Anatomy of A Perfect Small Business Website: 16 Steps To 10X More Traffic and Leads

I think you may be a lot like Jim. Jim is a partner at a small, but growing Chicago criminal law firm. At a recent staff meeting, Jim, and his trusty paralegal-turned-marketing-specialist Mary have been tasked with spearheading an overhaul to the firm’s stale, non-performing website (circa 2005). Let’s call it an online brochure.

For quite some time, the staff has shared a growing sense of urgency to “finally get up to speed with the whole interwebs thing,” but the time has finally come.

Jim and Mary are excited. They’ve been scouring the web looking for cool web designs, researching law firm web design and SEO companies, and even sketching out crude drafts of the firm’s exciting new “online lead generation machine” that, once launched, will kick the firm’s web presence into the stratosphere, making them heroes to their clients and a powerful threat to their competitors.

As the weeks pass (I know you’re a busy business owner –  so I’ll get to the point), Mary and Jim find a reputable design and marketing company to work with. After a few expected rounds of back and forth communication, tweaking colors, photos, layouts and messaging, the firm unveils and launches their mothership of legal awesomeness! And after just weeks of launching, something unexpected happens…{drum roll please}…

Nothing. No leads, no phone calls. At first, Jim, Mary, and the rest of the firm discuss possible reasons for this delay in results. “Perhaps Google just hasn’t indexed the website yet!” their suddenly defensive marketing firm rep tells them. But after several months, the law firm finds themselves scrambling to salvage their remaining dreams of launching a successful online presence. Or at least a few new clients.

Where did Jim and Mary go wrong? I’m glad you asked.

WHY MOST WEBSITES FAIL TO GENERATE LEADS

Most busy small business owners lack the time or interest to understand the basics of web design, SEO, and online marketing. This is a mistake. Successful business owners should and do outsource activities associated with marketing, but only after establishing a solid foundation on the principles and metrics related to marketing. Designing and launching a website is no exception.

Most business owners, and even professional web design and marketing companies, often miss important design and functionality elements, resulting in poor performance. And by “poor performance,” I mean lack of significant traffic, leads and measurable returns-on-investment. In other words, a complete waste of time and money. Launching a lead generating website requires a specific strategy.

Luckily, you don’t have to leave the success of your businesses web presence up to chance. This post will reveal a solid, step-by step guide for helping you launch a market-dominating lead generation engine.

5 PHASES TO LAUNCHING A GREAT WEBSITE

In order to get your businesses site in lead-generating shape in no time, I’ve broken down this tutorial into 5 simple phases:

  • Phase 1: Create a Website Design Plan – by defining a specific strategy for who your site will try to reach and focusing your design and messaging around them
  • Phase 2: Launch a Basic WordPress Website -setting a solid foundation with fast, affordable and secure hosting and a responsive WordPress theme
  • Phase 3: Implement User Engagement Triggers – that are proven to build trust and establish instant authority with your visitors
  • Phase 4: Optimize For Conversions – ensuring that every page and blog post encourages visitors to contact you via phone or lead forms
  • Phase 5: Implement SEO Best Practices – by tweaking your website to maximize its performance (speed) and Google-friendliness

PHASE 1: CREATE A WEBSITE DESIGN PLAN

If your goal is to launch a website that performs well, as measured by a serious increase in traffic and flow of qualified leads, it’s important to define who your target audience is and to ensure their experience on your site is a positive one. Your website should reflect your law firm’s brand and compel visitors to take action by contacting you.

Step 1: Define Your Avatar

Your avatar is simply a very specific representation of a single (typical or ideal) client. Your avatar should be as specific as possible, including as much demographic (who they are) and psychographic (interests and activities) details as possible. List their largest problems, concerns and questions. How does their current issues make them feel? What are their worries and fears? If your businesses focus is on chiropractic care for professional athletes, your messaging should cater to this avatar: a 20 year old volleyball player named “Ali” who’s been recently injured. She believes visiting a chiropractic professional may be her only option to a full recovery and dominating her upcoming tournaments. She quickly wants to heal and become strong again so she can move on with a fresh start.

avatar

Step 2: Create a Unique Selling Proposition

Tied closely to your avatar (who your client is) is your Unique Selling Proposition– what makes your business unique in a sea of similar competitors. And no, “Pediatric Dentist” is not a USP. Your USP must be, well… unique.

