two businesspeople making their website better
Growing a business

18 tips to improve your small business website

Ready to learn how to improve your small business’s website? Your website is one of the most vital components of your business. Whether you’re in e-commerce or doing business face-to-face, your website is the first place potential customers will go to discover and decide if they want to do business with you.

Whether your site has just launched or has been around for years, there’s always room for improvement. Here’s a list of 18 tips to make your small business website more impressive, effective, and easier to find. Follow these ideas to improve your website and potentially attract more customers.

1. Focus on your website’s goal

“Start by really identifying who your customers are and why they would use your site,” says Tish Gance, who helps small businesses improve their online presence. This helps you drill down to the purpose of your site: the reason it exists in the first place.

Are your customers:

  • Meeting you in person, then visiting your website?
  • Finding your website online, then visiting your business?
  • Visiting your website to learn?
  • Visiting your website to make a purchase?

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

Stepping into your customers’ shoes can help you determine what they’re expecting from your website. Do they need to shop online, or are they there to perform research about your business and products? Take a look at competitors in your space and analyze their websites to help plan your own. 

Discover strengths and weaknesses

Free tools like Google Analytics provide valuable data about how people currently find and use your website. To determine if your website is matching up with your customers’ needs, examine metrics like: 

  • Traffic sources (how your visitors find your website)
  • Top pages (the most visited pages on your website)
  • Bounce rate (how quickly visitors leave a page)
  • Time on page (how long visitors spend on each page)

2. Make your website easy to navigate

Whenever someone visits your website, you want them to have a seamless and uncomplicated experience. The more difficult it is to navigate, the higher the chance that a visitor will leave out of frustration before finding the information they were looking for.

Great website navigation:

  • Uses descriptive labels
  • Is simple to use on mobile and desktop devices
  • Directs visitors to the most important pages

Understand your customers' needs

Understanding the reason that customers visit your website is crucial to building a useful navigation. For example, when viewing a restaurant's website, most visitors are looking for menus, location details, and how to make reservations. Meanwhile, someone comparing contractors will want to know all about your typical projects, pricing, and timelines. Whatever your customers want, place it up front on your homepage or create a separate page linked through a visually dominant call to action.

Examples of top-visited pages:

  • Location and contact page
  • Pricing page
  • Portfolio and/or examples of work
  • Customer reviews
  • Meet the team page

Keep it simple

Much like good design, the best way to create a positive user experience is to keep everything as simple as possible. One rule of thumb is that it should take your visitor no more than three clicks to find out what they want to know. At most, limit yourself to four or five top-level pages with supporting pages under those as needed.

3. Follow web design best practices

“Visitors who find websites to be visually appealing associate that aesthetic quality with professionalism, usability, and trustworthiness,” says Michael Wagner, web designer at Markon Brands.

In fact, according to a study by Kinesis Inc, 75% of customers will judge a business’s credibility based on their website’s design. With that in mind, take a moment to consider if you’re following best practices in website design, with a focus on:

  • Readability (font size, color, and spacing)
  • Plenty of white space
  • Responsive design for mobile
  • Consistent use of colors and fonts

When it comes to design, it’s always best to take a “less is more” approach. Don’t try to cram all the information onto a single page. Instead, spread it out evenly and take advantage of whitespace to give your website a clean and minimalist aesthetic that’s easy to read.

Opt for a user-friendly website design tool

Choose a website design tool that is easy to maintain by yourself, suggests Ruta Puistomaa of LiquidBlox. “Hiring a web developer for every little change you need to make will cost you both time and money,” she points out, which means you might put off important updates to your website.

a woman being confused by inconsistent web design

4. Have a consistent theme on your site

A consistent theme across all of your web pages gives visitors confidence. High-quality websites will follow the company’s brand guidelines throughout the site. Mismatched fonts, text sizes, color schemes, and images make a website look unprofessional. If a visitor finishes reading one page and clicks a link, only to discover a completely different-looking page with different colors and fonts, they can feel confused and may think they’ve left your site. 

