As a small business owner you know that you need to have a website. However, most of them are absolutely clueless about what elements every great small business website design absolutely needs to have.
You would usually hire a designer. The designer designs a website. Then the designer and maybe a programmer would put it up for you. However, small business hardly discuss the goals of their website with their designer.
What goals do you want your website to accomplish? Most likely, you would like to get more customers through the door. You would like your customers to immediately see how you are different from competition. You would like more orders, more sales, more tables filled, more inquires, and more referrals. If a visitor does not buy, you’d probably like to capture their contact information, so that you could market to them again.
You would probably also like to know your numbers. In your business you know how much money customers pay you. You know for how long they stay in your store. You train your sales people what to say and what products sell better. You are focused on numbers and sales. Otherwise, you wouldn’t last in business long.
Now, does your web designer know how sell your products or services and how to get you more customers and money? This is highly unlikely. Your web designer knows design, not sales.
Below you will find a very detailed infographic on 50 Features Every Small Business Website Design Must Have. Spend some time studying it next time you need to put up a website. The infographic goes through every single little detail that an effective website must have.
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Here are 50 Features Every Small Business Website Design Must Have:
Every website has a domain name. This means that if you get a website, you will have a domain name. You can have any domain name that is currently available. If a domain name is not available, it might be for sale by owner or by a domain broker.
You want to choose a domain name that is easy to remember and represents what you do. For example, if your name is Mike and if you do plumbing then choose a domain name “MikesPlumbing.com” or a variation of it. When thinking about a domain name, do not over complicate things. Try to come up with something simple.
If you can’t think of a good catchy name, think of the biggest benefit your customers get when using your service or product. Then incorporate it into your website name. For example, if you help businesses get more customers, you could use a variation of the phrase “get more customers” in the name of your website. This is simple and easy to remember at the same time.
A logo does a number of things for your business and your website.
It shows that your business is established. People are used to the fact that only serious businesses have logos. Your clients will automatically treat you more seriously if you have a logo.
A logo also catches the attention of your potential customers. Studies show that people remember logos easier compared to text. In addition to invoking feelings, a great logo design will make people remember you and recognize you from competition, helping you to stand out.
While text and descriptions communicate on a verbal, conscious level, a logo communicates on nonverbal levels. It can tell a lot of things about your company. Are you a serious company or do like to have fun? Are you established and conservative or are you new and like to try new things? What feelings does your logo convey? A good logo communicates feelings that you want to communicate. So a proper logo is an absolute necessity for any small business website design today.
A tagline tells your website visitors about what your business does and hence it must be in your small business website design. Whenever potential customers visit a website, they decide in the first few seconds if the website is right for them or not and whether they are visiting a site that provides information, service or product that they are looking for. A lot of website owners try to be cute, funny and original.
That’s not what makes someone decide to spend time on your website. Unless, of course, they are looking to kill some time browsing a website with jokes and memes.
You want a descriptive, specific, easy to understand tagline that instantly tells your visitors who you are, what you are about and invokes a “yes, this website is for me, I’ve arrived at the right place” feeling. Don’t use generic terms like “respected” and “trusted.” Everybody uses these words. A good tagline for a local small plumbing business might be “Best Fredericksburg Plumber”.
Think about your ideal customer. What are they looking for when they come to your website? If you were talking to a live human being, what would you need to say to convince them to spend some time on your website?
Call to action button
Why do have a website? Most likely it’s because you want your prospective clients to learn more about you and at some point buy from you.
Your potential customers are very busy and have very short attention spans. At the same time, they are really good at following directions. This is why you don’t want people to guess what to do next. If your website visitors have to guess, they’ll probably leave the website.
You want to have calls to action (CTAs) everywhere on your site. Don’t just list a phone number. Have a call to action next to it saying something similar to “call now.” Have CTAs at the end of your articles and blogs. As a small business website designer we make sure that CTAs are integrated into every website that we build.
How do you come with CTAs? Think about what you want people to do when they get to the end of a page, then ask them to do it. Call now, leave a comment here, click here to read the next article, – these are all examples of great calls to action. Since call to action buttons can help increase your customers they must be added on the header on every small business website design.
A lot of businesses are trying to save money in the wrong places. Small businesses may think of removing phone numbers from their websites or make it really inconvenient for their customers to get in touch with the business. Medium and big businesses may start cutting on customer service. They move their customer support department offshore.
That’s not what you want to do. Get a phone number. Train your customer support representatives to answer the phones the way you want them to do so. Show your customers that you value and appreciate them. Show that you are there for them should they have any questions.
Every person has their preferred way of communication. Some people prefer an online chat. Some prefer to call.
The more ways you give your customers to reach you, the more customers you’ll get.
A phone number on your website also shows that you are a reputable company. Some customers are very suspicious when it comes to doing business on the internet. A phone number is the best way to convey that there’s a live human being behind a small business website.
Organized and easy-to-follow top navigation is crucial for overall positive user experience. It allows visitors to learn things about you. The more time a user spends on your website, the more likely they are to trust you and buy from you. No one likes websites that are confusing and hard to navigate. Google and other search engines give higher ranks to websites where people spend a lot of time.
The best way to create top navigation is to think strategically. What do you want to happen when someone visits your website? What needs does a visitor need to learn, know and find out in order for you to get the result that you want? Once you answer these questions, you can create top navigation that helps your visitors travel the path you want them to travel in order for you to achieve the goals that you want.
Bread crumb navigation
Bread crumb navigation can be compared to good driving directions. Do you like driving without directions? Probably not. You always want to know where you are and what your next step should be. Visiting a website without bread crumb navigation is like driving somewhere with bad directions: you might get lost along the way because you don’t know where you are.
It is important to remember that when someone gets confused, they’ll most likely close the tab with your website. This is why you want to have breadcrumbs that show the visitors of your website where they are at all times, so that if they want to go back or forward, they can always immediately identify where they are.
Bread crumb navigation should be treated as a separate feature. It can’t be used instead of a menu. It’s a convenience and a user experience enhancement, not a primary way to navigate a website.
Most important of all bread crumb navigation helps with ecommerce SEO or regular SEO and so it must be part of your small business website design strategy.
Slider or Image
A slider or an image is a place where you can expand on the message you communicated in your logo and in your tagline.
A logo communicates a message about your business non-verbally. A tagline supports it with words, but in a very short form.
A slider is where you expand on this message. Here you can talk about your unique selling proposition and features that make you stand out from your competition.
The best way to come up with a unique selling proposition (USP) is to answer the following question: why would a customer choose to do business with you instead of all the other options available to them?
In your USP you don’t just want to talk about yourself. Your clients buy from you because they expect to get some benefit from your product or service. A great USP always makes a proposition to the consumer. It always says: here’s why you should buy and here’s the benefit you will get from it.
If your message is long or if you’re offering a number of products and services, you can use several screens to tell a longer story or communicate a message about several products.
Crucial business information
Every business has information about it that is crucial.
What do you customers absolutely need to know about you in order to do business with you? What is the one piece of information without which a transaction would be impossible? Answer this question and place this piece of information in this section.
If you have a physical store, it is your location and hours. You may have the most beautiful and useful website that stands out from competition, but if your customers do not have your address, they won’t be able to find you. If you have a restaurant and most of your customers call with delivery orders, it might be a link to your menu or a link to an app. Without knowing what’s on your menu they will not be able to place an order.
What is this piece of information in your business? Figure it out and let your designer know ahead of time so that it occupies the most important space in your small business website design.
Testimonials and reviews
What thoughts do you have flowing through you mind when discovering a new business, be it a restaurant, dry cleaners, or a web design studio?
Here’s what you are likely thinking: “Obviously they are going to say all the right things to me. They want to get my money. I wonder what will happen after they get my money.” We all had countless experiences when we were promised a lot, yet received very little.
This is why after finding a new business that might be of interest to us we first of all want to know if it has any reviews from its old customers. There is nothing more powerful than testimonials from actual users with their contact information. This is the reason why websites like yelp are so popular. This is why Amazon is being so aggressive coming after those who post fake reviews. And as a Northern Virginia website design company we make sure to integrate reviews in our client’s websites.
All this means that using testimonials and reviews from your customers is an absolute must in building trust with your website visitors.
When a person visits a website for the first time, he or she usually takes a glance to see if this website is for them. If it is, they keep reading or watching what’s on it. If it isn’t, they close the tab.
Main features are located below the fold. This means that a person needs to scroll down to see this part of your website. No one is scrolling down if they are not interested.
Therefore, from this point on you can assume that a person who is reading this information has interest in what your business has to offer. They are looking at main features because they’ve decided that they want to learn more. This is the place to talk in more detail about your products and services, their features and start going into more specifics compared to your USP or tagline.
This part of your website can be compared to someone noticing a product on a shelf in a physical store, taking a product from a shelf and looking at nutrition facts.
Quality content follows the main features section of your small business website. The fact that someone scrolled all the way down here means that this person is extremely interested in what you have to offer and still wants to learn more about you and your services.
Treat this part of your website as an invitation to give an extended sales presentation. What would you talk about if you knew that a person would listen for a really long time and wanted to buy from you, but was a little hesitant? What would you say to build trust and convince them to buy?
You could talk about the history of your company, give details about how each of the features of your product or service came to life, answer most popular questions, tell stories, pre-empty the objections why people might not buy from you and much more.
You want to have a website so that your customers and prospects could find you.
Google, Yahoo and Bing need to add your website to their index databases in order for it to appear in search results. Addition to these databases is done by robots called web crawlers. A robot visits your website and checks it for a number of criteria. Internal links are one of them.
Internal links are called internal because they point to pages on the same website. An external link is a link that points to a page on a different website.
Search engines pay attention to internal links for two reasons. First, internal links help users navigate a website. The fact that you have a lot of internal links means that the pages of your website are interconnected and an interested user could seamlessly go from one page to another. Secondly, these links help web crawlers establish the hierarchy of pages on a website. This helps search engines decide which pages to show in search results and which to skip.
Providing contact information on your website and making sure that interested visitors will be able to find you are great ways of generating leads for your business. Full, detailed contact information makes you look trustworthy, open and accessible.
Looking for contact information is one of the reasons why people are coming to your website. Contact information should be located at the bottom of the page, because only people that are really interested in doing business with you will be looking for it. Therefore, there’s no need to place it above the fold.
If you have multiple locations, you can put contact information for all of them on a separate page. List your main office number on the first page of your website.
Usually people look for contact information in three places: on “About Us” page, on “Contact Us” page and at the very bottom of the first page. Make sure that you have your contact information or a link to it in all of these places.
There’s nothing worse than a restaurant or a store that doesn’t publish its business hours.
Your prospects want to learn when you are open. Your existing customers may have forgotten when you are open and might be looking for this information.
Make sure that you keep this information accurate and updated all the time. There’s nothing worse than a first-time customer discovering that you are closed when you said you will be open.
This little glitch might lead your customers to questioning everything else about you.
If they can’t properly describe their working hours, where else are they screwing up? Will I as a customer be able to trust this company in other matters if they can’t get the little details right?
This section is also a great place to keep your customers informed about your hours during and around holidays. Are you open on Thanksgiving? Labor Day? Independence Day? Make sure to list your holiday hours, too.
We have talked about the importance of navigation when discussing the navigation menu on top of your website. This menu repeats the top navigation menu, but is located all the way down at the bottom of the page.
The fact that someone got here means they have scrolled all the way down. At this point your visitors may choose to get even more information from you and decide, for example, that they would like to read the “About” page. Depending on the length of the page, going all the way up may involve a lot of scrolling.
This is not what you want. You never want your users to do a lot of work when learning about you. You want the experience of your website visitors to be as seamless as possible. This is why a navigation menu is repeated here.
Instead of having to scroll all the way up, a user can choose an item in the menu at the bottom of the page and get the same result without doing extra scrolling.
Social Media Buttons
Social media buttons make it easy for your website visitors to find you on social networks. We have already discussed the importance of reviews and testimonials. Social media buttons add points to your social proof and value in the eyes of your customers.
Facebook page with a lot of activity, Instagram account with a lot of pictures, an active YouTube account and frequently updated Twitter all communicate that your company is very active and is doing well.
Social media are great for posting content about your business, news and updates, because the content will appear in the feeds of those who liked your page. Because of this, social media are a great way to communicate urgent messages that you might want to pass to your customers.
Your clients might not think that you’ll update your website with information about your hours during an upcoming snowstorm. However, if they are used to seeing you on Twitter or Facebook regularly, they’ll probably check your pages on social media before visiting your business.
Engaging your customers and prospects with interesting and relevant content is one of the ways for you to stay on top their minds. Being active on social media could also help you with market testing and product reviews. You could see how many of your clients like different pages and posts, analyze this data and make decisions about your strategies and products.
18. Newsletter Sign Up Integration
Smart businesses know that it is seven times more expensive to obtain a new customer than to have an old customer come back and buy again. This is why it is really important to invest in building a relationship with your customers and your website visitors. A frequently updated newsletter and email marketing is a perfect tool to do so.
