I’m currently working on a website refresh for one of my clients and we’ve been talking a lot about pages, layout and what exactly she wants to accomplish. She’s built a solid client base for her service-based business, but she’s looking to branch out and really beef up her email list – but there’s no trace of an opt-in on her current site.

This really got me thinking about business sites in general. Do business owners know what basic items should be included on their site? Does your site make that crucial first impression last or fall completely short? Aside from ensuring your brand identity is consistent, authentically you and appeals to your ideal customers, here are 5 things every small business website needs:

  1. An opt-in. You might be saying, “Jen, I don’t have a blog or send out a newsletter, why would I need an opt-in on my site?” Here’s the deal. You’ve spent all this time, blood, sweat and tears in building your site (too much?) – you get the point, a lot of effort goes into building a kick ass business website. You’ve done all your homework, built an incredible brand identity, have completely nailed your website, AND people are visiting your site! And then they leave. Placing an opt-in on your website (at least three on the homepage is ideal) allows you to take them from just visiting to staying for the party. And that party is you, my friend. Whether you’re offering free content (one of my favorite things and something I think everyone should do) or want to send them a quick note about your Facebook community, using an opt-in is powerful. And it’s a great way to build your email list. I’m working on juicy freebies for you now, but in the meantime, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter so you won’t miss out!
  2. A user-friendly navigation menu. Y’all, I can’t stress this one enough. Please, please make it easy for people to peruse through your site. What do you do when you can’t find what you’re looking for on a company’s site? You bounce right off don’t you? That’s why you should make it super simple for users to find EXACTLY what they are looking for once they land on your website. My recommendation is no more than five pages in the header menu and no more than three pages deep in the subheads. I’m also a big fan of ensuring the logo on your homepage is linked so that when people click on it from any page on your site it takes them back to the homepage. Bonus: That saves you from including “Home” as one of your menu items.
  3. Your contact information. I want you to go to your website right now and make sure you have a phone number, an email address or a contact form on your “Contact” page. Ideally, you’ll include a contact form and I’ll tell you why. You want to make the contacting you process simple and quick. If you just have an email address, then I have to either copy and paste your email address into my mail client or I click on the email address and have to wait for my mail client to load. This is what we call friction. And friction can cause hot leads to fizzle fast. Additionally, if you have a physical location consider including the full address as well as a map (this is easy to embed on your site using Google Maps).
  4. Client testimonials. What do you do when you’re shopping around for items on Amazon, or searching on Google for a local business. Well, if you’re like me and other the 91 percent of U.S. consumers, then the answer is read the reviews. People want to know what it’s like to work with you from someone like them. You can toot your own horn all day long, but when it comes from somebody else it holds more value. Client testimonials are golden and you should be putting them on your website. You can feature them at the bottom of your services page or give them their own page. Either way, use them to your advantage!
  5. Your social media links. If you’re serious about buckling down and building your online presence, then you need to be using social media. I know, I know, you’ve got a billion other things to do, but we are in the digital age and people are trying to find you where they hangout the most – on social media. If you’re totally new to social media, don’t overwhelm yourself. Start with one social media network and make it awesome. That’s the one you’ll want to link on your website. If you already are engaging on more than one social network, then make sure you link to all of them on your website. If you’re doing your own website, most WordPress themes will include a customizable area for social media, and all you have to do is type in the links to your profiles.

There you have it! 5 things every small business website needs that will in turn enhance your branding, capture leads and encourage engagement. Remember, your website is where you shine online, so make it authentically you and always work on making improvements to it.

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5 things every small business website needs