Do you look like you mean business?
It sounds obvious but your website is your shop window to the world. Yet so many contractors don’t have one, perhaps because they think they’re too small or it’s just another thing to do. Or, they may have set one up once upon a time and haven’t touched it since.
This could be costing you business.
We’ve just launched our new site and we’re pretty pleased with how it’s looking (but I might be biased, so let us know what you think of it!). We’ve put together six top tips on how to tackle your company website – whether you’re starting from scratch or need to breath new life into your existing one.
DIY or use a web service company?
How you set up and run your site is your choice. You can build a website yourself using one of the many platforms readily available – systems such as WordPress are fairly intuitive to use and are mobile-friendly (more on that later). You will need to do your own reading around what you should be doing but there are plenty of useful resources online and you can ask for advice from others in the same boat as you, through forums such as Contractor UK.
You may opt to outsource your business website development to a web service company. There are plenty to choose from and you should be able to negotiate the service level you engage them on. As well as saving you time, a big advantage of using a third party is that they should know all the latest trends and Google algorithms to make sure your site performs well. Work with them to define the scope of the project before they start so you are really focused on what you want and they can best advise you (and agree a price).
Remember, whichever route you opt for, you can claim the costs back through your Limited Company.
Make your website user-focused
User experience is key so create a site that gives users what they need and want; not what you want them to have!
When building your contractor website it’s very tempting to tell your visitor everything you do, how you do it, and anything else you know about your specialist field! Before you start building, make a cup of tea, sit back, look around other sites that you like and think about why they work – chances are their messaging is clear and focused and you were easily able to do what you needed to do on the site without having to work too hard. Think about what will make your website unique, valuable, or engaging so you stand out from all the rest in your field.
And don’t bloat the site with content. After all, you still want something to talk to the prospect about when they contact you!
Clear calls to action
What do you want your website visitors to do…and when? Remember different people like to communicate in different ways – some will want to pick up the phone and talk to you, others might only be able to email or Live Chat so make sure you let them know all the different ways they can get in touch with you.
Make sure there are clear calls to action throughout your site (this could be to encourage visitors to contact you or download a paper, for example). You need to get the balance right – too many can be confusing and they won’t know where to look. Not enough and they may simply leave your site feeling frustrated and ready to look elsewhere.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
It’s essential to make sure your website content is working hard for you.
In our time-pressured lives we want information now and search engines help us out by guessing what we want before we’ve even finished typing it in the search box! You want to make sure you feature high up in search results and this is influenced by the content on your site.
Over the past three years Google has clamped down tightly on those deemed to be spamming their websites to get to the top of Google’s rankings. You need to make sure your pages are primarily for your users, not for search engines. Google will reward you for providing useful information in a helpful way.
When it comes to SEO, there’s a lot to talk about (too much for this blog). Do take time to check out Google’s Webmaster Guidelines documenting SEO basics – but just be aware that this only outlines key points and won’t give you strategic direction.
Some other resources worth looking at:
Make sure your site is mobile responsive
As a contractor you’re probably on the move a lot and need to be able to access the internet through a range of devices. Your future clients are no different so make sure they can see what’s on offer!
Probably the best route for you to take is ensuring you have a ‘mobile-responsive’ design route so that your website resizes and adapts for the device it’s being viewed on to ensure an optimal user experience. Unless you require your site to have specific, complex functionality or a lot of integration with back office functions then the mobile responsive route should be sufficient.
Don’t let your site fail the Google mobile-friendliness test. If it does, your search rankings will suffer as Google will simply push those that are mobile-friendly higher up in the search results.
Google mobile-friendly pages achieve that label if they meet the following standards:
- Avoids software that isn’t common on mobile devices, such as Flash
- Text can be read without the user needing to zoom
- Content is resized to fit the user’s screen so they don’t have to scroll around all over the place
- Links are placed far enough apart so that the user can easily tap on the one they want.
Check out googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk to test your pages as if you were a mobile user.
Don’t leave your site to stagnate
To help improve your rankings, you need to keep content fresh – this doesn’t mean you need to re-write your entire site every week, but do keep a keen eye on providing relevant content on a regular basis – you could do this in the form of a weekly blog (and that gives you great material to push out through your social media channels) and you could talk about recent work you have undertaken to boost your profile, showcase your skills and demonstrate how you might be able to help your visitor.
Also, be mindful of things that could quickly make your site look out of date. For example, if you include customer testimonials, think carefully before you add dates (and also make sure you get their permission to use their name and quote on your site!)
What sites do you like?
We know contractors like to help each other out so let us know which sites you like and why, or any platforms you are familiar with that other contractors could make use of.
This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.