Having a newsletter doesn’t mean that you need to come up with content from scratch. If you are regularly updating your social media, constantly posting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, you could simply use your best social media posts as your newsletter.
Marketing professionals recommend sending a newsletter to your customers once a month as a minimum. Sending a post or an update once a week or more is preferred.
Having a business newsletter doesn’t mean that you should talk strictly about your business. Topics that you cover can range from your office news to contests for the best vacation picture. Your imagination is the limit.
Online Chat Feature
Online chats offer real-time communication via text messages.
The younger the audience, the more important it is to have an online chat feature on your website. According to a study from Gallup Poll, text messages outrank phone calls as the prevailing form of communication among Millennials.
Data from Nielsen shows that average time spent on the phone by the 18- to 34- year olds dropped 25%, from 1200 minutes to 900 minutes, from 2008 to 2010 and is continuing to do so.
During the same period of time usage of text messages by 18- to 24-year olds went up from 600 texts a month to over 1400 texts a month.
When seeing a phone number on a website, a lot of people immediately assume that it will take a long time for them to get to talk to someone.
They think that if they call, they’d have to deal with an interactive voice machine and have to press annoying buttons for a significant period of time.
Live chat doesn’t have this perception problem, which is why it is the preferred communication choice for a lot of people.
Having a contact form on the inner pages of your website allows your customers to instantly send you a message if they choose to do so. They don’t have to open their email service, copy and paste your email address and then type in a message in a separate window. With a contact form everything can be done on the same page of your website.
A contact form is convenient not only to your website visitors, but also to you.
With a contact form you control where an email gets sent and the subjects of emails submitted to you. You can store messages received via a contact form in a separate folder or database. This will make it easier for you to find specific emails, gather statistics on your visitors and get a better picture of who is contacting you and why.
If you notice that you get the same questions over and over again, it might be a good idea to include them on the FAQ page or create a separate page on your website that provides a detailed solution.
Captcha or anti-spam feature
Posting your email address on your website or having a contact form without an anti-spam feature makes you vulnerable to spam bots.
Spam bots scan websites and harvest email addresses. The emails are then added to spam databases and are used to send unsolicited emails.
If you were to post your email address or have a contact form without a captcha feature, your email would quickly end up in a spam database.
You will then get a flood of spam messages. Instead of focusing on productive work, you or your support department will be spending significant amounts of time separating spam from the emails of your customers.
You could install secure spam filters to avoid this, but then you’d have a risk of legitimate emails being marked as spam and never reaching your inbox folder.
Captcha is the best solution for all these problems. Users have to verify that they are not a spam bot, it takes them just a few seconds to do so and you only get messages from actual users.
Personalized about us page
Personalized about us page is your place to shine.
A lot of people are very shy when it comes to telling about themselves and their business, because they think that nobody would read or listen to a long description.
If someone clicks on “About” link, it means that they are interested.
Give a long interesting description here. Tell stories. Tell a story about how your company came to life. Tell a story about how you created your most successful products. Describe your plans for the future. Talk about your mission and your vision for your industry.
You can also include testimonials and reviews as a part of your story.
Do not forget to mention all the awards, recognitions, and association memberships that you have. Have you been mentioned in the press? Seen on TV? Authored a best-selling book? Interviewed on a radio? Mention all this information here. This is not a place to be shy.
Inner content in F pattern
What’s an F pattern?
An F pattern is how website visitors read the content of a website.
It’s called F pattern, because this pattern consists of two horizontal lines followed by a vertical line.
When someone looks at a webpage, their eyes usually make a horizontal movement across the upper part of a content area. This stands for the first horizontal line in F shape.
A user then moves their eyes down a page and reads across in a second horizontal movement. This eye movement is shorter than the first one. This movement forms the lower bar in F.
Next, readers usually scan a page moving their eyes vertically. Sometimes this movement is fairly slow, sometimes it’s very quick. This movement forms the stem of F.
There are a few practical conclusions that follow from this.
First, the two opening paragraphs of a page are the most important. If these paragraphs grab the interest of a user, the user will continue reading.
Second, you want to have subheads, subtitles and bullets that will grab users’ attention even in the middle of a page.
This might make a user who is scanning a page stop and start reading, even if initially he or she didn’t plan to do so.
It may not be the most popular page among your website visitors, but this is the page that search engines use to determine your trustworthiness.
If this is the case, they will decide that you cannot be trusted, because you are collecting information but you are not explaining to the visitors of your website how you use this information.
