what your customer wants – coastalwebservices

shutterstock_98959760

Is your small business website and online presence giving customers what they want? According to the 2014 Web.com Consumer and Small Business Perception Survey,
the answer may be no. The survey uncovered a widening gap between how
well small business owners think they are doing with their business
website and how well their customers think the businesses’ use of
technology serves their needs.According to the survey, overall, small business owners realize it’s
crucial to have a business website to make their businesses appear more
professional and to enhance their personal relationships with
customers.  But only half of respondents say their business has a
website. While that number is up 8% from last year, it’s still a
shockingly low number in this day and age.

What’s holding entrepreneurs back from starting websites? Of those
without a business website, 59% say cost is the reason; however, 30%
simply don’t believe it’s necessary for their businesses. But in
reality, the survey found that whether you have a business website is
one of the biggest influencers in whether consumers decide to buy from
you or not. Smart small business owners are focusing not on the cost of
developing a business website, but on the ROI they can get from it.

What do consumers expect from small businesses? According to the survey, the top 5 are:

  • –       56 percent:   Special offers, promotions, discounts
  • –       54 percent:   Basic information (e.g. company information, product information, business hours, contacts, etc.)
  • –       47 percent:   Their own website
  • –       42 percent:    Customer reviews, ratings, recommendations
  • –       34 percent:    Incentivizing, rewarding loyal, frequent customers

If you don’t already have a small business website, consider hiring a
web design company like Coastal Web Services to help you. Working with a
web services company is a smart decision, because working with an
expert gives you more time to do what you’re an expert at—run your business.

Have you ever tried to find out Why Isn’t Anyone Coming to My Website?

OK, so assuming your website is up to date, looks attractive, is easy to navigate and the pages load quickly, if you’re still not getting much traffic, you probably are performing poorly with the search engines. Search engines today are like the Yellow Pages were ten years ago. Most people, when they’re searching for something on the internet, look at the first couple of results pages, maybe three. If your page is not showing up, they never get to see what you have to offer. So What Can I Do? Consider getting a free SEO analysis from Coastal Web Services. SEO stands for search engine optimization. A search engine analysis will show us where your site falls as far as search engine results as they relate to the key terms associated with your business. Once we know what the problem is, we can go about helping you fix it. Using some behind-the-scenes techniques and using text optimized for SEO, we can improve your ranking with the search engines, and improve your bottom line. A couple more things to consider that will increase traffic to your website include adding social media links and a blog. Social media is an effective way to get more visitors to your site, and blogging gives your site fresh content (Google loves fresh content), and if your blog is informative (How to Do This, Why Is That), your site will come up when people are searching for answers.

Web Site Design Tips for Small Business

Make your site inviting to new and existing customers

There’s nothing like an outdated, cluttered, clunky Web site with
spelling errors and broken links to drive away prospective customers.
How can you make your site an inviting place? Here are some tips for
improving key aspects of your web site.

Navigation – Your web site design
needs to have a well thought out layout, so customers can navigate it
easily. Make sure all important sections are prominently listed. Link as
many pages as you can into the main navigation bar, instead of having
subpages from pages. You can also link internally to other pages on your
web site through your web content.

Branding – Incorporate memorable elements of your
brand into your web site, such as your logo, company color scheme and
motto or jingle if you have one. Make your logo prominent on your home
page and put it on all other pages to promote your brand.

Home page – Visitors should be able to tell
immediately what your business does. Any call to action such as “Buy
Now” or “Call Now” should be visually prominent on the page.

Content – If your main business is offline, just
give enough clear, concise information to get customers to call or
email. If you sell your products or services online, provide complete
information to give customers the confidence to click and buy.  Either
way, consider having someone familiar with SEO do your web content writing.

Refresh content – New content draws customers back. One easy way to update your content without a lot of code changes is by starting a blog.

Think SEO – Keep search engine optimization (SEO)
in mind during web site design. Photos and splashy graphics may look
nice, but won’t be read by search engines. One fix: have a text link
that says “View portfolio” instead of a graphic button. Search engines
will read the text more easily.

Colors – Use complementary colors that make your
text easy to read. Clashing colors such as red text on a blue background
make text too hard to read and turn off visitors.

