It is not just your clients or visitors to your website, who are reading your blog, Google and other search engines “crawling” your website will be picking up the new content too.

So, how can you make sure your blog is being effective?

Good content
Your blog needs to be well written, interesting, relevant and useful. It should also include the keywords that are relevant to your business or industry. It helps to have a good understanding of your customers and detailed knowledge of your product and services so that you can write informative and engaging content.

Keywords
As part of your Search Engine Optimisation strategy you will need to know your keywords – these are the search terms most used by your customers to find your products or services.

These can relate to each of your individual products or services. You will naturally use these keywords when writing about your business, however it does help to know which keywords are most searched and if there are any other search terms being used that you have not thought of.

Software is available that will provide this information. This research can often help you come up with ideas for the articles you are writing.

Social media
Your blog can be used to integrate with your social media activity. Your blog provides a two way link for users of social media:

1. Your blog visitors can - like (Facebook), tweet (Twitter), g +1 (Google), In share (Linked In) your blog.
2. Users of your social media sites can link to your blog from your page.

Keep blogging
Don’t give up, it does take time and effort, but if you persevere and get it right the result will raise your company profile and improve communications with your customers.

Mark Langston

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