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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY | Contributed Content, Hong Kong
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Gaurav Belani

What Constitutes a Highly Effective Small Business Website?

BY GAURAV BELANI

Not so long ago, having a business website, no matter how slapdash, was a big deal. But nowadays, customers expect the smallest of small businesses to have a website. Online shopping in Hong Kong (and around the globe) has become extremely commonplace.

In fact, with more than 4.5 million e-shoppers, e-commerce is developing rapidly in Hong Kong, and more and more retailers are setting up their online presence.

So today, if your business doesn’t have a website, it won’t be taken seriously by potential customers. What’s more, the stifling competition in nearly every industry means merely having a website won’t cut it either. Your website needs to be on par, or better, than your competitors’.

That is, for your website to be truly effective in terms of bringing in more business, it must satisfy both human users and the search engines, which means it needs to check off certain criteria:

Usable
Before anything, think of your website from the visitor’s perspective, and answer these questions:

  • Do you find it easy to navigate?
  • Do you like the speed at which it loads?
  • Do you like the look-and-feel of the website?
  • Is the content engaging and compelling?
  • Does it feel credible?
  • Is it mobile-friendly?

If your answer to all the questions is a solid yes, then kudos to you. However, if that’s not the case, take the time to ensure that it is.

Incorporate a minimalistic design and your website will become way more intuitive to navigate while loading much faster too. Such design intends to deliver exactly what the user expects, without any fluff. Minimalism, in essence, lays emphasis on keeping things simple yet elegant.

Next, make sure your content is high-quality — useful, comprehensive, well-researched, original, readable, persuasive, and grammatically and factually accurate.

Combine a fast-loading, minimalistic website with quality content (including visuals) and you have yourself a credible-looking website with an appealing look-and-feel.

Now, Hong Kong is one of the most smartphone-friendly markets in the world. Roughly 5.6 million people accessed the internet through their mobile phones in 2017, and by 2023, the number of mobile internet users is projected to reach 6.2 million.

So, see to it that your website is responsive (adapts automatically to the screen size on which it is loaded) and loads fast on smartphones and tablets.

Search Engine Friendly
As is the case in most countries, the search engine market in Hong Kong is dominated by Google with a market share of nearly 90%. And guess what, for most business websites, Google search is a major source of traffic. So, if your website is search engine friendly, it’ll be super effective with regards to bringing in more business.

Simply put, for Google, usability and search engine friendliness go hand-in-hand. So, if your website delivers a great user experience (UX), it’s already well on its way to high rankings on Google.

For example, a complex site structure will not only make your website hard to navigate for visitors, but it’ll also hinder your site’s crawlability and indexability by the Google bots. Likewise, site speed, which is crucial to UX, is officially a ranking factor for both mobile and desktop searches. Not to mention, consistently publishing high-quality content on your website will greatly add to your odds of attaining top rankings on Google.

To further make your website search-friendly, do the following:

  • Optimise content, titles, meta descriptions, and URLs with the right keywords.
  • Build backlinks and mentions by contributing content such as guest posts to authority publications and blogs.
  • Ensure proper internal linking and no broken links.
  • Compress all images and write appropriate alt text for them.

Search engine friendliness further extends to improving your website’s security...

Secure
Site security is critical for both your business and your website visitors. A well-guarded website translates to a secure environment for your potential customers and improves your business’s trustworthiness.

Don’t let a cyberpunk remind you of the importance of securing your website. Be proactive and ensure that:

  • The login credentials are strong and immune to brute force attacks.
  • Your content management system (CMS) and its plugins are up-to-date.
  • Frequent site backups, malware scans, and vulnerability tests are scheduled.
  • An SSL certificate is in place to protect your customer’s sensitive data.

And yes, an SSL certificate does contribute to better rankings on Google, which again, makes your website more effective.

Various small businesses, including SaaS startups, agency websites, blogs, and eCommerce stores fall victim to cyberattacks every day. The last thing you want is to compromise your customers’ data due to a cybersecurity lapse on your part.

Conclusion
Seeing how your audience is fast moving online to conduct all sorts of business, you might as well consider expanding your operations online (if you haven’t already done so).

Get a bunch of developers to do it for you or create your online store yourself (with the help of platforms such as shopify), but at the end of the day, having a functioning, easy to use, easy on the eye, search engine friendly, and secure website plays a pivotal role in the success of your business.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Hongkong Business. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Gaurav Belani

Gaurav Belani

Gaurav Belani is a senior SEO and content marketing analyst at Growfusely, a content marketing agency that specializes in data-driven SEO. He has more than seven years of experience in digital marketing and loves to read and write about business, edtech, AI, ML, data science, and other emerging technologies. In his spare time, he enjoys watching movies and listening to music. Connect with him on Twitter at @belanigaurav.

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