6 Elements of an Outstanding Small Business or Nonprofit Website – Quiz and Checklist
There are currently over one billion websites online – that’s almost one website for every four Internet users – but few of them stand out from the crowd.
Many have a sense that their websites blend into the background noise of the Internet more than they should but they don’t know precisely why… or what to do about it.
Yet how to stand out from the rest of the Web is not a secret (and if it was a secret we’re about to break the story). The majority of those 1 billion + websites are poorly maintained, difficult to navigate, not up to modern Web standards, and don’t offer their visitors much value.
It isn’t difficult to get your website to truly stand out. Follow this checklist and do whatever it takes to get a 100% and we guarantee that your website will get more visitors and more conversions than it has previously.
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#1. Well Maintained
Is your website well maintained?
Web standards change over time – and so must your website.
Does that upset you or make you feel pressured by our ever-evolving computerized society? We feel for you. We really do! Our own company has to keep up with the changes and that means constantly reeducating ourselves.
The good news is that you probably don’t need to be constantly re-learning the Web’s virtual landscape. Your web-developer or friendly drag-and-drop-site-builder-app should be doing that for you.
You can tell that your site isn’t well maintained without getting technical if your site has:
- Broken links
- Broken images
- Visible error codes on the webpage
- Flash plugins (Flash is officially dead and a security risk for your visitors)
Your website’s information must also be well maintained. Does your website contain currently accurate information about your business or nonprofit:
- Contact information?
If your business or nonprofit is getting regular maintenance done on its properties and vehicles it needs to begin thinking about its website the same way. Your website is technology that gets visitors to you. The better maintained your website is the better your visitors will feel about your organization. The more comfortable visitors are with your online presence the higher the likelihood is that they will click “send” on that contact form, dial your number, download your ebook, or shop your virtual shelves.
If your website is not well maintained speak with your web-developer (or contact us). It is worth getting your website that overdue tuneup.
#2. Accessible Contact Info
Is your contact info easy for visitors to find?
Many websites burry or purposely avoid publishing contact information. Yet many search engine queries are made because the users are trying to speak with a business or nonprofit just like yours. Burying that info increases the likelihood that they will click the back arrow and try the next site.
This doesn’t mean you should publish your personal contact info. Yet you should list your organization’s public contact information so visitors can find it on every page. Scroll up to the top of this page and you will find all of our contact info. This is intentional. We don’t know how each individual will arrive at our site or which page they will land on. Thus we want visitors to be able to find our contact info wherever they are. If a visitor wants to speak with someone from a business or nonprofit like yours but cannot find an easy way to contact you they will probably just visit another website offering similar value.
Running a small business yourself or a personal site? Consider having your web-developer set up an email hosted through your website (like email@example.com) and placing a contact form or widget that is accessible everywhere. That way your visitors have at least one way to contact you.
According to the Harvard Business Review, phone calls are still the preferred method of communication for potential buyers. Prominently listing your phone number has the potential to positively impact your conversions (number of visitors that become leads or sales).
Some visitors will be more comfortable calling, others emailing, and others through social media. We have listed our contact info for phone, email, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn in addition to contact forms. The more modes of communication the better.
Don’t let your website get lost in the noise because your contact info isn’t easily accessible.
#3. Local Optimized
Is your website optimized for local search results?
According to WordStream’s 2016 study, 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles of them.
Yet many websites are lost even in local results because they have not clearly listed their local information or provided search engines with the appropriate local metadata.
There are three common methods of making local data available to search engines:
- Actually list your local contact info and address on your website (see our city and state in our contact bar above?)
- Go to Google, search your local business, and provide the missing contact info
- Ask your web-developer to add locally relevant metadata to your web pages (all web-developers worth paying know how to do this)
Websites that stand out in local search results are often using all three of these methods.
#4. Mobile Optimized
Is your website mobile optimized?
According to Google in 2015, in 10 countries (including the United States of America) more searches took place on mobile devices than on PCs. Potentially, the majority of people searching for a business or nonprofit like yours are doing so from a mobile device. About 40% of consumers will visit a competitor’s website after a poor mobile experience. Having a mobile optimized website is essential to a successful online strategy.
Yet according to some studies a majority of live websites still are not mobile optimized.
This means that optimizing your site to load quickly and look attractive on a mobile device is one valuable way to stand out – or at least not fade into the background.
Whether or not you decide to make this transition to mobile may drastically affect the number of online visitors you convert into customers.
If your site is not mobile optimized rebuilding the site accordingly should be a top priority for your organization.
In 2015 Google began down-ranking search results for websites not optimized for mobile. In 2017 Facebook began giving preference to web pages that load quickly (like mobile optimized pages). Consequently, if your website is not mobile optimized you are receiving less visitors from search engines and social networks than you should in addition to converting less of these visitors.
So, how do you know if your site is mobile optimized without being technical (or if you don’t have a smartphone handy)?
Go to search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly and type in your website’s address (URL). Google will tell you if it is or isn’t, tell you why, and show you a mobile preview.
If the results are less than pleasing speak with your web-developer about an overhaul for mobile optimization (or contact us).
#5. Original Images
Does your website avoid stock images when possible?
Some organizations love stock images – you can purchase perfect looking images for your product! What isn’t to love? Being the same as hundreds or thousands of other websites.
Search engines prefer original images. Search engines index your media as well as your text and if your website is stuffed full of purchased images that hundreds or thousands of other sites are using you may be missing out on better rankings. By using original images you also have a better chance of showing up in image searches (and driving traffic from there as well).
Businesses and nonprofits (and their web developers) should consider paying photographers and graphic designers to create original content rather than purchasing stock image subscriptions.
Some visitors may not know immediately if you are using stock images but there are visitors who will see a stock photo they have seen on another site (this is especially true when you are using web templates and not replacing default images) or perceive that your images are less than authentic (esp. if they know you or your organization already). Stock images do little to impress your visitors online.
Standing out online is about being original. If your website’s images look like they came off the same assembly line as hundreds or thousands of other sites you are not standing out.
#6. Value Added Content
Does your website offer visitors value added content?
Even if your website is meant to generate sales offering your visitors value added content increases web traffic and conversions.
Value added content is any unique and original content that your audience cannot get anywhere else. This blog is an example of value added content.
According to a study conducted by HubSpot in 2017, 53% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. That’s because value added content like blogs, podcasts, ebooks and e-courses are effective means of generating traffic, sales, and donations.
Similar HubSpot studies found that 1 in 10 blog posts are compounding (organic search increases their traffic over time) and that companies that published a lot of content each month generated up to 3.5x the web traffic as low publication websites.
Because people are searching for content that enriches them. If you provide such content, visitors may build a relationship with your brand.
Value added content is so important to marketing your products or services that nearly every business or nonprofit should be providing some form of it. If your website only consists of company info and a sales pitch it isn’t standing out. Visitors are looking for something more and statistics show that if you provide something valuable the likelihood that those visitors will purchase from you increases.
A website that stands out offers outstanding content. If you lack the time or knowledge to create such value added content you may want to consider contacting a creative firm (like us) to lend a hand.
The Outstanding Website Checklist
So how well does your website stand out from the crowd? (Go ahead, check them off)
Rystedt Creative will help you develop a site that stands out
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About Rystedt Creative Services
At Rystedt Creative, we believe your web experience should be simple and straightforward. Whether your life’s calling is to make custom lawn gnomes or host conferences for pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge, we can help you handle the details of maintaining your online influence.