The Small Business Website: Where Relationships Happen

The Small Business Website:
Where Relationships Happen

Here’s something you haven’t heard before: as a small business, you have an advantage over the big guys. Maybe not in terms of scale, resources, or tax benefits…but in terms of understanding your audience on an intimate, personal level, you have the benefit of being entrenched in your community. 


While big corporations invest in tools and expertise to effectively keep up with their consumer behaviors (better than the next guy), odds are you already have a relatively good idea of who your customers are and what they need. After all, you’re essentially neighbors. 


But just because you know your audience doesn’t necessarily mean they know the value of your services. This could be because you’re a new business — or it could be because you haven’t sufficiently leveraged the tools at your disposal to build and maintain meaningful relationships with the people you’re trying to engage. 


There are endless digital tools to help you achieve the latter. But today, our focus is on the most important one: your website. Below, we cover some of the top marketing opportunities afforded by your website as a small business, and how you can leverage your unique understanding of your audience to better serve them.  


Brand Development


If you have a brick-and-mortar shop, you understand the importance of providing a good store atmosphere. You want to foster an experience that encourages your customers to not only enjoy their time in your facility, but also to buy your services…again and again. How do you do this? 


There are the core essentials: keep your floors clean; your inventory easy to navigate; your signage crisp and appealing to look at. Of course, you also greet customers with a smile and strive to meet their needs quickly and with a bit of personality. In this way, you create a unique experience for your customers that they remember when they need your services next time. 


This is in all essence what your “brand” is: the unique identity you build with your customers. It isn’t just the colors you use (although that’s also a major part of it). 


In today’s digital age, your physical store can only do so much in developing this identity. Odds are that many, if not most, of your prospective customer’s first impression of your business will take place on your website. Think of it is your global storefront — a digital introduction to not only your services, but who you are as a business. 


As such, it is a critical component of developing your brand. Your website should be foremost on your list of priorities. This is where your understanding of your customers comes in handy — you know the people in your community or region. 


For instance, what is their reading level? What pain points do they have in spring…in summer? What questions might they have that they aren’t even thinking about? All of these are considerations you should utilize in developing the language on your website. Speak directly to your audience with your content. Make them feel heard. Forge a connection that turns into a relationship. 


The look and feel of your website should also be a fundamental priority. Is it easy to find information; to have questions answered? Does it look slick and professional, or clunky? Does every web page follow the same guidelines in terms of color and tone, adding up to a holistic brand experience; or do colors shift from page to page, giving visitors whiplash as they click through the site? 


Again, think of your website as an alternative storefront. You want to invest in making it look clean and professional, so customers want to come back again and again. 


Search Engine Optimization


According to a 2024 report by Klarna, 44% of online customers start their shopping journey via Google or another search engine. This presents both an opportunity and a challenge. In one way, your business is discoverable by anyone with internet access. At the same time, so is every other business offering the same or relative services. How can you possibly compete? 


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a collection of practices that enhance your website so that it “ranks” higher than your competitors on search engine results pages (ranking here just means it’s higher on the list of results). There is a long (and increasing) list of SEO strategies: from the use of videos to technical back-end linking tactics that essentially hack the way Google discovers and presents information. But don’t be overwhelmed. As a small business, it’s just important you implement the basics of SEO to ensure your services are discoverable by online shoppers. 


At a very general, high level, it’s important to understand that Google is getting much better at answering searchers’ questions. 


This means you should start to think of your website as the source of online information for your specific customers. If they are searching Google for a particular product or service — it doesn’t help Google for you to just show a picture of the item. It will gloss right over that. Give the item a description! Google uses the text to search for answers to questions. 


Here is where “keywords” come in. In SEO, keywords are essentially the most frequently-used words or phrases being searched within a given topic. Hypothetically, for example, one possible high-ranking keyword within the automotive industry might be “discount tires” or “discount tires near me.” 


This is where things get a bit more nuanced, as you absolutely want to use keywords in the text content of your website (you can find keywords using free online tools such as Semrush or Wordstream), but you don’t want to “stuff” your language with keywords, because Google looks at this as cheating. Also, yes, the technical term for this tactic is actually “stuffing.” 


It's best to focus your keywords on the primary text components of your website, such as web page titles or section headers, rather than maximizing the use of keywords in descriptions, paragraphs, and body copy like that. We’ll dive deeper into SEO in future blogs, but in general, keywords and trying to answer your customers’ questions are the two most important strategies for helping your site rank higher than your competitors. 


With all of these technical elements in mind, the most important thing to remember about your website is that it’s the place where relationships are formed with your customers. Make sure it stays true to who you are as a business in how it looks and what it says. If you want in grading the quality of your website, use our free digital report tool here.  

And, if you’re interested in improving your site and enhancing your digital presence, we can do it all — from graphic design, copywriting, video production, and SEO, we’re ready to help you! Learn more by reaching out at [email protected]

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