Whether your small business has a website already, or you are thinking about building one, there are certain essential items that it needs to have to take full advantage of your space on the web.
This list of 40 items contains everything a successful small business website needs.
Bonus: [thrive_2step id=’351′]Download this cheat sheet[/thrive_2step] of 40 things every successful small business website needs.
Some of the items on the list help with ranking in Google, some help with lead generation, some help with branding, and so on.
I have split these 40 items into five categories based on what each item pertains too. These five categories include Contact Information, Company Information, Marketing and Branding, Functionality, and Other.
Without further ado, let’s get right to it.
It is imperative that you show your contact information all over your website.
Doing this not only helps the visitor or possible new customer to have a way to get in touch with you but in certain ways, it also helps with your ranking in Google and on Google maps.
Having a contact page with your full business name, address, and phone number is imperative, and the following suggestions are also necessary as well.
Your physical address should always be located in a footer that shows up on every page of your website.
Even if you have more than one business location, place all the addresses there. You only want to skip this rule if you have 10 or more locations.
This makes it so Google understands that your address is an address, and not just some text in your website footer.
Phone Number on Every Page
Along with your physical address, you should also include your phone number on every page.
I typically like to show the phone number near the top, so people don’t have to search for it. It is also a good idea to place it near your address in the footer as well.
Make sure to use the structured data for your phone number as well, and if you want to make your phone number clickable on mobile devices (Which you want to), you can check out this quick guide on how to do that.
Email Address on Every Page
Just like your phone number and address, an email address for your business should be shown on every page as well.
This makes it so potential customers can have their choice regarding how they want to contact you.
I prefer email most of the time anyways.
I prefer to put the email address right near the phone number in the footer.
Always make sure the email address is a clickable link like the phone number so that customers can click on the email address and have it load a new draft in their email provider.
You can learn how to create a clickable email link here.
If you are a business that has a storefront or some location where customers can walk in, then having your hours of operation is super important to have on your website.
I typically place the hours of your business near the top of the page by the phone number, and on the contact page as well.
If you want to, you can place them in the footer too.
Make sure to update your business hours for the holidays if you change them during those days.
A Map of Your Location
If you want customers to be able to find you easier, embed a Google map on your contact page.
Adding a map to your contact page will add some visual appeal to a page filled with text and it will even help with your local SEO game.
Here’s how to embed a Google Map if you’re curious.
Photos of the Front of Your Business
If you have a cool storefront or something distinct about your building, I would consider adding a photo or two of the front.
Not only does this help customers recognize your building, but it also helps them to visualize where it is and helps them find it easier when they go to visit you.
Oh, and having photos of the front with your sign makes it look like you are a real business!
Social Media Integration
Twitter this, Facebook that, blah blah blah.
Ever since the rise of social media, there has been a discussion of whether or not to be on all the channels, or whether to include links to social media networks you’re not active on.
It’s all noise.
In my opinion, you should have an account on all of the social networks and link back to your website from these accounts.
However, as far as linking from your site to your social media accounts, only link to the ones that you are the most active on.
You don’t need to have a link to every social media network ever, just to look fancy or whatever.
By only linking to the accounts you use, people won’t see all these empty pages that make you look like you’re out of business or even worse, not a real business.
Oh, the infamous contact form.
The contact form is perfect for customers who want to get more information or want to consider doing business with you.
It allows people a way to get in touch without directly emailing you.
However, whenever I fill out a contact form, it almost feels like I’m emailing the website and not the actual business.
To me, it doesn’t feel as personal, and I feel like a good majority of the time, I don’t even get a response back.
No matter what, I recommend having a contact form as a way for people to get in touch if they want to do it that way.
It won’t hurt and who knows, you could get a few leads out of it.
Here’s the simplest and easiest to implement free contact form plugin for WordPress I have ever come across.
People come to your website because they are looking for a business that can help solve their problems.
They want to know more about your business, who the owner is, what kind of credibility you have, and if you are the right one for them.