Do you have a unique process for handling specific matters or how you create your products? Are you uniquely qualified to handle your business? Can you perform services for a unique price or within a unique period of time? Does your business serve a unique segment of the market (Los Angeles Bicyclists)? Maybe you’re the only business with 10 years experience as a ______? Devising a powerful USP is critical, as communicating this message on your website (and everywhere you advertise) will produce more traction by helping your firm stand out in a crowded market.

Example of a USP for a coffee distributor: “I am a certified coffee master that specializes in luxury coffee worldwide.”

Step 3: Define Your Site’s Ideal User Experience

Think about how much attention you put into the “client experience,” or overall feeling and experience clients should undergo when visiting your office or store. Many business owners place a great deal of energy designing this experience, carefully selecting staff dress codes, intake scripts, office furniture, brand of coffee and even flowers. Your clients should feel a sense of trust, expertise, honesty, and success when visiting your website. First impressions are everything.

Do prospective clients visiting your website experience the same feelings as those visiting your physical office? Many businesses spend a pretty penny in glossy office furniture and decor, yet cling to the outdated, stale website they’ve had for years. If you think about it, many more people will form first impressions about your business via your “shingle in cyberspace” than will ever enter your office. Spend a few minutes defining your businesses ideal client experience and factor those characteristics into your web design plan.

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MUST-READ: Creating a WOW Experience by Michael Hyatt

Step 4: Understand the Online Marketing Funnel

Like all aspects of your online marketing strategy, your website should be viewed through the lens of what we refer to as the Simple Online Marketing Funnel. Doing so not only simplifies the web design process, but ensures you leave no stone unturned when it comes ensuring your website is optimized for all three steps required for generating clients online:

  • Reach – ensuring your website is SEO-friendly and optimized for speed, performance and social authority
  • Engagement -incorporating proven psychological triggers into the design of your website that have proven to help establish trust and authority with your visitors
  • Conversion – optimizing your website for lead generation using powerful conversion elements including lead forms, calls to action, and “opt-in magnets”

funnel

PHASE 2: LAUNCH A BASIC WORDPRESS WEBSITE

Once you’ve defined your avatar (target client), unique selling proposition and ideal user experience, it’s time to put in place the framework for your soon-to-be awesome lead generation engine . . . er, website . . . by launching a basic WordPress theme that can be easily customized later.

Step 5: Select Solid Website Hosting

Given how valuable your website will be as a long-term lead generation tool, it’s important to ensure you select a hosting provider that provides fast, stable and secure service. Affordable wouldn’t hurt much either. Despite popular belief, your $2.00 GoDaddy hosting won’t cut it. But that doesn’t mean you should be ripped off by a large hosting provider to the tune of several hundreds or even thousands per month in nondescript fees either!

You need a solid, WordPress-friendly hosting provider with excellent customer service. Depending on your budget, we recommend the following two hosting companies:

  • Bluehost – a great, reputable hosting company that offers simple one-click WordPress installs and won’t break the bank ($4.95 per month)
  • WP Engine – slightly more expensive ($49.95 per month), but with superior performance, security, and service. Use WP Engine if your site gets a lot of traffic (more than 10,000 visits per month) or you’re paranoid about getting hacked.

Step 6: Choose a Great WordPress Theme

Unlike back in the “olden days” (4 years ago), when websites had to be painstakingly custom chiseled from ones and zeroes (HTML), WordPress users enjoy an extremely large number of “pre-designed” themes than can easily be customized to meet your website design goals (which I know you’ve outlined per my instructions above, right?). Many of these themes come highly optimized for speed, security and “responsiveness” (automatically adjusting for tablets and smart phones- more on this below).

Think of WordPress themes as a way to leapfrog your website launch efforts by 80%: most of the groundwork has been laid, all you (or your appointed designer) needs to do is customize the theme to meet your requirements! We recommend StudioPress as as far as WordPress themes. Their mobile friendly, powerful and secure.

studiopress

Regardless of which route you take to have your WordPress site customized, it’s critical that your site meets the criteria listed below.

PHASE 3: GET YOUR VISITORS MORE ENGAGED

Before users start filling out lead forms or running to the phone to call you, we have to ensure they’ll stick around for a while. In internet time, that means longer than 8 seconds. The following “User Engagement Triggers” each play an important role in your website’s overall effectiveness in projecting trust, authority and expertise.

