Digital Marketing for Small Businesses – Website 101
“If it’s not on Google it doesn’t exist” is a common phrase you may hear in our hectic modern world, where seemingly everyone is living their lives within easy reach of a smartphone. While not everything that exists in the real world can be found on Google, it’s very true that Australian consumers conduct an increasingly large percentage of their daily business and purchase behaviour online. To be exact, over 88% of Aussies were active internet users as of January 2016, with this figure likely to have risen ever higher since then. Another figure backing up our obsession with all things digital is the very high smartphone penetration rate which stood at 84% in 2016. Once again this number is likely to be even greater here and now in the year 2018.
Yet despite more and more consumers moving online, thanks to its convenience and capacity for providing a highly personalised experience, too many Australian small businesses (as high as 41%) don’t have any web presence at all. In the spirit of helping local small businesses compete with the bigger (and small) players, we’ve put together this handy list of things to consider to get you started on your way to having a commanding web presence.
Step 1: Choose a solid CMS
The first thing to consider is whether you’d like to go down the more expensive and time consuming route of hiring a web developer and building a custom website for your business from scratch, or opting for an ‘of-the-shelf’ template from a popular CMS (Content Management System).
Each option obviously has its pros and cons, with the first option of having a custom website developed costing more time and money, although you will have much more flexibility over the final design of your site and the ability to incorporate flashier features such as interactivity. Opting for an established CMS will take away a lot of the time, money and hassle associated with a new site build and is ideal for small businesses who only need a simple website – but at the expense of greater creative freedom. If you do opt for an established CMS that uses a simple template, you could probably even build the website yourself!
Step 2: Keep it simple
Once you’ve decided on the platform from which your website will be built – custom build or existing CMS, your next step is to decide on the actual design of your site, which covers everything from its navigational structure, the layout of your pages and font selection right down to its colour scheme. As with many things in life, it’s best to keep it simple and consistent – which means one colour scheme across the entire site, one or two fonts (perhaps one for headings and one for body copy) and easy navigation which avoids the need for excessive scrolling, zooming in and multiple clicks to reach any particular page. True Local’s Get on the Web Digital PowerPack is a powerful yet easy to use CMS which will help you manage your website without expert help, including full reporting and insights capability.
Step 3: Don’t forget SEO
So you’ve selected the right platform for your brand new website and opted for a simple, visually-appealing design that allows users to navigate it with ease? Well done, you’re already half way there! The next step is to make sure your site is optimised for organic search (I.e. people searching for your products and services on search engines such as Google). This can be done via the practice of SEO (search engine optimisation), which despite its fancy name is as simple as ensuring your page titles, meta descriptions and the written copy you publish on your web pages includes keywords relevant to your business and its audience.
Another important part of SEO is building links from other reputable sites back to your own and including relevant internal links from one page within your site to others. By increasing your visibility online amongst potential customers via SEO, you can potentially avoid the need for expensive paid ads, meaning more money in your pocket.
Step 4: Create fresh content to showcase your wares
The final step we’ll cover today is the need to populate your new website with fresh, relevant content that not only showcases your products and services to potential customers in the best possible light, but also answers any questions or informational needs they may have. Publishing fresh content on your site which uses relevant keywords is highly informative and overall original is also an important element of good SEO (see Step 3), meaning you’ll be killing kill two birds with one stone and laying a solid foundation for your business to grow through having a sharp online presence.