7 Must Haves for Websites

Having a simple, bare bones website is not good enough for 2012. Even small businesses need to seriously think about how they are marketing their businesses on the web and engaging their customers and prospects online. Here are 7 must haves for websites:

1) A Professional Email Address

  • What do you think when you see someone with an email address like mycompany@gmail.com on their website? It just looks plain unprofessional to not have a “real” email address.
  • If you have already have a “real” email address on your website, good work! Please make sure that your email is easy to find and make sure to send emails from that address. Many small businesses forward their email to a personal email service (like yahoo, gmail or hotmail) and reply from that personal account.

2) Email Marketing Integration

  • Signing up for an email marketing service has never been easier. Mailchimp is a great service that offers various membership levels included a generous free option. With most of the popular email marketing services it is super easy to add a sign-up form widget to your website. These services provide all you need to simply sit back and watch the members sign-up after a little bit of set-up.
  • If you already have an email marketing service take a look at your newsletter…
    Does it look like your beautiful website or does it look like a bake sale advertisement made in Word? It might be a good idea to make sure you have a consistent online look for your branding across your website, social media and newsletter.

3) Links to Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, StumbleUpon… the list goes on. Decide which social networks are important to your business. This should be decided by a combination of:

  • What social networks do you like to interact with?
  • What social networks do your customers interact with?

Once you picked your networks, start posting. Try to make it a regular thing. As you post and interact with the network more and more, the value you get from that network will quickly increase. You should also make sure to tell everyone that you are now socially savvy on your website by:

  • Providing a icon link to all of your social networks so customers and colleagues can follow you and you can follow them right back
  • Including a feed on your website from Facebook or Twitter
  • Automatically posting your latest news or blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc..
  • Providing links for your visitors to share your awesome story with the world
  • Adding links to your social media in your email signature

4) Updated Content

Your visitors and Google are hungry for new content. Even if you have a simple website, you can always find something to update your site with. Here are some ideas:

  • Twitter feed on your site
  • News and/or events section
  • Company blog
  • Update your portfolio/gallery
  • Update your client list/case studies
  • Check to make sure your content is up to date or if it could use a revision

What ever you write, make sure that your pay attention to matching the content to your site’s audience. Most web users scan, so use lots of headings, bullets and images.

If your website does not have a Content Management System (CMS), then it might be a good idea to budget adding that to your website or planning for it as part of your next website upgrade/update. This will make updating your website much easier and may even eliminate the need for a techie to update your site’s content.

5) A Clear Call to Action

A website needs to have a clear purpose set by the website owner. The purpose of my website is to have people look at my portfolio and call/email me. Everything else on the site is there just to support that desired outcome.

When Discover Milton first launched they provided visitors with two clear actions to choose from.

6) Professional Website Design

Hiring a experienced, professional web designer will provide you with a website that:

7) Search Engine Optimization

If your potential customers can’t find your website, then what does it matter how great your website looks or if it has clear calls to action.

Some easy ways to optimize without breaking the piggy bank open are:

BONUS ROUND:

Are you already doing all of the 7 things I mentioned above? Here are some bonus items: