Is Your Website Helping or Hurting Your Business?

  • By Jackie Petre
  • 27 Jul, 2017

The 7 Elements You Need to Know About

When you look at your business’s website, are you proud of the way your company is represented? Do you feel like your level of work is accurately portrayed through your photos, web design and site optimization? If you can’t stand using your own site, chances are that your customers won’t either. But before you give up on your company’s online presence, consider the difference your business could see when your website is gaining you new clients rather than repelling them.

When it comes to your company’s online presence, your website can go one of two ways: either it can help your business, or it can hurt your business.

Obviously, the point of your website is to help get people into your store or showroom—virtual or real—and investing in your services. The last thing you want to do is drive people away by portraying an outdated business. Therefore, it’s important that your site incorporates various elements to properly market your business, display your services and prove you are the best industry professional around.

When it comes to leveraging your business, these are the 7 elements that could be helping your website convert visitors into customers if used to your advantage, but could also be hurting your website, if not properly maintained.

1. Updated Website

Our team of digital marketing experts agree: the worst enemy for a business’s online presence is an outdated website.

There are several elements of your website that might be considered outdated, including content, design and images. Even having just one of these sections not up-to-date can hurt your website’s effectiveness, because it makes your overall business appear to be outdated as well. People are less likely to trust a business with a website that looks like it hasn’t seen an update in over a decade, especially if they only landed on your website through a search.

When you look at your business’s website, ask yourself if the quality of your work is accurately shown.

  • Does the design reflect your brand?
  • Do the photos on your site show the work/products you are most proud of? Are the photos recent?
  • Is all the content and information about your services correct?
  • If you have a blog, when was the last time someone published an article?

These are elements that need to be updated regularly to keep your site fresh.

Design

Designing a modern website yourself can be tricky, especially if you’re not tech-savvy. But if you want to attract people to your business, a modern and well-designed site is an absolute must. Outdated websites will turn people away if it looks like you haven’t touched your site since the Internet was invented. Keep it simple by going with large images, non-distracting backgrounds and a color scheme that fits your brand.

Why does this matter?

In addition to attracting potential clients, this will leave a lasting impression on Google. The search engine takes website datedness and content freshness into account when ranking your website. The more updates you make to your site, the better it will look to Google, and the search engine is more likely to rank your site as the best option for people who are searching for local services like yours. Of course, it’s not quite that simple, but content freshness does factor into Google’s ranking system.

Photos

While refreshing content on any website is certainly important, updated photos are particularly imperative for businesses in a service-based industry. Most of your clients will either choose to call you or move on to another business based on the work they see on your website. This is why it is crucial to have current projects displayed. If your photos haven’t been updated since the early 2000s, people will think your style is outdated, and will look for a more modern company.

In the real estate industry, listings with professionally photographed homes saw an average 139% increase in clicks compared to similar listings with stock photos or unprofessional photos. Plenty of other industries similarly rely on the images potential clients see on your site to sell your goods or services, making the quality of images equally important.

If applicable, before-and-after photos can put your website over the top. Also keep in mind that real photos of your work are always better than stock photos . This really illustrates what your business is capable of achieving, and gets the viewer to start visualizing how your business can provide the solution they’re looking for. You’ll have a much bigger impact on leads if they can see the transformations you’ve done for others in the same situation.

Quantity and Quality

We’ve touched how important it is to have not just any pictures, but updated pictures on your site. Now, it’s time to think about the quality of those pictures. This is where you want to show-off your professional, high-end products and services. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to take decent photos on your phone. For some, this might suffice; but when it comes to displaying your work online, hiring a professional photographer is probably the smarter business decision .

A professional photographer can make great results look extraordinary with the right lighting and angles. You’ll be amazed at how higher-quality images attract more leads, because customers see the professionalism in your work. Sure, it’s more expensive to hire a photographer to do the work. But when your average sale way up, you’ll be glad you spent the money to get first-class photos.

Increases in sales are a real result of an updated website beyond professional photos. In the home remodeling and improvement industry, having an updated website is particularly important if you want to increase your quality of sales. Take Outdoor-FX , an outdoor home improvement and design company, for example. In 2011, Bryan Critser, president of Outdoor-FX, decided to see if a website redesign and digital marketing strategy created by a professional team could change his business.

