Small Business Support Blog

If you are interested in reading about how to get your business visible online, with regular insights into being an entrepreneur and navigating your way through the business world, then this blog is for you!

We regularly post interesting articles on topics on leadership, management and visibility - with guest articles and features from experts in their field.

If you are interested in collaborating and would like to do a guest feature then please email [email protected] 

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  1. How to create an ideal website structure that brings you traffic to your pages!

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    When you say the words website structure, most small business owners will reach for the nearest duvet to go hide under – the phrase intimates something technical and scary and – gulp – expensive! Cue the hundreds of SEO professionals gathering around like a pack of hyenas offering their services to “fix” or “optimise” your website structure so that you get that elusive number one ranking position or achieve some sort of holy grail with your website.

    The truth is, a good website structure is something far more simple than that, but something so important that small business owners should not be overlooking it. In this post I will explain the elements of a good website structure and how you can plan your website for success.

    In this post:

    • Why is a good website structure important?
    • What goes into designing a good website structure?
    • How to plan your website hierarchy
    • Planning a good navigation for your website
    • How links are important in your website structure
    • Creating a sitemap for your structure
    • Testing, reviewing and staying curious about your website structure

    Why is a good website structure important?

    Having a good website structure is important for three key reasons:

    1. Your user experience. You want your users to not just click on your website, but you want them to stick around and spend time there – the more time they spend on your website the more likely they are to buy your goods or services, so having a good site structure that encourages session time is really important.
    2. It will help you to plan your SEO goals and targets. If you plan out a thorough and comprehensive site structure you will then be able to map out where you need to build relevant content and backlink opportunities. You will be able to estimate how much time it will take you which will help you to prioritise where you invest your time with content creation and backlink outreach.
    3. A good website structure is easier for the Google spiders to crawl. A messy structure which has lots of pages off of other pages without a clear hierarchy will likely cause pages to be missed when they are being crawled.

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    What goes into designing a good website structure?

    Interestingly it does not involve having a load of technical knowledge or expertise! The fundamental elements of designing a good website structure are based upon knowing your business, understanding your industry and most importantly, understanding your ideal user and how they will interact with your website.

    You do not need to have a degree in programming or an ability to understand complicated algorithms to be able to design the ideal structure for your website.

    Here are the things to think about:

    • What does your business do?
    • What industry does your business operate in?
    • Why does your business do what it does? What purpose does it serve?
    • Who are your ideal clients? What are their demographics?
    • What is your call to action? (Shop now, sign up, book now, download now…)

    If you brainstorm these fundamentals then they are going to give you the basis for all of the essential information that you are going to need in your website. This will also give you the basis for keyword research and competitor analysis.

    Knowing your ideal client will provide you with all the information for structuring your website

    Your ideal client will have a problem they want to solve or a desire they want to satisfy. They will have a language they use and a behaviour pattern they follow that will tell you what is best for structuring your information and call to action.

    Example: Ideal Client is a new Mum, time poor, needs to find an outfit for World Book Day for her child to go to school but doesn’t want to break the bank or have the kids complaining about how itchy the costumes were last year. Feels she is up against the yummy mummies who will either have made something amazing or will have ordered something extravagant and expensive. Wants a solution, and a user experience that is friendly and non-intimidating and easy to return if it isn’t right. She needs to be able to trust who she is buying from because she has ordered rubbish in the past.

    The problem: An outfit for World Book Day

    The influencing factors: Time poor, needs to be comfortable, needs to be affordable, needs to be stylish, needs a friendly experience

    What this tells you for your site structure:

    1. The experience needs to demonstrate that the outfits on your site will solve the problem
    2. There needs to be a quick and easy shopping process.
    3. There needs to be details about the products that demonstrate the style and quality of the products
    4. There needs to be a transparent returns process.
    5. The experience needs to be soft and approachable.
    6. The site needs to have social proofing to demonstrate trust.

