4 writing tips for keeping visitors on your small business website

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I’ve been suffering from blog block recently and missed my last two self-imposed deadlines, so writing about … well writing, is possibly a strange topic for this blog post at this precise moment in time. But here goes!

Writing content for your own website can present a challenge. You undoubtably understand your small business the best and know exactly what you are all about and how you deliver your services. But … sometimes in your enthusiasm for your business (don’t get me wrong conveying that enthusiasm is great) the writing can get a little laboured and key points can sometimes be lost amongst a lot of unnecessary content.

In this post I’ll share some key things to consider when drafting your content so that it encourages your small business website visitors to get in touch … and become your customers.

1 It’s all about you

Well, more accurately, it’s all about your customer. It’s easy to get carried away by the aforementioned enthusiasm and write about all the great things that you can do and the services you offer. But your customers don’t want to read about you they want to read about what you can do for them.

Focus your writing on the word ‘you’. Less ‘me, myself and I’ and more ‘you and yours’.

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Why small businesses need professional photography for their websites

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When you are building a new website for your business there's a risk of focusing on the design and text while leaving the images as an afterthought. There's a good reason why modern website designs feature large image areas as standard and that's the power of visual content. Photographs have the potential:

to paint a compelling picture of the services you provide,to attract traffic to your website,to encourage engagement and ultimately lead to more sales.

However, this potential can only be fully realised by using high quality images that connect with your customers. 

In this blog post I’ll show you:

why high quality images are crucial to your business in a competitive marketplace,the common mistakes you need to avoid when selecting your images andtips for commissioning images that will really benefit your business. The challenge of getting noticed

Before you can make sales, you need to get people on to your website. Regardless of how good your SEO efforts are, your business will appear in Google surrounded by organic and paid for results offering similar services.  

You need to take every opportunity to make your business stand out from the crowd. Whether it’s your Google business profile or your social media presence. Each point of contact with potential customers can get you noticed and bring traffic to your website. 

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Guest blogging and the benefits to a small business website

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Last month this blog featured its first guest post and it got me thinking about the benefits of having a guest contributor on your small business blog. There are a lot of articles, blog posts and content out there extolling the benefits of guest blogging for the blogger:

Building relationships with a wider audienceGaining status as an expert in your fieldDriving traffic back to your own blog or website with links

These are all valuable reasons for writing and getting your own content featured elsewhere. But as a time-poor small business owner I thought I’d write about the benefits from the other side.

The benefits of featuring guest content on my own blog 1 Featuring a guest blogger saves time

This was probably the greatest appeal for me.

I have a self-imposed schedule of a minimum of one 2,000 word, or thereabouts, blog post a month. I don’t think this one is going to make it. This coincides with a mailing that I send on the first of each month although at the time of writing that mailing is likely to be a little late this month!

It takes me roughly three hours to research and write each post initially. There is then time put aside to proof read and edit, source a suitable image and publish the post.

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5 benefits of starting a small business blog … it’s not all about SEO

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As a small business website owner, you have possibly felt under pressure to add fresh content to your website. We’ve all been told that Google likes a well maintained and regularly updated website and a blog is a very easy way of doing that without having to constantly think of tweaking the main structure of your website … although it is important that you keep that current and don’t neglect it.

Apart from posting content in the interests of ‘just adding content’ to boost your search results, there are plenty of other reasons for starting a small business blog and some of them could just help give you a new focus when you’re struggling for blog post ideas.

Ultimately, your website and/or your blog is all about promoting your business and finding customers. Careful planning of blog content allows you to provide real value and benefit to new and existing customers. This in turn can build trust and loyalty which will lead to long term business rewards.

Regular posts on your small business blog allow you to:Show a bit of personality behind your brandReinforce your key messages and build awareness of your servicesGenerate engagement with new and existing customersEstablish yourself as a respected voice within your nicheAttract new, and otherwise different, visitors to your website1)  Show a bit of personality behind your brand

People do business with people. If you’re a small business, or perhaps ‘the’ business this is even more true. Depending on your offering, it is likely that your potential customers are investing in you as the provider of services rather than just the services that you offer.

Your website will be outlining all your goods and services and encouraging your visitors to make contact. It will be factual and detail the logistics of how you work and what a client can expect from you. You may have written an excellent ‘About’ page that outlines what qualifies you to deliver those services but it probably doesn’t give a huge amount away about you … the person.

