A website is essential to a business in today’s economy. OK, scrub that. A website is essential to everyone in today’s economy.
What are you going to do, whether you’re 18 years old, 28, 38, or 48 years old and looking for a job? Are you going to be shuffling round town armed with a business card and a resumé? Well, good luck to you, if that’s what you’re doing.
There’s nothing wrong with shuffling around town and meeting people, of course, but don’t hand out a resumé. Nowadays, the best calling card is a book and, failing that, an online reputation. And, at the heart of your online reputation – whether you’re a company, an individual or both – is your website.
So, I thought I’d lay down 5 “must have’s” for your online business because I see so many people getting these wrong. It’s not their fault. So many people come from an old brick-and-mortar business background and were schooled in the old advertising mantra – “pay the ad man and watch the customers come through the door”. They expect a website to be the same. Pay for a website and watch the traffic come and ask us for business.
Unfortunately, as we all know, it doesn’t work that way.
I must admit I am a bit fundamentalist about blogging and I like to think it’s a solution for everything. You want to leave your job? Start blogging. You want to make money? Start blogging. You’re feeling upset? Start blogging.
Whereas the traditional resumé tells people what you’ve done, a blog shows people what you can do.
A blog should be about you, your company, your industry. It should convey your message. What is particular about you and the way you work.
Are you always trying to explain the same thing to customers? Write a blog post about it. This way, the next time you have to answer the same question, all you have to do is so the potential customer the article. It’s a non-threatening way to introduce somebody to your brand.
Added to this, an active blog will draw in targeted traffic from search engines and social sites with good old content marketing.
If you still don’t get blogging, read this.
2. Contact page
OK, so we all know that every business website should have an easy-to-navigate-to contact page, don’t we? That’s a given. There’s almost a standard proceedure to have a “Contact” link in the top navigation bar, along with “Home” and “About”. I’m all for it. If people expect to see these links on your site you could be harming their experience of your brand if you don’t give them want they want.
But, along with a contact form on your contact page, a couple of clickable elements can really make the experience special for the visitor.
So, the phone number: +44 (0)7762 383 426 – click that on a smartphone and it’ll open up the dialer for you. Here’s the HTML for that:
Phone: <a href="tel:+447762383426">+44 (0)7762 383 426</a>
And a clickable email address:
var username = "rob";
var hostname = "robcubbon.com";
var linktext = username + "@" + hostname;
document.write("<a href=" + "mail" + "to:" + username + "@" + hostname + "?subject=Enquiry" + ">" + linktext + "</a>")
3. Having a responsive design
And, having your phone number clickable is a bit of a waste of time if your website isn’t mobile-friendly. If you want your website to look beautiful and be readable on all devices – computers, tablets, phones, whatever – is to get a website with a responsive design.
There are more and more responsive WordPress themes added to the WordPress themes directory everyday. My preference is for Genesis whose new themes have been responsive for quite some time now. Read my article on how to make a website responsive to smartphones and tablets for further information.
Making your website responsive is not difficult. Creating an app for iPhone, Android, iPad, etc., is more difficult and more expensive. The choice is yours.
4. Google Authorship and Rich Snippets
Do you want your face in the Google results pages? Google is the big daddy of search so it makes sense to do what they want. With Google Authorship they are aiming to link all the content you create around the web to your Google profile.
Google have changed the way to claim authorship as initially it was a tad confusing. Now you can do it in three steps:
- Verify your email address on Google+. Make sure this is an email address with the same domain as your website, so Gmail addresses won’t work here.
- Add your website to your Google+ profile. So go Google+ > About > Links > Edit add all the websites you contribute to.
- Add a link from your website to to your Google+ profile. If you have an author box, link to your Google+ profile, adding
“rel=author”in the link.
If you don’t have an author box here’s another tutorial to help you.
Now what could be simpler than that? Well, quite a lot really. However, Google’s Rich Snippets Testing Tool will tell you if your site is marked-up correctly or not.
5. Google Places for Business
It could take you months or even years to appear in the Google search results for a particular search term. But, for a 5 minute time investment, you can appear in Google Maps and come up in searches for keywords you can determine.
Head over to Google Places for Business and spend a bit of time adding your business to Google Maps. Add images, add video, spend a little bit of time on your business’s description.
Maybe you have an online business and live in the back of beyond – I would still argue the case for Google Places for Business.
If you have a brick and mortar business then there’s certainly no excuse. And, when you build your Google+ Page, select the Local Business or Place type – it’s impossible to reverse this decision later!
You can do it!
You can create a viable online business that will outlive you and provide for your offspring!
Of my above 5 website essentials above, 4 of them should only take a few minutes. Take time to add these bells and whistles to your website. Put some love and care into it.
As Mo Farah would say: ‘Anything is possible – it’s just hard work and grafting’. Enough said!