What Content Should Be on Your Small Online Website

Internet Home Opportunity ==> Making Money Ideas

Is your small business web site ineffective as it is? Or, are you taking the leap onto the world wide web for the first time? Either way, you're searching for the answer to the question, "what does an effective website contain?" Well, there is no simple answer to this question, as I'm sure you already know. However, I can provide some steps to help you evaluate your site's purpose--knowing a website's purpose is essential for developing effective content.

What is your site's purpose?
If you don't know what you want your website's visitors to do once they're there, your site, more than likely, does not have a clear purpose. By answering the following questions, you should be able to narrow down your reasons for having a site:

Does or do you want your site to encourage potential customers to contact you (via e-mail, phone or contact us form)?

Does or do you want your site to offer tools or resources for visitors (calculators, forums, downloadable information, etc...)? And if so, why?

Does or do you want your site to provide information about your company? About your industry?

Does or do you want your site to sell products?

Does or do you want your site to collect information from visitors (e-mail addresses, mailing addresses)?

Once you answered each question, you can evaluate content needs.

Encouraging Contact
If you want potential customers to contact you, you must encourage them to do so. How, you ask?

Tell them to and have your phone number on every page. 
Ask them to send you their address and phone number for more information via a sign up form. Have a link to this form on every page. 
List an e-mail address that they can send questions to. Have this information on every page. 
You'll notice the "on every page" aspect of each of these options. If you want visitors to contact you, the way to do so needs to be easy to find. Your text on each page should also refer visitors to the contact option as well so they know exactly what you want them to do.

Tools and Resources
If you have information or a forum or some other tools or resources you want your visitors to use, make sure they are aware of their existence and that people know how to use them. Different tools require different kind of promotion (for example, a forum needs to be monitored and questions and comments need to be responded to; where a tool for calculating the cost of building a deck just needs instructions and a "what to do with this information" description).

Make sure visitors know not only where these tools are, but also why they are there and how their use will benefit them. Don't just add functionality for functionality's sake…if it doesn't support your site's purpose, it shouldn't be there.

Providing Information
If you will be providing information to your visitors, make sure you have it indexed and easy to find. Adding a search form to your site is useful as well. It is also essential to not only keep adding articles to your "library" but to make sure visitors and customers are aware of the added content (perhaps via an RSS feed or an e-mail newsletter).

Selling Products
If you sell products on your site, obviously your purpose is to get people to buy the products. If a visitor goes to your site and doesn't see any products, well, obviously they won't know to buy them. Once someone arrives at your site, they should be presented with your products and be provided ample reason to buy (for example, a testimonial about the product on it's page, a quality guarantee, etc…). Your home page should also showcase different products on a regular basis and include the same incentives to buy.

Collecting Information
If the main goal of your site is to grow your mailing list (regular mail and/or e-mail) you have to provide visitors a very good reason to give you their information. Collecting information can be combined with other things, for instance, getting customers to contact you can require getting their information. Also, when you provide information, something like a special report, you may require they provide their e-mail address or other contact information. You can be a bit creative here, but remember, if what your giving isn't worth it, they won't give you their contact information.

Other Items to Include
There are a few items that I believe every small business web site should have no matter what its purpose. These are an "about us" area, a "contact us" page or information, a sitemap, a privacy policy and disclaimer page.

The "about us" page can share your small businesses story with visitors and provide a history. People generally feel more comfortable doing business with people they know, sharing your story is a way to let your visitors get to know you and your small business.

The "contact us" page should contain your company name, physical and mailing address, phone and fax numbers and at least a general e-mail address. Why, because people may want to contact you and it is frustrating if there is no way to do so. You can limit what items you provide, but I encourage you to share as much as possible.

A sitemap allows visitors an overall look at your site and its content. It is also helpful to search engines when they index your site. If your site is small, you may not need one, but they are useful.

Privacy policies and disclaimers are important for sites that collect personal information and provide informational resources. You want your visitors to know how their information is used once in your possession and you also want to make sure you are not legally liable for how people use the information you provide.

Go Forth and Fill Your Website
After all this, you may still feel like you're not sure what should be on your site--As I said, this is not a simple process. However, if you answer the questions provided and plan your site from there, you will be led to your desired outcome, an effective site for your small business. Take your time, evaluate your purpose and format your website accordingly, your small business is worth it.

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