It’s a fact. To stay competitive in the 21st century, your small business’s marketing demands a high-quality website. Resources like the Yellow Pages are all but a memory, and your prospective customers are now looking online to find you. If you aren’t there – and well ranked on popular search engines, you’re losing sales to your competitors.

Simply having a website will not cut it though. Taking your small business marketing efforts to the next level will require you to include the same elements used by the most successful sites at the top of the search engine rankings. Amid the multitude of components you can use to make the most of your online presence, are these seven essentials that will point you in the right direction.

1 – A Straightforward Domain Name

When it comes to choosing their domain name, many new ventures start off on the wrong track right from the beginning. A simple and straightforward name usually works best. Use your company name and highly relevant keywords to help establish your brand online. Reputable small business marketing companies will encourage you to use .com at the end and to choose an easy-to-remember name that prospective customers will find easy to type into their browsers.

2 – Useful and Relevant Content

Today’s online marketplace dictates that no small business marketing strategy is complete without appropriate content. It’s crucial that the content you share on your website is useful and relevant to your target audience, that it is original, and that it is frequently updated. Relevant content is usually shared via a company blog. Although volumes could be written about the many nuances of high-quality content, simply acknowledging that it is a crucial factor is a great start.

3 – Easy Navigation

The estimated attention span of web surfers seems to diminish every year, and that’s why your website must be easy for your visitors to navigate. If your site loads slowly, or if your prospect can’t find the information he is looking for quickly and easily, one click will instantly take him to a competitor’s site, where he will soon be spending his money. It must be easy to navigate from one page to another within your site – and any calls-to-action must be clear and easily identifiable.

4 – Appropriate Web Design

When creating a theme or brand for your company, be sure your website design matches the company’s overall theme. Many small business marketing companies miss the mark by incorporating images or branding that doesn’t speak to the values, services, or general tone of the company’s message. A disjointed message is often caused when the business owner insists on incorporating color schemes and imagery they personally like – but that don’t represent the nature of the business. That’s not to say there is no room for creativity in web design, but keeping visitors in the right frame of mind is crucial.

5 – Mobile-optimized Website

According to a March 2015 article by Comscore, the number of internet users who use mobile devices exclusively outnumbered those who use the internet only their desktop. For the small business owner, this means your website must be responsive to, or optimized for, mobile devices. What a user sees on a full-sized computer must reflect the same information they see on their smartphone, iPad or tablet. As the term suggests, mobile users are often out in the world as they search and, if they can’t readily find you when they’re looking for the products and services they need, they will find your competitors.

6 – Complete Contact Information

Contact information is an important component many people often overlook when building their small business websites. Even though it seems about as basic as you can get, many small businesses fail to include their phone number on their website. It’s important to include a dedicated “Contact Us” page that lists your business’s phone number, physical address, email address, and hours of operation. You may also want to include a map of the general area or a link to Google Maps as a way to make it easier for people to find you. One BrightLocal survey revealed that more than 50% of mobile users said they consider a physical address the most important information they look for when they visit a local small business website, while nearly 40% cited the phone number as most important.

7 – Company Information

People love to see proof and get a sense of a small business’s before progressing through the buying process and spending their hard-earned money. Company information, such as a brief history, introductions to some of the main players in your business, as well as experience you’ve accumulated or awards you’ve won can build potential customers’ confidence in dealing with you. If you have a brick and mortar business, include a photo of your storefront or entrance. It will help web visitors make the connection when they visit you in person.

It’s no secret that successfully marketing a small business encompasses a complex mix of elements, and your website is just one. If you need a small business marketing consultant who can act as your company’s marketing department and free you to focus on what you do best, contact The Marketing Launchpad today.