10 steps to a knockout website

So as we all should know by now, websites are some of the most important tools in the business world.  They are used for just about every aspect of the the business, so the website must be maintained.  The website is so powerful that it can bring in as much new potential as it can scare away.  So in order to have the best site for you and your customers, here are 10 steps from, Entrepreneur.com and their Business Circle Contributors, to create the best site that you can.  After you get thru all of these helpful tips, check out how we can help you with your site.

Thanks! -Carlos

Engage online visitors and keep them coming back

A good business website can make a powerful first impression. It can lend credibility, build excitement for your products and services, and help to establish your brand. In a 2014 survey by SEO firm BrightLocal, nearly 7 in 10 respondents said that a business having a website is a key factor in the opinion they hold of a business and directly influences their decision to use a business. If you don’t have a website, you’re almost certainly losing customers and sales.

Chances are your business website doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles. Yet there are characteristics it should include to be effective. Consider these 10 tips to help your site have maximum impact:.

1. Make things easy to find

Be sure basic details — hours, phone number, company description and the like — are easy to locate. Include contact information throughout your site, and make sure the navigation is logical and intuitive. The site should include the categories your visitors would expect to find (for example, menus, reservations information, and specials on a restaurant site), but not so many that it becomes overwhelming.

2. Check copy and links

Typos and grammatical errors can make your site, and by extension, your business, seem unprofessional. Proofread each page of your website, and if budget allows, consider working with a professional to edit your content. Test your links as part of the proofreading process, since broken links can frustrate visitors and possibly damage your search engine ranking. If your site includes external links, such as to other businesses or manufacturers’ websites, check them regularly to be sure they are active.

3. Be responsive

Visitors should find it easy to access your site whether they use a PC, laptop, or smartphone. Load the site on different devices to see how long it takes to appear and how it looks. If the site loads slowly and you’re not sure why, try working with your web designer to fix the problem. If your site does not render well on smartphones and tablets, plan to optimize it for those devices.

4. Extend special offers

If you use your Facebook page or Twitter feed to post sales or special offers, it makes sense to include them on your website as well. These help visitors feel welcome, and you can build repeat traffic by changing your offers regularly. It’s not only retailers and restaurants that can benefit from doing this; service-oriented businesses such as contractors, plumbers, and accountants can as well. Creating a calendar for your offers can help you keep them varied, plan for holidays and special events like Small Business Saturday, and track which ones bring in the most revenue.

5. Add social share buttons

Social share buttons give site visitors an easy way to tell others about your business and products. Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms provide share buttons that you can include on your site, as do tools such as ShareThis and AddThis. Since too many buttons can make a site look cluttered, choose the ones that are most suited to your content. LinkedIn and Twitter buttons would be great for an accountant’s blog on tax tips, but Pinterest? Probably not.

6. Consider e-commerce

Depending on what you sell, a site with sales functionality can give your business a big boost. It can provide your business with a much larger customer base, since shoppers could be from virtually anywhere in the world. An e-commerce site can also ease inventory tracking and customer payments. Make sure your site is suitable for mobile devices, as consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to shop.

7. Add a blog

A blog can give your customers a behind-the-scenes look at your business and help make it more relatable to customers. A blog can also help improve your search engine ranking by supplying fresh content on an ongoing basis. A software company could post about the process leading up to a product release, a personal trainer could feature wellness tips and success stories, and a specialty food shop could highlight new products. Add variety to your blog by posting photos of your customers or including guest posts, perhaps from the owner of a related business or a manufacturer or designer you carry.

8. Post low-cost videos

Like a blog, videos can add life to a website and help you forge closer relationships with customers. Product demos, company tours, step-by-step instruction, and customer testimonials can all make effective videos. It’s a simple matter to host a video on a site like YouTube and embed it on your website. Optimize the video for search engines by including a title and description that  include keywords, or the words and phrases people would use to search for businesses like yours.

9. Move to the cloud

If you host your website on your own server, you might consider moving it to the cloud. Why? It can make maintaining the site a lot easier, and you can gain access to sophisticated software and security features that might be out of reach otherwise. If you sell through your site, a cloud service can scale up automatically to handle spikes in traffic.

10. Track your results

Use the analytics tools included with your web service or a tool such as Google Analytics or Piwik to measure the performance of your website. Analytics can tell you where your traffic is coming from, which keywords visitors use to find the site, which pages they’re looking at, and more. You can use these insights to improve your site and even to help shape your offerings.

Like any other aspect of running a company, a website isn’t a one-shot proposition. It’s an ongoing effort, but the payoff can make it more than worth your while.

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