Build a better online business
By Tamara Nicola
As Will Rogers said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Your website, or lack thereof, can have an instant and lasting impact on your business. This holds especially true in a village such as Grand Bend, which attracts seasonal visitors unfamiliar with the area. Like it or not, a growing number of area residents and potential visitors rely heavily on internet search engines, such as Goggle, to find you. What is their first impression when they do? Sadly, more often than not they are encountering poorly designed, out of date web pages that potentially do the small business owner more harm than good.
Just having a website doesn’t put you ahead of the curve anymore. You may need to rethink your strategy or better said, start using a strategy in the first place. One place to start is to research websites that you like and incorporate those elements into yours.
Common Website Mistakes to Avoid
Avoid odd spelling such as www.krazykatz.com or a long string of nonsense text such as, http://www.downtown.com/down/mypage.html. Keep it simple and applicable to your business. If your “first choice” web address is already taken, consider using a search engine friendly dash in the name e.g., http://www.best-widgets.com. Your email address should also be consistent with your web address; firstname.lastname@example.org
– Poor image quality. Pictures don’t have to be commercial quality, but avoid bad, fuzzy photos.
– Avoid pasting pictures of a different size and quality haphazardly on a page. Quality verses quantity is a good rule to consider here.
– Content that is out of date, missing or “coming soon”, be careful not to neglect your site to the point that potential customers will be turned off by a lack of attention to detail.
– Blinking text, inconsistent fonts, nonsense colors, music set to auto play, or other annoying “bells and whistles”. These sites are usually developed by your talented 16-year-old son or the family friend who is “technical.” Just because they can make text flip and fly off the page, doesn’t mean they should.
Eliminate Dead End Pages. Present a navigation section that is simple and consistent on every web page of your site. At a minimum, every page should have a link back to your main page. Check your outgoing links often to ensure you are referring customers to a valid websites.
Hit Counters are bad. They scream amateur. You should have statistics readily available that track the number of unique & return visitors, top content, outgoing links, bounce rates and geographic location of web users visiting your site. Don’t be in the dark about what is happening with your website. Reviewing the data can often help you make critical improvements.
Site Does Not Generate Any Business
Has your content been untouched for 6 months or more? Do you have an easy way for visitors to ask questions or contact you? Do you know your search engine ranking? Websites offer you the opportunity to try different ideas, promotions and services quickly. Make your website a priority.
For a small business it difficult to over emphasize the importance of taking the time to develop and maintain a professional web presence. In the next issue I will discuss how to optimize the marketing your existing website.
Here are some local businesses that have good design and navigation elements incorporated into their sites:
Archie’s Surf Shop
Dale’s Countryside Antique Market
The Little House Bed & Breakfast