    How this translates into a website structure:

    1. HOME PAGE LAYOUT Welcoming home page with clear shop now call to action
    2. HOME PAGE CONTENT A language that demonstrates you understand the problem and have the solution with good quality imagery and emotive language.
    3. SHOP PAGE LAYOUT Easy to browse categories
    4. SHOP PAGE CONTENT Clear and simple product descriptions, size guides and washing instructions
    5. VALUE PAGE CONTENT Testimonials and reviews which demonstrate your brand can be trusted
    6. VALUE PAGE CONTENT About Us Page which demonstrates your understanding of the pain points and your why for being in business
    7. ESSENTIAL INFO LAYOUT Clear returns process, delivery information and terms & conditions
    8. ESSENTIAL INFO CONTENT How to return, how to complain, how to query, how privacy and data will be managed.
    9. SOCIAL PROOFING LAYOUT Link to social media and social media reviews. Link to Testimonials
    10. SOCIAL PROOFING CONTENT Reviews and case studies which demonstrate how you have solved the problem.

    When you think about it logically and put the customer at the heart of your decision making, crafting a site structure that is built to convert does not seem so complex!

    Keyword Research is integral to website design

    When you are brainstorming your businesses purpose and going deep on understanding your ideal client and what their pain points are, you are already going to be doing keyword research without even realising it.

    The thing with keywords is that they are never what you originally think. If you are a wedding photographer you can be forgiven for thinking that wedding photographer should be your top keyword, but this is actually not the case – for a couple of reasons. 1. That exact keyword phrase is so saturated that unless you have a tonne of money to spend on expensive backlink outreach and a team of content writers then you are unlikely to rank highly for them. 2. Your ideal client may not even be using that search term. If you are based in Birmingham and your ideal clients are based there then you would get more success focussing on wedding photographer Birmingham, and even better focussing on the driver/influence for that ideal client. What I mean by this is what is driving their search – with the latest update from Google search intention is a really important factor for content ranking, so look to find the driver or intent for the search and this will give you keyword inspiration. So examples would be “best wedding photographer in Birmingham” or “cheap wedding photographer Birmingham” “documentary style wedding photographer Birmingham” “LGBTQ+ wedding photographer Birmingham” – I hope you get my drift.

    When you are researching your keywords it is really important to understand how competitive they are and how difficult it will be to rank for them. It is also important to understand how much those search terms are actually used (it is no good ranking for something that no one searches for!). A good tool to use is searchvolume.io although there are a load of others including Googles Keyword planner. This will help you to plan the target keywords you are going for so that you can include this in your structure plan for titles, descriptions and content.

    Get to know how good your competitors are so you can plan your structure to beat them

    It is as simple as that. Research how good your competitors are (ubersuggest is a good spying tool) and this will inform you how to structure your site to compete against and beat them. Look at how their pages flow, their call to action and their content and use this to build a plan which is superior. The tip here is not to try and take on everyone! Find one competitor that you really want to target and make that the basis for your analysis and actions.

    How to plan your website hierarchy

    The key things to think about with having a good website hierarchy are:

    -          It has to make sense to the user

    -          It has to be clear

    -          It shouldn’t have too many sub categories of categories

    Take your time when planning out your hierarchy because this is determining how many clicks a user is going to have to take to get to their desired content and how long your URLs are going to become! The longer the URL the more chance it can have of getting broken (this is quite an old school idea but I think its really valid – like when you roll out play dough into a snake and the snake gets longer and longer until it breaks!)

    The other point to think about is your plan for your website growth – it is no good investing time in your website structure to get a good foundation and then willy nilly adding content here there and everywhere and mucking up your site structure a few months down the line! The absolute best practice is to have a phasing – but if you can’t commit the time to this then just bear in mind to think about where additional content is going to go.

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    Planning a good navigation of your website

    This is similar to hierarchy but refers more to your content than the placement of your pages. How you navigate on your pages is an important element of your site structure because it will massively influence how long a user stays on a page and where they then progress through your website. This is where you need to plan your assets on your pages – that is your content, imagery and links. The idea is that you should be telling a story with every page. Going back to your ideal client and what pain points they have; this should form the basis for your page navigation. Try to break up content into meaningful blocks to keep the user occupied and to help keep order on your pages. Use separators and colours to keep content distinct and this will help with creating a navigational journey which will reduce bounce rate on your page and increase session time.

    How links are important in your website structure.

    The world wide web is basically a giant spider web of links. Google uses its algorithm to bounce around those links and give answers to search queries so your link structure and strategy is essential for creating a website which will be visible to the search engines.

    Most small businesses are unaware of the importance of including links in their website, both internal links and external, and they underestimate the power that a quality backlink can give them to getting organic traffic to their website.

