In a 2013 consumer survey conducted by the search-engine optimization (SEO) firm BrightLocal, 95 percent of respondents said that in the past 12 months they have turned to the web to find local businesses.
Unfortunately, nearly half of small businesses don’t have websites.
With 68 percent of consumers reporting that their decision to use a local business is directly influenced by the presence and quality of a website, it’s vital that small business owners put their best (cyber) foot forward. However, for many small business owners, updating the company’s website is pretty low on the to-do list.
Here are a few improvements you can make to your website with just a few minutes of down time:
Five-minute fix: Get with the times
How often do you come across websites that have outdated promotions or references to previous years prominently displayed on the home page? If you’re guilty of living in the past, it’s time to make some changes. Take a close look at your website from top to bottom and make sure everything is up-to-date. One of the most overlooked areas is the footer, where an outdated copyright year may be hiding.
If you can’t manage to update your website regularly, avoid posting information that is specific to a certain timeframe, such as a company anniversary or promotions that are due to expire soon. The last thing you want to do is celebrate your company’s 10 anniversary three years in a row.
10-minute fix: Read. Read. Read again.
Thanks to technology, we no longer have to whip out the dictionary to check our spelling skills. But if you’ve ever fallen victim to typing “costumer” instead of “customer,” you understand that one word can completely change the meaning of a sentence and spell check doesn’t catch everything. If you’re only spending a few minutes here and there on your website, you may be rushing to post new content and there is a good chance that you may have misspelled or left out words. A few minor errors can negatively affect the way potential customers view your business.
To avoid embarrassing typos or run-on sentences, set aside enough time to craft clear and concise messaging before you post it to the web. After you update your website, read the page once more or call in a colleague to read it. By having a co-worker double-check your message, you can catch careless mistakes before they get to your customers.
20-minute fix: Will the website be unbroken?
When it comes to web faux pas, broken links are one of the biggest offenders. If a potential customer clicks a link on your website and ends up on a 404 error page, it could cause the individual to question the reliability and credibility of your company and leave your website immediately. And you’ll never get a chance to prove them wrong.
There are many reasons why a link on your website may be broken: an internal page was deleted, the name of a page changed, or the link was typed incorrectly. You should occasionally dedicate some time to check for broken links on your website. Before you start imagining a dreadful afternoon of poring through your website links, consider using a free link-checking tool such as www.BrokenLinkCheck.com. Simply enter in your website address and the service will report every broken link found on your website and where you can find them. After that, it’s just a matter of correcting the links in question.
Even if there are a million things on your to-do list today, carve out five minutes of your day to refresh your website. These small updates have a major impact on your company’s credibility and appeal among customers, and that’s something worth investing time in.
This article originally appeared in Security Nation, 2014, Vol. 2.