Your website is your virtual location, the storefront that website visitors see before anything else. Besides being the portal and the introduction to your business, your service or products, and your people, it is also one of the most important marketing tools you have.

Just like a physical store, your online location matters. Providing a good user experience from the outset is vital to your success online.

What’s in a Name?

While it may seem like common sense, the name of your website needs to match the name of your business or describe what you do. However, there is a bit more to it than that. Even countless big brands have made website naming errors. Discovering these after a site is launched can cost you, both in money and bad publicity. Essentially your name needs to be R.E.A.L.

  • Relevant: Your name should be relevant. That is why it should be the name of your business or what you do, so the user is never confused by your URL.
  • Easy to Say and Spell: Someone should be able to say the name of your site so a person listening can type it correctly into a browser. While clever spellings can set you apart, they should also be used carefully, again to avoid confusion.
  • Abbreviated Carefully: If you are going to use abbreviations in your domain name, be sure they do not spell out something undesirable. The Iowa Department of Aging quickly changed its website and name when seniors expressed discomfort typing idoa.gov into their browser.
  • Literally Interpreted: Just as with abbreviations, names run together often result in unfortunate misunderstandings. Big Al’s Online and Who Represents are two examples, with domain names like bigalsonline.com and whorepresents.com.

When initially setting up your site, use a domain name search tool to determine if the name you want is available, and then show it to several people. If it can be misinterpreted in any way, choose a different one.

If you find yourself with a bad name already, you can simply purchase another domain and use a 301 redirect to send the traffic from that one to your new site. However, if you have already created business cards and other marketing materials, it may be expensive to change them all. The key is careful name selection from the outset.

Pop-Ups and Advertisements

We all hate it when we go to a site and a huge ad covers the screen, whether that is for another site or to ask us to subscribe to their newsletter, download a free e-book, or whatever the call to action might be.

However, despite the fact that we hate this method of being sold to, small business owners often create such ads on their own site, hoping for revenue generation or to build their subscriber list.

While these can have some impact in those areas, more often they increase bounce rates, or customers who quickly leave your site without ever reading the content there. It’s fine to have a call to action, but there are better designs than full-screen ads and pop-ups that irritate users.

Google and other search engines are getting smarter and as of January of this year, sites who implement these practices are being penalized, which means your rankings will decrease.

The difference between a top three rankings in Google for a keyword or phrase and a four through ten ranking is typically at least 33% of organic traffic and conversions. That is a big price to pay, so avoid this type of spammy practice.

Optimize for Mobile

The Google Accelerated Mobile Pages project exists for a reason. Over 60% of searches are conducted on mobile devices like phones and tablets.

The amazing thing is that early adopters who have opted in to the AMP design process have seen much higher conversion rates over responsive design websites. What does this mean?

  • Bounce rates are 10 points lower.
  • Conversion rates are 20-30% higher.
  • AMP simplifies everything.
  • AMP is more secure.

The details of this initiative can be deeply technical and a little daunting at first, so hiring a professional designer is a must for most small businesses at least at the outset.

Hiring Professionals

One of the biggest dangers of being an entrepreneur is to try to do too much on your own. This usually means the quality of your primary work suffers, and the rest of the work is not as good as it could be.

For instance, you may be capable of setting up a basic website and even creating your own logo. However, unless you are a professional yourself, both the logo and the site will probably be fairly mediocre. They may be okay, but they will not necessarily be the best. Also, collaboration brings out the best in most projects. Doing everything yourself will look and feel narcissistic.

So who do you hire and how? As a small business, you don’t need to hire an entire staff. You just need a project done. You can use resources like LinkedIn Profinder or other services to contract freelancers or even companies for individual projects. Stay away from Fiverr and other “inexpensive” job boards. You get what you pay for, so vet applicants and ask for references.

  • Web Design: Web design especially with AMP capability and all of the things you need will be expensive. Don’t skimp. This is your storefront online, the first impression you will make with many potential customers. You don’t get a second chance at that.
  • Visuals and Logos: You can often hire graphic designers to create just the visuals and logos you need, but sticking with one will make your branding consistent across your site and the rest of the web. Don’t do these things yourself. Enlist the help of a professional to make your site as visually pleasing as it can be.
  • Content: Your web content should be professionally written, free of grammatical errors and typos, and optimized for search engines. If you don’t like to write or simply don’t have the time, hire someone to create content for you.

Your website is your virtual location, often the first impression a user has of you and your brand. You have to make a good and lasting one. This starts with your name, but goes much deeper into the user experience, content quality, and even the credibility gained from guest posting on reputable sites in your industry. To be the best you can be, you probably need professional help. In the long run, the investment will pay off in organic traffic, conversions, and lower bounce rates.

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