These following sections are important to have on your website because they answer and address all of these concerns and more.
“About Us” Page
In my opinion, the about page is one of the most important, if not the most important page on your small business website.
The problem is, many businesses get this page entirely wrong.
They talk about boring stuff like “Blah blah blah, we are the best company in the history of companies” and “Our pipe fittings have been saving lives for 200 decades.”
No one wants to read that crap!
You have a chance to make a real connection with your potential customers here!
Here are some articles to get you started:
This is the best article that was ever written on this topic:
Some others directed more towards small businesses:
Meet the Team
If a customer is considering hiring you for a service or doing business with you, they are going to want to know who the owner of the company is, and possibly the staff as well.
Including a page that has information about you and your team with photos or videos, helps to establish your company’s credibility and to show that you are a real business with real employees.
A lot of companies have fun with their “Meet the Team” page by adding quirky photos of themselves or making it personal in some way like the ones below:
- Kickstarter can sort each team member by their talents
- Electric Pulp shows a GIF for each team member when you hover over their photos.
- Exponent PR uses well-drawn pictures for each team member
- Wanelo has a cute but at the same time informative team page
However, my personal favorite is LiveChat’s. Their photography is hilariously creative.
A Product/Services Page
A product or services page is an excellent way to highlight the core products or services that your business provides.
This page gives you the opportunity to sell your business to the visitor.
That means, focus on the benefits that your product or service provides them and not just the fancy gadgets and gizmos.
Here are some great examples of product pages done well:
And don’t worry if your page doesn’t look as nice as these. It is perfectly fine to have some engaging text and some decent images.
Brief History or Story
Customers love to read about the history or story of a small business, especially if it’s a good one.
It helps them connect with your business better and understand what made you start the business in the first place.
You can choose to have this as a separate page, or include it on the about page if you want to fill that out more and tie it in there.
Here is an excellent example of a business telling their story:
Right off the bat 4 Rivers Smokehouse starts with:
“4 Rivers had its humble beginnings. Just me, a smoker, and an age-old challenge—cooking brisket.”
Can’t you already feel the connection?
It almost sounds like the beginning of a New York Times Best Seller.
If you’re a company that provides services to a particular area, make sure to include this information somewhere on your website.
The information typically applies to local services that prefer to stay within a few select counties near their own.
You probably don’t need a separate page for this information, but make sure to mention it somewhere like on your services page.
A lot of times you can find maps online that highlight individual counties that are near each other, like the services page for this appraisal business.
As long as the potential customer can find the areas you service, you should be good to go.
Photos of Your Work – Before and After
If you are a business whose service is to provide a change or result that solves the customer’s problem, it is helpful to show before and after photos of your work.
By seeing actual results, the potential clients can recognize that you are a professional and that you know what you are doing.
It reassures them that you walk the walk instead of talking the talk.
Some examples of businesses that might do this:
- Contractors – Before and after a remodel
- Home Organizers – Before and after cleaning up a hoarder’s house
- Personal Trainer – Before and after losing 50 pounds of fat, or gaining 20 pounds of muscle
- Website Designer – Before and after a site redesign
- Cleaning Service – Before and after you clean
An ‘In The Media’ Page
If your business has ever received positive press in your life, you sure as heck should show that on your website somewhere.
Being in the media, whether it is on the local news, in the newspaper, or wherever, gives your company HUGE credibility in the eyes of potential customers.
This page doesn’t need to be fancy or anything. Either link to the article where you were published, show a photo of the article in print or share a video of your news segment.
It could also be beneficial to list the name of the source and the date if it is in your best interest.
