By Melanie Haber
In this day and age of technology, if you don’t have a website you are missing several opportunities for cultivating prospective customers. According to a 2012 survey by Yelp, over 85% of consumers use the internet to look for local businesses. If you do not have a strong presence online, you are potentially missing 85% of business leads. Can you imagine trying to keep your business afloat with only 15% of new prospects out there finding you?
Now is the perfect time to finally break down and get a website. Website providers have created platforms that are very easy to use, very inexpensive, and will make you proud once you are finished. No longer do you need to know how to write code to have a beautiful, fully functional website. However, if you feel you are totally unable to create your website, this helpful information can easily be used by any of your computer literate staff members.
But don’t let me mislead you; putting a website together in one day does take a little preparation before you actually start building your site. First, you have to choose a website provider. Second, you need to organize the “7 Musts To Go On A Website” before you start building.
CHOOSING A WEBSITE PROVIDER
First on your list is figuring out which website provider to use. If you visit the website www.thetop10bestwebsitebuilders.com you get the cream of the crop. The offerings are fairly similar once you get into the development part so you will want to base your decision on price, ease of use, design options, service, support etc… (Please note, I do not receive incentives or work for any website developer company).
I have used many of the listed website providers but since the most common question I get from the groomers is “How much does it cost to build a website,” I will use GoDaddy.com as my example since they have one of the best offers out right now. If you are struggling to get more customers, cost is of course a consideration. At the time of writing of this article (June 2015), GoDaddy.com has offers for businesses with packages that include pretty much everything you need (domain, website, email) for $1.00/month*. (*First year only. Annual purchase required.) Any offer is of course subject to change so don’t procrastinate! Another reason I chose GoDaddy is for their great 24/7 support. If there is ever a concern or question I get answers at any time, day or night. However, please visit every website provider on the list and see what works best for you!
“7 MUSTS TO GO ON A WEBSITE”
Before you get online to build your website, there are business details you need to get organized. Oftentimes I’ve seen business owners try and fill in the blanks once they are working on their site and it usually has a lot of typos, confusing information, or just isn’t organized enough to give potential customers what they need. If you are one groomer or a large grooming shop, your website needs to be 100% professional, informative, and welcoming. It should make the potential customers stop their search and call you for an appointment right then. So, sit down and establish the following info before starting your site.
Who Are You?
On the Welcome or Home Page you should always have the business name, tagline and logo. Of course anyone that owns a business generally has a name for it but do you have a tagline and logo? A tagline is a catchphrase or slogan, especially as used in advertising that sums your business up in one sentence. For instance, “The Best Little Groomer in Austin” or “To Your Door Mobile Grooming” or “Nose to Tail All Breed Dog Grooming.”
Your logo (a symbol or design to identify your service or product) is important for branding. Every time someone sees your logo it reinforces who you are and what you do. (Don’t have a logo or want a new, fresh design? I found a fantastic website that allows you to choose from literally hundreds of artists to design a professional business logo starting at just $5: www.Fiverr.com. This website is such a great resource you can even find musicians on the site to create a jingle for your business, create business cards, set up graphics for Facebook, Twitter etc… starting at the same low price).
What Do You Offer?
Make sure you have a Services Page with a complete list of your offerings. Make sure you list even the smallest of services you provide because that may be the one thing that makes you stand apart from your competitors. Anything that makes you different could be what seals the deal. It is up to you if you wish to list your prices.
Who Are You?
Create an About Us Page and put together a summary of who you are, the background of the business, what makes you different, and pictures of yourself and the employees with bios. Every page should also have links to your business social medias so you can start an interactive relationship with your customers.
What Does Your Grooming Look Like?
With a Gallery Page you can show off your skills! With new customers they won’t just hand their precious angel over to anyone with a pair of scissors, they want to know their pet will look magnificent when they are returned to them. Posting pictures of your grooming skills on your website is a must! This is your visual resume. Please make sure and get permission before posting any pet’s picture online. This can be a simple sentence on your intake form stating that the customer gives permission to use pictures of their pets for website, social media, and promotional purposes. This is really important when using pictures on Facebook and other social platforms too!
Have a Healthy Nap.
No, I don’t mean go to sleep – NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone number. Search engines like Google group this information into one item. Whenever Google sees this, it knows that your business is associated with your website. Keeping your NAP the same across all of your platforms will help search engines recognize your business. If a customer positively reviews you on a site, search rankings will improve for all other pages with the same NAP. It’s also important to include this information on every page of your website, so try to put your NAP in the header or footer. Having a consistent NAP will seriously boost your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and help your business get found!
Where Are You and How Can I Reach You?
On your Contact Us page not only do you need to list your NAP, you should also include your location. If your business has a brick & mortar location, you want people to be able to find it, right? Including your address in the NAP is a good start, but you can go one step better. Adding a Find Us or Contact Us page to your website makes it that much easier for prospective customers to find their way to you. Just include your address again and some basic “From North… From South…” directions. You can even embed Google Maps on your page with many website service providers.
Having a location page, especially with Google Maps, will not only help customers find you, it’ll boost your local search rankings, too! When Google recognizes that you’re a groomer in Atlanta, GA, you’ll start showing up in searches for things like “groomers near Atlanta” and “groomers near 30303.” If you are a mobile groomer, some websites offer a way to list the areas you service instead of a brick and mortar location.
Is My Website Optimized for Mobile?
Does your website work on a smartphone and why is that important? It is estimated between 2010 and 2018 cell phones users will jump from 62 million to over 220 million. For many, using their smartphones is the only option for online access so your website must be mobile friendly! With some website builders like GoDaddy.com, during the design process you can automatically view what it will look like on a smartphone. In fact, you can even choose what shows up on the mobile version without changing the way the regular site looks. This is especially important if you have large graphics or images that won’t look good on a small screen.
The “7 Musts To Go On A Website” from above will ensure your basic website and business details have been covered. There are many other things you can add to your website down the road like links, shopping carts, online payments, blogs, opt-in newsletters, social media feeds etc… but this is a good solid start. Finally, leave with a KISS – Keep It Simple Silly! The most user friendly and attractive websites convey a clean, modern look and they have the added bonus of being easy to read and navigate. Try to keep theme colors to two or three, keep text to a minimum, and make sure everything is super legible. Less is definitely more.