44.5% of getting traffic to your website is about website content and user behavior—is your site up to snuff? On this podcast, we are tackling nine website must haves. These are the things that you need on your site to leave a lasting impression and to get visitors to stick around and consider doing business with you. Turn up the volume and let’s make your website visitors happy!

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Hosted By
Monica Maye Pitts
Monica Maye Pitts Chief Creative Officer

Basic Website Must Haves for 2020

Today we are talking about websites again because I love websites, and we're going to tackle website must-haves. No matter what kind of service/product you offer, these are the things that you need on your site to leave a lasting impression and to get visitors to stick around and consider doing business with you.

Now having the right stuff on your site and getting people to stick around benefits you in more ways than one. In a previous blog post, we talked about how Google ranks sites number one, and we discussed 44.5% of the SEO pie is actually derived from website content and behavior. So what are our responsibilities as marketers and as business owners to build that section of the pie? I mean, parts of it are achieved by SEO experts, but we're not talking about those parts today. We're going to talk about what you should have on your site to make visitors happy and want to buy from you because that comes from you. Not some SEO expert. 

Our nine website must-haves for 2020 are: 

  1. Mobile-Friendly Site 
  2. Real Photos (No stock photos!)
  3. Snazzy Home Page
  4. Visual Proof
  5. Testimonials
  6. Capabilities
  7. Contact Information
  8. Easy Button
  9. Your Voice  

Now I get really excited about this stuff, so I'm going to try to keep it pretty basic. I'm covering these in the big picture terms. So let's dig into all of those nine things.

1. Mobile-Friendly Website 

 First and foremost, your website needs to be mobile-friendly. Google looks at mobile sites first before it ever looks at your desktop site. So it will prefer and reward a mobile-friendly website. 

After your website is built, go through it on your mobile phone and really see how it works for you. And then even better, after you haven't been on it for a few months, go back and do it again. You will find things you never thought of before. And those are the things your customers are feeling all the time. 

Having a mobile-friendly website is like having good customer service. You're meeting people where they are. Almost all of my websites have a minimum of 30 to 50% mobile traffic. More and more mobile traffic picks up every single year. People are using their mobile devices to access the internet constantly. Having a crappy mobile website is like saying, hey, customer, I don't really care. And Google's like, well, if you don't care, then I don't care about you.

It's super important, especially for business to consumer businesses to make sure they have a fully-working AWESOME mobile website. 

2. REAL Photos... (Stock photos are the WORST.)

The next thing we need to have is real photos. You're going to avoid stock photos whenever possible. When people get to your website filled with stock photos, they're immediately turned off. They know it is not you. It's gross. Don't do it.

Invest in quality photos, you're going to humanize your business this way. You'll be approachable and more genuine. You can build more trust with photos you took on your iPhone than you ever would by those stupid stock images: just stop using them.

If you can’t afford professional photos, grab your iPhone.

 Now, we have a couple of articles on our website about how to take good photos with an iPhone. And the reason we published those articles is if you don't have enough money to invest in a professional photographer, that doesn't mean you cannot have photos of your people, it means you're going to take them yourself. Phone cameras are limitless these days.

 I'm not saying to never get professional photos taken, they're amazing. But if you're not there, then you're not there. And it is not dishonest or unrepresentative of your business to show people where you are. It's great. So if you're a small company and you're just starting out, I want you to have real pictures of your people even if you shoot them yourself. 

3. Make sure you’ve got a snazzy home page.

Moving on to the next thing. So the third thing that we need is a snazzy home page. Snazzy very technical term, right?

So think of your home page as your new office. This is where people first get an impression of what your business is. You want to “wow” them immediately. So, you see all kinds of slideshows, huge big images at the top, and videos on home pages. Those are very trendy right now. But I also have a lot of clients who just don't want it and that is okay too. 

Launch people into your site.

Really what your homepage needs to do is launch people into the site. It's a way for them to easily see oh, here's what's available on this site and then go where they want to go quickly. So it's not only a place for them to start their journey into your website and start getting to know your company, but it's also your first opportunity to take them where you want them to go and grab their attention on what you want them to look at.

This is your opportunity. So don't waste your homepage, don't just put up one picture with your logo in the middle of it and be like click to enter. That's not good for anybody. It's not good for Google, it can't read that picture and it's not good for your visitors either. Give them what they need. 

4. Visual Proof 

The fourth thing is visual proof. Now, visual proof is different for every business. It depends on what you do. So if you are like me and you design things for a living, then you're going to use lots of pictures. You're going to have a portfolio on your site because you're going to show people how awesome you are because you've worked with all of these great companies.

Visual proof is not just photographs.

If you don't have the ability to use images, you can still have visual proof. You can showcase studies, you can show statistics. If you're a construction company, the number of days you have been accident-free is an amazing statistic, the number of years on average your employees stay with you is a great statistic. Just showcase your good work, your capabilities, and your experience. 

What I like people to think through is who is going to be coming to my website, what do they need to see in order to know I can do what they need. You identify the types of businesses or the people you work for and then you show them I can solve this problem for you, I did it for somebody else. And it keeps your content fresh. It gives your visitors a reason to return and builds out your website with more content. 