Here are some examples of “In the Media” pages:
- Stanford – Clean and simple links with the dates and publisher names
- CoolSculpting – On her page, Molly features multiple videos of media segments she was featured on
- Fit4Mom – Features logos of the companies they were featured on
- Kinova Robotics – Also features the logos and dates they were featured
Another popular way to show the media sources where you have been featured is to include a banner like Pat Flynn’s on Smart Passive Income, somewhere on your website (Most likely on the home page or in the footer):
Organizations You Belong To
If you are a company that does a lot of charity work or belongs to multiple organizations that would resonate well with potential customers, then go ahead and share this somewhere on your website as well.
Customers love to see when a company is part of something bigger or is giving back to the community because it shows that your business cares about more than just making money.
This information could go on the about page or history page if you have one.
A Frequently Asked Questions Page
You know what a Frequently Asked Questions page is and you probably already know why you should have one.
A frequently asked questions page is just what it sounds like, an entire page dedicated to questions that your customers often ask (Or may ask in the future).
This page is where you get to answer the customer’s potential questions before they even ask them.
It’s your chance to debunk any myths about your industry or company.
It’s your opportunity to answer the questions your customers ask over and over and over again.
It’s your chance to make them feel comfortable in their purchasing decision without them using your business and later finding out that you weren’t able to provide exactly what they needed.
Here are some great examples of FAQ pages:
Marketing and Branding
In order for potential customers to find you and want to stay with you, you have to focus on marketing and branding.
Marketing is more about getting your name out there and branding is more about getting people to recognize who you are.
Both are covered in this section.
A Quality Domain Name
Having a quality domain name for your website is imperative.
A domain name is the physical address of your business online.
You share it everywhere; on business cards, letterhead, email footers, marketing material, in your storefront, everywhere.
That’s why it is so important to choose a quality domain name.
So what how do you pick a quality domain name?
- Make it memorable
- Make it easy to pronounce
- Easy to spell
- Shorter is better than longer
- Watch out for hidden words
- ALWAYS get a .com
- Only use local keywords if it makes sense
Logo on Every Page
It is important to have your logo on every page of your site because it helps customers get familiar with your brand and it helps them to recognize you when they see you again.
Even if your logo isn’t a professional logo, it is still important to have something on your site.
Besides, you can always update your logo down the line when you have more spare change.
I would say 99.9% of every website theme allows you place your logo somewhere in your header, whether it is in on the left, the center, or the right; so take advantage of it.
If you are a brand that has a witty tagline that you regularly refer to or market with, I would also recommend including this on your website as well.
Sometimes businesses include the tagline in their logo image, or as separate text underneath their logo.
A lot of times, having a nifty tagline will help customers remember your brand and sometimes, the tagline even makes the brand.
Here are some companies with really catchy taglines that I guarantee you’ll know without even seeing the name of the company (See if you can guess them all):
- “Just Do It”
- “I’m Loving It”
- “Betcha Can’t Eat Just One”
- “Think Different”
- “Can You Hear Me Now? Good”
Turn your head for the answers 🙂 : uozıɹǝʌ ˙5 ǝןddɐ ˙4 sʎɐן ˙3 s,pןɐuopɔɯ ˙2 ǝʞıu ˙1
Unique Selling Proposition or Unique Value Proposition
A paramount idea specifically in marketing and business is the Unique Selling Proposition.
Unique Selling Proposition or USP for short, is a statement that tells why your company is different from all your other competitors.
Your USP should be one of the main reasons a customer would choose you over all of the other options out there.
Here’s a great example of a USP from Steve over at Nerd Fitness:
Similar to the USP, the Unique Value Proposition, or UVP for short is a statement of the results a customer would get from using your product or service.
Here’s a great example of a UVP on Campaign Monitor’s homepage:
Unlike the USP, which appeals more to the customer’s hopes and desires, the UVP appeals more towards the statistics and the success your product provides for them.
Your business’s unique value proposition typically includes hard numbers or percentages of the results your company provides.
The UVP is usually more useful in B2B situations while the USP is more helpful in B2C situations.
Pick either the USP or UVP and make it known on your website.
A Home Page That Makes Your Visitors Want to Stay
In my opinion, the home page is the most important page on your website, and it should act as a sort of like the foundation for your entire site.
