Having a website is certainly a great way to increase the online presence of your business and get more leads and sales.  In fact, any business that wants to have more new clients or customers should have a website.  Imagine if you try to find a product or any kind of service, where do you go look for it?  The internet is probably the answer for 90% of people.

If you're a small business owner and would love to have a successful website for your brand that effectively helps you run your business, here are some useful tips that don't require a high budget to improve your online presence.

1. Register a website domain name

A domain name is the address that people uses to get connected to your website (For example, our domain name is "echo5web.com").  Your domain name should be relevant to your brand name and industry, yet not too generic.  Domain names such as "shoes.com" might not be the most ideal domain name because it's obscure and lacking branding; not to mention probably crazy expensive to buy if it's available.

Some people says it's better to have a shorter domain, but I believe it's not necessarily the length of the domain as much as it is how easy it is for your customers to remember.  For example, although "coolstorybro.com" is not short, it's very unique and easy to remember.  Under certain circumstances, a shorter name such as "story.com" might be better.  

On the other hand, I would definitely not recommend a very, very long domain name, because it becomes difficult to type and read.  For example, "thebesthomebuilderintown.com" is more prone to typos for your potential clients or partners, especially if your small business networking involves handing out business cards where users have to type out the domain instead of copy/pasting or clicking a link.

2. Get proper & secure hosting

It still amazes me how many people don't want to spend on the one thing that keeps your website standing.  Choosing the right type of hosting is very important for building a successful website.  Evaluate your needs honestly before you commit to a hosting plan as changing later isn't free.  

For instance, if you're expecting a lot of volume on your website, please don't sign up for a shared server host.  You'll be sharing a server with potentially thousands of other websites.  Speed and stability both suffer drastically, even if you can't see it right away.

Underestimating your website traffic can be dangerous.  If your website goes down (or when your website goes down if you're on a bad host), you can lose potential customers or clients browsing your site at the time.  It not only looks unprofessional but can hurt your website's SEO ranking.  When your website is down and search engine bots can't connect, your website's ranking might be affected (probably not in a good way). 

There are plenty of web hosting companies out there.  Cheap hoping is attractive, but the better host will pay for itself 10x over if you lose any sales.  If you want to know the best place to host your website, check out our other article on web hosting.  Remember, your online brand depends first and foremost on the host you pick.  Choose wisely and your business will reward you.

3. Tell people who you are and what you offer

Users landing on your homepage should not have to conduct an investigation to figure out what your company does.  Tell them who you are and what you can do for them with a clear and straightforward description.  Users lose patience with confusing websites very quickly and when they do, someone else will get their business.

On your landing page, keep the description simple and short.  It's okay to load up your page with content and keywords, but the heading tags should make it easy for users to understand what your business does.  When you land on a page, the first thing you do is check that you're in the right location and that the website your on will answer your questions.  

Highlighting the benefits you or your company offer or outlining what sets you apart can also help increase your conversion and usually adds much needed keywords to your page.

4. Make it easy to contact you

When customers have questions about your business and try to reach you, your contact page plays an important role.  Have you ever had a simple question and spend the next most frustrating 5 minutes of your life looking for a contact number or email of someone to ask?

If we're being honest, you didn't spend 5 minutes.  You spent about 2 minutes looking for that number before you gave up and went somewhere else.

You might be surprised how many websites neglect the significance of having contact info on their website.  If you have a company phone number, show it on your website!  Do make sure it's displayed in a clearly visible place on your site.  If you hide your contact info in the smallest crevice on your site, it's still meaningless.

What info to put and where to put it

Having your business phone number and address is recommended if you're running a local business.  It greatly increases credibility and helps people find you more easily.

Don't be worried about getting lots of spam email.  If you're using a decent email client or Gmail, spam filters are pretty good about weeding out bad emails.  If this still concerns you, definitely consider adding an easy-to-use contact form with reCAPTCHA instead.  Your email won't be visible to the public and reCAPTCHA will prevent spam bots from getting through.

Besides a contact page, you might even consider adding your contact info to the header or footer.  It's a good idea since these elements are visible on every page of the site.

5. Testimonials = Credibility

Credibility is absolutely crucial to the success of any field or any size of business.  A testimonial (can be in text, audio or video formats) section on your business website is a great marketing tool to build trust, reputation and authority without being too salesy.  It's very normal that people tend to do business with companies whom they find reliable and credible.  If you want to learn more, read about how to increase your website's presence.

Knowing how important it is to have a testimonial section on your website, you should start collecting reviews from your customers or clients that you know are happy with your service or products.  Create a system to follow up with customers and ask for the review once you complete projects.

Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be from a customer or client.  You can also get a testimonial from your business partners about their experience working with you.

6. Use good quality images

I never understand why people neglect the importance of using good quality images on their website. Too often I see low quality images being used on websites and it really pains me.  

We all know that humans are visual creatures, hence the better photos you use, the more engagements it drives.  In fact, articles with images get 94% more views and 60% more consumers are more willing to contact a company if there's an image shown in the search result.  Even more, 67% of the customers in an online store think that the quality of a product image is the biggest influence on their decision.  

Think about that for a second.  They consider good quality product photos to be more important than anything else on a product page, including product information, description, and even product reviews.  These statistics indicate that using good quality photos can actually help you to make more sales.

Utilization of good quality photos on your website can make it look 20x better and it immediately builds authenticity and a professional brand image.  If possible, hire a professional photographer to take some stunning photos of your products or services for you.  It's hard to beat the quality and style of professional-made photos.  Not only will hiring a photographer save you time on taking photos, but they also handle digital enhancement and understand how an image will lay on your site.

If you're super confident in your photography skills and on a budget, grab a digital camera and start shooting.  It might be worth setting up a light tent to get a quality shot.

7. Make your website usable

No matter what type of website you're designing, you should always put good user experience as the top priority.  That means putting usability over beauty and design.  After all, a beautiful website means nothing if it's unusable.

A successful website should be very easy to use, whether it's a 12 year old to 85 year old, they should be able to easily find what they want on the site without struggling.  Website usability is very important for converting your leads and it doesn't require a very high budget to achieve.  If you are running an online shop, check out why UX matters for your website.

Responsive website is also a very important part of a good website.  There's no doubt that in 2017 it's a base requirement for a successful website.  With the gradual and steady rise in mobile visitors, it might not be long before mobile visitors overtake desktop users.  Not sure you need a mobile website?  Here's another article explaining exactly why your website must be responsive.

You don't need to spend a lot to have an effective website

Some small business owners think that building a good website costs a fortune, but that's not 100% true.  Finding a company who specializes in web design and development can result in not only better sales, but also come at a reasonable price.  

In fact, building a website can be the best investment for your small business, whether you're scaling your company or not.  Think about it in the simplest way: if you spend 2K on building a website for your business, but it nets you 3K of business income in return, that you wouldn't otherwise have without a website, then you've already made your money back from it-  plus some.  To find out how much a website costs and its ROI, you can check out this article.

If you need a website for your small business, shoot us a message and let's talk about how to build you a website within your budget.  Don't let a bad website stop you from improving your business!