Your prospects and customers probably have a lot of questions about your products and services.
Chances are, questions you get from different customers are very similar to each other. If you’ve been in business for a long time, you know them all. You might not know them if you are just getting started.
You could be answering all the questions personally, but this is not a smart way to spend the time of your support personnel.
It is much cheaper and easier to have an FAQ page where you simply list all the questions your prospects and clients might have about your business, products and services.
If you notice that you get the same questions over and over again via contact form submissions or online chat, you can simply add them to your FAQ page. This will save you a lot of time and money. You can also use your FAQ page as a script for your support stuff.
A blog is one of the best ways to build trust with your prospects and a relationship with your clients.
You want to have an interesting blog that gets regularly updated.
What should you write about in a blog? The same things you write on your social media, anything and everything that might be of interest to your customers.
People like to buy, but people hate being sold. A blog is a great place for getting them to like you and like buying for you.
Show your customers what you have going on in your business. Inform your clients about product updates, about what you have going in the office. Keep them in the loop when it comes to special offers and promotions.
In your blog you can also talk about your partnerships, introduce your employees, and tell about their hobbies.
You can also become an authority in your field by inviting guests, interviewing them and posting interviews on your blog.
A search function is yet another feature that significantly improves usability of your website.
A user might come to your website and be interested in a specific subject. Having a search function allows a user to enter their interests in the search box and see all the pages that relate to it.
A returning customer may remember a keyboard from your article or a product that they might be interested in. Having a search box would allow them to enter that keyword and find all the materials related to the topic of their interest.
A search function is especially useful when you have a large website with a lot of pages.
Most search engines offer custom free snippets of code that can be used for search on third-party websites. Most content management systems have search functions built into them.
Adding a search function is easy and in most cases free. There are no reasons not to do it!
Social Media Share Buttons
Social media share buttons are different from social media buttons.
Social media buttons are links to your social media profiles.
Social media share buttons are snippets of code that allow your website visitors to share your website pages on their accounts. Such a social media integration is important for websites today.
Why would you want that? Referrals are one of the best forms of marketing. We might not trust a company or a business. We do, however, trust our friends and influencers.
Almost everyone has some kind of social media presence these days, be it a Facebook page, an Instagram account or a YouTube account.
This is why you want to make it as easy as possible for people to share information on their social network pages.
The ideal scenario is someone coming to your website, becoming really impressed by what you wrote or what you have to offer and immediately sharing it on their facebook or twitter.
The more friends a person has on a social network, the more people are going to see the information about you. In their eyes this information was approved by the person who posted it. This is the best free advertising you can get.
Your best customers are the customers that care about your brand.
This is why you always want to engage them in a conversation, be it about your business or something else.
According to studies conducted by the Small Business Administration, perception of indifference is the number one reason why clients leave a business and switch to a different brand or competitor. The worst thing you can have happen to you is your customers deciding that you do not care about them.
To avoid this pitfall, you always want to engage your customers in a dialogue. A comment feature is a great way to do so.
To encourage comments, you can end your blog post with questions such as “Do you agree or disagree? I’d love to learn your opinion! Share what you think below!” or “Do you love it or hate it? Share your opinion in the comments!”
While top and bottom navigation on the page are really important, oftentimes they simply cannot fit all the information you’d like to share, such as your most popular posts and interest tags. This is where a sidebar comes to help.
On the sidebar you can have anything you want: links to most popular posts or pages, tags, a list of recent comments, upcoming event notifications and so on.
This is your sidebar. You are free to design it the way you see fit.
A lot of website owners try to fit everything on their sidebars. This is a mistake. Just like you don’t want to over clutter your website, you do not want to over clutter your side bar.
Think about what you want to accomplish and what information you need to present to your visitors. If you have various ideas about what might work, test them separately.
Links that are easy to recognize
How much time would you like to have to be able to talk to an interested prospect about your service? The answer, obviously, is as much as needed for the prospect to make a buying decision. You wouldn’t want to be limited to 3 minutes or 5 minutes or an hour. You’d like to make a sale and accomplish your goals.
It is absolutely the same when it comes to your website. You want your website visitors to stay for as long as possible, as long as they need to make a buying decision.
This is why you want your links to be clearly visible and easy to recognize.
When a person is browsing your website or reading something, they should see the links. When a visitor is interested in a particular feature or a subject, he or she should be able to click on a link, go to a new page and continue reading.