The home page is where a good majority of the visitors land first, and it’s where a good majority of the visitors click off of if they don’t find what they are looking for.
That means it should always look professional and well designed.
It should always include some call to action (More on that later in this article), and it is a great place to mention your USP or UVP.
The home page should also be highly targeted to your exact audience.
Tell them what they want and don’t let them leave without getting it.
I always tend to include some location info if it is a local business website, and I also tend to link to current blog posts if you update them frequently.
The home page is also a great place to put any “featured in” icons or real testimonials from real customers.
Here an excellent guide on the information your home page should include.
Here are some examples of genius home page designs:
- Prezi – Great use of social proof, clear call to action, links to blog posts, visually appealing
- Freshbooks – Great call to actions, easy to consume, enticing copy
- Dropbox – Simple, attention grabbing, guides you straight to the call to action
- 4 Rivers Smokehouse – Engaging photos, short and sweet, great foundation for the rest of the site
Testimonials are a great addition to your website, as long as they are real testimonials from real customers like this one from Optinmonster’s page.
Testimonials provide social proof that your company’s service or product does what you say it does.
Research has shown that by displaying testimonials on your website, you can increase your sales by 35% or more.
That being said, make sure that the testimonials are legitimate and go in depth with the service you provided and the positive experience the customer had from it.
Here’s a guide to 9 types of testimonials with examples.
A Call to Action
If you’re trying to get new clients, or email addresses, or sell a product, or do anything that involves the visitor taking an action (Which is pretty much what your entire website should be based around), then you need what is called a Call to Action or CTA for short.
A call to action is just what it sounds like, a statement that gets people to perform your desired action.
Think about every time you see a button anywhere on a website; that’s a call to action.
A good call to action is compelling, should evoke emotion, should give the customer a reason to do the action, and it can always be fun and creative.
Here are some great examples of CTA’s:
- Quicksprout – It’s almost genius how perfect this one is. I couldn’t think of a single person who would turn down a free website audit from the best in the business?
- Netflix – “Watch Anywhere. Cancel Anytime”. I get a free month, and I can cancel anytime? Who wouldn’t take that offer?
- Treehouse – “Change your Career. Change your Life.” – Talk about pulling on my heartstrings
And here is my favorite guide on how to craft a perfect CTA for your small business website.
An email list is beneficial in about 99.9% of all businesses in every industry.
That means that if you don’t have one already, you need to get one, and you need to have some way to collect emails on your website.
If the primary goal of your call to action is to collect email addresses, then provide something of value like a video course or ebook in exchange for their email.
If the primary goal of your CTA is not to collect emails, you can still provide some incentive to get people to sign up for your email list because people love receiving free information of value.
These days, having just a “Sign up for our newsletter” is not enough to get people to give you their email address.
You need to give something of value for them to want to give something of value to you (Their email).
Here is a great example of this on DIY Theme’s blog page.
If your CTA is not primarily focused on collecting emails, your secondary focus should be your email list.
A Blog With Fresh Content
I don’t care if you don’t like to write, if you don’t have time to write, or even if you can’t write, you need to have a blog if you want to make your website visible on Google searches for more than just “Your Brand Name.”
Content has always been king when it comes to ranking websites on Google, so if your site only consists of a few pages and nothing else, chances are, most people aren’t going to be able to find you.
Using high-quality content to rank your website on Google is the premise of content marketing, and it is the best and most long-term marketing tool you can use for your small business online.
Neil Patel is the mac daddy of content marketing and here is his guide on how to do it the right way.
Just because you have a website that has a bunch of information on it doesn’t mean that it will always help you generate leads and convert potential customers to real customers.
You website needs to have the proper functional elements that make up a successful website in order to achieve your goal more often.
These functional elements in the topics below focus more on the nitty gritty of layouts, design, linking and more.
Look, you could have the best product or brand in the world, but if your website is ugly and outdated, no one is going to take you seriously.
