In today's digital world, it is more important than ever to have a website for your business. Websites can bring many advantages to your business and by not having one you are potentially missing out on a lot of traffic. If you're a small business owner and don't know a lot about the internet and creating a website, here is everything you need to know to have a successful website.

Make it Easy to Use and Navigate

When you begin the website development process, you're going to want to make sure that your website is easy to navigate. It's tempting to get caught up in snazzy website themes and colors, but you also need to focus on usability. Can your website visitors access information easily? Do they have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find a small font that says "contact us"?

Keep in mind, there are many free website building sites, but it also wouldn't hurt to invest in a web developer who would help with fixing any bugs or coding errors. A web developer will come in handy when you need to update plugins or want to make a customized feature that website building companies don't offer.

Another factor to take into account is if your website is mobile friendly. These days everybody is on the go, so they access everything they need through their mobile smartphones. When you begin the design process for your website, it should be fairly easy to create a mobile-friendly website.

Reflect Your Brand

Now that you've set up the website, it's time to add content that has value and is reflective of your brand. Your website should encompass everything your company stands for. Think of it as a virtual extension of your brand. When someone views your website they should be able to recognize your company without needing to see a logo. However, you need to make sure that it's clearly your company's website. There have been many times where business owners focus so much on slogans and design that they forget to state somewhere who they are and what they actually do.

Here is a perfect example of a small business website that has found a concise way to reflect its brand into a website with information for their customers and visitors. They have their company name, address, a place to make a reservation and an option to sign up to their mailing list.

You can also see that they have their restaurant colors incorporated into their website. They also have a carousel of images of their location and a brief sentence about what you can expect from their bistro. On the left sidebar, their basic information is easily accessible and shouldn't confuse visitors to their website.

Going back to my first point about your website needing to be easy to navigate, this company offers online ordering. This is yet another feature that is going to make their website more useful than the average small business website.

Creative Employee Bios

Consumers love to feel like they are personally connected to the brands they purchase from. If your website has an "about me" page or a section on the home page to feature employees, take advantage of this. Have each employee write a small excerpt about themselves, a nice photo, and their job title. Try keeping the biographies not related to their time at the company and so on. This is their chance to get personal with the readers. Now when customers go to your website, they know a little bit about the people they are interacting with.

Avoid using Stock Photos

As tempting as it might be to use stock photos for image placeholders, avoid this at all costs. This can come across as in-genuine and you don't want to hold that type of reputation for your brand. If you're a restaurant, try getting some nice photos taken of your location. It won't cost much to take candid photos of you and your employees enjoying what do for your customers. Also, don't be afraid to get creative with it because this is just another way to stand out among the competition.  

It's very common for websites to have their social media pages linked. This is useful because a customer who stumbles across your website can easily click on your Instagram or Facebook page to learn more about your company. If your company makes it a point to have a very aesthetic Instagram feed, you can even install a feature that integrates your Instagram feed into your website home page.

Provide Insight

As we've discussed previously, your website and company should be providing valuable products and information to your customers. One way to achieve this is to have a company blog. This is where you can share information and insight into your industry. Not only will this make your brand appear more useful to the average customer, but it can also attract new visitors that came across your articles on Google.

Investing in a freelance writer will give your website the extra push to stand out amongst the crowd. Keep your articles and information specific to your niche so you are still reaching your target audience.

Here is a great example of a company that is providing useful information to their consumers.

They have multiple categories such as home selling, home buying and investing. Keep in mind, it doesn't matter what industry you're in. As long as you're providing useful information to your readers, your company blog will serve a purpose.

Make it Easy to Contact You

You'll want to add various ways for your customers and website visitors to contact you. This could be the phone number of your physical location, a dedicated customer service representative or an email address that someone checks regularly. Having this information available makes you more transparent because customers know they can contact you if they have a concern.

Optimize Your Website for Search Engines from the Beginning

Search engine optimization has become extremely vital to the success of websites. Despite it being something that people have known about for years, there is still so much to learn because the internet keeps changing. To keep things concise, SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of increasing both the quality and quantity of website traffic, as well as exposure to your brand, through non-paid (also known as "organic") search engine results. Essentially, you are making specific changes to your website and its content in order to appear in the top choices of someone's Google Search.

This is going to help people stumble across your company website when they search for terms that are related to your company. If you are known for your amazing chicken noodle soup, you would want someone in your area to find your restaurant if they are looking for chicken noodle soup recipes on Google.

Final Thoughts

While there is an endless amount of things you could do to make your business website the best it can be, these are some that you could easily do right away. At the end of the day, you want your business to be reflected consistently across all platforms, including your website.