Consistency is also important for navigating your website. If the search bar is in the top right on one page and on the top left (or completely absent) on the next page, the user may be confused. By maintaining consistent styling, layouts, and navigation, you’ll make a better impression on visitors, and keep them on your site longer.

Website elements that need to be consistent include:

  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • Font sizes
  • Navigation
  • Image style and resolution

5. Create a content strategy

A compelling description of your product or service is just the beginning. Today’s successful websites also include information that can help customers learn more through blog posts, case studies, video tutorials, infographics, and FAQs. Based on the topic, visitors may prefer one medium over the rest. 

Hub-and-spoke content strategy

Creating a few articles is a great start, but not enough. Ideally, what you want is a content strategy—an entire content ecosystem. One easy way to approach this is by applying a hub-and-spoke model to your content strategy. 

The idea is that you create one authoritative piece of content and then link to other relevant pieces of content from the same page. This is a great way to keep your audience engaged with your site, as well as optimizing your website’s SEO by building your internal linking architecture.

6. Keep your site’s content fresh

A great website is filled with fresh, current information. If you open a website in July and see information about a New Year's Day sale, your confidence in the information on that website will probably decrease. Set a calendar reminder to check sections of your site related to sales, upcoming events, or recent news and update them accordingly.

A simple way to improve your website is to make sure it is up to date and reflects the latest products and services you offer. Your content marketing should be updated regularly as well, to make sure the answers they provide are still relevant and useful to readers.

7. Only use original content

A big mistake that many small businesses make is plagiarizing content. Creating unique, high-quality content can be time-consuming, but copying content from another website isn’t a shortcut you want to risk taking. 

Google has stated that it wants each search result to be unique, otherwise a visitor could click on 10 links and find the exact same content on each one. This would be a bad user experience, so Google will filter out identical or extremely similar content. That means if you copy a competitor’s web page, your page may not appear in search results at all!

8. Page headings should act as a road map

Internet users often skim through headings to learn what’s in store before they begin reading. The headings on your page should provide a quick preview of the entire page in a few seconds. Having clear headings for each section that include your topic’s keyword reassures users that they clicked on the right link.

Page headings:

  • Are important for SEO
  • Should be skimmable
  • Give the reader a clear overview

Even search engines use a page’s headings like an outline to determine if they should recommend that particular web page for a search term. Google can even highlight text and send users directly to that part of the page to make sure they find the answer they need fast. Scannable, well-organized content is preferred by both humans and search engines, so spend time making sure the topic is clear and the important details are easy to find.

small business website improvement checklist

9. Use bullet points to get to the point

The attention span of the average internet user is extremely short. That’s why bullet points help users to:


  • Quickly find what they’re looking for
  • Skip over sections they don’t need
  • Highlight the most important details

As readers skim down the page, all of the most important information from that section is broken out into easy-to-read bullet points, allowing them to quickly digest that section. Nobody wants to hunt for information in a giant wall of text, so bullet points help visitors absorb key information about your company while keeping them on your website.

10. Use high-quality images

Images are an essential part of web design. They convey concepts and inspire emotions in a way that a block of text just can’t. It can be tempting to fill your website with stock photography, but when a user encounters a generic photo they’ve seen before (or even worse, used as part of an internet meme) it may feel like you didn’t put much effort into your website. 

Website images should:


  • Make a good first impression
  • Complement text on a page
  • Help increase conversions

Add a human element

When possible, use images that feature people (the human eye is naturally drawn to people’s faces) and make sure that those images are clear and viewable on every type of device. If possible, use images unique to your company in place of stock photography. An original photo of your business will have a much greater impact than a stock photo.

Images can influence sales

In one case study, a company called Harrington Movers increased sales by swapping out a stock photo on their website. By replacing a generic stock photo of movers with a photo of their actual team, they were able to increase conversions! While downloading a stock photo is cheaper and easier in the short-term, the study proved that unique photos can actually improve sales.

