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Unlocking Growth: Steve Ice's SEO and Branding Wisdom on DesignRush

For "Brand Marketing Strategy Guide (2023)" by DesignRush, Steve Ice from Binary Glyph Media contributes insights on combining data-driven analysis with authentic storytelling to captivate audiences and enhance brand engagement. This comprehensive guide explores various aspects of brand marketing, offering actionable strategies to create a compelling narrative for your brand. Explore more on DesignRush.

In "Affordable SEO Services for Small Business," also featured on DesignRush, Steve Ice shares his expertise on the crucial role of local SEO for small businesses. He advises on strategies such as detailed keyword research and optimization for mobile users, highlighting the importance of local engagement and visibility on platforms like Google My Business. Learn more about optimizing your SEO strategy on DesignRush.

small business website design

Let's talk about some of the most important small business website design tips in 2022!

One could argue that a company's website is its most valuable asset. However, while this may be hard to believe in 2022, 1 in 4 businesses still doesn't have a website. Luckily for you, that means less competition. However, you still need to focus on developing a quality site, which we can help you with.

Why Small Business Website Design Is So Important

Not only is it the best place to display your business information and brand identity to your customers, but it's your best tool for building new ones. Your website acts as the center for your entire digital marketing strategy, affecting every single aspect of it.

Think about it. Is there any other asset of your company that affects the outcomes of your email marketing, SEO, PPC, and social media campaigns as much as your website? Probably not.

Essentially, a proper website acts as the home base for your entire digital presence. It's where you want to direct traffic to make conversions, offer more information, and build brand awareness. It all comes down to the foundation you build when designing your website.

So, what are the most important aspects of small business website development? Glad you asked. Here are some of the key small business website design tips.

1. User Experience Should Take Priority in Website Design

User experience (UX) is the most important part of a website, without a close second. The success of your website will largely depend on your site's usability, which we will go into further detail about soon.

To give you a brief understanding of why this is the case, think about your website from the perspective of the user. The average user spends most of their online time on sites like Facebook, Google, and maybe Amazon. As a result, they've grown accustomed to a certain standard of usability.

Consequently, your small business website design needs to either live up to those standards or fall behind. The most important factors include:

  • Page loading speed
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Navigation
  • Page structure
  • Linking structure
  • Quality content

The list goes on. Focusing on quality across the board on your website is the best way to promote a quality user experience. Improving your site's UX will help boost conversion rates, lower your bounce rate, retain existing users and customers, and more.

Not only that, but building a site with UX in mind is also the greatest way to promote organic traffic to your website. Let's talk about that.

2. Organic Traffic Is Key

Organic traffic is the traffic you don't have to ask for, which is far more valuable than the traffic you attract through ads. Organic traffic accounts for 64% of online traffic and it's far more likely to make trust your brand, make conversions, and repeat business than paid traffic.

More and more companies are focusing on building their organic reach, so it's best to get in while you still can. Believe it or not, there are many ways to facilitate an increase in organic traffic to your site. Let's talk about how.

Understanding SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website's content for search engines like Google, which is the primary driver of organic traffic.

Google (and other search engines) are constantly indexing pages across the entire internet and ranking them for specific keywords based on over 200 factors. This is why you don't get dog grooming services when you search for "dry cleaners" on Google.

Moreover, the majority of these factors involve the usability and quality of your website. It would reflect poorly on search engines if they were regularly promoting low-quality sites to their users. Because of this, they place a large stock in your site's user experience.

As a result, focusing on your site's user experience will go a long way to boost SEO prospects, but it doesn't stop there. Once you start ranking on the first page of a Google search with decent search volume, there is minimal need for upkeep, and the results could last for years to come, unlike PPC campaigns.

Consequently, when people find you through the organic results on Google, they start on an initial note of trust. Most people skip right over the search ads, as they favor the more trusted organic content. Of course, this offers plenty of different benefits to your brand.

You can use professional SEO services with your small business website design or try to carry it all out yourself, but there is a major learning curve involved if you're new to it. However, it all starts with the right foundation.

Using the Right Keywords on Your Website

The most important ranking factor when it comes to matching your content with relevant searches is keywords. Without the use of proper keywords and phrases, Google won't know what your content is about, which means they won't match you with relevant searches.

To find the right ones, proper keyword research is necessary, but so is keyword strategizing. Ideally, your content should use a wide variety of keywords that fall into the categories of both long-tail and short-tail keywords that are relevant to your website.

