Self-Check for Small Business Websites

As a service business, you may not think of your business as having window shoppers, but you absolutely do.

If you were a department store, a customer walking by may look in to see if your showroom is clean.  Do you have well-maintained fixtures? Are the aisles clear of boxes and hangers?  Are associates seen walking the floor to answer questions? Is the signage current? Are the products organized and will it be easy for you to find exactly what you need?  Can you see into the store easily to make these assessments or is there a tiny window in the front and you really have no idea what is inside unless you just “go for it” and walk in?

Your website is your department store.  This is where prospective customers stop in to judge you by your mere appearance.  Unfortunately, you may provide the highest quality customer service, with the best warranty, and overall best long-term value for your customers.  However, you have got to get that window shopper to request a service appointment and experience your best-in-class service for themselves.website-checklist

So when a prospective customer looks at your website, what do they see?  Does your website inform and engage?  Is it easy to view from a cell phone?  Does your website look modern and give the impression that you are a thriving business with a focus on quality in everything you touch?

Whether you just launched a new website earlier this year or your website is 5 years old, we’ve created this short 10-point checklist for you to grade your website and determine if you truly are getting those window shoppers in the door (and setting an appointment with you).

This checklist is fairly short and to the point.  However, we could consolidate this checklist into one bullet point: Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal prospect and review your website as if you know nothing about you or your business.

#1 – How does your website look on a cell phone?

Every think tank and marketing institute has their own figure, but by some estimates over 50% of search traffic for home services takes place on a mobile device.  We are amazed at how many clients have had websites created in 2014 and yet when viewed on my Samsung Galaxy 3, the website is just a shrunk down version of their desktop website that is impossible to read and requires pinching and dragging around the screen to make sense of anything.  When a prospect sees this, they are clicking the BACK button and going to the next contractor on the list.

#2 – Within the first 10 seconds, can a site visitor answer the five W’s: who, what, where, when, why, and how?

Your website should clearly state all of this in the first 10 seconds or else you will lose the site visitor.  Do not assume that people know your service area.  Don’t assume they know your services menu. Don’t assume they know you are open 7 days a week.  You have 10 seconds to get this across.  And if you handle multiple types of customers, such as residential and commercial, don’t be afraid to create an opening page so that site visitors can pick which one they are interested in and see a homepage especially for them.  I recently reviewed a website where the business is 80% residential and that is their opportunity for growth, but the homepage appeared to be soliciting commercial dealers and new franchises.

#3 – Do you “force” a site visitor to take an action?

The entire objective of your website is to get a service appointment, so make it super easy to do just that!!!  Phone numbers should be prominently displayed at the top of your page and your mobile website (which you must have) should have a big CLICK TO CALL button at the top of it.  Contact forms can be useful, but they require the prospect to be ready to make a buying decision and take the initiative.  The best engagement tool that we utilize is a pop-up chat box.  When a visitor has been on the page for 15 seconds, the chat box pops up and asks “How can I help you today?”  This forces the site visitor to make a decision: close the box and continue browsing, or reply to the chat box.  This pop-up makes it so simple to reply that most visitors will engage you if your site looks professional and they have a positive first impression from your website.

#4 – Does your website look like anyone has proofread it?

It is amazing how many websites have incorrect business names at the bottom of the homepage.  This is common with companies like Yellowbook(hibu) and Web.com since they are cranking out so many websites.  Make sure your website doesn’t have the name (or links) to other businesses or this can really confuse website visitors, plus it reeks of amateur.

#5 – Do your links work?

When we say links, we are referring to anything pointing off of your website.  Many businesses have video players, but the videos have been removed from Youtube and so now their is just a blank black box on your website.  Most have links to Google+, Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook pages, although the links are not correct.  Almost 70% of the Facebook links we find only link to the homepage of Facebook and do not even link to the business’s Facebook page.

#6 – Do you have testimonials?

Testimonials are critical to your business as they are the social proof that you are a credible and trustworthy business.  In this consumer space, testimonials are even more crucial because people are opening up their home.  While Facebook is expected to be the largest, most-trusted review site in the coming years, testimonials on your website are a good first step.