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5 things you should research before building your small business website

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You've decided to go it alone and startup on your own or maybe you've been running your business for a while without a website. Either way those first steps towards building your online presence are very important. It is worth taking a little bit of time to research a few things that can impact it's performance first.

After all your first website for your small business is not going to get found on its own initially so there is no immediate rush. It can take a long time before you rank on page one of Google so it’s very important that you give your new website at least a fighting chance. Taking a little time to research some all-important factors that will have an impact on that move up through the page rankings will pay dividends in the long run. That page one position is dependent on many things including:

How many people you are competing with in your sectorThe age of your website … older websites, or domains, that are already established will come before you initially

There is little you can do about these first two points. You can’t eliminate your competition and your website will be new. So, you really must focus on the things that you can do something about that will help your website move as quickly as it can up through the page rankings including:

Choosing your domain name.Researching your keywords.Writing excellent quality content.Sourcing high quality images.Developing a high performing website that loads quickly and has a great user experience … being mobile friendly is a given but make sure that it is also easy to navigate and obvious to your visitors what they need to do to find what they’re looking for.1) Choosing your domain name

Domain names are relatively inexpensive to buy, so if you have already bought yours and after reading this post discover you may not have gone for the best option, don’t worry just source a new one that will work more effectively for you. Before you commit and have your website resolving on a domain name that isn’t really going to help get your business found, it’s worth doing a little bit of research into what is going to work best for your business.

You may well have chosen a quirky name for your business … ‘pink elephant supplies’ or ‘white rabbit services’ for example. Fun and memorable but they give absolutely no indication of what your business does.

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Do your customers trust your small business website?

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Trust is one of the most important things to establish when forging a new relationship with a potential customer. Are you confident that your website conveys that you are a trustworthy organisation? 

Recently you may have heard that Google could be promoting secure websites above those that are not. If you’re wondering what this means or you're not even sure if you know what indicates a secure website then read on. Getting an SSL certificate to create a secure connection to your website could just be a good move. 

What is an SSL certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. A website with an SSL certificate will display [Secure https:// ] in front of the URL, indicating a secure website to visitors. There are varying levels of SSL validation and the industry’s highest standard will turn the address bar green in high-security browsers.  You are probably familiar with seeing them in use on larger websites like your online banking, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter … and just recently on this small business website.

What does an SSL certificate do?

Data sent between your computer and a website with an SSL certificate is encrypted to protect the privacy and online security of the user. In other words, should any information you submit online via the secure website be intercepted by a malicious user they will be unable to read or make use of it.

To put it simply an SSL certificate keeps online interactions private

An SSL certificate is essential for any website that is taking sensitive information such as credit card details. But you may be thinking that your small business website isn’t processing any financial transactions or sensitive information so why would you need to worry? But ask yourself the following questions:

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7 reasons your small business needs a website

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Almost half of all small businesses still don't have a website. Given how much technology and the internet has changed how we research and buy 'stuff' in the last 10 years that is a staggering statistic.

The most common reason for not having a website is that most small business owners think that their small business 'doesn't need a website'.  Here are a couple of reasons why it might be time to consider your options for getting your business online:

1. It's an online brochure or shop window

Unlike that brochure you handed out at the networking event which is now most likely in recycling or buried somewhere in the car if you gave it to me, your website is a permanently available brochure and shop window.

Anyone you meet can immediately check your business online and can return to it at a later date ... it won't get lost.

2. Business credibility

By having an online presence you immediately indicate your permanence. You are serious about your business and you are investing in it.

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Promote and grow your small business ... build a website?

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If you're an established local business with a good reputation you may well think that you don't need a website and in fact almost 60% of the smallest businesses still don't.

However, a recent survey (well June/July last year) by GoDaddy found the following results:

48% of very small businesses who plan to create a website expect their business to grow by 25% or more within the next 2-5 years.Of those who already had a website, 59% say their business grew once they had built their website.33% of small business owners who already have a website feel they have a competitive advantage over those without.

I could go on, but it's looking quite convincing. If you want to read the whole survey you can find it here.