Short-tail keywords are the holy grail. These keywords have high volume, which also comes with high competition. For example, an ice cream store may want to rank for the phrase "ice cream" or an IT support company may want to rank for "cybersecurity".

However, a newer company in either category is unlikely to beat the top contenders for these keywords, which means they will require patience. In the meantime, they can try ranking for long-tail keywords.

Essentially, long-tail keywords are highly relevant keywords with low competition, but they come at the expense of also having low traffic. While "cybersecurity" is a high-traffic search term, "cybersecurity services in Northwest Ohio" is a lot more specific.

Although, there is a trade-off. If your company offers cybersecurity services in Northwest Ohio, then the traffic you do receive from these searches is bound to be highly relevant. Because of this, a healthy mix of long-tail and short-tail keywords is always the best strategy, you just have to know how to do it.

How to Conduct Keyword Research for Your Small Business Website

To start, you want to brainstorm ideas of potential keywords. No, seriously.

Chances are, you know your industry well, so you probably have a fair idea of what keywords people would search for. Pull out a pen and paper and jot them down.

Next, you want to look at your competitors' websites. Here, you will find keywords they use in their strategies. You can even use tools like SEObility where you can punch in your competitors' URLs and find which keywords they are ranking for.

If you want to know how much traffic each keyword is receiving, you can compare as many as you like in Google Trends, which will show you the relative search volume for each keyword or phrase.

From there, use that same platform along with other free keyword research tools like WordStream to find related keywords. Punch in each keyword on your list, look for relevant keywords, and develop a list of long-tail keywords with low competition and short-tail keywords with high volume. Once you have this list, it will be much easier to develop a content strategy.

Developing a Content Marketing Strategy

Using the right keywords throughout your website is important, but your website won't do much without a content marketing strategy. If you want to build organic traffic, you need a content strategy.

For most businesses, this means starting a blog. Blogs require the fewest resources, anybody with internet access can create one, and search engines can easily index them.

However, you may also be interested in audio content like a podcast or online radio. Video content, infographics, and interactive content could also help you stand out. Although, a blog is even easier to start and maintain.

The reason a content strategy is so important is that nobody is going to find your homepage, services, or contact page organically. In most cases, users seek information, not brands.

Using your keyword list, create topic ideas for your blog. Try to think of ideas that people may look for on their own.

For example, a pet grooming shop would post articles like "How to clip your cat's claws" or "What's the best shampoo for my dog?". From there, they can offer the requested information and position their services as the solution to the problem.

What about the people who just take that information and do it themselves? Well, that's the beauty of these strategies. Whether one hundred people read your post or one million people read it, it won't cost you any more money. It's okay to offer this information for free as long as you are directing some of the traffic to your products or services.

Building Backlinks to Your Small Business Website

Lastly, the final piece of the puzzle is building backlinks, which are the links from other sites to yours. This helps establish your website's authority in the eyes of search engines.

Each time another website links to you, they are establishing your credibility. Large media outlets like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal have the biggest advantages when it comes to building backlinks, as smaller outlets and blogs throughout the world will link to their stories daily.

Because of this, they have a major advantage with every new post they add to their websites, as Google has learned to trust them as an authority on different topics.

Now, you can't force a website to link to yours. However, you can offer them bait. By building a quality website with a quality content marketing strategy, you can build a good foundation of backlinks in no time. It all starts with the quality of your site.

Start by reaching out to affiliates of your business and asking for links to your content. That's an easy way to start, but it needs to be followed up by giving sites a reason to link to yours!

3. Don't Forget About Email Marketing

If there is a "silliest myth" floating around in the marketing world, it's that email is becoming the new "snail mail". However, this couldn't be further from reality.

Email marketing is by far one of the best marketing tools available today, offering an average of $42 return for every $1 spent. Mostly, this is due to email marketing's affordable startup costs, limited ongoing expenses, and solid conversion rates.

Keep in mind, that's the average. Once you build up your email list and start boosting your conversions, your returns could be significantly higher. Well, the easiest way to boost your email list is through your website.

Leave Plenty of Prompts

On the top and bottom of your pages, you should leave prompts for people to sign up for newsletters. Throughout your entire website, you should leave prompts wherever they seem natural.

Of course, you should always leave prompts when users are making conversions. Whether they are signing a petition or buying a product, always leave a checkmark for them to sign up for newsletters.

Give Users a Reason

There are many strategies businesses use to entice users to sign up for their newsletters or email campaigns. For example, you can withhold something on your site from their view in exchange for them signing up.

Alternatively, you can offer "subscribers only" incentives, utilize popups to your advantage, or otherwise demonstrate immediate value in signing up. Your options are endless.