We live in an age where people spend more than half of their life online and in that time spent online, they see hundreds of different websites.
Trust me; people can tell the difference between a poorly designed site, and a site that was custom designed with an enormous budget.
I’m not saying you need to go out and spend half your fortune on your website (Because you can do it yourself with under $79), however, having a nice looking theme for your WordPress site will help you tremendously regarding credibility and respect.
Remember how I just said that people spend more than half of their life online (I made that statistic up, but you know it’s close to that), an actual study showed that 56% of online traffic to the top 10,000 sites was from a mobile device.
That means your site needs to be mobile optimized.
Luckily, there are WordPress themes out there that come pre-mobile optimized because theme developers know this is of major importance.
So the good news for you, if you’re using WordPress for your site, you are probably all set.
If you’re not using WordPress, you might need to consider hiring a developer ASAP….
Navigation That is Clear and Simple
The navigation bar on your website is like a roadmap to the rest of your site.
You want to make it as clear and straightforward as possible to see and click on because if it’s not, potential customers won’t know what to do once they are done reading your homepage.
Can you say BOUNCE RATE?
Here are some general rules to follow:
- Your navigation should be in a similar spot as all the other websites so that users know exactly where to find it.
- It should be bold, clear, visible, and readable.
- UPPERCASE text usually solves all these problems.
- Try to avoid drop down menus
- Keep the items in your navigation to a maximum of 7
- Put the most relevant pages in the top navigation and the less important pages in the footer navigation
- Put your most important links in the first positions, and the contact link at the end
Here’s a quick and dirty guide on getting your navigation up to par.
Point Visitors In The Direction You Want Them To Go
Here’s what a typical user does when they land on an average website home page.
*Lands on website
*Clicks a couple of links
*Doesn’t find what they’re looking for
What does that mean for you? A potential lost lead!
Now let’s look at a website that shows a clear direction for the visitor.
*Lands on website
*Sees call to action
*Realizes they need your services
*Calls you and sets up an appointment
Or something like this:
*Lands on website
*Sees highlighted link at top of page
*Clicks on link
*Reads through to the bottom
*Performs CTA at bottom
Now these are obviously just a couple of false scenarios, but my point is, your website needs to have a clear path for the user to follow.
It won’t always be apparent to the visitor, but you will know the path you want them to take, and if you set it up for them, they will take it without even realizing it.
Not only does this help retain the visitor, but it gives you a better chance of converting them to a customer.
This could be as simple as having a call to action at the bottom of your home page, or a highlighted link in the navigation that leads to a services page with a call to action at the bottom, or just a call to action they can’t resist, right when they land on your page.
The point is, show the user’s subconscious where you want it to take them, and you will profit.
Fast Loading Speed
SEO’s know that page loading speed is a major factor not only for ranking higher in Google but also for bounce rate and retaining a visitor on your page.
In 2013 Moz analyzed 100,000 pages and found that “The back-end performance of a website directly impacts search engine ranking.”
Page loading speed was even listed as numbers 20 and 23 on the list of Google’s top 200 ranking factors.
Think about it.
How many times have you gone to a website that has taken more than 5 seconds to load, and just ended up pressing the back button so you can click on the next link in the list of results for your search?
I know I sure as heck don’t have time to waste waiting for a slow web page to load when there is plenty more valuable information out there.
You know when you’re reading an article and a certain section of the sentence contains a link?
Then you click on the link because you’re intrigued and it takes you to another article on the same website about that topic?
That’s internal linking, and you should be doing this too.
Not only does it look good to Google because you are helping the reader by creating a sort of map throughout your entire site, but it also helps to spread around link juice from page to page.
Easy to Find Important Information
This is kind of a given and was covered above in the “Point Visitors In The Direction You Want Them To Go” section, but I’ll cover it again because it is important.
Make sure your visitors know where they need to go and where to find the information they are looking for.
