Q&A: Help! I Don't Have a Website

By Vanessa FoxBusiness on Main

I don’t have a website for my gift shop yet, and I don’t even know where to start. What are the most important things I should have on my website to help me attract more customers?

Getting started is easy! Many websites for local businesses are missing the basics for the simple reason that business owners don’t take a step back and think like their customers.

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Make sure you prominently display your location, contact information (including your address with city and state) and phone number (including area code). Link to a map to make it even easier for your customers to find you. After all, if you’re in Portland, Oregon, you don’t want searchers in Portland, Maine, to happen upon your website and try to drive over!

Also, include the hours you’re open. Sometimes the choice to stop by your shop vs. your competitor’s is as simple as knowing that your store isn’t closed.

Think about what your customers are most likely to search for when looking for you. Use those words in your page titles and in the contents of the pages. Rather than saying “Visit Sally’s Gift Shop Today,” you could say “Visit Sally’s Gift Shop for Local Portland Gifts and Souvenirs.”

What kinds of questions do your customers ask you the most about your products? Include that information on the site as well.

To make sure you’re using the language of your customers (so that your site appears in search engines when they search for businesses like yours), use keyword research tools to find out how people look up information about your industry on the Web.

Are your customers looking for gifts or souvenirs? Real estate or homes for sale? Cafes or restaurants? Keyword research tools that aggregate data about how people search can tell you the answer with one click.

Pick a domain or URL name that’s memorable and easy to understand when spoken aloud.

You can simply write up the most important details into a one- or two-page document to give to a Web designer, who should be able to put a site together for you quickly and inexpensively. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can use a service like wordpress.com to easily pick a template, specify the domain name you want, and publish.

Don’t forget to install an analytics program to track your visitors. Lastly, be sure to add your information and website address to search engine maps. Your site will be bringing in customers in no time!

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