Is Your Small Business' Site Sending the Wrong Message?


Small businesses today put great emphasis on their web presence. And why not? As more businesses take to the web, more users continue to rely on the Internet to find information about products and services. Web-based businesses is on the rise. And mobile is becoming increasingly critical, given that customers are more likely to shop through their mobile devices.

As a result, businesses are putting in the blood, sweat and tears needed to keep their sites up to snuff. The time and commitment involved with establishing strong SEO, consistent content and smart social media can be staggering. And businesses want to see their efforts pay off, especially when they invest so heavily in their Internet marketing efforts.

Regardless, many small business websites simply aren't living up to their potential due to simple oversights or mistakes. Perhaps users aren't getting past your site's homepage. Maybe they're not clicking where you want them to (or at all). Warning signs of such behavior include poor web traffic and a high bounce rate (anything higher than 60% may signal an issue, meanwhile 80% plus signals a major red flag), which is yet another reason why it’s vitally important to pay attention to your data and analytics.

When it comes to your business' site, three questions should be immediately answered by a visitor:
  • What does this company do?
  • What does company sell?
  • How can I purchase their services?
Not only do these questions need to be answered clearly, but they also need to be only a click or two away. The average user doesn't have the time or attention span to spend on your site. They want to know if your business has what they want at a mere glance. And the more quickly consumers can get the information they need, the more likely they are to become customers.

Is your business holding your users' attention? Are you afraid that your site is sending the wrong message? How does a business remedy such a problem?

Your Website is a Puzzle

First, think of your site as a puzzle. The major pieces of that puzzle exist in the forms of content, imagery and design. These elements must come together quickly and clearly in order to draw your users in. If one element is lacking or doesn't fit, the other two will subsequently suffer.

Your website's content must reflect your business, its mission and message. You must not only capture the tone of your business and what it has to offer, but also why users should consider you over the competition. Imagery helps build upon your business' content, both providing a visual for users and giving a face to your branding and marketing efforts. Finally, your design houses the two previous elements in a way that is friendly to your users.

If you feel that one of the aforementioned pieces is lacking, chances are it probably is.

Be Specific and Avoid Jargon

When it comes to your site’s content, you need to be as specific as possible. One of the most frustrating experiences is to land on the site of a potentially promising business only to find that their website offers absolutely nothing in terms of what the business does, their products or services or information about who's running the place. The answer to “What does this business do?” should be clear upon arrival. Your customers are coming to your website because they have a problem. How are you going to help them solve it?

Furthermore, avoid confusing and vague language when it comes to crafting your site's content. It’s frustrating when a business' site relies on jargon, acronyms and industry terms in an attempt to make their business look (and sound) more professional. And saying that your business offers “solutions” is frustratingly vague. What solutions are they? How much do they cost? How does someone find them? Rather than rely on buzzwords to cultivate your reputation as an industry expert, turn to solutions like content creation through blog posts, for example, rather than weighing your site down with vague language.

Use Clear and Consistent Imagery

Your site's imagery should be consistent with your business, its content and marketing. You may expect a business called “Sunshine Carpet Cleaning,” for example, to have images of a sunset, clean hotel rooms or perhaps even a vacuum cleaner on its front page. Meanwhile, you would not expect such a business to have pictures of iPads and smartphones across their site. Your site's images can be integrated with your business' industry, name or even location. Doesn’t this just make sense?

Nevertheless, it's common to see businesses utilize seemingly random imagery across their website as some sort of stylistic move. This may confuse or unsettle visitors, however, as they wonder why a computer repair company has pictures of windmills and Ferris wheels strewn across their site. While such imagery might make sense to you, it’s more important that it resonates with the visitor. Make sure you use images on your website that will make sense to your site visitors, rather than making them spend valuable time wondering if they're in the right place.

Keep Your Design in Check

When it comes to your site's design, you should be able to get anywhere you need to go in just about one or two clicks. This requires a smart but simple design, and most modern site designs should be able to accommodate such a demand. Today’s consumers are in a hurry—and they’re inundated with information from all directions. Create a simple, enjoyable experience and you’ll be rewarded with their business. If, on the other hand, your site leaves your users' questions lingering, they'll drop off and look elsewhere.

A bad navigational experience and a visually cluttered design can overwhelm your visitors. Too many social media buttons and links, for example, may keep your visitors' eyes wandering away from where they really want to go. And complicated site design coupled with abundant visuals will likely cause your site’s load time to lag—and nothing makes customers run away faster than a slow website.

Look at your site with a critical eye. Make it clear and obvious as to where your visitors should go if they're looking to buy or learn more information. For example, it's not a bad idea to have multiple avenues of access to your business' store or “About Us” page on the landing page. While it's nice for sites to offer plenty of links, information and functionality, you need to make sure your visitors are finding what they want on your site.

The Bottom Line

Make the most of your business' traffic and send the right message the first time. You may feel that you're hitting all the right buttons as it is; however, there are many opportunities for your site to drop visitors if you aren't careful. What about your small business website? Is it living up to its full potential—if not, maybe it’s time to take a look at making some changes.

About the Author

Brent Barnhart

Brent Barnhart is a freelance content writer specializing in topics such as Internet marketing and content marketing for small businesses. His goal is to help business owners find their voices online and improve their content strategies. You can reach Brent or find out more at

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