This blog is all about how to set up your website. We will cover many details related to SEO, Google Maps Optimization, Pay-Per-Click Marketing, etc.
However, without a properly designed and functioning website, you will put those efforts to waste. Before you should (or even can) begin exploring those options, you must have your website up and running.
Let’s talk about website formats and the different options available to you when you are ready to start.
- HTML Site – There are basic HTML pages and/or individual pages that you can incorporate into a website. This is how we built almost all websites several years ago. They had multiple pages hyper‑linked together.
- Template Based Site Builders – You can obtain site builders through providers such as GoDaddy, Website Tonight, and 1&1, which are turnkey; you buy your domain and set up your website. This type is less than ideal because you don’t have much control or flexibility, but there are still a lot of sites in this format.
- CMS Systems – Content Management Systems, like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal; I’m sure there are many others, but these are the big ones.
Given our experience with websites, a content management system (CMS) is ideal for a business. We say that because you have scalability. You can change your navigation on the fly with any of these platforms, add as many pages as you need, and quickly scale out your site.
If you have your website built in WebsiteByTonight or HTML format with graphics behind the website and you wanted to add a new section, you would have to start from scratch. You would have to go back to the graphics and modify every page to add your new section to your navigational structure. With a CMS, everything is built behind code, allowing the ability to apply easy edits and to add multiple pages.
As you will see in the Search Engine Optimization section of the book, you will have the ability to have a page for each one of your services and each city in which you operate.
A CMS allows you to create your pages in a scalable format without messing around with the graphics or doing anything challenging to control. Also, it is easy to access, modify, and update.
Using formats like WordPress and Joomla, you may access the back–end administrative area at yourcompany.com/login.
After entering your username and password, you will find a very easy to edit system with pages and posts that function similarly to Microsoft Word.
You can input text, import images, and press “save,” forcing all new edits to update on your live website. It is easier than it looks and is very search engine friendly.
Content Management Systems have intelligently structured linking between pages and content, making it incredibly search engine friendly. We have found this method tends to be better than regular HTML or Website Tonight options.
In many cases, a blog will be bolted onto a CMS-based website automatically, providing you with a section where you may feed updates. In the SEO chapter, we cover the importance of creating consistent updates and blogging regularly.
Another benefit of Content Management Systems is that the systems will provide you with various plugins that you can incorporate on your website. You can easily pull in your social media feeds, YouTube videos, and check-ins.
You may also syndicate your website to post any new updates to your social media profiles automatically. You can add map integration that allows you to click to get instructions or view a map to find out your organization’s areas. There is a surplus of features available within a CMS that you can’t necessarily do with a non–CMS type option.
Whether you are looking to build a website from the ground up, you are just getting started, or you feel like you simply need a redesign, We highly suggest that you do so in a CMS, ideally in WordPress.
WordPress is a fantastic platform and very easy to use. It’s the most adopted website platform available, with many developers using it. It’s constantly updated and improved, and We have found it to work very well for different businesses.
You have our stamp of approval to go out and build your website on a WordPress platform.
What Should Your Website Include?
So, what pages should your website have? What navigation structure should you create? Depending on your business, you will need to showcase different things. For most businesses, though, the basics should be:
- About Us
- Our Services
- Our Service Area (You will understand what we mean once you read the SEO chapter)
- Online Specials or Coupons
- Reviews and Testimonials
- Before and After sections or a Work Showcase
- Buyers Guide
- Contact Us
These are the core pages. Within “About Us,” you might incorporate a drop-down menu for subcategories including “Meet the Team,” “Why Choose Our Company,” etc. We think that’s very powerful.
You want to be able to drive people back to a “Why Choose Us” section. In some cases, if you are having issues recruiting and retaining good quality talent, you might want to have a “Careers” page under the “About Us” navigation. A visitor can go here and fill out an application or learn more about your organization.
Within “Our Services,” you want to have the ability to list a drop-down listing the types of services that you offer. We discuss this to a great extent in the SEO chapter.
You also want to have landing pages for each service because you will optimize them with different keyword combinations.
Suppose you have a business where you make service calls to homes or businesses. In that case, a “Service Area” section will allow you to show a heat map of the locations your team travels to, as well as a drop-down menu that lists the sub–cities in which you operate.
