“What do you mean you don’t have a website?” It was a question I asked incredulously of someone for whom I was writing a magazine advertorial.
The response: “I know,” she said, “Everyone always asks me why I don’t have one. I guess I just haven’t gotten around to doing it.”
Besides, I was told, the client felt as if she had enough business already and didn’t need to bring in more. Now that’s a problem we should all have. It also probably wasn't necessarily true since she was paying for a print ad.
I understand, as business people sometimes we get to the point where we become overwhelmed and don’t want to take on more work. But just as quickly as the work comes in it can dry up. Then what?
Websites are today’s calling card. Regardless of whether someone is looking for an Italian restaurant, or a lawyer to handle their case, websites have become the go-to place to find what we are looking for.
Most people believe that a good website has to cost thousands of dollars and take months to create, but that isn’t true. There are many platforms available today that make it cheaper and easier to create one.
Another roadblock for many is content creation. Website content should not just be all about you and your business, it should be about getting those who come to your site to take the next step – to become a paying customer or client.
Regardless of whether you decide to write your own content, or hire a professional content writer, there are some things that must be included:
About me: People want to get to know the people with whom they are doing. Tell them about you, your company, how long you have been in business, why you do what you do and why you are good at it. It’s important that you are relatable, so that potential customers will feel as if they are hiring someone they can like and trust. If you’re a big company with many players, include bios of those on the front line. Include founders, managers, folks who come in touch with your customers.
Services: Outline the services that you provide. For example, if you are a roofer, explain that you do repairs, installation of new roofs, specialize in a particular area (leaks?), etc. If you are a restaurant, include a menu that is readable and even downloadable. If you sell widgets, be specific about their size, shape, the colors they come in. You get the picture. The more specific you are, the better. Unless your target audience is specifically someone in your own field, avoid jargon. Use easy to understand language.
Contact information and hours of operation: If someone wants to call you or come to your business, make sure they know how to get there and when you are open. The information should be easily found and the phone number clickable, so that if someone is looking you up on a mobile phone, they can just click on the number and call. Include a map.
Include a call to action: Regardless of whether you are an attorney, doctor, lawyer or plumber, you’ve got competition and you need to find a way to cut through the clutter. Tell people what you can do for them and why they should call you and not your competitor. A call to action can be as simple as a button that reads: “Call for a free consultation” or “Sign up for a free newsletter.”
Mobilize: With more than half of Internet searches conducted on mobile devices, it’s more important than ever to make your site mobile friendly. Most platforms today are what is called “responsive” making it easy to create a website that looks great on both a computer and mobile device. Last year, Google began automatically testing sites to see if they’re mobile friendly. Those who were not had their ranking lowered. If you are serious about improving your organic traffic, optimizing your website for mobile is a must.
Visuals: Don’t forget the pictures, or even a short video. If possible, avoid stock photos and have someone take professional photos to be included on your website.
Testimonials: Word of mouth can be your best friend. Include testimonials. Don’t have any. Ask customers to provide you with ones that can be placed on your website. DO NOT make them up.
Blog: Blogs keep website content fresh and that’s important. It helps to build your brand, traffic and allows potential customers to know that you are keeping up on important trends in your business. This is a great way to get people to keep coming back.
Bottom line: Businesses without a website are not only missing out on a huge opportunity to bring in new clients and customers but also missing out on the ability to keep current customers informed.
Susan R. Miller is founder of Garton-Miller Media, a full-service, South Florida based public relations firm. Susan is a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience. In addition to public relations, she provides web content writing, press releases, social media, photography and videography. She has two daughters, three golden retrievers and two cats, but just one guinea pig who is happy not to have to share his cage or his daily stash of veggies with anyone.
Garton-Miller Media is a full-service, South Florida-based public relations firm. Founder Susan R. Miller has 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist and PR professional.