    When compiling your site structure make a list of the links which will be included on each page – internal links to other pages and external links to other websites. You can link to other websites to recommend their products or services, to answer a particular query or to reinforce a point that you are making in your content.

    Getting backlinks from external websites into your website is also an incredibly important part of your online visibility strategy – so while you are compiling your structure think about what websites you would want to link to your pages. Influencers, media outlets, independent reviewers, high quality directories; these are all examples of where you can target for getting backlinks that point to your website.

    Creating a sitemap for your structure

    This is basically creating a list of the pages that can be found on your website, and it is the final task to be done after completing all of the above! What you need to remember is to keep updating your sitemap every time you make a change to your pages – if you add or delete pages then you should create a new sitemap and submit to Google Search Console.

    Do I need to have a sitemap link in my footer?

    In short, no – this is very old school! If you focus on creating a clear structure for your website with clean navigation that has the ideal client at the heart of its construction, then you should not need to have a sitemap link in your footer. It is a bit like carrying around a diagram of your body all the time; if you know what is on your body and others can see it – a diagram shouldn’t be necessary!

    Staying curious about your website structure

    One of the biggest disappointments that I find when working with small businesses and their websites is that once it is built they think it is “done”. Once they have seen it go live and posted on social media they then let the pages fester and then wonder why 12 months later they are not ranking on Google or they have been overtaken by some zealous whippersnapper. The reality is your website needs to be worked on just like any other area of your business, and there is a direct correlation to how much time and effort you invest in your online visibility to the results you will get. People mistakenly think that managing their website is something that is too difficult, and because it doesn’t yield immediate vanity results in the same way that social media does, they then default to leaving the website. As there are over 6 billion searches every day this is a real shame and I am on a mission to get people loving their websites as much as they do their Instagram grid!

    Diarise time to review the impact that your website structure is having, what pages are getting the most traffic and what pages are not working, and be curious as to why that may be. Get regular feedback and make a content plan that constantly updates your website just like your social media. Well if not as regular as your social media then a lot more regularly than you might have before!

    As an online visibility specialist my passion is to help small businesses with getting their websites seen by the search engines. Check out my free Facebook community which shares daily hints, tips and advice on all things SEO, Social Media and general visibility!

  2. She.

    International Womens Day Celebration

    Three letters. An inconsequential word in all appearances, but a word that carries so much with it. She did this. She achieved that. She means this to me. She. It could be one of the most powerful words of all time when you consider it closely. On this International Women’s Day I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate some very special women, and to say that we don’t need one day to do it, but we should do it every single day. Because, She.

    To the women who get up every single day and do something that doesn’t make them happy, or fill them with joy, but they do it because they have mouths to feed and bills to pay, this post is for you. She is the woman who shows commitment, bravery and selflessness; and even when the world seems dark - the smile on the faces of those mouths she feeds and the warmth from the radiator she grafts to have working, those are the things that she can cling to while she waits for the time to pursue her own joy.

    To the women who look in the mirror and see nothing but imperfections and flaws, who scroll through endless highlight reels of people living their best lives; this post is for you. She is the woman who today will look in the mirror and find something positive to say, because she is beautiful - no no, she is.

    For the girls who don’t know if they are pursuing the right path, or indeed what that path even is, this post is for you. She is the woman who is curious and seeks more, and this should be celebrated! If I knew now what I knew at 14 when I was meant to make choices to determine a career for the rest of my life I know I would have made very different decisions! Life is a long road, and you have the opportunity to change and pursue new things. Don’t worry about what others are doing, just stay being curious and you will find that path. It’s there waiting. Honestly it is.

    To the female that stands alone, not sure if she can be liked or if people will accept her, wondering if she is good enough, this post is for you. She is the woman who is careful, and mindful, and is the best friend to have because she is aware of what’s going on. If you see her, draw her in. She will love and reward you for it forever. For she is the woman who knows how important it is to be loved and accepted.

    To the women who have made choices in the past that they regret now. This post is for you. She is the woman who made decisions with the best information she had at the time, and like everything, you live and learn. Don’t beat yourself up over choices and decisions you made. Put that energy into forging a path forward that you want to pursue.

    She is the woman that is formidable. She is the woman who is vulnerable. She is the woman that gets up, shows up and above everything, will rise up. She knows no boundaries and no ceilings. She. The Mums, the sisters, the friends, the mentors, the bosses, the team, the ladies behind the counter, the online supporters, the Grans, the cousins, the aunts, the teachers and the strangers. She.

