Top 6 Things Every Small Business Website Must Have in 2011

Introduction
One of my favorite all time quotes is from the movie “The Matrix” when Morpheus sits down with Neo and says, “You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. This can be said of small business websites in 2011. You can stay with what you’re currently doing and pretend that your website will do just fine, or you can wake up and learn about 6 things in 2011 that will make your small business website out perform the competition.


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Competition in the global and local online market in 2011 will be fierce, and the one’s with the best websites will come out ahead. Let’s face it, this time last year we didn’t have “Like” boxes, and we definitely didn’t have revolutions in Egypt and Libya because of Facebook and Twitter. It’s important that small business owners know what to have on their websites in order to maintain competition. Small business websites that have these six things in common will have the advantage throughout the year.

A Mobile Site Combined with QR Codes

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Imagine this scenario: A potential customer walks past your flyer or poster at a super market and sees a QR code. They are curious, and pull out their smart phone to open up the QR code and visit your website which has been optimized for mobile phones. On your mobile website, is a link to your facebook, your products and services, and your contact information. Not only might this passerby “Like” your facebook page right then and there (because you are smart phone friendly), but you could actually make a sale. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, research company ABI recorded that “Americans spent more than $3.4 billion on mobile shopping in 2010” (entrepreneur.com). If that isn’t reason enough to want a website optimized for mobile phones, according to that same study, spending on mobile phones is expected to grow to $163 billion by 2015 (entrepreneur.com).

Social Media Widgets

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Want to have a powerhouse of an online marketing strategy? Take my advice by integrating your Facebook account with all of your other social media accounts, then add a facebook feed box to your website. Visitors will be allowed to “Like” products and services on your website. Set up a Twitter account and visitors can also tweet about new products or services you come out with. New visitors to your website will receive all the updates you give your regular facebook fans. Fans from your facebook page will visit your website (when you give them a reason to). Couple that with automatic Twitter, and LinkedIn updates and you will have an online marketing strategy competitors will lose sleep over. This will drive huge amounts of traffic to your website.

Having social media also builds credibility for your small business. It shows new prospects and visitors to your website how pleased with your company other prospects have been in the past. Having 2,000 “Likes” on your Facebook page will definitely give you a competitive advantage over a competitor who doesn’t have as many “Likes”. With Facebook, you can also add quick discounts or deals to your fans, bringing in more traffic.

Have a Blog

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Let’s delve into some of the reasons having a blog will benefit your small business website. First of all, a blog gives you a connection to your visitors. It tells them what they don’t know about your company already, gives them tips on how to use products or services you offer, and is a place to tell them about future deals, discounts, products, and services. You can also post links to your new blog posts onto your social media, giving you interesting content for your fans to read up on. Having a blog isn’t only going to give your business good public relations, it will also actually help with search engine optimization – as long as it’s done correctly, meaning using common sense and not trying to trick the search engines with black hat tactics.

Local Search / SEO

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Should every business website be optimized for search engines? Yes! That is unless if new or existing customers aren’t welcomed to your website. Statistics from the most recent census in 2010 have said, “87% of adults online used a search engine daily to find information on the web” (census.gov). I once knew a guy who said he didn’t care if Google could find him or not, he wanted a flash based website because it looked cool. That’s fine, a flash based website can still be found in major search engines, it’s just a little more hard to have descriptive content that the search engines can read. But to say that you don’t care if search engines can find you or not is like saying you don’t care if you’re customers are able to give you a call, find your store front, or buy your products and services. All small business websites will benefit from search engine optimization on some level, and it should be among the top things to have done once a website is built.

Videos


Having a video on your website is an easy way for customers to learn about what the website has to offer. Having video is a more convenient way for customers to learn about products and services than it is for them to read about it. Customers like it so much in fact that according to MetaCafe, having a video on a website can retain the attention of visitors ten times longer than a website without video (metacafe.com). And WSI Superior Web Solutions report that “52% of online video ad viewers take action and 16% make purchases” (Marketing Sherpa). Having video on your website not only allows you to advertise on your website, but also on popular video sites like Youtube, MetaCafe, and 5min.com.