Step 7: Use a Personal Photo or Video

Many, if not most small business websites (and their well-intentioned web designers) fail to make a human connection with their visitors. For some reason, many business owners believe that potential clients get a kick out of looking at stock photos of smiling families playing in well manicured lawns. Well they don’t.

Let’s say you’re an attorney…think back to your ideal clients user experience: imagine a client walking into your lobby and being greeted by a cardboard cutout of an actor posing as a lawyer. I know, creepy, right? Well this is the effect many folks are “greeted” with when coming to your website. While people facing legal issues (positive or negative) are seeking a trusted advisor and expert, they’re seeking a relationship first. Use a photo or video of yourself on your home page. Greet your clients “in person” and start building a connection right when they arrive at your website.

lawwebsite

Step 8: Focus Headlines on Your Clients

As we covered in Step 1: Define Your Avatar, every aspect of your website should be focused on your customer avatar’s needs and interests. It’s not about you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to convey authority and expertise, but there’ll be plenty of time for that later. The headline of your home page and landing pages must speak to their concerns, not your qualifications. Remember, you only have 8 seconds to make a first impression.

dentist

RESOURCE: Check out Copyblogger.com for great advice and tips related to writing great headlines and copy.

Step 9: Incorporate Trust Icons Into Your Design

“Trust Icons” are familiar badges or icons that establish trust with your audience on a psychological level. This applies to virtually every buying decision you make, ranking from movies (Cannes and other film festivals icons) to home services (Better Business Bureau) and everything in between. This includes you and whatever your business may be. In his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert B., PhD Cialdini describes the powerful effect that these icons or badges have on all of us, embedding deep feelings of authority and trusting the deepest parts of our brains. Including trust icons into your design will almost certainly result in improved user engagement and leads that follow.

trust-icons

PHASE 4: OPTIMIZE FOR CONVERSIONS

Now it’s time for the rubber to hit the road. All the planning, launching, and designing has led to this (arguably most important) phase of launching a well converting website: conversion rate optimization. Your conversion goals are very simple: do what ever it takes to ensure that a high percentage of qualified visitors take action. This could be an opt-in (email subscriber), lead form or even phone call. As long as it’s a desired action!

Step 10: Place Lead Forms on Every Page

Many websites make it way too hard for potential clients to reach them. I’m referring to the infamous “contact us” page containing the one lead form that users have to click around to find. And for the most part, they won’t. You have to make it easy. So easy, that your visitors can see a simple contact form no matter where they are on your site. When it comes to website conversions, the following formula (however generalized it may be) never seems to fail: More Lead Forms On Your Site Equals More Leads Forms Filled Out!

Place a Contact Us link in your sidebar, header and/or footer. And make sure your forms contain no more than 2-3 fields of information (name, phone and email). Save the 20 page intake form for after you make contact.

Lead Form Resources:

  • Gravity Forms – provides a very simple and secure form plugin for WordPress websites. You can set these forms to email you each new lead.
  • Aweber – for email list building, Aweber is the preferred low cost email marketing and email newsletter provider

contact

TIP: It’s important that web leads get a returned call as soon as possible after they’re submitted. This means 1-4 hours. Many of these consumers work with the first business that reaches them.

Step 11: Create an “Opt-in Magnet”

While it’s important to focus on converting your website’s visitors to leads, studies have shown that most people visiting your website may not ready to contact you for a consultation. These consumers aren’t quite at that stage of the buying cycle and are likely seeking answers to their questions and evaluating options. By offering a piece of high quality, educational content, in exchange for visitors’ email addresses, you can build a list of qualified prospects and stay in touch via simple email marketing campaigns. If you don’t do this, most of your visitors will leave your site, never to return.

While opt-in magnets take many forms (videos, e-books, whitepapers, resource lists, etc.), the simplest to get you up and running is a “10 Things You Must Know” list. For example, a DUI lawyer could title her offer “10 Things You Must Know Before Contacting a DUI Attorney.” These short but valuable resources are simply 1-3 page PDF’s that can be easily hooked up with your web form provider. Do this ASAP. Instead of getting 1000 visitors and 50 leads each month, you can get 1000 visitors, 50 leads and 200 email subscribers. Powerful stuff.

chris-ducker

TIP: Be sure to include calls to action at the end of every blog post on your site. Simply add a paragraph (or image if you’re savvy) that says “Want more great bankruptcy law content? Click here to download our new guide “10 Mistakes to Avoid When Filing Chapter 7″ or call us now at (888) 555-3737 for a no-cost consultation.”

