How to Improve Your Local Business Website

Improve Your Local Business Website

5 Ways to Improve Your Local Business Website

When customers don’t stay on your website for long, it’s hardly surprising you fail to connect with them and build the trust needed for them to get out their credit cards and buy from you. The great news for you is there are tons of quick and easy – usually free ways – to make your website more appealing to your customers.

Here’s 5 you can apply today.

1. Site Search

When you have more than 20 pages, it’s a good idea to add a search facility. If you have a site search, make sure it’s prominent. Usability guidelines tend to prefer the upper-right corner of the page. Keep the button label simple and clear – “Search” still works best for most sites. Don’t unleash your powers of lateral thinking and swap in a word like “Retrieve”. Keep it simple.

To Do: Just using your search, try to find 3 pages of content. Is that process “quick, easy and straight-forward?” Or is it “hit and miss?”

2. Ensure Your Web pages Can Be Skim-read Easily

Few people read word for word online; the vast majority skim-read to get a sense of the page before they read any of it in detail. Make it easy for visitors to skim-read your content. Always use headings and bullets to break up text. Think about it. If a heading is not relevant for your visitor, they can easily skim down to the next heading, making it straightforward for them to get directly to the information they need.

Always keep your text in manageable chunks, not an unbroken wall of words like insurance small print, so it’s easier for customers to look up what they want right away and with confidence – which is critical if they are making a buying decision.

To Do: Give your website a quick review and make sure all your text is broken up into clear, manageable sections.

3. Keep Your Styles & Colors Consistent

Make sure people know they’re still on your site by being consistent – confuse them and you’ll lose them. Keep the look and feel of your website sections consistent and avoid any radical changes. Visitors can get confused and think they have left your site accidentally.

Layout, headings, and styles should be consistent site-wide, and colors should usually have the same meaning.

For example, don’t use red for headers on one page, red for hyperlinks on another, and red as standard text somewhere else.

To Do: Ensure all your web pages appear to be part of the main site and that they are consistent with each other. Are there any “nasty surprises” depending on the part of the site you’re in?

Start-A-WordPress-Blog4. Use Emphasis (bold, etc.) Sparingly 🙂

It’s a fact of human psychology: try to draw attention to everything and you’ll effectively draw attention to nothing. We’ve all seen that site, the one with a red, blinking, underlined “NEW!” next to everything. Don’t be that guy or gal.

Remember, if your site’s graphic design is counter-intuitive and doesn’t help visitors get something done quickly, it’s going to make your site much slower and difficult to work with.

Slow, awkward sites never, ever, ever, delight your customer or create a good rapport online.

Visitors will be back at the search engine in seconds if they find your website “complicated” or “busy”.

To Do: Ensure your website is only highlighting critical factors you absolutely need your visitors to gaze at or click on in order to meet your online business goals. Menus, buy buttons, opt-in boxes and so on.

5. Keep Your Ads & Pop-ups Unobtrusive

Ads are a fact of life, but integrate them nicely into your site. Don’t try to force ads and pop-ups down peoples’ throats; you’ll end up creating frustration for your visitors. Also, do people a favor and make your ads clear. If you blur the line between ads and content too much, your content may suffer, since many people have developed “banner blindness” when it comes to surfing, and might overlook some important content by mistake.

To Do: Doublecheck if your popup window is significantly increasing your opt-in rate. If it isn’t, you could be annoying present and future customers unnecessarily.

Final Word

Always make sure you view your website through the eyes of the customer and not through your eyes, the website owner.

Make sure there are no red-flags on your site that are going to frustrate, confuse or bore customers. Keep everything nice and simple to make sure your visitors enjoy spending time (and money) on your site

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The Business Of Your Employees’ Business

bossThere was an interesting piece on npr last week about the impact of social media on the courtroom. What’s really amazing is how HR people and lawyers are suddenly all over social media and the implications to their respective worlds. And, these insights are turning into a business in and of themselves. As Organic’s Executive Director of HR, my mailbox has seen a surge of invitations lately to training seminars on this topic. Most claim to “teach” people about the latest trends in social media, how to write policies and how to apply draconian, non-enforceable limits on individual freedom of speech and expression.

My favorite recent example of an organization taking the “concerned” approach around social media activity is the not very progressive city of Bozeman, Montana. They are requiring job candidates to offer up their passwords to Facebook and any other social sites they use. What’s even more shocking is that this isn’t something they’ve just recently implemented.

This just seems ludicrous to most of us, not to mention an infringement of civil liberty and a right to privacy. But it’s really happening. What on earth made them think they should do that? Did they also ask to read diaries? Personal email? Look at checkbooks? Go through dresser drawers?

Sure, there are certain things that legally — and perhaps ethically — people shouldn’t tweet about or talk about in a public forum. Yet for the most part, trying to limit access to the internet in a courtroom or the workplace is akin to creating a no talking policy! Social media is changing the nature of the workplace, the courtroom and business in general. Instead of trying to limit it (as some of these training seminars might suggest), we should be guiding employees on the how they can use it.

Why is Local Search Important for your Business

As the web gets bigger and bigger it is becoming more of a battle to ensure your website gets listed higher up in the search engines. Local businesses can sometimes get lost or struggle to get listed at all for relevant keywords or phrases.

As you will already know it is important for your website to appear as high up in the search engine results as possible. This is a technique known as Search Engine Optimisation or SEO for short and this process can take anything from a few months or even longer depending on the competitiveness of the keyword or phrase you want your website to get listed for.

Google has recently made some changes to its algorithms so that when you search for something Google will display local results on the page allowing you to find local businesses relevant to your search query.

Internet users will be looking for local businesses when searching on the Web

Internet users are becoming more savvy and will learn to broaden their search phrase e.g. locksmith services becomes locksmith services London. This will allow the search engines to deliver content that is more specific and relevant to the user.

Research has shown that around 70% of household users perform some kind of search for a local product or service on a daily basis.

Do you know if your website is being found for Google Local results?

Most internet users will want to deal with a company based in their local area first before dealing with a company based further away. Why not perform a search on Google for a keyword or phrase relevant to your business along with your geographical area and find out if your website is being listed or not. Your listing should appear next to the location map (on the right hand side) being displayed underneath the Local business results on the page.

There are currently two search engines Google and Yahoo! who offer local result listings as part of their service.

How to get your business listed in Google Local listings?

To create your business listing in Google Local you will need to register an account first. When you first login into your Google Local Business Center account you will be asked to enter your username and password.

Once you are logged into your Google Local Business Center account you will be asked to enter your business details such as company name, address, telephone number, website URL address, opening hours, payment options and a brief description about your business along with the categories you would like your website to appear under.

You will need to verify your business listing before it goes live. To do this you will need to enter your pin number and this can be retrieved either by phone, SMS or postcard. After verification you should start seeing your business listings on Google within one day.

Your business listing may not always appear on the first page because of your proximity to your location. However some useful tips to get your listing to appear higher up or on the first page is to make sure your title contains keyword phrases and also ask your customers to leave a review about your business.

How to get your business listed in Yahoo! Local?

Unfortunately Yahoo! Local listings is not a free service and prices may vary depending on your area and the keyword phrase you want your website to be listed for. Why not visit the Compass SEO website to request a quotation on how much it would cost for your website to be listed in Yahoo! Local.

You may think to yourself why should I pay to get my website listed in Yahoo! Local when it is free to get listed with Google?

There is one advantage with Yahoo! Local. All BT users have Yahoo! installed as their default web browser on their PC or laptop and this will help you to introduce your business to an entirely new market who may not use the Google search engine to find what they’re looking for online.

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