Recently, Search Engine Land ran a survey of what customers want and expect from a local business website.
They found the 9 Essentials that your business website must have – read on to find out why they matter.
1. List of Prices
Nearly all customers (89% by comScore’s reckoning) use the Internet to research and pre-screen companies they want to do business with.
One the most important filters is price. So give it to them. It’s better for you and and them.
Think about it – if you are want to go to a local casual dining restaurant and spend $20 per person – would you risk the drive and nuisance to try a place that you weren’t sure was in your price range?
No of course not – you’ll stick with the place you know.
The same with local shopping boutiques, services, etc.
Customers want to know what to expect – and and that is why you must list prices on your website.
2. List of Services
This point is obvious – but too often overlooked by web designers and businesses who want a certain “face” or “experience.”
That is what your customers come to you for – not the website. The website should set and sell expectations in order to pass that pre-screening customer test.
3. Contact Details
Again, it should be obvious, but all too often the phone number or address gets hidden down in the bottom of the website – or worse, nested among the About pages.
Getting in contact with a customer is always the next step in the sales process, and your website should make it as easy as possible.
4. Physical Address (+Driving Directions!)
This point also falls in the category of setting expectations.
Even though Google does a good job at local search…sometimes local isn’t local enough – especially if you live in a metropolis with horrid traffic.
Google Maps allows you to actually embed a map in your website so that customers can quickly get actual directions. Great way to solve the address problem.
5. Customer Testimonials
Think less late-night infomercial, and more Amazon reviews…and Yelp…and Google Places.
The Internet is awash in reviews – because customers love them.
While you should definitely maintain your primary reviews on Yelp, citySearch, and Google Places – be sure to pull in a lot of reviews to your own website to, again, set expectations and make the customer comfortable.
6. Clear Photographs of Business
Think about when you are driving past a place of business…you can often get a good idea of the quality simply by the look of the place.
The same principle holds on the Internet – customers want to profile your business. They want less risk and accurate expectations.
You don’t have to hire a professional photographer right off the bat (though it would be a good investment), but just a lot of nice, clear photos of your place of business.
With so many customers researching businesses online – before even seeing them – your website is your storefront in many ways.
And if you see spending $1000s on new billboards, signage, merchandising, etc – you should give the same attention to your website.
7. Personal Message
You can probably guess that one of the main reasons people do business locally is for the people connection.
Customers like buying from a particular store, service, or person – and your local business website should reflect that connection.
If customers want a faceless corporation – Amazon is just a click away, but for now be sure that your website is both professional and personal.
8. Links To Social Media
First, note where this came in on the survey.
Social media made it into the top ten because customers want to engage with local business – but it comes after they’ve had their expectations and needs set.
In other words, your business has to pass the pre-screening – and only then do you get to talk.
Be sure to make social media prominent, but not overwhelming (or especially not the end-all)
Your local business website actually serves a purpose as a marketing tool.
Customers use your website to set expectations and pre-screen to make sure your worth the time to do business with.
Any keys that I missed? Tell me in the comments (and hat tip to Search Engine Land for the survey)