Seek Professional Help

If you want to get the most out of your email campaigns, it's always recommended to seek the advice of trusted professionals. This way, they can look at your website, brand, and marketing strategy and offer tailored advice based on your situation. Overall, professional email marketing services can help take your campaign to the next level.

4. Determine Your Landing Pages

Early on, you should determine where you want paid traffic to land. Remember that every time somebody clicks on one of your PPC ads, you lose money.

As a result, you need to develop appropriate and high-quality landing pages for this traffic that won't turn people away. During development, designating pages with the right information, an easy navigation system, and a clear path to conversions will help you get the most out of each ad campaign.

Remember, if you spend $2 per click and only receive $100 in sales after a hundred clicks, you just lost $100. Of course, that logic scales up to serious cash on larger campaigns.

Fortunately, the quality of your website can help improve those conversion rates. Look at the landing page and the path to making conversions through the eyes of the viewer and think about what might turn them away. That's what needs fixing.

5. Focus on Branding

Your brand is not just your logo. A logo is just an abstract design that means nothing. Your brand impacts your logo far more than the other way around.

Well, there's no better place to display your brand than on your website, where you have total control. Everything from your font to your color scheme and to the tone of voice used is a major part of your brand's identity.

Here, you have a unique opportunity to stay on-message and on-brand at all times. With the right creative branding services, you can develop an instantly recognizable brand over time, but it all starts with your website.

Don't think it's worth your time? Think again.

Let's try a word experiment. You see a blank white page with four colors in the middle; red, blue, yellow, and green. Which brand comes to mind?

Google has that strong of a presence in your mind because of its stellar branding tactics throughout the last few decades. Also, it isn't just tech giants to get to benefit from this, as there are plenty of more niche brands (cosmetics, clothing, etc.) that have the same recognition among their target audience. You can do the same.

Consequently, if you keep this branding strategy consistent across your website content, social media, ad campaigns, email marketing, and everything else, it will only help solidify your brand's identity.

6. Start Tracking Metrics Early On

Remember, a website is not a one-and-done purchase. It's an ongoing responsibility for your business.

Because of this, it's important to develop a system to determine what needs fixing as time goes on. Well, that all starts with the right analytics tools and following the right metrics.

Google Analytics is a free tool that will offer excellent insight into the performance of your marketing campaigns all the way through a user's journey on your website. Although, there are plenty of other tools to choose from that may suit your needs.

Either way, look into your bounce rate, conversion rates, how traffic is coming into your site, and how long it's staying. These are a few of the most important metrics to track, but the list goes on.

After tracking that data, you will be able to go to your web developer and say "I need you to check off this exact list", which will save you money and improve the quality of your website over time.

7. Use a Good Domain Name

Try to stay away from anything too abstract or long, as domain names are hard to reach on a search bar. Companies like Wix or CNN have an easy time with recognition, but a site with too many words can be read incorrectly, leading to confusion.

Conversely, when you add new pages or posts to your website, try to focus on using pretty permalinks. WordPress and other apps make this easier, but sometimes human intervention is necessary.

8. Use the Right Tools

Does your website have an eCommerce store? Well, then choose the right eCommerce tools like WooCommerce or Shopify.

Apply this logic across the board for whatever your goals are. If you need SEO help, there are plenty of extensions and plugins you can use on apps like WordPress (or other content developers) to help you along the way. Do your research or ask your web design team about the right tools for the job.

9. Get Professional Small Business Website Design

There is no substitute for professional web design services in the digital age.

Unfortunately, with such steep competition, following every tip on this list is critical to your website's success. Fortunately, you don't have to do it all by yourself.

With the right small business web design services, you can maximize the effectiveness of your website, SEO strategy, marketing efforts, and so much more. Because they're so widely available, they may not cost as much as you think.

Also, once the foundation is built (i.e. your website), all you have to do is expand upon it over time. Essentially, this means that you will limit the need for ongoing expenses by acquiring the right services upfront.

Lastly, with the vast competition online, it's best to set your website apart. While most businesses can't compete with giants like Facebook or Google, they still need to get ahead in their own ranks. The best way to do that is submitting a website RFP for professional web development services.

Get Started With Small Business Website Design Services

Now that you know the importance of proper web design, you know what to do. Put your brand in the right position to build traffic, grow your marketing campaigns, expand your reach, and build loyalty among your customers.

The sooner you get started, the sooner you will see results, so stay up to date with our latest marketing news and get started with your small business website design today!

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