8 Things Every Website Should Have in 2012

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Over 60 percent of small businesses still don’t have a website, but hopefully you’re in the 40 percent that do have one, because 2012 is a few weeks away, and it’s a little 1997 to not have a website by now.  If you already have a website, or are finally going to arrive in the 21st century, then here are eight things that your website should have, or else it’s just missing out on valuable traffic. It’s certainly not exhaustive, as you shouldn’t have to be told to have a page featuring your products and services, but this list is a start if you want to make improvements on your website before the new year.

1. Social Media Buttons – If you haven’t picked this one up yet, then you’re pretty far behind. Make sure that your website connects to your social media portals, and vice versa. Too many website don’t even have the decency to connect to their Twitter page, or even have a way to feature their latest tweets. Don’t be one of those websites.

2. Twitter Landing Page – Now that you’ve made the smart move of connecting your website to your Twitter account (you’d be surprised how many forget than), go the extra mile by creating a special landing page just for those who visit your Twitter account and click on the link to your site. It’s a customized experience for your followers, and is the best place for you to outline your Twitter policies and to expand upon the 160-character biography.

3. An Online Media Kit – Jakob Nielsen, an expert on how people use the Internet, conducted a study of how journalists use corporate websites. Nielsen found that journalists were able to get the information they needed only 60 percent of the time. To make your website friendlier to journalists and public relations people, include an online media kit. This could be a link to a kit they can download on the Contact Page or About Us page, or it could be a page on its own. An online media kit is simply your current media kit on you website, and it should at least include: a PR contact (name and telephone number), basic facts about the company (including executives, location of the headquarters etc.), images that could be used by the press, and two or three of your most recent press releases.

4. A Blog – A website is not meant to remain static. In fact, if you have a static website doesn’t get any new indexed pages, or even changes to content or the product line, then it will fall in the search engine rankings. Search engines like websites that refresh and change and give people a reason to come back, and a blog can do all that very easily.

5. Contact Info – No, a contact form doesn’t count. Include contact info, such as a physical address, a phone number, and maybe an email (or that contact form). What if a customer wants to call you because your e-commerce page isn’t working and the customer wants to buy something? Well, the customer can’t if all you have is a contact form, and that person isn’t going to wait for your response. The customer will go to a competitor, and you just lost a sale.

6. A Form of Some Sort – Okay, so maybe you’ve opted against the contact form. But, every website should have a form or some sort, or someplace to capture leads. This could be a box where people sign up for the email newsletter, or a way for people to download a case study or white paper. Make sure that it’s a specific form that captures leads from potential customers who want a specific something. A general info or questionnaire form may nab some emails, but won’t tell you much about the customer unless the person tells you everything in the form. By having a specific form, you have some information to follow up with. So, if the person downloaded a white paper, you can ask what they’ve thought of it, if they read it, and if they need additional information.

7. SEO – It’s obvious that you website will have content, but you’re not doing yourself any favors unless you at least attempt to optimize that content with a few keywords. It may be tempting to just write up a few paragraphs or two so you have some written word on your site, but take some time to optimize it for search engines. Also try to include keywords in your page titles and subheadings.

8. A Call to Action – When visitors come to your website, what do you want them to do? Check out your newest product? Read your latest blog post? Schedule a consultation? Well, let them know with a call to action, and let them know about this call to action with highlighted text or a strategically placed button. If people are visiting your website, their probably interested in something, so show them that interesting something with a call to action.