5. Testimonials

So there are more ways for people to find you out online. One way you can share visual proof is through testimonials. You're going to build rapport through these testimonials. You're showing other people like you because part of the sales process is becoming popular with them, right? So you can name drop as well because as people go to your website and judge whether or not they want to work with you, remember, you want them to be able to see themselves as one of your clients. If they can see a client who likes you, is one of their peers, they're going to be far more likely to choose to work with you unless they really hate that peer. 

Testimonial Placement on your Website 

So you're gonna place your testimonials not just on a page, but throughout your site where they can apply to the content on the page. We can learn a lot from eCommerce websites. Although every single one of us does not sell directly online, we are selling something via a service or a concept. Imagine if you went out to Amazon and you were trying to buy bedsheets and the featured products suggested to you were pots and pans and all of the testimonials and product reviews for that page were all about pots and pans. But you're trying to buy bedsheets, right? It's not the same. Pots and Pan reviews won’t help you pick out bedsheets. We can make our testimonials irrelevant to our visitors if we’re not thinking about the content we're putting on every single one of these pages.

We want to tell a story to people. And part of the story can be testimonials and can be that soft sell of another person telling the story for you about how great you are to work with, how awesome you are, and how you solve people's problems. 

6. Capabilities 

The next thing you're going to put on your site is your capabilities. Now, I say capabilities because not everybody has products. Not everybody has services, but all of us do something that is sellable. We're going to explain our service offerings, link to the work you've completed over in your experience, and show finished projects to validate you can do this and you have the follow-through. 

You need one separate page for every capability or no one will know you offer it.  

Photos are super important and I already mentioned them earlier. One thing I encourage you to do is have a page for every single service on your website. And a lot of people skip this, they want to save money or time. They believe people don't want to read about all these services. But here's the deal, if you're a landscaping company and you also do snow removal, but all you do is talk about landscaping. Then when a web visitor needs snow removal, they won’t know you do it. They don't just assume every landscaping company does snow removal. And when they search for a snow removal company, your name is not going to pop up.

So let's say you haven't educated all the people you currently do landscaping for and you haven't told them you do snow removal. So they go out to Google, they Google search for snow removal, and your website does not show up. They do not consider you for the service, even though they know you. Now, if your website did show up for it, they'd be like, oh, look, Joe does snow removal too. He's a great guy, he does great landscaping, I'm gonna hire him. 

If you don't have a page for each one of your services, then Google will probably not know you do all of those other things. So have a page for each service with lots of words on each of those pages. Try for 1,000, I know it sounds crazy, but as a woman who writes like 20-page essays for a living, I know you can do it—just talk about what you do. Then Google will see you do it and show it to other people.

You're going to focus on those key search terms people might be using. And then also share service-specific testimonials, as we just talked about on those individual capabilities pages.

7. Contact Information 

The next thing you're going to have is contact information. I know, it sounds so rudimentary, you're like, I can't even believe you're sitting here telling me I need to put contact information on my website. But here's the deal. You need to have a phone number. You need to have an email link. You should probably have an email form. You have to have your mailing address, you need to have your physical address. I know it sounds crazy, but there are people who don't have that stuff on there.

If you're the type of company people need to call right away for a service, put your phone number up at the top of your website. That way it will also show up on mobile. And if it doesn't show up on mobile, as I said, you're gonna check it on your mobile device. Go ahead and make sure your phone number is the very first thing they see on the page because if they want to contact you, they need to be able to click and call right now. 

Now, you can also put it in the footer. And that's great, too. I love contact information in the footer. That's one of the other places I'm going to look for it. 

It may be old school, but don’t hate on contact information in the navigation bar.

The third place you should put your contact information is your main navigation bar. That may sound really old school. The deal is some of us old fogies, myself included, we're used to seeing a contact page on every single website and it is the first place we look when we need to contact somebody. I don't scroll down to the bottom of the page and dig through the footer information. I look for a contact and I click on it. You can accommodate people, make it stupid simple for them to find and contact your company, don't make them dig for this information, it is not nice. 

The benefits of a nice contact form. :)

If you have a contact form, that's pretty cool because it means you can prompt them to answer questions they might not normally answer. So you can have a more qualified conversation with them the very first time you reach out to them.

Contact forms are great because they also save your information in a database if you have them set up correctly. So if you lost someone’s email, you can go back out and you can find their information and reach out to that person later. 

8. Easy Button 

So the next thing we need is an easy button. So an easy button is probably the most complicated and fun part of your website. What I mean by an easy button is you really need to put yourself in the shoes of your viewer. What do they need to make a decision about whether or not to work with your company? What do they need to decide your solution is the right solution

For them, that is the easy button. Talk about it with your salespeople, tech support, and the person who answers the phone. Really think about what do these people need as they're going through the buying cycle. 

Ways to Access Information 

Now, for some people, it could be ways to access information. For example, I have one client who does camps for kids. We realized people search for day camps and overnight camps separately. So we separated the camps into two categories, day camps, and overnight camps. We also realized people searched a lot by the name of an area so they wanted to know day camps near Rolla, Missouri. So we gave them a map pinpointing every single camp location on it and we also have a listing underneath each pin with prices. We're trying to make it as easy as possible for people to find the right camp to send their kids to. 