Be easy to reach – Make sure your contact information or an obvious link to it is at the top or bottom of every page of your site.

Sound good – Music or narration that starts playing
automatically when your site loads is an immediate turnoff for many
visitors. If you must have sound, make sure it’s easily disabled.

External links – Links that take visitors to another
web site should always load in a new window. Make sure your site stays
in front of the customer, even as you provide them with additional
resource information.

Creative Ways to Get Customer Testimonials

A good web design and strong content will go a
long way in getting potential customers to your web site. But some of
the most powerful messages on your website don’t come from you; they
come from your satisfied customers. Great customer testimonials tell
people that your product or service is not only legit, but awesome
enough that other people are happy enough to recommend it.

The question is, how do you get believable testimonials? Let’s look
at some of the sites you can collect reviews upon, as well as how to
encourage reviews from your customers and how to gather them from all
around the web.

  1. Facebook Reviews If you have a Facebook page and
    are set up as a local business, your page now comes with a Reviews tab.
    Make this tab visible, and encourage your Facebook fans to go over and
    enter some reviews.
  2. LinkedIn Recommendations LinkedIn recommendations
    are only available for individuals (not companies), which is great if
    you’re a sole proprietor like a doctor or freelancer. But if you own a
    company with employees, you can encourage your employees to join
    LinkedIn, and if they get recommendations, you can ask to use them on
    your website, either on a page related to the services they provide, or
    on your About Us page.
  3. YouTube Video Reviews Video reviews are stronger
    than written reviews, and Google loves video. Encourage your satisfied
    customers to add videos to their own YouTube account and let you know
    the link so you can add it to your website. You could also create a
    video review in your office or at the client’s home when a job is done.
  4. Local Search Directories Local search directories such as Google PlacesYahoo LocalYelpMerchant Circle, and CitySearch
    allow members to write reviews.  If you have great reviews on these
    sites, you should share them on your website as well. You can encourage
    satisfied customers to write reviews on these sites, and not just for
    your website. The reason is simple. If you are trying to get Google
    search traffic to your local business, you want your business to come up
    in the search with the most reviews.
  5. Google Alerts and Social Mentions Finally, there
    are likely customer reviews that are written about your company on other
    sites, such as personal blogs, that are unsolicited. Setup daily
    notifications via email on Google Alerts and Social Mention for
    a variety of relevant terms in order to keep track of brand mentions,
    including your name, business name, brand, and specific product names
    plus the word review.

Use these alerts to find out about any reviews and ask the people who
have mentioned your business you can feature their comment or story on
your website. Usually people are happy to oblige, especially in exchange
for a link from your site.

The Down Side of Reviews

There is one downside when it comes to opening the door for reviews
on your Facebook page, local search directories, and other sites that
you can’t control, and that is the chance that not all of the reviews
will be positive.

Whenever you come across a negative review about your business, it is essential that you respond to it.
If someone comes across a negative review, but also sees that you have
offered to help solve the problem in a public forum, then that potential
customer will see that you do care about your customer’s happiness,
which may lead to a positive impression after all. Setting a Google Alert on your business allows you to keep on top of reviews of all kinds.

Why Isn’t Anyone Coming to My Website?

OK, so assuming your website is up to date, looks attractive, is easy to navigate and the pages load quickly, if you’re still not getting much traffic, you probably are performing poorly with the search engines. Search engines today are like the Yellow Pages were ten years ago.

Most people, when they’re searching for something on the internet, look at the first couple of results pages, maybe three. If your page is not showing up, they never get to see what you have to offer.
So What Can I Do?
Consider getting a free SEO analysis from Coastal Web Services. SEO stands for search engine optimization. A search engine analysis will show us where your site falls as far as search engine results as they relate to the key terms associated with your business. Once we know what the problem is, we can go about helping you fix it. Using some behind-the-scenes techniques and using text optimized for SEO, we can improve your ranking with the search engines, and improve your bottom line.
A couple more things to consider that will increase traffic to your website include adding social media links and a blog. Social media is an effective way to get more visitors to your site, and blogging gives your site fresh content (Google loves fresh content), and if your blog is informative (How to Do This, Why Is That), your site will come up when people are searching for answers.