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It is crucial for every business to have a website. However, a lot of the time, small local business owners have limited knowledge when it comes to web design best practices. Usually, hiring a web design company or a freelancer is a good move to have your website setup for you. But these providers obviously aren’t also in the know when it comes to your products and may not know what it takes to sell.
That’s why building a website is a collaborative process.
While having an effectively designed website can boost your sales, an average or poorly designed one will cause you to lose potential customers. As an owner of a local business, you should have some basic idea of what you need to have on your site and what to avoid.
To make things easy for you, we have created an infographic that shows 53 must-have features for a local business website. Consider this a checklist or a guideline for you and your developer – you’ll thank us later!
Now, you have an idea of all the essential features of a local business site. You can easily check if your site follows the above-mentioned recommendations by using a website health checking tool like eRanker. Next, let’s move into a more detailed description of these features.
Your domain name should represent your business or be related to your service. Additionally, a local business should have a country specific domain (ccTLD). For an Australian website, for instance, a .com.au domain is the best choice.
A ccTLD (Country Coded Top-Level Domain) is one of the strongest ways to show users and search engines where your business originates. It will help your website rank higher in search engine result pages.
Mentioning a phone number is very important for local business websites. We would also recommend adding a live chat functionality. The more communication options a customer has, the better.
A logo is a crucial part of online branding. An elegant, clearly designed logo helps to build trust – consider having it placed in the upper left corner of your website where it is highly visible.
Your main navigation works as a map of your site. For a local business, the main navigation should contain all the important pages of your website including home, about, services/products, blog and the contact page.
Depending on your business, a slightly different menu design may be appropriate. But don’t try to get overly cute with it without a good reason; the aim of the main navigation is to let the visitor easily navigate through the site. It should be as clear, simple and easy-to-use as possible.
The heading of your site should contain some of the important keywords that sum up what your business is about. It is very important for getting a good ranking in search engines.
The tagline represents your business by using a few words in a creative way. Its aim is to catch the visitor’s attention. Crafting a perfect tagline is difficult as it needs to be clever and also easy to understand.
Your home page should feature a short blurb piece that describes your business and service. When people visits a website they tend to simply skim through the page, so the content should be succinct and to the point.
A banner image is a visual way to communicate with visitors to the website. The image should give the viewers a sense of what your business is about.
For any business site, it is mandatory to have a few call to action buttons, which encourage visitors to act to get in touch or contact you. Some example call to action phrases might be “Request a Free Quote”, “Buy Now” or “Call Now”.
Your homepage should feature the best or highest selling products and services that you offer. This will create a good first impression and encourage potential customers to browse for more information.
A quote form gives your customers an easy way to make service related inquires. Instead of having a form only on the contact page, include a quote form at the same location in every page of your site.
For websites of any kind – “Content is the king.” Without relevant content, your business site will neither be able to attract the customers nor have a good ranking in search results.
User friendliness is ultimately the most important asset of any site, even more so for a business site where you are trying to sell products or services. A clumsy choice of fonts degrades the overall appearance and usability. Always use clear, easy to read fonts and make sure it’s consistent on every page.
Before making any purchase, a customer wants to be sure that you can deliver what you promise. Testimonials from past customers are a great way to help convince a potential buyer; just make sure they’re genuine!
Newsletters are a great way to build relationships with the customers. Encourage your customers to subscribe to your newsletter. Send your latest blog articles and the best updates from your social media to your subscribers. You can also let your customers know about special discounts or new products via newsletters.
People often visit a local business site looking for contact information. A good place to put your contact information is the footer of the home page.
A strong presence in social media is highly recommended for any online business. It is a great way to interact with the customers. Links to social media accounts make it very easy for them to follow you.
The footer menu generally contains links to the main pages, like – Home, Services etc (similar to the Main menu) and is positioned at the bottom of the page, allowing the customer to navigate the website after strolling through the content on the page from top to bottom.
Every page of your business website should have a readable and relevant URL. For example, The URL of the services page should be something like domain.com.au/services instead of something like domain.com.au?p=64723
Links to other pages from the body text are called internal links and can help your visitors to navigate within the site. They also send various signals to search engines and can help you with SEO.
Child service pages focus on specific products or services that your business offers. Focus on categorising your service into a number of smaller services that are contained within it, and create pages for this under the main service page.
A gallery is something like a portfolio that presents your previous projects. Successful past projects will encourage customers to do business with you.
