Article written by Megan Totka, Chief Editor of ChamberofCommerce.com
Whether we’re talking about our small businesses or ourselves, so much of our existence online is about appearances – how we present ourselves, what we post and where we decide to post it. These seemingly simple decisions ultimately frame us to our friends, colleagues, and customers on the Web. Keeping up appearances online is as simple as it is challenging, as we try to stay true to ourselves while also trying to sell, market and micromanage.
Appearances can be deceiving when it comes to your small business website. Partly because “appearance” means much, much more than just “design,” yet also because it’s easy to “let ourselves go” when it comes to our sites if we aren’t taking the time to keep them up. Yet also consider that in this sort of “age of appearances,” there’s a lot at stake. For example, social platforms such as Facebook have drastically cut into the traffic of most traditional websites. However, most business owners and marketers concur that social media cannot replace the website for SMBs, regardless of the uproar.
The modern small business site is at a crossroads. In an increasingly mobile age where smart phones and social media appear to marginalizing the traditional web page, small business owners are not only tasked with competing with other sites in their space, but also the notion that the modern site “doesn’t matter.” For this reason, our sites must outdo themselves in order to remain relevant and draw in visitors against the social beast.
How can we ensure our site comes out on top against these odds? Build a site that looks and feels smarter. Doing so requires us to put our expertise and creativity to the test; however, much of our efforts require us to simply keep up appearances. So where do we start?
In an age of smart phones, your website’s design has to be equally “smart.” Due to the recent influx of mobile users, mobile accessibility is a must for the modern SMB. Yet in addition, consider simplifying your site’s layout in order to make it easier to maneuver.
Many sites these days are taking a minimalist approach in order to feed users’ shorter attention spans and satisfy the needs of users that don’t want to wade through a mess of information. Are you leading your users in the right direction from the start? The fundamentals of design for the modern site include a site that’s easy to navigate and understand, meanwhile is also easy on the eyes. Are you following these principles in your own design?
In the “war” against social sites, your site’s content is the best weapon in your arsenal.
While the social channels are optimal for sharing content, they don’t do well to house it. Facebook and Twitter are a hotbed for links and articles, yet such content leads to external sources. That’s where your site comes in. As the social network is a prime way to get your site noticed, optimize your content accordingly:
- Craft content that’s relevant to your industry and includes firsthand research. This makes your blog more valuable as you make the news rather than parroting what someone else has already said.
- On the same note, include content that establishes you as an industry leader. This means updating regularly and making continuing commentary on what’s going on around your business.
- Make sure that your content is packaged in a way that’s friendly to users. For example, the recent influx of lists from sites like Buzzfeed is all the rage right now. Such articles with eye-grabbing headlines will always do more than a throwaway blog post without much effort. A bit of creativity can go a long, long way, when it comes to achieving links and clicks.
Of course, social sharing is always a goal when it comes to your small business website and its content; however, you have to write smart content to reach that point.
Now, how can you best use social to your advantage when it seems to be the elephant in the room in terms of what’s working against your site?
You may be sick of hearing that social media is all about “engagement;” however, it rings true that avenues such as Facebook and Twitter remain the quickest, most convenient, and easiest ways to reach out to new and existing customers versus the traditional site. For this reason, utilize such channels for that purpose in addition to sharing content. Most marketers agree that social media is supplementary to the website despite its popularity, and that you should do whatever you can to funnel users to the hub of your business. It’s a sound strategy that makes sure that no aspect of your web presence goes unused.
The Bottom Line
The modern website is far from dead; meanwhile there are many steps you can take to create a smarter site that fits the needs of today’s busy users. Ask yourself; just how “smart” does your website look now?
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.