An effective website is an important marketing tool that will increase your business reach online. Though there may be initial investment required to design and develop your website, it is still the most effective and lowest cost form of advertisement available.

As a web designer myself, I thought I would compile this list to help you make an informed decision. I assure you, these tips come from years of industry experience designing websites and working with business owners.

A Ranking Website

One day I met an older gentlemen as I was out doing errands. The moment he introduced himself, he handed me his business card. I immediately realized this man knew something about marketing—it was second nature to him.

Business cards have always been a staple of business. In the last few months, seven years after my father and I sold our alarm business, I still receive the occasional phone call from a client looking for alarm system support. They have held on to my business card for more than seven years!

Business cards, though they hold important information about your company products, services and contact information, are useless if you never hand them out. Much the same can be said about websites.

[quote cite=’Paul Cookson’ align=’right’]A website without SEO is like a car without gas.[/quote]A website is the most affordable and effective means of advertising a business. It can be jam packed with information about your company—products, services, prices, mission, history or even and online store. Your website can be working for you 24-7-365, on weekends, evenings or anytime after regular business hours. As great as a website is, it’s useless just sitting online if you cannot be found.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important component of a good website. Simply put, this is the implementation of certain techniques by your web designer to ensure your website looks more attractive to search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.

See how your website ranks for SEO

There are many different levels of SEO dependent on the intended outcome. A website that is specific to a local area will be much easier to rank higher than a website that targets a country, continent or even the globe. It is always dependant on competition and depth of the website. A local website for a specific category, like a company that provides alterations to clothing, may be easier to rank than a real estate website.

Basic SEO may be included in the cost of the website package, but in-depth SEO may cost one or even two times the cost of the website design itself, as it requires much more effort to implement than design alone.

A Fast Website

A quick loading website is a real benefit to the person visiting the website, but even more important, the load time of a website effects how it ranks in search results. The faster a website loads, the better it fairs when Google applies it’s ranking criteria to your website. There are tools you can use to determine the load time of your website like Pingdom and GTMetrix.

A Social Website

Embedded social plugins and links to your company social media pages increase traffic to your website. Not every social media platform will benefit your business, but the most popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram are a good start. There are ways to integrate things like timelines, hashtag searches specific posts, videos, galleries and more. Talk with your web developer to see if they provide this service.

A Valuable Website

Google favours an effective website with unique content that creates engagement and causes visitors to share and backlink to your website. When people link back to your website, it shows that they are interested in your content, Google sees this and improves the ranking of your website in search results. Content should be well written and full of valuable information. The more value a user finds, the more likely they are to share with their sphere of influence through backlinks, social networking sites and email.

A Navigating Website

There is nothing more annoying than visiting a website and not being able to find what you are looking for. A website should flow logically throughout the website and draw the potential customer through it. Contact information should be “front and centre”. When people are unable to find what they are looking for they move on to the next search result.

A Responsive Website

With the rise of people using smartphones and tablets, it has become very important that websites appear properly on these devices. Google implemented a new algorithm in spring 2015 that favours websites that are mobile-friendly, ranking them better on search engines. Responsive website design will adjust to the device, shifting items around to improve flow and appearance. No more zooming and panning to look through your website. Want to see if your website is mobile-friendly? Use Google’s mobile-friendly test.

The Cost of a Website

There is a wide range of prices for website design and development, but as the popular phrase goes, “You get what you pay for.” A small business can expect to pay $2500-4000 for an entry level website. You may find a price for less, but you will only be left with regrets and a website that works poorly that tarnishes your company image. An effective website with more features, like in-depth SEO, a blog, an e-commerce online store, security, custom forms and integrations, will run you between $5000-8000+.

If maintained properly, an effective website should last three to four years. If you purchased a website for $5000 with $240 for annual hosting and maintenance, spread over three years, your cost of advertising would be approximately $159/month. As mentioned earlier, this is the most cost effective advertising method out there for small business.

When you begin looking for a company to design an effective website for your company, do your research and come to the table with a good idea of what you are looking for. Write down all your questions and get answers. Meet with multiple website design companies and get multiple quotes. Best of luck with your decision. If you need any further advice or have questions, please shoot me an email!

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The Author

Ryan Boutin

Ryan Boutin

Entrepreneur and Marketer, Ryan is driven by a passion to help people grow their business. As CEO of Zeal Media Inc, a web development and marketing firm located in Saskatoon, Canada, Ryan's mission is simple; Implement custom strategies to launch small businesses to drastic growth. With a vision to reach more people, InspireCast was born.

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