Clear font. Easily readable
You want to have a clear, easily readable font on your website.
One of the important things to remember when it comes to fonts is that different fonts are shown differently in different browsers and on different devices.
You might like a fancy font. It may look really good on the device you are currently viewing your website. This, however, does not mean that this font will look good and be easy to read on a different device.
This is why it is important to not over complicate fonts and to make sure that you check how your website looks on a number of different devices.
Font size, style and color are all important. Different fonts and fonts in different sizes convey different messages to our subconscious.
Changing fonts is a great way to bring your pages to life. However, just like with a sidebar, it is important not to over complicate things and not to overload you page with things that shouldn’t be on it.
In 2014 the number of users who access internet on a smartphone has surpassed the number of users who access internet on a desktop computer.
This means that today there are more people accessing your website using a mobile device than a regular computer. This is why having your website mobile responsive is not a “would like to have” feature, but an absolute must.
Mobile responsive websites have fluid layouts that allow page elements to grow or shrink depending on the screen size.
In the past most websites had fixed layouts. They were all designed for desktop and laptop screens. The 1024 pixel resolution was standard.
If a screen was bigger than 1024p, a page was shown in the same way, but there was more empty space left on the screen.
This is no longer the case. There are hundreds of different mobile devices available on the market. Most of them can access internet. iPhones, iPads, Androids come in different sizes and have screens of different sizes.
A website that comes in one size is no longer enough. Mobile responsive is the answer.
Hamburger menu on mobile site
Hamburger menu is a name for three horizontal lines, usually located in the top left corner of a website page. Hamburger menu is used when visitors cannot see the entire menu on the website page, which is often the case when accessing websites from mobile devices.
If you want to show as much information as possible on a page, you simply cannot have a big menu when a screen is small. This is where hamburger menu comes to help.
In the default state a hamburger menu keeps the sidebar menu and all of its contents hidden.
Hamburger menu was originally created by Xerox in 1981 as an indication of a list within a system. For years since then the menu was mostly dormant. This is why one of the issues with a hamburger menu is a lot of people being unaware about what it is. This is why you always want to label it with the word “menu.”
For your website to appear in search results on Google and other search engines it needs to be indexed by web crawlers.
Web crawlers are responsible for updating web content for search engines and indexing the content of different websites.
A sitemap is a list of pages that informs web crawlers about what pages on your website are available for indexing.
Sitemaps were first introduced by Google in 2005. They play a critical role in making your website available for search engines. It is extremely important to have a sitemap with an automatic update feature. In this case, changes you make to your website will automatically reflect on a map and a search engine crawler will notice them next time it scans your website.
Ability to easily update page titles, meta description
The title of a page is critically important in both user experience and search engine optimization. Meta descriptions are used by search engines to display a preview snippet of a page.
Ability to easily update page titles and meta descriptions goes hand in hand with automatic site map creation.
You want to make your website as search engine friendly as possible. If you do, web crawlers will see all the updates you are making to your website and all the new information you are presenting to your visitors and quickly update your records with the search engines.
For example, if you update your blog with new promotions and specials, you would like search engines to update their indexes as quickly as possible. This way Google will be able to tell its visitors about your new promotions in a timely manner.
Easy to update url structure
Search engines pay special attention to your url structure. The easier a URL is to read for humans, the better.
Accessibility and flawless user experience have always been a part of search engine optimization. As search engines implement advanced usage data signals and criteria to determine what will engage website visitors, the importance of accessibility is only going to grow.
The best scenario is a simple structure where a URL address tells in words what a page is about. It is okay if your URL contains some numbers and keywords. In this case a user would still be able to guess with a good probability what they could expect when clicking on a link. The worst case scenario is having a mumbo jumbo sequence of letters and numbers in a URL. Such a sequence makes it impossible to guess what the page is going to be about. This is why it will not receive a high rank from a search engine.
Good reliable fast hosting
Good, reliable, fast hosting plays a crucial role in both user experience and the way search engines rank your website.
No one likes a slow website that takes forever to load. A slow loading website is bad because people on the internet are very impatient. If your website is not loading quickly, chances are that you will be losing some of your visitors.
Search engines know about this. Their goal is to provide the best experience for their users, the people that are searching for you.
For this reason, search engines incorporate loading speed of a website into the rating they give to each website.
This rating influences your position in search results. Because of this, investing in fast reliable hosting is well worth the money. Even the best website may not yield satisfactory results if it is hosted with a slow and unreliable hosting provider.
