What Do Consumers Look For in a Local Business Website?

Web designers, search engine optimizers and marketers place a great deal of emphasis on how to optimize a website in order to get better placement in local search engine results.  As a result, often the website ends up a jumble of repetitious keywords and phrases, with little useful information.  Too few web designers seem to be concerned with what the customer is looking for when they come to your website.  Let’s take a few moments to examine what the average consumer is searching for in a local business website.

Helpful Information

Your customers want information!  That’s what the website is there for, to provide information.  We’ve all seen those high-tech websites that feature fancy graphics and exotic artwork, clever animation and music, but don’t really provide much in the way of information.  That’s fine if your business is, perhaps, an art studio endeavoring to convey a certain air of aloofness, but for most local businesses, their customers may simply find it off-putting.

Customers come to your website because they want to know who you are, what you sell, when you sell it, where you’re located and why they should visit your business.  It’s the basic who, what, when, where and why of advertising.  As a minimum, these are pieces of information that should be prominently featured and easily found: location, hours of operation, products and services and prices.

Do You Really Need to Post Prices?

Posting prices of products and services on your website can be a nuisance, especially if they tend to fluctuate.  Many businesses — high priced hair salons, for example, take the approach of, “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it,” and therefore do not post prices.

Most consumers who are doing their due diligence, however, by searching for a local business on the Internet, want to have some idea of what they can expect to pay.  If you have too many prices to post so that maintaining a current menu of services and prices would be too cumbersome, consider posting just a few prices for basic services.  Offering a monthly special and giving the original price as well as the discounted one will also give your customers at least some idea of your basic price range.

Location, Location, Location

Let’s face it, one of the selling points of your local business is that it’s LOCAL.  Your location should be prominently featured, which will get the customer immediately thinking about the best time to frequent your business.  Are you closer to their home or place of business?  Maybe they could come by after they pick up their dry cleaning or on their way to the gym.  Once they start mentally placing you in their route of travels, you’re halfway to a sale.  Plus, this helps for your local SEO results!  Consider including a simple, easy to read map graphic somewhere on your page.

The About Me Page

The most important thing to remember about the About Me page is that it’s not about you.  If this is a business, the About Me page should be about the business.  Information customers are looking for here include how long you have been in business, areas served, whether you’re bonded and insured, licenses and certifications, accreditations and things of that nature.

Some companies like to put their mission statements here.  Transportation or rental vehicle providers might describe their fleet of vehicles.  Hair salons might feature their stylists, realtors their agents, and so forth.  Depending on the business and the level of intimacy you desire with your customers, a short bio is fine, but try to keep it on a professional level.  This is not a place to expound on how you spend your free time and the names of your dogs (unless you’re a kennel or pet care facility).

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Think like a customer and consider your strongest selling points.  What would bring YOU into your business?  Do you have really convenient hours?  Super discounted prices?  Is it really quick and easy to get into and out of your business, say on the way to work or shopping?  Are you a day spa with a really soothing ambience?  Be sure to check out your Yelp and Google+ page and any other customer reviews, and see what your customers are raving about.  Then go ahead and boast about those features on your website.

Consider developing a motto around your major selling point.  Whether it’s “same day service for most orders” or “express lunchtime ordering,” these eye-catching statements will draw a customer into your website to investigate further.