5 simple steps to optimise your website

Google’s head of B2B marketing reveals the best ways to create the perfect website for your small business

For any business, the importance of an effective website is becoming increasingly crucial.

But what makes a great website?

Speaking at The Telegraph’s Festival of Business, Raja Saggi, head of B2B marketing at Google UK, shared his insights on how to use layout and design to optimise your small business website.

Your homepage is your shop window

“When thinking about enhancing your website, it’s important to think of your homepage as a window in to your business.

In this sense, everything you need to know about optimising your website you can learn from a shop window display.

In the example below, you can spot a number of positive attributes that are easily transferable to online:

Shop-front

  • It’s immediately clear what they do
  • They have their phone number prominently displayed
  • They try to specialise a little bit, with the ‘dolls house miniatures’. If you’re a small business, whether you’re online or offline, you can’t compete against the big boys but you can specialise and you can let people know that’s what you do
  • The shop looks clean, not cluttered, and enticing. Retailers want you to browse and this experience is so important online and offline.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to building a website. If you want to know what works well in your area, whether it’s overseas investment or manufacturing – do a search that’s fairly generic and see which sites come up top. Chances are high-ranking websites are doing something right. Don’t try to come up with brand new ideas – reinvent what’s already being done well. Learn from other people and give them the best compliment that you can, imitation.

In addition, it’s not always true that you can only take away best practices from businesses in your category, you can learn from those in other industries, take the best elements and adapt them for your own area.

To create an effective website like the shop window above, there are five easy pointers to follow.

1.       Clear messaging

Visitors need to be able to understand what a website is about instantly. If people aren’t sure immediately what service or product they can get from you, they won’t stick around on the site.

Have a clear tag line and offer in a prominent position – give people a reason to engage with your service or product.

If appropriate, include a brief step-by-step guide, a basic instruction of how your business works and be clear and upfront about your pricing.

2.       Layout and style

Layout is really important, ideally everything that’s important should be visible above the fold (so before you need to scroll down).

As a rule – keep the colours light and bright. If possible, you should test different colours and see which colour scheme gets the best response. You can split the traffic between two versions and see which one gets you the most calls.

Branding and identity is key, which will apply to all your online and offline media but if your focus is solely on your website feel free to adapt it regularly.

Make it visually enticing, try to have a mix of images and video – there are potential issues with using video, bandwidth etc. but some people like to look and buy and some people like to watch and buy so balancing images and video is just a smart thing to do.

3.       Social sharing

Have sharing icons visible clearly (Twitter, Facebook, Google+ buttons etc.) – word of mouth is still one of the biggest drivers of online sales. If you can get your visitors to tweet about something all the better.

4.       Validation

Having positive endorsements about your company instils a level of trust in your business; it automatically makes the visitor feel like it must be a good company. The validation could take the form of ‘as seen in’ or ‘as recommended by’ with the appropriate logos or it could be through testimonials or having your Twitter feed displaying on your site.

5.       Calls to action

A clear call to action is essential, whether it’s ‘buy now’, ‘sign up here’ or ‘call us’ – make it stand out.

It’s also important to focus on both macro and micro conversions. Not everyone who comes to your website is going to make that purchase, give you a call or download that document. Some people just want to come to learn. You still need to engage with these people as they may become customers in the future and they certainly become people you should target with marketing campaigns.

For instance, your main call to action could be a subscription to your service which requires a monthly direct debit, but you could also have a ‘sign up to our newsletter’ action, as your micro conversion. You could send them your newsletter and relevant content which will engage them and keep them relevant.”

You could be the best business in the world, but if your website doesn’t do you justice – you won’t get the customers you deserve. A great website doesn’t have to cost a fortune, most of the tips above are fairly simple to implement but they will make a big difference.

No one wants to enter a shop that looks unenticing from the outside, ensure that from now on your website makes your business irresistible.

Raja Saggi, head of B2B marketing at Google UK, was speaking at The Telegraph’s Festival of Business.

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