Fundamentally, behind the scenes a website consists of a number of computer files just like any other computer software does.
Like files on a regular computer, the files on your website can get infected with viruses.
This is why it is very important to use anti-virus software and other security features on your website. The more popular your website, the more attempts hackers will make to infect it with viruses and take it down.
This is also true when it comes to user data that you might be collecting: subscriber emails from your newsletter, details and shipping addresses for your paying customers.
Because of this you need to make sure that your website is always secure. Update the software on your website often. Use secure protocols to exchange data between your website and your customers. Use distributed domain name services. Such services work as a buffer between you and your users, offering protection against severe attacks.
Auto website backup feature
You may host your website on your own server or you may pay a hosting provider to host your website.
In any case, your website is stored on a physical computer somewhere. While hosting providers pay special attention to security, there are still a number of things that may happen to physical computers. They may crash, they may get infected with viruses, hard drives may fail, theft may occur, and natural disasters may happen.
As discussed elsewhere, to keep your website safe and secure you need to frequently update its software. This is also a scenario where a lot of things can go wrong. Software may not be stable. It might cause conflicts in the system.
It is always a good idea to have an automatic backup. With automatic backups you will be able to roll back your website to the last working version, should a disaster happen.
Use a content management system.
In the early days of the Internet it was possible to manually program a few pages and put a website up.
If you have a modern robust website, putting pages up manually would quickly turn into a huge amount of work.
This is why you need a content management system.
A content management system is a computer application that has a central interface for publishing, editing, modifying, organizing and deleting content on your website.
Having a content management system significantly reduces the amount of manual coding required to maintaining a website and makes your website friendly to search engines.
Content management systems can be open-source or paid. Paid systems usually have better support compared to the free ones. Most popular content management systems include WordPress, Drupal and Joomla.
Most of enterprise software giants have their own proprietary systems, including Microsoft and Adobe.
Cross browser compatible
With the growth of the number of Internet users, the amount of devices and software that use Internet has also been increasing very rapidly.
An Internet browser is a software application used to retrieve and send information on the Internet.
The most popular browsers are Firefox, Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Opera and Safari.
These browsers have different fonts installed by default. This means that a font that looks really good in Google Chrome might not even be visible in Opera.
Different browsers also have different ways of showing the pages of your website.
This is why it is important to check your website in different browsers and make sure that your website is compatible with all the major platforms. There are special tools and services that allow doing so. Otherwise your pages might be missing pictures or have fonts displayed improperly in different browsers.
Google Analytics Integration
Google Analytics is a platform that analyzes everything when it comes to website traffic.
With Google Analytics you can see many visitors you are getting in a day, a week, a month or any custom period of time. Google Analytics also allows creating graphs and comparing graphs with each other for visual comparisons of different sets of data.
Google Analytics has a feature that lets you see visitors on your website in real time. It shows what country visitors are coming from, what language they have set up on their computer by default and what device they are using to access your website.
In addition to this Google Analytics can show you pages that visitors of your website are visiting. It shows much time they’re spending on each separate page, what links they are clicking on and much more.
Advanced features of Google Analytics can help you establish how much it cost you to make a sale on your website. They also let you specify actions that you want to measure and track. Google Analytics will then give you statistics and data about these actions.
If you are serious about promoting your business on the Internet, having Google Analytics installed is an absolute must.
Google Webmaster Tools integration
Google is the biggest search engine in the world. Google Webmaster Tools also known as Google Search Console is the primary way Google uses to communicate with creators of websites.
Google Search Console helps identify issues that you might have with your website. It can even let you know if your website has been infected with malware.
The best part about Google Webmaster Tools is that they are free.
You do not have to use Google Webmaster Tools to be listed on Google. However, using the Google Webmaster Tools will help you better understand how Google views your site and what you need to do to improve performance of your website and enhance your position in search results.
Google Search Console lets you check and set the crawl rate of your website, list internal and external pages that link to your website, receive notifications from Google for penalties and much more.
Speed. Fast loading. Optimized code
When discussing hosting, we have already established the importance of your website to load fast.
There are two main ingredients that go into the ability of your website to do so.
First is hosting. The second one is the structure and code of your website.
No matter how good your hosting is, if your website is a poorly coded mess, it will not load fast. Search engines equal slow loading speeds with poor user experience. Website loading time is a major contributing factor to website abandonment. This is where every second counts.