Online Quotes 

Another example is online quote forums. These are awesome. People fight me on these so hard. They're like, Monica, I do not want to give people a quote when I have not spoken to them. Here's the deal, if you'll give it to them, they'll take it online, and they will give you their information for it. And then what you have is a lead and you would have nothing otherwise because if everyone in your industry is expecting people to call to get a price quote, and you will allow them to fill out a form online and get it, they will give you their information and you can follow up. I mean, it's as simple and as complicated as that. If you have a quote form you fill out to tell people how much something costs, then you just need to break it into an email form that calculates things and spits out a price at the end, then you get people's information to follow up with and start the sales process and they get what they really wanted.

Information Overload  

Another thing you can do if you've got tons of information, let's say you've got this huge Help Section or many resources. So one of our clients is at the University of Missouri and they have tons of different graduate programs.. People need to search for them in many different ways. So you could allow people to filter by letter by type of degree program. Is it doctoral? Is it a master's degree? Is it an undergraduate degree? Is it on campus? Does it just happen online? And then let them find what they're looking for. Also, let them search in a search bar. How are people going to find what they need to find within your website? Allow them to do it that way. Think once again, right back to the example of how eCommerce works. Think about how much of a pain it is to sort through stuff. When you're shopping for Christmas, and you only want to see the girl’s shirts size medium and nothing else. How hard is it to get there? Allow people to sort through your information in the same way. 

Online Sign-up Form 

Another way you can give yourself an easy button is online sign-up forms. One of our clients is the Boone County Fire Protection District. Part of their responsibility is to publicly post the things that are going on like their initiatives and board minutes. So they post them through their website, they put them right up there where anybody can get to them. The media needs to get this stuff too. So they have a sign-up form for the media to sign up to get an email anytime one of these items is added to their site. This allows them to just add the information in one place and it automatically formats an email and sends it out to all the media people. It saves them time and they meet all the criteria they need to have. 

Allow People to Register Online

Last but not least, if you are offering classes or something of the sort, allow people to register online. Make it so there's only a certain number of people who can register. For example, one of our clients is a kid's Yoga Camp. Not every kid can go to every camp because they only happen at certain times, certain dates, and also for certain ages. So we allowed people to be able to sort by age and also sort by class so that way those parents could easily register their kids online. Before she was taking all of these applications in through email and they weren’t saved into a system. Her teachers were also confused about what they were doing, even taking role was difficult. So moving that all into your website using a system means way less work. She was like, I just saved hours every week just by putting this on my site and letting the site organize it for me. And you can do the same thing.

You can make that easy button work for you and for the people you serve. 

9. Your Voice 

The ninth thing I'm going to talk to you about is your voice. I get so excited about this one because this is the one I feel like people don't do very well at. They start talking about themselves and they start saying the things everyone else says, and they are not differentiating their company from the pack. This will make people want to work with you. So you need to do you. Stay true to your company, and don't just tell people what you think they want to hear. 

Years ago, I sat down and I read the content on our website, which was brutal because it was terrible—I sounded just like everyone else. Seriously, it was like we were just adolescent web designers running around. Read the content on your website and be critical. Read it and be like, does this really sound like me? Because, man, ours did not. 

So, one of the things we are is we're real. We're kind of funny and snarky in our office, we say things like, “if you think your website's crap, so does everybody else.” And so we really latched on to that. And I decided we are going to talk on our website the same way we have conversations with people in our office and conversations with our clients. We're going to have the same message all the way through—snark. If it offends you, don't work with me, right? 

And that's the deal. You don't have to work with everybody. You want to work with people who are like you, people who share your values. People who will appreciate you for the type of work you do and the quality of work you have. You don't want people who just are going to take advantage of you and don't really value your services. That's not what you're in it for and you can set the record straight starting on your website by talking about yourself as who you really are. 

Taxi Terry - Powered by God 

Another example of this I really love is there is a taxi company in my town called Taxi Terry. And on the back of every single one of his cars, it says powered by God. It is so awesome he is embracing this. You may not be a God-fearing person—I'm probably like the least God-fearing out of everyone—I point this out not as an example of how to pay homage to your God, but as a supreme example of how to stay true to yourself. He has a company with Christian values and he feels so strongly about it he puts it on the back of every single taxi that drives around our town and I love it. So you don't have to put your religion on your website. But you do need to put the things that make you unique and authentically you on your website, so people can be drawn to you for who you really are.

Go through your website to make sure you have included all nine! 

So those are our website must-haves. I said your website needs to be mobile-friendly, have real photographs, you need a snazzy homepage, offer visual proof, put testimonials on there, talk about your capabilities, share your contact information all over the place, and make sure you've got an easy button. The easy button is the functionality that's going to keep people around and finally,  speak in your authentic voice. They don’t want to read the words of everyone else. They’re at your website, so write like yourself. 

EPISODE GOODIE BAG

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