Having a Resourceful Web Master


Technology changes. Plain and simple. In fact, last year there wasn’t even one “Like” box on a website. Now every website has a “Like” box. Having a web master who can integrate code, knows how to select appropriate web hosting, a slew of programming languages and graphic design as well as able to create neat looking graphics, and perform successful SEO campaigns is essential for the small business website in 2011. Is there going to be some new outrageous technology that can triple your business this year? Who knows, but be prepared with a good web master if something like that should come up. A good web master knows what’s going on in the online world and can give some needed advice to those who aren’t as privy to the online world of commerce as they are.

[alert-success] Rest assured that if you heed my advice and “take the red pill” as Morpheus says, you will begin to see new results in 2011.
So,what do you think,what about your advices…..[/alert-success]

John Hallquist

John Hallquist has spent twelve years developing clean cut, organized, and informative websites. His specialty is selecting the right font faces, images, and design to best help his clients needs His website is Twincities Webdesign

29 Comments to Top 6 Things Every Small Business Website Must Have in 2011

  1. I agree in you suggestions – but what is a QR code?

    For mobile, the sites works as long as we dont use flash.

    Thanks :-)

    • A QR code is best described as a square bar code that can be scanned by a smart phone. After a smart phone scans one of these QR codes, it brings up a website on their phone’s browser. These can be really neat for linking directly to actual coupons you make on the internet, driving customers to buy your product with their coupon deal.

  2. Greater than 75% of 30 and younger people access the internet almost exclusively with their mobile devices. Awesome article.

  3. Great article, I agree the world has taken the red pill and we still have not seen how deep the rabbit hole goes. The days of a website being an online brochure are over. Visitors want value, on the go access and interaction through Blogs, Social Media, video, mobil apps and yes even QR codes. I wish they would standardize on a QR code system and reader. I have to have 3 readers on my phone just to be able to read all the different types.

    • Yes, I wish they would standardize a QR code system too. Any information who might be the leading QR code creator/reader? I think it might be Google’s QR code system.

  4. I totally agree, particularly with the final point about the web master. Web Design is changing so rapidly these days that it’s almost impossible to keep up, and having somebody who’s technology savvy enough to keep you at the forefront of it all is essential. Also completely on board with the Blog and SEO comments.

  5. Great read. I epically agree about the mobile site. It’s a huge thing. And if you don’t have it, you’re at a BIG disadvantage.

  6. I haven’t really thought about utilising QR codes before but it’s certainly an interesting concept worth considering, especially for national advertisers.

  7. I had never heard of QR codes before but I certainly will be researching them further…You have backed up further for me to include a blog and videos on my site also ! Nice one!

  8. This blog is spot on! To have a successful online marketing strategy you really do need all of these elements, we only build websites that incorporate all of these same elements and our Australian clients are reaping the benefits. Don’t leave it too late or you will miss the crest of a big wave!

  9. Blog, SEO are important but a reliable web master is the most important one. Without this person, it will be difficult to keep up with all the other items…

    Quite good article! It made me thing about QR Codes in a different perspective ;-)

  10. I am always searching for material to make my business better and achieve higher standards for me and my clients. I came across this article in a search and have read several others on the site. I appreciate you talking about the use of colors which is very overlooked and local seo which my company specializes in. Keep the great info coming and have a great day.

  11. I like that you have put that final point about web masters. I meet too many small business owners these days who think that just because wordpress makes it easy to get a site up that web developers and designers are now irrelevant. I think that it is because of this that designers are more relevant than they have ever been..

  12. This is a good summary of several new trends that are important for small business.

    However, the glaring omission is the creation of compelling, concise website content with calls-to-action on every page that convert website visitors into leads.

    It may not be as sexy as what you’ve listed here, but we see websites that suffer from too little or too fluffy content or rambling, too word content every day.

    That is why our team of published writers work alongside our web design team, with a human factors expert thrown in to ensure simple, intuitive navigation–another critical component to any website, especially mobile websites considering how much smaller these interfaces are.

  13. Nice list here. Obviously SEO is hugely important, and having a blog has been good advice for awhile now (actually writing for your blog is necessary too), but video and mobile are definitely good new tips.

    I’d like to add that, for videos, don’t have them start automatically. Many users will pause them right away, and then they won’t start them again.

  14. Good stuff and all very true. Pity so many smaller businesses still have little or no budget for their websites and poor tech knowledge. Too many will fall behind. Having said that and agreeing with almost all the points made in the article I can’t agree that “days of a website being an online brochure are over”. For many small businesses that will remain sufficient.

  15. Web directories are a great way to market your website, but I’d recommend checking out article directories where you can submit free articles about your website, product or service.