A web of opportunity

You’ve recently completed a project and the customer is delighted with the work. It’s a great feeling. So what next?

It’s a question many contractors find themselves asking once a job nears completion. Taking the time to share what you’ve done online can put you in front of a whole new audience.

The way we interact with customers has been revolutionised by the internet. These days a simple Yellow Pages advert alone is unlikely to cut the mustard in an increasingly competitive market. The first thing someone does when looking for information about a company is research it on the web. That’s why creating an online presence for your business can work wonders for your company profile, because if you’re not online you’re almost invisible. Designing a company website can be done simply, with very little cost and gives your business an internet platform to advertise your services, interact with your customers and showcase your work.

Putting together a simple website has become a lot easier in recent years with tools such as WordPress and companies selling websites that you can personalise cheaply and easily. These systems allow you to choose from a template, add in images, create new pages and add text. Quickly providing you with a complete website and a really effective way to advertise your business.
With that in mind here are a few pointers to help you get your business online.

Your ‘domain’ is basically the address of your website. While it doesn’t necessarily need to be exactly the same as the name of the business, it should be relevant and simple to remember – so it’s easy for potential customers to find you.

You can search for, and register your domain name at a web hosting company, such as www.123-reg.co.uk , www.register.com, www.fasthosts.co.uk or Namesco from as little as £2.

If you have a popular name and your first choice isn’t available, don’t worry, there are virtually endless domain variations available like .NET, .BIZ or .CO instead of just .CO.UK or .COM.

Purchasing a domain also means you can use the same domain for your email address, which shows a level of professionalism that you can’t get from a free email, such as Google or Yahoo.

Websites are hosted, or stored, on computers called servers which allow people to see your site on the internet. So, how do you choose a web hosting company for your website? Ironically, the best thing to do is exactly the same as what you’d expect one of your clients to do and highlights why you need a website! Search online for web hosting reviews and then give them a call. Things to consider when you’re talking to them include:

  • Do you need technical knowledge or do they do it all for you?
  • Is the website set up easy to use?
  • Do they offer expert support and is there an extra cost for this?
  • Do they provide 24/7 security monitoring?
  • Do they have lightning-fast loading times?

There are a number of web hosting companies that also sell website domain names (like www.123-reg.co.uk for example), meaning you may be able to use both companies for purchase of the domain and hosting. In addition, if you’re already using a web designer to build your website then they can often arrange the hosting for you as part of their service.

Once you’ve decided to create a website for your business, it pays to think about the best ways of putting it all together. Here are some top tips to help you build the best site you can

  • Keep the website design simple and fresh – less is often more
  • Make your site easy to use – simple navigation and structure is key
  • Check grammar and spelling – it shows you’re thorough and methodical
  • Images showcase your work – a picture speaks a thousand words
  • Ensure your site works on all devices and search engines – more and more people use tablets and phones to search the web

The mantra to remember here is to keep it simple. Think about what visitors to your site want to find out and work from there. Here are a few pages that you could focus on:

  • Homepage
    Typically the first page a visitor will see and you only have a few seconds to keep their attention. This is not the place to be wordy. Keep it short, concise and to the point and use visuals wherever possible. Also, make sure you have a very clear Call to Action on your homepage that encourages people to get in touch.
  • About us
    This is where you tell your visitors more about your business, your background, the area you cover and what you offer. It’s the place to tell the short story of how your business came to be and use customer testimonials and quotes to back up your stories of success.
  • Services
    This is the section where you tell visitors about the products or services you offer. This page can be a single page, or a page that links off to several subpages depending on the depth of your product or service offering.
  • Contact us
    This page tells visitors how to contact you so include all the ways that is possible such as your address, telephone and email. You can also include links to connect with your business on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

These days ‘content is king’ – meaning you need to make sure the information you include is valuable and relevant to what people search for.

Using these key word search terms in your copy will also help to improve your position in search results. For example if you want to target people that live in the area that your business covers, coupled with the product or service that you wish to promote, keywords to include might be ‘supply, install, rooflights, Fife, Scotland’. Try to incorporate these into your content without going overboard so your text still sounds natural – ‘We supply and install rooflights in Fife, Scotland and the surrounding area.’ It’s also worth registering with a number of online business directories so you can link back to your site. The higher the number of back links you have the more important you look to search engines like Google. If your customers have their own websites then linking to them and vice versa is good practice. Also, if you belong to a trade association then you could have their logo on your website, which links to their website (this is also good for your ranking) – however, do check with them first.

Bear in mind that once you post something online, you can’t always take it back so don’t post content, photos or videos that may cause embarrassment, and never post content that is abusive or may cause offence.

Once your website is up and running it’s a very good idea to review and update it regularly. This will not only improve its performance with search engines it will also give people a reason to keep coming back and see what’s new. This could be anything from up-to-date case studies showcasing recent work or a new testimonial from a happy customer.

The bottom line is that getting yourself a website is a lot simpler and cheaper than you might think. Once you’re there the rewards should speak for themselves.