8 Essential Elements Every Service Business Website Should Have
If you’re like many service businesses, you may have a terrible website.
Hey, we understand. Maintaining a website is a lot of work, and the marketing trends and technology change so quickly it can be hard to keep up. If you’re a small business owner, it may feel like you have hundreds of things on your to-do list that are more important than website maintenance.
We know how it happened, too. It was easy to let your website get a little outdated when your business was young and you had more pressing issues like getting your service techs to the homes of your customers on time. It may have been tough to commit time and resources to updating it, and now the problem has ballooned out of proportion.
It might feel like the type of project that seems too big to handle without doling out a huge amount of money or committing more time than you can spare.
We have one thing to say: Everything is fixable!
As a local service business, you probably employ tradesmen who are happiest when they’re fixing broken things. We encourage you to tackle your website problem one small issue at a time, just like a service call. The key is to diagnose and repair each part methodically until you’re left with a high-performing, lead-generating website.
To help you as you get started, we’ve compiled the 8 most important things to focus on as you begin bringing your company’s website into the 21st century.
1) Contact Info Visibility
Here’s the thing some website designers forget about the service industry:
Make sure the first thing a visitor to your website sees is a clear way to contact the company. This step is crucial because without it, none of the other changes will matter. In the heading section of your home page (and every page) there should be a distinguishable area where someone can simply click to get a hold of a real human being.
This is the service industry, and one of the best ways you can serve your customers is to be available to talk. With a mobile-friendly site, you can even add a specialized link to allow your customers to call you with the tap of a finger.
In the menu bar, you should also feature a “contact” section, which takes users to a new page with all of your company’s contact info—specialized phone numbers, business and/or mailing addresses, maps, directions, and email addresses for specific departments or employees.
2) NAP (Name, Address, Phone) Consistency
NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone number. Many established service businesses have had multiple addresses or phone numbers over the years, and this can create a big problem: outdated contact info showing up in online searches.
This is devastating for obvious reasons—if your customers can’t get in touch quickly and easily, you’ll probably lose them to a competitor—but there’s even more.
Google and other search engines actually use the NAP to determine where a business ranks in search results. If you have conflicting information on your site, it could potentially harm how well or how often you show up when someone in your area is looking for the type of services you provide.
Double and triple check that the NAP appears exactly the same throughout your site. This includes punctuation and abbreviations. (e.g. St. vs. Street or (555)123-1234 vs. 555-123-1234)
3) Engaging Visual Content
Websites, first and foremost, are a marketing tool. With each passing year, consumers are gravitating toward visually engaging media instead of plain text. Even the Facebook feed you wasted time on this morning had more high-quality photos and funny videos than it did just a few years ago.
Your website should be full of engaging visual elements, utilized to creatively highlight your company’s strengths. The design of the site should focus on image-based media; content that is designed not only to be appealing, but to showcase the things that make your company great.
Show off your employees, your office, and the work you’ve completed for past clients. You can use infographics, videos, high quality photos, and animations. Even if you use your mobile phone to take most of photos and videos for your site, with a little tweaking you’ll be surprised how good they can look.
4) Getting Email Addresses
Implement a strategy to request an email address from every site visitor. While some people tout social media as the holy grail of modern marketing, email marketing has consistently been proven to produce better ROI (and it’s actually not even close).
An email form is easier to setup than you might think, but you’ll first need to utilize an email marketing service for it to be truly powerful (we suggest trying something free like Mailchimp to get started.)
Once your account is ready, find a creative way to prompt site visitors to submit an email address. Place the form in the sidebar, at the very top of your website’s header, or use a “pop-up” dialogue box to ask for emails (the pop-up is usually the most effective option). We suggest using a tool like SumoMe to help with this part.
5) Blogging: Dynamic, Fresh, Consistent
A blog is simply a chronological feed of articles and updates. While the term is sometimes confusing, trust us when we say that a company blog can do more to benefit your SEO than any other section of your site, besides the home page.
Your blog is a great opportunity to really set you apart from local competitors. Many small business owners haven’t really tried, or have already given up on blogging. Fair warning: It requires a staggering amount of hard work and consistency to keep quality content steadily flowing to your site.
Not only does a good blog make your company look cutting-edge and vibrant, but it’s an amazing way to relate to the target customers who are checking out your site to decide between you and the “other guy.” It also improves your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) when you strategically use keywords related to your industry in each blog post.
The most essential part about blogging is making sure it’s getting done consistently. Posting sporadically or infrequently may give potential customers the impression that you’re lazy or disorganized, so be careful! Come up with a big-picture blogging strategy upfront, and commit a few hours a week to writing and scheduling posts.
6) Featuring Social Media
While it’s true that email marketing is still king, you can’t ignore social media. These days, consumers expect a reputable company to be present and active on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Use this to your advantage and make sure your site prominently features these social media profiles. Place social media icons in the header or footer of each page and link them to your profiles.
Social media is a great way for your customers to see your products, services, and company culture in a more informal setting, giving them a more comfortable interaction with your company. This is one of the easiest ways to humanize your brand to your website visitors and give them a feel for the personalized attention you can offer as a local business.
Check out our guide for how to make the perfect Facebook ad for your business!
7) Responsive Design
“Responsive Design” is a fancy way to say, “make sure your site looks good on every type of device.”
This means tablets, laptops, desktop computers, and smartphones. As you can probably attest from your own personal life, mobile phone usage has skyrocketed in recent years and shows no signs of dwindling.
Older websites were built to look clean on a large computer screen, but appear dated, complicated, and sometimes illegible on the small screen of an iPhone. Responsive design is a type of layout that scales the elements of a page to different sizes depending on the size and resolution of the viewer’s screen.
Best of all, using Responsive Design creates no extra work for you. It is a much easier and usually cheaper solution than creating two separate websites; one for desktops and one for mobile devices. Talk it through with your web designer, or use a design tool like Squarespace that optimizes for RD automatically.
8) Analytics Software
Finally, we come to our last essential item: analytics software. Tools like Google Analytics and Kissmetrics allow you to see exactly how people interact with your website. This is a game changer for your business, as it gives you insight into your market and clues about where to focus your efforts.
It’s empowering to be able to see in black and white exactly where your website’s strengths and weaknesses are. Analytics software allows you to do just that.
Discover which pages are being visited most often, how long your average visitor stays, and what pages visitors are on before they leave. This software is easily installed on your site by placing a small bit of code into the header or footer of your site. Google Analytics is also completely free!
Analytics software will be invisible to your websites visitors, but it makes them completely visible to you!
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
As a business owner or manager, we know you have a lot of things vying for your time. If your website needs a major overhaul, approach it with the Japanese philosophy of “kaizen” in mind.
Kaizen: Continuous, steady, and incremental improvements.
In other words? You can do this. Just take it one step at a time, using these 8 principles as a guide.
Once these eight items are under your belt, you can really hone in on the details to make your website into an even better lead generator for your service business.
What are your biggest website struggles? Let us know in the comments!