11. Add social proof everywhere

Credibility and trust can make or break a business. This is all the more crucial online, where misinformation and scams abound. It’s easy to brag about your own business, but website visitors want to get a second opinion from your actual customers.

Social proof includes:


  • Customer reviews
  • Testimonials
  • Ratings
  • Brand mentions on social media

“To convert the person browsing your website to a lead, you need to make them feel comfortable about giving you a call, sharing their contact information, or making a purchase,” explains Earl White, co-founder of House Heroes LLC.

The best way to build credibility is through social proof. On your website, you can highlight your company's social proof by:


  • Showcasing written or video testimonials from your happiest customers 
  • Displaying positive reviews from Facebook, Yelp, and Google Business 
  • Sharing industry awards, recognitions, and certifications specific to your niche

12. Optimize for search engines (SEO)

Of course, all of this content and social proof also helps with search engine optimization (SEO), provided you are using the right keywords. SEO is the process of continually improving your website to increase its rankings in search engines.

Search engine optimization:

  • Can improve your website’s Google rankings (if done correctly)
  • Can be performed by a specialist or done in-house
  • Is essential for any business website

“Using high-volume and industry-relevant keywords and phrases,” explains Chris Williams, digital marketing strategist and founder of Clock In Marketing, “allows you to pop up when people are searching for the product or service you offer.” Free keyword research tools like Wordtracker or Keyword Tool can help you decide which ones to focus on.

SEO do’s and don'ts 

SEO is an ever-evolving process. Strategies that worked months or years ago may not help your website rank today. A good general principle is to create content that you would want to read and find useful.

DON'T

  • DON'T stuff your site full of keywords. That strategy doesn’t work anymore, and might even get you penalized by the major search engines.
  • DON'T put all of your faith in plugins and programs. It takes a human element to write for humans. 
  • DON'T create content on topics outside your area of expertise or authority.

DO

  • DO ask yourself if visitors would find your web page useful. 
  • DO answer the most important questions regarding the subject. 
  • DO look for ideas and create original content for your site based on what’s working for top-ranking competitors.


13. Make sure your website’s internal search bar works

Did you know that people who perform a site search are twice as likely to make a purchase? That's why it is so important to ensure that their search leads them to the page they need.

Jordan Harling, multimedia manager at Interior Goods Limited, says the company recently improved the customer experience—and increased their sales—by making it quicker and easier for customers to find the product they were looking for.

After doing a deep dive into their website data, Harling said he found customers were navigating through the site manually, using filters to refine the products on each page, rather than deploying the search bar.

The team discovered that the search function was only returning products that had the keyword in their title or description, rather than the other attributes that the design team had tagged. Tweaking the search engine was a simple task that produced immediate results, he says, with a greater percentage of people using the search bar that resulted in increased conversions.

14. Speed up your website

Speed is crucial to users, and is one of the most important SEO ranking factors for Google. Studies found that the probability of a customer abandoning your page increases by 90% when page load time goes from one second to five seconds, according to Google research.

Website speed:


  • Is an SEO ranking factor
  • Keeps visitors on your site
  • Can be improved over time

Some types of code that are used to make a website function can actually slow it down. Removing this code can improve your website’s speed. You can test your website and receive recommendations from Google using its Pagespeed Insight Tool.

It’s recommended that you test your website on a variety of mobile devices and connections to get an idea of how fast your website loads for visitors on their phones. A low-end phone on a regular internet connection will give you a good idea of what the average mobile user will experience when visiting your site.

Another far simpler way to optimize site speed is by compressing overly large media files. When uploading or resizing images, aim for file sizes of 100 KB or fewer. Reduced file sizes can make a big difference in page speed and doesn't have to take away from image quality.

15. Offer something interactive

Instead of giving your audience a passive experience whenever they visit your website, give them opportunities to actively engage through interactive content.

According to a DemandGen Report, 59% of marketers believe that interactive content is highly effective at engaging an audience, and a further 81% agree that interactive content grabs attention more effectively than static content. Interactive elements can be as easy as quizzes and surveys or as complex as tools like ROI calculators.