A local business is generally tied to a specific broad location and covers a few service areas. When it comes to SEO, it works well to have a page for each of your service area locations. For example: If one of your service areas is Melbourne, the location page URL should be something like domain.com.au/service-area/melbourne
A map that shows the location of your office or store is very helpful for potential customers. It’s easier to get a sense of where something is when looking at a map rather than just an address, and with Google Maps can be easily added to your website.
Though a map is helpful, you must also mention your address anyway. In many cases, people visit your site just to know your business address.
Customers can easily send you messages using the contact form. It is more convenient than emailing you.
Your site must mention your business hours. Be careful and update the time and let your customers know if you are open or closed on a certain public holiday.
Captcha or spam filters are now standard practice for websites. These make sure that only genuine visitors can reach you and complete the contact form – without it, you’re bound to get a lot of unsolicited emails and spam.
This is a place to tell your business story. You can be a bit creative here but be sure to include important information; your company history, awards and recognitions, future plans, etc.
As a business, you will find out there are some common questions that every customer asks. The FAQ page contains the answers to these questions and acts as a timesaver for both you and your customer.
The sidebar of a blog page shows the most popular or recent posts for easy navigation for the visitor.
The search box is one of the basic elements of a good blog page. Your blog readers may often use the search function to find a relevant blog post.
If someone wants to share one of your blog posts, you want to make it as easy as possible. Social media share buttons will enable this with a simple click.
Comments are a great way to engage in conversations with your readers. This helps to build a closer relation with them.
Title tags and meta descriptions are used on the search engine result pages and how well they are written can determine which page your website shows up on and how many clicks it gets. The title tag is considered to be one of the strongest onsite ranking factors and the meta description helps a searcher understand what the page is about. You should be able to easily update the page titles in your website.
We have mentioned that a readable and meaningful URL is good for SEO. You should have the ability to easily update the URL of your pages if the content of the page changes.
It goes without saying – if a website is not mobile responsive it won’t survive. More and more people are accessing the net through their mobile devices. A business site that doesn’t show up properly on screens of all sizes is fighting an uphill battle.
In a mobile device, it is not possible to show the full main menu because the screen size is so small. A hamburger menu function hides the main menu content as a sidebar, allowing users to bring up the main menu by clicking on the three small horizontal bars at the top left corner of the page.
A website should be compatible with all modern web browsers, especially the most popular ones including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Edge and Opera.
Google Analytics is the best tool for collecting and analysing web traffic and how people are interacting with your website. The reports generated by Analytics help you plan your market strategy. It is an invaluable tool for a business website, so make sure you have it set up.
Google search console is a tool to supervise a site’s overall performance in search results. If your site has any malware or SEO based issue, Google search console will help you to identify and resolve that too.
Users won’t visit a website if it takes more than 4-5 seconds to load. Properly optimised code and efficient content management system is the key here.
Your site should be cache enabled. When a browser loads a page, it brings data from the web server. However, if a user visits a page multiple times, some site data can be stored in the browser cache of the user’s device. This will increase the page loading speed.
Schema.org is a collaborative standard for structured data on the internet. It helps search engines understand your website content.
The hosting service used for your business site should be fast and reliable. Poor hosting can be more harmful than you can imagine.
Any flaw in security can destroy the reputation of your business. Your site must be well-protected from hacking attempts, data leak or viruses. Using distributed domain, secure protocols and proper virus protection is mandatory. There are many other aspects of security that you should be aware of, depending on the size and type of website.
If your site is hosted on a physical system, make sure the site data gets backed up regularly.
A business site should use a content management system (CMS) to keep the site easily maintainable. A CMS makes it very easy to manage and update your website.
There was a time when flash was very popular, but websites these days tend to avoid it due to the fact that it’s difficult to work with and doesn’t convert well to mobile devices.
No one wants to hear background music that plays automatically after opening a page. Unless you want to annoy your user, avoid this.
If you want to add some videos to your site, use video uploading platforms like YouTube or Vimeo and then embed the videos into your site. This is a much better option than uploading the video directly to your web server.
Avoid moving sliders that display a series of images (or other contents). Though many websites use this, sliders are generally annoying or distracting.
There should be no page in your site from where you can’t navigate to other pages. Pages like this are called dead-end pages and they tend to annoy visitors.
So these were the most vital features for a small local business website. We hope that now you can look beyond the layout or colour scheme and understand the subtle elements that make your website more user-friendly as well as loved by search engines.
Have you found our recommendations helpful? Did you see any improvement in your conversion rate and local ranking by following our advice? You can track your site’s local ranking by using tools like GeoRanker. Don’t forget to leave your feedback in the comment section below.