Websites have well and truly replaced phone directories as a way for customers to find and connect with your business. If people want to know more about a business of any kind, the most common way for them to find out is to ‘Google it’.
Whether they are locals or live on the other side of Australia, customers now expect to be able to know details about your business before they contact you. Facebook and Instagram are not enough – for a legitimate, searchable business an up to date website makes sense.
Realise Business Advisors have helped several Parramatta business owners improve their existing websites and create new websites to attract more customers. Here are some key reasons and steps to updating, setting up and getting the most out of a website.
Updating your website
In a digital environment the appeal of a website can change over the years. The following are good reasons to revamp your business website’s look and take advantage of the latest versions of website technologies:
- Make your website more secure and quicker for customers to load.
- Make sure it is a ‘responsive’ website that automatically resizes to different devices – like the latest model mobile phones – so customers can easily read the information.
- If you are changing the look and feel of your business, you should also update your website so that all your branding is consistent.
- Add new features that save time, like forms that allow people to book for your restaurant online or payment gateways such as PayPal and Afterpay, which allow customers to purchase vouchers and gift cards.
- Highlight new ways you are working to reach customers during lockdown restrictions, for example featuring a new home delivery or home appointment service.
Setting up a new website
Creating a brand-new website for your business can also be cost-effective and the steps to set it up are achievable.
- Choose and register a website name – Your website name (or domain name) is like your physical address online.
Realise Business Advisors can show you how to register your website name and find a ‘host’ for your website so that it appears live online. Try to choose a web name that is closely associated with the name of your business. Where possible, keep it short and easy to remember, for example, www.smartcafe.com.au.
- Pick the best website building platform – Some website building platforms allow you to create your website with free hosting and your own domain. Common platforms include WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Woocommerce and Shopify. It’s also easy to find web professionals who build and design websites and can deal with the technical decisions.
- Do your research – To plan your website, look carefully at other examples, including your competitors’ websites. This research will spark ideas for layouts, font styles, images or text to include on your website – and might also cement what you definitely don’t want. Run your ideas by a Realise Business Advisor who can provide market-savvy feedback.
- Plan your content – Consider how much and what kind of information you need on your website. It is fine to start off with just the basics because you can add and remove pages if needed further down the track. The standard pages to include are: About Us, Services, Articles and Contact Us, and the basic information should cover address and opening and closing times. Additional features for a restaurant or café would include your menu, home delivery details and a booking or reservation form.
- Make the main page shine – The main or home page is your chance to win over customers after they click on the link in their online search. Your home page should be easy to read and clearly state important details. Including attractive images and content will also encourage viewers to stay and find out more.
Getting the most out of your website
- Stand out online – Just because you have a website, doesn’t mean that people will know about it straight away. To help your website stand out you should ‘optimise’ the content – this means maximising the chances of a search engine supplying your website address to interested searchers. Optimise your website content by adding common words that people searching for your business or service are likely to use, such as ‘Thai restaurant Parramatta’ or ‘hairdresser Parramatta’, for example.
- Discover who is visiting your website – When the website is being built, ensure that it includes tools that will help you identify who is visiting your website, what they are looking at and where they have come from. Realise Business Advisors can help you set this up.
- Update your content – Having up-to-date, quality content on your website doesn’t just look more professional, it also shows you are ready for business. Topical and attractive content helps you attain higher search results on Google, which calculates how often people visit your site, and how long they stay for. So, a beautiful photo gallery, a fun blog and an informative article – which features say a free recipe or intriguing history of a product – will keep searchers from bouncing away from your site after the first page. More searchers who linger ultimately means more favourable online rankings.
- Have a regular maintenance plan – Updates are important for your website’s security. Ask your website developer to show you what to do on a regular basis to ensure all elements of your website are working and up to date.