A “Reviews and Testimonials” page will provide a section to showcase what your customers are saying about you in text or video form.
You can also pull in reviews from Google Maps, Angi, and Yelp. Finally, you will need a “Contact Us” page where web visitors have your general contact information.
These are the core assets you should have on your website:
A Clear Description of Who You Are
A visitor who stumbles upon your website shouldn’t have to do a thorough investigation to figure out who you are and what exactly you do.
It’s essential to mention your business name and sum up your products or services above the fold section of your website. A clear and specific description will immediately attract visitors’ attention within two to three seconds and encourage them to spend time on your website.
Your Primary Contact Details
Outside of your navigational structure, what else should your website have? What other elements are going to help with conversion?
Well, you should always provide a primary phone number on every page of your website, in the upper right-hand corner. When somebody visits a page, their eyes naturally draw to the top section of the website, where they can see the logo and the phone number.
People tend to expect that phone numbers will be somewhere in this location. It is ideal to have a prominent phone number, telling them to “call now” for service in that section.
An Obvious Call to Action
We believe business websites should always make a web form available from which a customer can quickly request a quote.
Bear in mind that every visitor to your website is in a different situation and frame of mind. You may have someone on their phone or just leisurely looking to contact you for your business services and can simply pick up the phone and call you.
On the other hand, somebody who’s in a work environment may not have the ability to stop what they are doing and make a phone call without drawing attention from their coworkers. However, they may be able to browse around online to find out what options are available.
Your potential customers may reach your website and feel torn between making a call right at that moment, just scheduling the appointment, or wanting to have someone from your team contact them.
Make it easy for them to enter their information into a web form where they can provide their name, phone number, email address, and a note detailing their requests that they can send through online. It makes it easier and doesn’t create any pressure.
Social Media Links
You also want to provide links to your social media profiles. Link to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn so customers can quickly jump off, engage with you on social media, see what you’re doing and be able to press that important “like,” “follow,” or “subscribe” button. It helps create a sense of authenticity when your customers get to see your social media content.
Have a direct link that drives visitors to the online reviews and testimonials we discussed previously.
You should also post your credentials either in the sidebar or in the header graphic, proving, for example, that you’re BBB–accredited or a member of the local Chamber of Commerce or industry association.
Potential customers can rest assured that you are a credible organization, you’re involved in the community, and you’re less apt to provide them with poor service. They’ll feel more comfortable doing business with you.
You need to have your company name, address, and phone number on every page of your website.
It is not critical that you list your address on each page because it will not be a determining factor in whether or not customers call you. Still, as we will explain in the Google Maps optimization chapter, having the name, address, and phone number consistency is critical for ranking on Google Maps.
It is a great strategy to have your name, address, and phone number referenced on your website, ideally in the footer section. Of course, you need to have that contact information on all of your pages, including the Contact Us page.
You must infuse personality into your website. By personality, I’m referring to authentic photos and videos.
Showcase your company, feature yourself, the business owner, and the people in the business: the office team, the technicians, etc.
Showcase the office itself, the trucks, and the equipment if you have them. Don’t use stock photography, but authentic imagery. It gives the visitor the chance to know, like, and trust you before they even pick up the phone. I’ve seen this tactic prove itself time and time again.
Say a potential customer visited two different sites for a similar business offering. One of them is generic; here’s the same image they have seen before of the same gardener with the weird smile holding the same shrub.
The other website highlights a genuine picture of the actual gardener, team, and equipment. This authentic page converts 10 to 1. You must let your real personality reflect on the website.
You must also craft messaging that explains why they should choose your company. Why should someone choose you over the competition?
Pull them down a path where they can start to learn more about why you are their best option. Show your online reviews, and if they’re on the fence, where they can quickly locate some special offers and incentives that will drive action.
These practices will get them to contact you right away instead of continuing to browse the web for someone else.
The other major thing you want to think about, from the conversion perspective, is having a mobile–ready version of your website.
More and more people are accessing the Internet via smartphones such as iPhones and Androids. Make sure the mobile version of your site isn’t the same as your regular site.
It should be condensed, fitting their screen and giving them just the information that they need. It should integrate with people’s phones, so they have to press a button to call you.
People searching or accessing your website from a mobile device are in a different state of mind than those browsing and finding you on a computer. Make it easy for them to get the information they need and to get in touch with you.