In this article I will tell you about the content that every company website should have. In particular:
- what sections should you have on a website,
- which add-ons will get you loyal, returning visitors
- and what free tools should you use to monitor your site.
If you already have a website, definitely take a look at this article and check, if you're not missing any key parts.
If you don't have a website yet, this knowledge will be crucial for making the first overviews, sketches and wireframes - a lot of this content turns out to be required after the page is done, which is harder to do and more expensive.
How should a company website look like?
First things first: the name of the business (and logo, if you have one) should stand out on first sight. Underneath it, place exactly one sentence, describing what you specialize in. Don't make the visitor guess - say what you do upfront and make it as clear as possible (for example: "We manufacture efficient air conditioners").
Make sure that the textual content of each page of your website is visible without scrolling the page down (this is called what's "above the fold").
The navigation menu should be noticeable right away. It is best to place it next to the name of the company.
If possible, use short sentences and paragraphs, headings and lists. Long text discourages, no matter of its value.
What sections should there be on a business website?
If the company has regular information that can be interesting for visitors (like new products, but NOT that you hire a new employee), it should be placed on the main page or in a separate News section. If you don't have regular news, just omit this section.
In the Contact section, publish the following: the full name of the company, its location address, telephone number, e-mail address, fax number, tax number (and country-specific registration numbers to increase credibility), the banking account number (with the full name and address of the bank and its SWIFT code - required for international transfers), opening hours (including weekends) and a map with a marked location of your company (use Google Maps). Some photos from the surrounding area and the building itself may come in handy for the visitors. You should also put driving instructions (like where to take a turn while driving which road and from which direction) and public transport information including bus stops and train and metro stations with their names, numbers of lines that go there and links to sites that you can check their schedule on. Provide the distance (you can measure it with Google Maps) to the larger cities and nearest bus stops and stations. The Contact section should also have a contact form. People are more likely to fill it out rather than opening an e-mail client to send a message. Keep the number of fields to a minimum - most of the time a "How can we reach you?" and "Message" field will do.
You will save a lot of time by making a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section with answers to repeatedly asked inquiries. Put a link to this FAQ (or even the questions themselves as links) in the Contact section. If you still receive questions that have been already answered, just point this page.
Your website will be found only, if it has relevant textual content, that the search engines (like Google) may browse and index. Therefor, you need to have an Articles section, in which you should put at least a dozen pages with content related to your market and products. It is best to have an automated system (called Content Management System - CMS in short) that will be configured so that the beginning sentences of a handful of the newest articles will be posted on the main page of the company's website. I have found that posting articles in their own section without them going through the main page is a lot less beneficial in terms of search engine rankings and incoming traffic. If you don't have the time to write articles yourself, leave that to an employee or find a freelancer on Elance, Odesk or Fiverr.
A company website should also have an About us page (you can put that content on the main page if you don't have news there). Start by stating the Company's mission: what problems do you solve, why the existing solutions are worse and what do you bring into the market. After that, type the usual information: founding dates, what the company exactly does, who do you work with, who are your customers (post examples).
Publish examples of completed work in a Portfolio. Include photos (and videos, if possible and of good quality) with a clear description, what is visible, what were the challenges, what has been done to achieve this result, which technologies were used, for who and for what purpose it was made. If possible, post testimonials and contact information to review them.
Finally, publish a Pricing section with at least estimate ranges for common tasks. You will save both your and the visitor's time by avoiding long agreement talks, after which it comes out that the price range is unacceptable for one of the parties. You can also post examples of completed tasks with their final prices.
How to get returning visitors to your site?
First of all, you have to frequently (on average - two times per week) publish new content on the website (usually in the News or Articles section).
That aside, it is absolutely crucial to add an e-mail mailing list, which is basically a form with the Name and E-mail fields. The visitor can type his contact information and thus subscribe to get the latest news and offers from you via e-mail.
This way you get a constant and personalized way to reach your visitors - you will mail them directly and use their name to increase attention! An example of this can be found beneath this article - if you sign up for my mailing list, you will not also get updates, but also key tips for website owners. As for using a mailing list service provider, I recommend Aweber.
Remember - most of the people who visit your site will not come back. That's why you need to get their e-mail addresses and keep them engaged by sending regular updates and tips.
How to monitor traffic on your company's website?
You can without any effort (and for free!) check, how many visitors your website has had, which other sites did they visit that directed them to you, what did they type into a search engine (like Google) to find you and so on. Website stats (often referred to as analytics) are the most important part of your site, as they will tell you which pages resulted in the highest conversions (sales, sign-ups, submitted contact forms etc.) and which caused the visitors to leave your site (you need to fix those pages as soon as possible).
The best (and free!) stats system out there is Google Analytics. Adding them to your site shouldn't cost you more than $40 and the return of this investment will come quickly.
You should also use the free Google Webmaster Tools to monitor any problems with viewing and indexing your website by search engines and visitors. These so-called "Webmaster Tools" are in fact a system that notifies you of any problems with your site, plus some more statistics. Adding it to your site is so easy, that it should be done within the Google Analytics installation price.
Checking your website from the technical standpoint
The last, but not least important thing is for your company website to be of high quality technical-wise (referred to as "Search Engine Optimized" or SEO in short), which will automatically increase its standings in search engine rankings and thus - the incoming traffic. You can check that after the site is done instantly and for free using my website analysis tool.