Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

Fourteen top tips for building your small business website

Your website as a small business is where your customers meet you for the first time and it is important to make a good impression.

Nobody can run a small business without a website, but how do you know that it will work properly and channel customers your way?

Even if you outsource the building of your website, it is still important to know what will make it work.

Building a website for your small business:

  • Ensure your website works on a mobile phone, as most people will find you on their phones. However, if the website is difficult to navigate on a phone, they will rather look at the next one that is mobile-friendly.

  • Make your website easy to find with a domain name. Use your company name or a name that describes what you sell.  that either matches your company name or describes your business in some way.

  • Your contact information must be at the top of the home page so that people can find it easily. For social media, put your social links in the website header or footer where they are easy to find.

  • Ensure your website is easy to navigate by limiting your top-level navigation menu to five clearly labelled tabs, with related pages below, as well as a button to get back to the homepage because a Google search often takes visitors to a page on your website that is not the homepage.

  • Put your navigation menu at the top of the page where most people expect to find it and use dropdown menus under each top-level category for uncluttered navigation.

  • Keep your pages uncluttered with a good balance of text and graphic content.

  • Ensure all the information is accurate. Mistakes or inaccurate information will turn customers away because they think you do not care about detail.

  • Make sure the home page loads very quickly because customers will simply go the next website if yours first buffers. Also, optimise videos and images for quicker downloads.

  • Use a call to action on each page to entice the reader to do something. Encourage users to carry out a specific task, such as call your company, buy something or sign up for a service.

  • Stick with a simple design and limit the use of fonts, colours and video which can distract readers and make them look away from the focus of the webpage.

  • Use short paragraphs and bullet points to make the information easier to read especially for mobile sites to get a higher Google ranking and appear higher on the search engine results page.

  • Your website is your store front and you have to create high-quality online experiences in line with the brand perception. For example, use a photograph of yourself on the About Us page to make using your website more personal.

  • Use useful content aimed at your customers to engage with them and offer them some value. Think what you would want to see on a website you visit to keep them on your website for longer and have a bigger chance of them buying something.

  • Use SEO best practices to ensure people can find your website. People usually find what they are looking for on the first page of search results and this is where you want your website to appear.

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Using SEO to make your website easy to find

Search engines use crawling, indexing and ranking to determine where the listing appears. Crawling means they find your site through links from other sites.

After discovering your site, the crawling bots indexes it by analysing it for content, that includes keywords, freshness, relevance, links and multimedia.

You have to ensure that your website has plenty of new, relevant content related to the keywords you want to rank for.

Ranking is how the search engines determine the best results for a search and it is a good idea to include a lot of relevant content, such as individual posts on different aspects of a topic.

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