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9 Things Small Businesses Must Include on Your Website

80% of consumers research and buy online - for their next product, book or service. It is simply critical that you not only have a website - but that it is telling your customers what they want to hear. Here at Virtual Assist USA, we customize and build around 50 websites a year -- and we do tons of research on what consumers and customers want to see. Since it's Valentine's Day season and we feel particularly generous - we will share that with you!

  1. What Makes You Stand Out. You have a Unique Selling Proposition or USP - I am sure you have heard of the Avis slogan "We try harder," or Enterprise Car Rental's "We pick you up". That makes them stand out. Answer the question "What makes my company better than my competitors" and exhibit that here.

  2. Clarity About Your Services: The old K.I.S.S. principle - Keep it Simple Stupid - rings true here. Have you ever gone to a site and you're not sure what the company offers? Make a specific tab for "Products" or "Services" and provide, at the very least, general information. If you are offering products - make sure that you have a shopping cart service. Just today, I went shopping for a magnetic nametag to use at networking events - and one of the companies made you call to order - it was inconvenient to me - and so I went somewhere else, even though it was more expensive.

  3. Multiple Ways to Contact You: About 50% of my clients work from home offices and are hesitant to put a physical address online. However, this is how you build credibility, comfort level trust with your clients. A P.O. Box can work just fine if you are very hesitant to give out your home address - but keep in mind that this information is readily available over the internet anyway, at sites such was - so we are never completely anonymous. If you have a "Contact Form" on your website - make sure that you include an email address somewhere, too. Even better if the email address is not a generic "info@" or "questions@" -- link the email address to a specific team member. Bonus Webmaster Tip: Make sure that you write your email address as "danielle [at] virtualassistusa [dot] com" and this will prevent TONS of spam from coming to your inbox!

  4. Testimonials, Reviews or Client Lists: The viral social aspect of reading reviews and testimonials from other customers also helps establish your credibility and validate your company. Most clients will be happy to provide a testimonial if you offer them a link back to their site. If you have worked with big name customers - such as Fortune 500 companies - add a Client List to your website.

  5. Get a Secure Socket Layer (SSL). SSL is basically an encryption system that will make sure that the information/data exchanged between a user and a website is kept private. This is especially important for a site that sells products or takes credit card information in any way. Implement an SSL to let customers know that you take their privacy and security seriously.

  6. A search bar. Make your website easily search-able, from a consumer standpoint. Yes, you know exactly where to find information on your service packages, but do your customers? Have your web designer include a navigation bar.

  7. How to work with you, buy from you or contact you. Tell your customers EXACTLY how to do it - each step and process along the way. I urge you to let customers know up front about return policies, shipping charges, money-back guarantees, etc. This can also be established in a F.A.Q. page or "How to Work With Us" page.

  8. Specials: Offer some sort of incentive and thank you to potential customers for visiting your website. For example, if you are an author - offer to gift wrap books for free.

  9. A "Privacy Policy": This is crucial for Search Engine Optimization. See the privacy policy at for an idea, and feel free to use it. This outlines that you will not use customer information improperly. Search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, look for this when they "crawl" the web for sites to list in their top pages.

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