Step 12: Make Your Phone Numbers Huge

This is one of the most obvious yet under-utilized and powerful changes you can make to your website: increase the size of your phone numbers. How big? Make them as large as you can stand, then double that size.You should also include your phone number (along with a call to action) at the end of every blog post and page on your site, as well as in the footer. Remember, it’s about making it easy for visitors to contact you.

PHASE 5: IMPLEMENT SEO BEST PRACTICES

Ok you deserve a pat on the back. You’ve just learned more about designing a high performance website than most people, even marketing professionals, will ever know. But there’s one final stop along this train ride from Point A (visibility, traffic or leads) to Point B (total market domination): Search Engine Optimization. To launch a website without optimizing it’s design and content for SEO is akin to opening a Ritz Carlton in the Mojave Desert: It doesn’t matter how soft the cushions are if no one can find the hotel.

Step 13: Use the Yoast SEO Plugin

The very term “SEO” can kick most small business owners into a tail-spin. This makes sense, given all the changes, penalties, misinformation and low quality consultants floating around. But, for the business owners smart enough to launch WordPress websites, there’s hope. And it’s called the Yoast SEO Plugin. What makes Yoast so awesome? I’m glad you asked. First off, it makes configuring a Google-friendly website a snap. Not only does Yoast walk you through setting up sitemaps, permalinks (URL’s) and other site-wide settings, it also includes a geek-free, non technical scoring system to help you publish SEO-friendly blogs and pages.

yoast

Step 14: Install Google Analytics

As Pearson’s Law states: “That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.” Without feedback in the form of simple metrics, none of the design, content or advertising you do will reach its full potential. Installing Google Analytics takes around 4 minutes with zero technical knowledge. All you do is signup for a Google Analytics Account and add the (you guessed it) Yoast Google Analytics Plugin to your site.

google

Step 15: Optimize Your Website For Local SEO

Most small businesses must target clients within limited and defined physical locations. This means that your website must be highly “localized,” from both a design and content perspective. While there are several “off page” SEO factors that determine when your firm ranks on Google for local search terms, including the location of your business, number of local citations, and number of online reviews, there are several “on-page SEO” (changes made to your website itself) things you can do to increase your local search visibility. For more details on what it takes to master local SEO, read the great article listed below from Moz.com.

map

The most important changes are the following:

  1. Be in the city you want to target. This seems obvious, but Google has become increasingly stricter about the locations in search. This means you will face an uphill battle trying to reach clients in areas in which you don’t have an office.
  2. Ensure your physical address is on every page of your website. This helps Google better associate your content with the location of your business. Don’t limit your address to a “contact us” page.
  3. Localize your title tags (titles of your blog posts and landing pages). For example: “Atlanta Personal Trainer and Professional Sports Coach” would make a great home page title

Local SEO Resources:

Step 16: Feel the Need For Speed

We’ve all heard the saying “speed kills.” Well this adage has never been truer than when it comes to how well your website ranks on Google. Google’s search algorithm rewards speed. Aside from choosing great, fast web hosting as covered earlier in this article, I recommend using a great WordPress plugin called WP Minify. “WP Minify grabs JS/CSS files in your generated WordPress page and passes that list to the Minify engine. The Minify engine then returns a consolidated, minified, and compressed script or style for WP Minify to reference in the WordPress header.” — WordPress.org

Fast hosting, combined with WP Minify, and WP Super Cache should make your WordPress site super fast.

Site Speed Resources

BLOG SUMMARY

I’ve just outlined a detailed, systematic approach that, once implemented, will almost certainly alter the reality of your online presence, growth and market position. As I cited earlier, I am not suggesting that you do this work yourself, clicking yourself silly down the WordPress rabbit hole. But what I am suggesting is that you understand the simple online marketing funnel and how to optimize your website to reach, engage, and convert more clients online. As any successful restaurant owner will tell you, you don’t have to cook every meal, but you’d better know the recipe.

NEXT STEPS:

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