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What Makes a Great Local Site?

Are you looking to build a website for your local business?

These days, every business needs a website. It’s simply non-negotiable. Word of mouth is still an incredibly powerful way to get your name out there, but these days, fewer people are asking their friends and family for recommendations. Instead, most of those people are looking for local businesses online. And, when they do, you need to be there.

However, having a website for your local business online isn’t the same as having an effective website. The sad truth is that not all websites are equally effective, and since there’s more than a little competition online, you need to learn how to make your website effective.

Thanks to the Websites 360® website builder, building your own website is easy and pain-free. But, even with such a user-friendly way to build a DIY website, local business owners need a little know-how in order to get it right.

How to Design a Great Local Website

#1. Make your contact information visible.

The goal of the vast majority of websites for local businesses isn’t to make a sale or to get someone to sign up for a monthly newsletter; it’s to get the phone ringing. This may not be the case for every local business, but it rings true for most, and if your business is one of them, it’s important that, above all else, your contact information is visible and easy to find on your website.

When someone needs a plumber or a roofer, they’re not going to want to hunt around to figure out how to get ahold of you. And, if you make them by hiding your contact information, you’ll likely lose them to one of the many other plumbers or roofers out there.

Not only is it important that your contact information is visible, but it should also be written consistently everywhere it’s listed. As silly as it might seem, even small differences in how your address is listed, such as “st.” vs. “street,” can hurt your organic rankings online.

#2. Make it responsive.

When someone looks online for a local business, chances are, they’re not looking on a desktop computer or a laptop. These days, far more people have smartphones than desktop computers, and it logically follows that most searches for local businesses happen on mobile devices. When someone finds you on mobile, you need your website to be ready, and that means that it needs to be mobile-friendly.

It used to be, that when a business wanted to provide their mobile users with a more streamlined experience, they’d have to have a whole separate website. But, luckily, when you build a website with a responsive design, you can provide users a great experience on any device with a single website.

A website that is designed to be responsive will automatically reconfigure itself for the best possible user experience on everything from desktop computers and laptops to tablets and smartphones. Responsive websites also retain all of the same functionality regardless of device.

#3. Make it easy to navigate.

Most of the time, people aren’t visiting a local business website just to peruse it. Typically, people who visit your website have a specific purpose in mind. Whether that purpose is to call you for an estimate, to learn about what services you have to offer, or to learn a little more about your business before they decide to give you a call, it’s important that you make it easy for them to find what they need.

Your website should have simple, straightforward navigation. One of the most common ways to do this is by putting your main navigation at the top of your site, with dropdowns underneath each applicable main page or category. For most local businesses, the main pages in the top navigation will be: home, about us, services, reviews, contact us. You probably won’t have dropdowns under most of these items, but it’s a good idea to designate individual pages for each of your services.

In addition to using simple navigation like the one described above, it’s not a bad idea to add a search bar somewhere visible as well. This way, if someone knows exactly what they’re looking for, they can easily find it.

#4. Make your call to action stand out.

Your call to action (CTA) is what tells your visitors what their next steps are should they decide to work with your business. And, since the whole point of your web site is to encourage your visitors to take those next steps, it’s imperative that it stands out on your website.

What should you call to action be? Here are a few common CTAs for local businesses:

  • Call us today!
  • Get your free estimate today!
  • Contact us for your free quote!
  • Visit our store today!

Making your call to action stand out isn’t necessarily about making it bigger or more colorful. Sometimes, the most effective way to bring attention to your CTA is with effective white space use. By keeping the space around your CTA free of clutter, you’ll make it the focal point of your website.

#5. Make sure it loads quickly.

A large aspect of making sure that your local business website is effective is about providing your users with a good experience. If you’re unable to, they’ll go elsewhere. There are a lot of things that can damage the user experience of your website, but one of the worst offenders is slow load times.

People are used to immediate results online, so used to them, in fact, that the average internet user will lose interest after mere seconds if a site doesn’t load right away. You have approximately six seconds to convince your visitors to stay on your website once they get there, and if your website hasn’t even loaded yet, the chances of them sticking around aren’t high.

Make sure that your site is designed to load quickly. There are a lot of aspects to this, which you can learn about in my previous blog, but some things that can hurt site speed the most include choosing an unreliable web host and failing to resize and compress images.