While just over a third of those surveyed felt that their business was simply too small to warrant a website, one in five were put off creating a website because of:

lack of time,lack of technical expertise andperceived cost implications.

Put those to one side for a moment and think about some of the advantages of building a website to promote your small business.

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What's in a domain name?

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A lot more than you may think. Before you start developing your website for your new startup business spend a bit of time doing some research into your domain name. Your business may be new ... no one will know about it yet and getting found amongst all the competition and established websites out there is going to take a little time. Make sure you choose something that is going to optimise your chances of getting found. Here are a few important points to consider regarding your domain name ... especially if you are going to be one of many small local businesses. The situation is of course different if you are going to be launching a big brand with a promotional budget to match.

So,  you've set up a new business ... ' Go For It'. The first thing you do is research the availability of that domain name and hooray ... goforit.co.uk is available! But before you register it:

Does it say what your business does?Does it say where your business is?Are the words you've used distinctive and unique?

The third point initially, will be very important. Before your website gets found organically for your chosen keywords that are relevant to your products and/or services, people you have met or who have maybe heard about your new business will be searching for the business by it's name and they will probably be using a search string like 'go for it high wycombe'.  Chances are those three, high frequency words, appear on thousands of websites and your new site is not going to get found by it's name alone. So even people who know you and have maybe already done business with you will struggle to find your site unless they know the URL.

So consider using a domain name that includes something specific to what your business does and possibly also references the location. For example, lets say you are offering personal development and coaching, coachinghighwycombe.co.uk would probably serve you better. However, the chances of this combination still being available are probably slim. So, goforitcoaching.co.uk may be a good starting point.

Once you've established the basics of your domain name also bear in mind the following points:

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Is there any such thing as a FREE website?

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'How much does a website cost?'  is usually the first question I get asked when I start talking to anyone about web design ... potential client or otherwise and I have to stop myself saying 'how long is the proverbial piece of string'.

There are a huge number of variables and one website can cost infinitely more than another one of a similar size for a whole host of reasons. Then throw into the equation that there are many free tools available for building your own website and the decision about how to move forwards with your website design and how much should it cost gets even more confusing. 

Build it yourself with a free website solution

This can be a very appealing proposition to anyone on a budget who is setting out on their own. Setting up a business can be expensive so, understandably, you want to avoid any unnecessary expenditure. But consider the following:

What are you good at? Probably, doing what you've set yourself up in business doing. Not planning, designing and building a website.How much does your time cost? In other words how much do you earn delivering the goods and services of your new venture.

Consider these two points together and balance out the advantages of getting a 'free' website against all the time you will have to invest in developing that website, quite possibly with a limited skill-set and almost definitely with no experience of web design. Time spent developing your website, is probably better spent developing your customer base and fee earning rather than spending hours on something that could be accomplished in half the time by an experienced web developer. You'll end up with a professional looking result as well!

Plus ... is it really FREE?

This is important. Many of the free options do not include many things that you will most definitely need. For example a mailbox is very often charged as an extra. My current provider allows up to 500 mail boxes, possibly excessive for a small business, within the fee for annual hosting.

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Do you need profile pictures on your small business website?

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After all what you look like has no bearing on your ability to do your job and deliver your services.

Think again. You're representing your small business and possibly starting from scratch. You go to those all important business networking meetings and make a whole bunch of useful contacts. You hand out your business cards with all your contact details. You've probably collected a few yourself. Well so has everyone else and your card and details are in amongst them. 

What do you do when you get back from that meeting with all those business cards? I sit down and look at the websites of the people I've met and I look at their various social media profiles. At this point, I sometimes find I'm having trouble matching the faces I've met with the details I've collected and this is where a photograph on a website or social media profile is essential. I never forget a face and I have been to many networking meetings where I've recognised the face of someone I've met before, but can't quite remember how or what they do. With this in mind the photograph really helps lodge that person I've just met in my memory.

Having a photograph on your website is one of the many small things that can help when trying to stand out from the crowd of the many others who are competing for your potential clients.

On the other hand your potential customer could have come across your website and got in contact with you. The next step is usually that all important first meeting. If you're a small business working from home, the chances are this meeting will be in a public place and not at your home. If nothing else that photograph helps your prospective client identify you and saves the embarrassment of accosting strangers in a coffee bar. I've done it!

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