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Make Your Small Business Website Work as Hard as You Do

One of the first things you probably did when establishing your small or micro business was to build a website. An online home is mandatory for any successful business. Whether you built it yourself or hired a web designer to build it for you, don’t let your website become a glorified business card with static information that never changes. With a little planning and effort, your website can become an important part of your sales process.

Start With a Properly Designed Website
When visitors come to your website, you have just a couple of seconds to make a good impression and build trust and credibility. Your website should be built with the web visitor in mind. It should have high-quality graphics, easy navigation, and responsive design — one that shows equally well on desktops, laptops and mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. Best practices for web design in 2018 can be found in this Forbes article.

Strengthen Your Website With Relevant Content
When you produce high-quality web content, it becomes a magnet for people looking for the products and services you provide. Search engines such as Google reward high-quality content with better rankings in the search results which will dramatically improve the chances your website will be seen on the first page.

Many Self-Employed Entrepreneurs feel that generating top-notch content is beyond their reach due to limited time or budget. Big corporations have teams of people to churn out content on a daily basis, but small businesses don’t have that luxury. Business owners are busy providing services to their customers and don’t have the time or energy to create content.

Focus On Creating Evergreen Content
There are ways to reduce the amount of content you have to write, while still attracting lots of search engine traffic. The best way is to focus on writing about evergreen topics. This is content that stays relevant for a long time. It’s excellent for search engine optimization (SEO) and tends to attract more and more visitors to your website over time. It stays fresh, which reduces the amount of new content you have to create on a regular basis. Examples of evergreen content are:

- Frequently asked questions. Chances are your prospects and customers ask the same questions over and over. Take these questions and your responses and create an FAQ page on your website or take each question and write a blog post about it.

- Your brand’s story. What makes you stand out from the competition? Write an article about the things that make your business the best choice.

- Tutorials and ‘How To’ guides. Teach your customer how to use your products effectively.

- Customer Success Stories. Write a post about a problem you solved for a client.

- Tips and Checklists. Create a list of things to remember or check when using your products.

- Resource Lists. Related products that can help your customers.

Periodically, audit the content on your website to see if it’s still relevant. You don’t ever have to delete any articles or posts because longevity is one of the things the search engines look for when ranking a website. If an article or post is outdated, consider updating it with new information or putting a disclaimer on the article that indicates the information has expired.

Time Saving Tips for Creating Web Content
If you’re strapped on time or don’t have writing skills, here are some ways to get content for your website without starting from scratch:

- Curate content from YouTube. This is one of the easiest ways to get content for your website. Search for a video that illustrates something you want to share with your visitors. YouTube allows you to share each video on a web page easily. Add your commentary or additional information on the video to personalize it to your audience.

- Interview a client, supplier, or partner and have the interview transcribed and posted to your website.

- Crowd source an article. Post a question on your social media page or group. Capture the responses and use them as the basis for your article.

- Hire a Freelancer.
 * You can find individual freelance writers by doing an internet search for your industry and freelance writer. Search for “freelance content writer + your industry or topic” or “freelance copywriter.” You provide the requirements, get a bid from the freelancer and handle payment terms. Be sure to check their website and samples of their work before hiring them.
 * An alternative to hiring an individual freelancer is to use a Freelancer Network. The network handles payment and uses an escrow system. The payment is released when you accept the work. Some of the popular freelance networks are:
Upwork.com
Fiverr.com
Freelancer.com

Tips For Getting High-Quality Content From Freelancers
Determine your budget. A 500-word blog post can cost anywhere between $10 and $250 depending on a variety of factors. The freelancer networks tend to have lower rates due to the large volume of freelancers competing for business. Don’t use price as the only decision point. Check their skills and ability as well.

- Write a clear description of what you need: A short blog post, a long article, or a series of posts or articles. Note the topic you want them to write about, the approximate number of words, and any SEO keywords you want them to include. Request that the article be original, never before published, and plagiarism free. Finish your request with a target completion date.

- Always ask to see work samples or a portfolio.

- When using a freelancer network, review the individual’s ratings and client feedback.

- Ensure you get a W9 from the freelancer to cover tax requirements. Freelance networks will handle this for you.

- Review the licensing terms for the content. You want to get full commercial rights to use the article however you see fit.

A Three-Step Strategy to Maximize Content Effectiveness
After you have an article or blog post written, get more out of it by re-purposing the information. Not everyone is going to visit your website. Some people will find you on social media or through your company newsletter. Use the following plan to expand the reach of each article.

- Post the article on a web page or in a blog post.

- Add the article to your Email newsletter as a feature.

- Take key points or quotes from the article, add an image and post them on social media.

Use a Branded Business Email Address
Always use a branded company email address when sending your newsletter — one that ends in yourdomain.com instead of Gmail.com, Yahoo.com or other free email provider address.

In today’s environment of scams and phishing, people are highly skeptical. They want to feel confident they’re dealing with a legitimate business. Because it’s so easy to get one of the free email addresses, they’re favorites of spammers. For this reason, most email services use spam and malware filters that automatically disable, or reroute free email addresses to Junk Mail or Spam folders. When you use a branded business email address, it increases the probability of your message getting to the reader’s inbox.

When an email comes from yourdomain.com, it establishes your micro or small business as legitimate and credible. The email address Joeplant@yahoo.com won’t get the same respect as Joe@plantworld.com. A branded email address makes your micro business look like a big business rather than one that’s home-based. It’s an indication of professionalism and can positively affect your customer’s willingness to pay you what you’re worth.

A branded email is easy to get. More than likely, the company that provides the hosting service for your website will include some free email addresses with your account. If you’re not sure how to set up a branded email, contact customer service at your hosting company for assistance.

If you use the Google business suite or Microsoft Office 365 suite of services, they both provide the capability of using branded email addresses.

When you combine high-quality web content with cross promoting in your newsletter and on social media sites, you will create a cost-effective solution that gives your small business the ability to reach customers as powerfully as the big guys.

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