Don’t bury important information ten pages deep with zero links to the last nine pages.
Keep your site structure simple and easy to find the information about your small business people are looking for.
Have you ever noticed websites that show a sort of hierarchy of pages when you are a few pages deep into the site?
It looks like this:
Those are breadcrumbs.
Breadcrumbs can be helpful for websites that have a significant amount of interior pages, like e-commerce sites specifically.
They can also be useful just for the mere fact that they show the user where they are, relative to the homepage of your website.
Breadcrumbs link to each page so it can also act as a navigation of sorts without having to press the back button.
No matter if you want to use them or not, they are beneficial and will only help your site ranking if you do.
They can easily be implemented with the Yoast SEO plugin if your site in on WordPress.
If you want to know more about breadcrumbs, here’s an informative article on the topic.
The rest of the 40 things that every successful small business website needs are miscellaneous items, but just as important as the rest.
They focus more on optimizing your site even further and taking it to the next level for both your business and your customers.
Great (Optimized) Photos of Your Brand
No matter what industry you’re in, you should have some high-quality photos on your website.
Photos make your small business’s website look better, and are perfect for establishing a more personal connection with your brand.
Think of it like this.
These are the two competitors that you have your choice of using.
Small Business Website A:
One home page photo of something related to their business, but it’s just a stock photo that has no personal connection.
Small Business Website B:
A home page photo of their product and their storefront, a photo of the owner and the team, a picture of them in the field, etc.
Which company are you going to go with?
B, because the real photos make you feel a personal connection with them before you’ve ever even done business with them.
That’s why photos are important.
As far as optimizing goes, I like to use a tool called Kraken.io. They let you optimize images up to a specified size for free without giving your email address or creating an account.
Using videos in addition to photos is also a great way to establish credibility and create a connection with potential customers.
Videos are great if you want to show customers around your venue, if you want to have a welcome video of you (The owner), or if you want to show what you do in the field.
You don’t need to go crazy with videos, but if you’re willing to create a few, they go over as well or better than photos.
If you’re a small business that wants to cater to your local community (And get links from local businesses in the area), a great way to make this connection is by adding a resources page of relevant resources that these companies can use.
For example, if you’re a clothing retailer, you can create a list of wholesalers and manufacturers in your city.
By doing this, you are not only establishing yourself as an authority in the area, but you are helping local businesses out, without asking for anything in return (For good karma, of course, :P).
If you’re a business that sells their products online, you can use trust/security symbols on your website to show the customer that your site is secure and that their private information won’t get tampered with if they give it to you.
I know you’ve seen these symbols before:
Not only do they make your potential customers feel safe buying from you, but they have also be known to increase your conversion rate quite drastically.
Here’s an article talking about the symbols that work the best.
This includes email addresses.
Click here to get it.
All you have to do is enter some information about your business name and location, and it fills in the blanks, like a Madlib puzzle.
If you are a service based company that wants to impress potential customers, you should set up a page specifically for booking appointments.
By having the ability to book appointments online, customers can do so without having to call or email every time.
That makes it easier for both you and the customer.
There are WordPress plugins like Easy Appointments that will create an appointment calendar that allows you to take online bookings through your WordPress site.
Last but not least, if the primary goal with your website is to get leads, email addresses, or just drive traffic to a specific page, then you should consider using a welcome mat as your home page.
What a welcome mat does is it replaces your actual home page with a page that’s the primary goal is to get the customer to perform your call to action.
The welcome mat gives the customer the option to either perform your CTA or click through to the rest of your website.
I know you have seen them before.
SumoMe is a free tool that you can set up a welcome mat without even changing any pages on your site.
Summing It All Up
Let’s be real, I know you don’t have every one of these items implemented on your current website and I know you probably won’t want to apply all of them either.
However, if you want to be an A+ student and implement all of these items, then your website will be one hell of an optimized small business website.
In my opinion, the best way to approach this list is to take it one item at a time and determine which ones suit your small business the best.