Make sure that you use a stable, reliable content management system. If you have custom code, make sure that this code was created by trusted professionals who knew what they were doing.
Use a system that clearly labels your website pages with headlines, description tags, and titles. This will help pages load quickly and give you a great rating with search engines which even Google is now recognizing as one of the factors for ranking high. So make sure your developer codes your small business website design as such that it loads quickly.
Use browser cache to increase speed
When someone visits your website for the first time, they need to download the pages they are visiting to get access to the website.
This means that their computer needs to connect to your website’s hosting and download all the relevant information.
If a user visits a website several times, this information does not have to be downloaded from a remote hosting server every time.
It can be stored in computer cache. Cache is a component that stores data on a local computer, so that future requests for that data can be processed faster. Cache is made of a set of data. Each cache entry has a tag and specifies the identity of the data. Cache size is relatively small, because use of data needs to be cost-effective.
When you have cache enabled, your computer checks its cache before accessing websites you have access previously.
If the information is stored in cache, a website will load much quicker.
Schema.org is an initiative by Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yandex to create a common set of patterns for data used in web pages.
A regular language dictionary consists of a list of words used in a particular language with an explanation of their meanings. All the words in a language make up its vocabulary.
Schema.org is a vocabulary for websites. It includes a standard set of type names and property names that indicate certain properties that search engines prefer to see on a website. Schema data is applied to content of a page to define exactly what the content is and how it should be processed.
Google, Bing and Yandex all have tools that allow for testing of the validity of data markups.
Don’t use flash elements
Adobe Flash is a multimedia and software platform for graphics, animation and games. Flash graphics and animation are designed using Flash Editor. They are viewed by users using Flash player in web browsers and Air application in desktop and mobile apps.
The biggest problem with Adobe Flash is reduced usability of the applications that use it. Websites that use Flash need to download and execute Flash files. This makes websites that use Flash very slow, which is penalized by search engines. Downloading Flash files also may take a lot of bandwidth.
Another problem with Flash files is that Flash content cannot be indexed by search engines. It also cannot be optimized by search engines. In addition to this, Flash does not work on most mobile devices.
iPhones, iPads and Google phones cannot access websites that rely on Flash.
Because of all these problems, it is better to avoid Flash on your website altogether.
Avoid background music
There are a lot of reasons why you need to avoid background music on your website. First and foremost, unless you are in the music industry, people visit your website to get information and not to listen to the music.
Consider the most popular websites on Internet. Google, Facebook, Amazon. Do any of them have background music?
The next issue is that streaming a song takes a lot of resources from a computer or a smartphone. If a user has limited bandwidth, he or she is not going to appreciate the fact that they have to download and pay for your music.
A person may be accessing your website in a public place or in a workplace, where sounds are not going to be appropriate.
When playing music on your website you also need to consider legal issues. Do you have the rights to the music that is playing on your website?
In addition to all the reasons outlined above, not all internet browsers are capable of playing music and will be compatible with the system you are using to play music. This is why it is better to completely avoid playing background music on your website.
No broken links.
On the surface a broken link might seem as not much. However, it can do some serious damage to your website reputation and business. Just one broken link can significantly decrease your search engine rankings and the experience of your website users.
The best design, such as from Google or Apple, is invisible. Google and Apple interfaces are deceptively simple. That’s the kind of interface and workflow clients are used to today.
When everything works fine, people do not notice it. However, when something goes wrong, people get very upset.
Search engines skip a page when they stumble upon a broken link on that page. It means that when you have a page with a broken link, it is not going to be indexed by search engines. It will not receive a ranking and will not appear in search results. If a user experiences a broken link, they are less likely to continue spending time on your website, because they will assume that you will have other broken links, too, and that the website is unreliable overall.
Do not upload videos on the website server.
There are two ways to show video on your website.
The first way is embedding a self-hosted video. To do so you first need to upload a video file to your hosting. A lot of hosting providers limit the sizes of files you can upload. There is a chance that you will not be able to upload your video at all.
The next issue is bandwidth. Uploading a video and showing it from your own hosting means that you will run through your bandwidth ratio very quickly.
In addition to that, current browser specifications do not outline what video formats browsers need to support. Because of this, different browsers support different video formats. For example, Safari will play mp4 files, but not webM videos. Firefox will play webM, but not Ogg.
These are the reasons why uploading a video can be a major hassle.
It is much easier to use the second way. The second way consists of using a platform such as YouTube and Vimeo. You simply upload a video to a platform and the platform takes care of everything else.