“Our site was basically completely invisible on the Internet,” Critser said. “It served no purpose other than being a digital business card.” But hiring a company to redesign the website and make it SEO-friendly completely changed Outdoor-FX’s business.

“It was a game-changing decision and move for me, business-wise.”

Since the company’s prime source of marketing and leads comes from its website, Critser said his online presence has gone from being nearly invisible to ranking for all categories and terms the company aims to show up for. After undergoing a strategic website redesign, Outdoor-FX has seen profits double since the start of the business five years ago.

“It has essentially been the best investment for our business.”
The Bottom Line: An outdated website is the #1 problem any sales-related businesses face online. Having an updated and professional website can easily increase your sales, just by attracting more leads and convincing customers that your product or service is worth their money. A few simple changes could make a huge difference in whether your site is hurting your business or helping it.

2. Utilization of Testimonials & Reviews

Online reviews have been around a while. But in the past few years, they’ve increasingly become more important than ever, and the statistics to support its relevancy are overwhelming. Think about it: when you are considering buying a product on Amazon or searching for a restaurant to go to, do you ever look at the reviews to help make your decision? The answer, most likely, is yes.


Today, you can find just about anything online, whether that’s a product or a service, and everyone out there is in the business of marketing. Oftentimes, it’s hard to tell if the images and descriptions are really what you’re getting, or if you’re being scammed. But when we see online reviews from real people just like ourselves who are willing to testify for this brand, it gives us peace of mind that we’re making the right decision.

In a 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey conducted by BrightLocal, 91 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses either regularly or occasionally . This means that only 9 percent of consumers don’t read reviews at all. If you don’t have any online reviews, or if they aren’t properly displayed on your site (more on this in a minute), you could be losing out on 91 percent of potential customers who make their purchasing decisions based on online reviews of your business.

Mark Kresge, president of kitchen and bath remodeling company Kresge Contracting , said having testimonials shown on his site had a direct impact on attracting new, high-profile clients.

“When clients are signing paperwork to move forward with their remodeling project, they mention the reason they chose to work with us was because of our online reviews,” Kresge said.

Since Kresge Contracting started requesting and displaying reviews, it saw an increase in both the number of leads and overall project price. You can see why it is crucial to take advantage of satisfied customers and get them to leave you a review.

Displaying Reviews & Relevancy

Part of utilizing your online reviews is managing where those reviews are displayed. Reviews have become an important local ranking factor, as Google boosts companies with good online reputations over those with no reputation. Basically, if your company has a bunch of great reviews, you’re more likely to show up above your local competitor who has only a few online reviews.

Great reviews—and a lot of them—boost your business’s online credibility.

For those reviews to have merit with consumers, it’s important for them to be posted on various social media and review sites , where viewers can see who wrote the review and trust that it’s a legitimate post. Sites like Facebook, Yelp, Google and Houzz are some of the top places people look for reputable reviews.

Once you have a collection of positive reviews, you will want to display them on your own website, so visitors can view all your testimonials directly on your site. By utilizing an onsite testimonials section, you’ll be able to control which reviews show up on your website. For example, most successful businesses choose to only display 4- and 5-star reviews on their site.

Even positive reviews are no good if they are outdated. Just like the design of your website , it’s crucial that some of your reviews are current. In the same BrightLocal consumer survey mentioned above, 73 percent of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant . This means that you need to constantly be asking customers for reviews if you want to appear as an up-to-date business. It’s great if you have hundreds of glowing reviews, but if they’re all from over a year ago, they won’t help your business.

Negative Reviews

Now, you may be wondering, what about negative reviews?

Most businesses hate negative reviews, and with good reason. You never want anyone making a complaint about less-than-stellar service from your business. But it is actually possible to utilize negative reviews and turn them into a positive for your business.