Types of interactive content include:


  • Quizzes
  • Surveys
  • Calculators
  • Chatbots

A simple tactic is to offer visitors the chance to enter a contest or giveaway by sharing something via social media (along with a branded hashtag) or by entering in their contact details on the site. Likewise, chatbots offer a way for you to engage with your audience in real time by answering questions, guiding them to the information they’re looking for, or just demonstrating that you’re available to listen and talk.

Beyond using a chatbot as a customer service tool, you can even use your chatbot to help you with your marketing and sales. Some businesses use their chatbots to help set up sales meetings and appointments, and others even use chatbots to make direct sales to customers.

16. Give your visitors a clear call to action

After a customer has become familiar with your brand and learned about your product, it’s time to get them to act. A clear call to action (often a button or link) lets them know what to do next, whether it’s downloading a resource, completing a transaction, or using live chat to schedule a consultation.

Call to action best practices:


  • Use a differently colored button that stands out
  • Write engaging text that entices a user to click
  • Place calls to action on your most-visited pages—not just the contact page.

Streamline your contact forms

If you use a contact form, make sure it's easy for visitors to complete in a short amount of time. While you may be tempted to gather all the information you want right from the start, form submissions increase when the number of form fields decreases. 

Stick to the following fields to make the process quick and easy:


  • First and last name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • A “How can we help?” field for the visitor to enter any additional information they would like to provide

Use contrasting colors to draw attention to your CTAs

Make your buttons and forms stand out by using a color that contrasts with the rest of the page. Contrasting colors will draw attention to the button and entice users to click. A white page with a brightly colored “Order Now” button will draw the user’s eye.

Use A/B testing for your call to action

All call to action phrases aren’t created equal, so try different phrases like “Get a Quote,” “Buy Now,” or “Message Us” to see which ones customers click on the most. Something as simple as swapping out a low-performing call to action phrase with a better one can improve your sales with minimal effort. Be sure to test your call to action buttons regularly to make sure the visitor is being taken to the right page.

17. Locate and fix broken links

Over time, pages of your website will be moved or deleted. This results in broken links that don’t go anywhere. If a visitor begins clicking links on your site only to find that they don’t work, they may give up on trying to navigate your website and return to the search results. 

Broken links:


  • Are a negative SEO ranking factor
  • Frustrate website visitors
  • Are easy to find and fix

Once someone visits your website, you want to keep them there. Updating your internal links ensures that visitors get to where they’re going. For very small websites, you can manually visit each page and verify that each link works. For medium-sized sites, you can use Google Search Console (it’s free!), which will give you a list of broken links that need to be fixed.

18. Experiment with your site

Experimentation is a great way to improve your website. Have you ever had two competing ideas for improving a web page, but you couldn’t decide on which one to use? A/B testing allows you to try both and learn which version users prefer. Tiny changes like swapping out the color of your “Order Now” button, or rearranging elements on a page can actually result in higher sales. 

Free products like Google Optimize allow you to show different versions of a page to different users and track the results. Would a black-and-white homepage result in more appointments than a homepage that’s bright orange with pink text? Experimentation lets you find out.

Web design is constantly evolving

A website should always be improving, so refine, update, and upgrade yours regularly. A website that’s four years old could look like someone pulled it out of a time capsule, so keep making small improvements to make sure your website looks modern and trustworthy. Check out competitors in your field (especially those that appear at the top of search results) and see how your site matches up. Use their sites as inspiration to improve your own and ensure visitors always have a great user experience.

Follow these tips to improve your website

For a small business to stay competitive in today’s market, you need to be able to make your website a place that your audience enjoys visiting. Whether you’re opening a new store or revamping your website, take advantage of the tips we’ve outlined above to help you reach out and engage with customers in a way that they appreciate.

Improving your website can seem daunting, but it’s one of the most worthwhile projects you can tackle for your business. After all, a well-designed website pays dividends, selling you and your company to potential customers you didn’t even know were looking.


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