The first thing you want to do when you see a negative review about your business is respond. Start by apologizing about the experience, and offer a solution of some sort. If they weren’t happy with the service they received, do what you can to fix the issue. If there’s nothing you can do at this point, tell them you are working to fix the issue or offer an explanation as to why something happened the way it did, making sure you keep an understanding and respectful tone. Even if you are not able to change something, offering to make up for it goes a long way in customer service.

Negative reviews also allow you to find problems within your business and solve them. You may not have been aware of an issue that was brought to light by a customer. Whether you can learn from the review or not, you can still use it to your advantage by publicly responding, which will show consumers that even if they have a complaint, you are willing to go out of your way to make the customer happy.

The goal of publicly responding and offering a solution is to try to win them back as a customer, whether that means they will personally use your product or services again or recommend you to a friend. If you can get back into your customer’s good graces after a negative review, you’ve provided excellent customer service.

It’s also important to remember that having negative reviews make your business seem more credible . Of course, you don’t want a long series of bad reviews, but having a few mediocre reviews gives people peace of mind that all the reviews of your business are legitimate. When someone sees a company with all 5-star reviews, it can look suspicious, and leave the customer wondering if they’re being tricked.

3. Branding

When it comes to marketing your business online, making your business’s website reflect your brand is an absolute must in any service-based industry. It’s what sets you apart from your competition, establishes your credibility and shows people why you are the best choice for them.

Metric Marketing’s “ Guide to The Importance of Branding in Your Marketing ” breaks branding down to a simple definition:

“In its most basic form, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells your consumers what they can expect from your products and services. It is the total sum of their experiences and perceptions—some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot.”

It may seem like something only big-name companies would focus on, but branding is a powerful tool that can change peoples’ perception of your company, if harnessed correctly.

Branding your business is similar to being a professional: if it looks like you have your stuff together, people will assume you really do have your stuff together. Maybe you’re a family business that has been around for over 30 years, or perhaps you’re just building your company. Either way, if you have a brand that is professional and portrays the appearance you are going for, you’ll establish credibility and attract the audience you want.

It’s All About the Details

One of the easiest and most influential aspects of branding for your business is website design. We’ve touched on the importance of this already in the section on outdated websites , but when it comes to service-based sites, design works hand-in-hand with your brand.

In terms of your brand, design can be broken down into many different elements that all work together to tell a story about your business.

For example, looking at the font used throughout a company’s website allows you to easily perceive the company’s style and tone. Cursive font gives the appearance of class and tradition, in the same way that simple, geometric fonts portray modernity and innovation. Of course, font choice is just one of the details that tells a story about your company. Other elements include color scheme, logo, layout and writing tone. When all these elements, and many more, are combined, the look of your brand is created.

Continuity is Key

The key is to make sure your brand standards are continued throughout your site, as well as in your actual services. There needs to be a level of consistency on every page of your website, as well as in your store logos, marketing campaigns, on social media and everywhere else your business is represented. If you portray your business as being sleek and modern, you better be prepared to provide products or services that mimic that sleek and modern tone for clients who were drawn to you because of your online representation of your business.

The Bottom Line: When you look at your current website, are you giving off the right impression about your business? Do you have a distinct brand that is continued throughout your website and in your service? If not, it’s time to step up your game and develop your business’s brand.

4. Responsiveness

Responsive web design (RWD), is the automatic alteration of a webpage’s layout based on the form of technology being used to view it . RWD takes the content of your website and changes it to fit the screen its being viewed on, whether that’s a large desktop screen or a much smaller smartphone screen.

That might sound a bit confusing for someone who isn’t extremely knowledgeable in web design and coding, but before you skip over this section, let us make it a little more applicable to small businesses.

Format Changes

When you look at a website on your cell phone, you probably notice that it looks different than when you view it on a tablet or desktop computer. The content doesn’t change, but the format you see it in is slightly different. This is an example of responsive website design. RWD makes it possible for various devices to alter features like font size, image viewing and content scaling, as well as a search engine’s capability of recognizing your site.

This responsiveness is crucial to the success of your website. More and more people are using mobile devices over desktop computers to browse the Internet. In fact, over 50 percent of worldwide Internet usage is done on a mobile device , meaning more people are searching on their phones and tablets than on a desktop computer.

Navigability