    Celebrating some very special women today:

    Shelley Bosworth Coaching - Shelley Bosworth

    International Womens Day Celebration

    This wonderful lady is my mother in law, she was my biggest cheerleader when I announced I wanted more! She encouraged me, she celebrated every achievement and raised a glass with me on the good days and the difficult days.

    And all this while firstly caring for her own husband through Alzheimer’s, and then her own short but spirited battle with cancer.

    She ran her own business when she was younger, she raised her son to be the man he is, my best friend and my rock! Sadly she left us to be with her Mr B before I qualified and set up the business but I know she’s here, supporting me, rooting for me and and proud of all Mr B and I are doing .... I see her smile, I hear her infectious laughter and I am inspired by her strength to this day ... she kept going through everything and I will too because I can do this.

    Boss Bird Parlour - Lisa Luscombe

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    This lady right here Pat Ross-Davies really is a true inspiration.

    She lights up any room, can find a positive in any negative and has dedicated the last 5 years to co-founding and organising a free to attend ukulele festival Summer Strum Hoylake with all profits donated to charity, to date the festival has raised thousands and thousands of pounds for local charities and she does all of this work voluntarily to simply bring joy to a community through music.

    In August 2018 this lovely lady was told after being cancer free for 17 years that her cancer had returned and was stage 4 secondary breast cancer, despite this news Pat continues to play weekly gigs with her band to raise funds in order to keep the festival running.

    She lives for the moments and memories, makes the best of every single day and quite simply makes the world a better place to be.

    My mum! My inspiration 

    Family Memento Photography - Aina Gomez Piza

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    My mum (in this picture she’s with my dad and my daughter).

    She started a great career in law, and at 27 discovered during birth that her first child had Down’s syndrome in a time when not much was known about it and what it implied (or not). She dropped everything and took care of my sister, and then of my brother and me. Eventually, with a gap in her cv, she set out on her own journey of self employment. She had her own store front in a busy part of town and taught me that you can be independent and still be a family woman. You can own your business and be at home to make dinner if you want to - and she’s an excellent cook by the way.

     

    The Calm Within - Aislinn Marek

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    My inspirational lady is my mum. She is my rock. She has stood by me through thick and thin and her faith, kindness and patience are second to none. Nothing is ever too much trouble for her and she lives life to the full (up and dancing at a ceilidh for her 70th birthday party, only a few weeks after having a hip replacement!)

    She hasn't had the easiest of times over the years but you'd never hear her moan or complain. I would be truly lost without her and hope that I am half the mum to my children as she has been for me.

     

    Paper Swan Stationery - Lucy McCormick

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    The women that have inspired me are my big sisters Ruth, Rachel and Claire (sorry I can't have one without the other!)

    They have all worked so hard over the years to build amazing businesses and as working mums they have struggled at times but have always managed. They have shown me that hard work and dedication will all be worth it 

     

    T-21 Hub - Sharon Crowley

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    This is my mum, Sandra. So many women inspire me but my mum has always been there for me. She has stood by me, supported me and held my hand unconditionally throughout my whole life. Her kindness, her strength and her love are 3 reasons we love her

    She inspires me as she passed her driving test late in life (for independence), has travelled abroad by herself (for adventure) and has been my rock since Ellie was born.

     

    Silent Songbird Boutique - Anita Willand

    My late mother in law, Elaine. She was the most mentally strong woman I have ever known. Despite her having many medical issues she never ever let them stop her in life. Through a dark time we went through together we became so close, the bestest of friends and she was truly like a mother to me when my own isn't present in my life.

    It was through the dark experiences we faced together that I was and still am in awe of her. And she helped me summon my own inner strength which I carry with me every single day. When I feel disheartened I remember her encouragement of my business. When I feel overwhelmed I remember her calming energy. When I feel frustrated I remember her smile. And with her in my mind every day I know that I can tackle the harder days and get through them because she taught me that we all have strength in us. We just have to dig a little deeper sometimes. But it's there. Women are strong. Stronger than we think. Women are amazing!


    Eat My Muffin Bakery - Sarah Hadley-Rainsford

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    This lady is Michelle Green. She was my very first business class called the business of baking in 2016. She opened my eyes to my instincts being correct. That what I wanted wasn’t just ok it was more then possible. She put me on the road to my first steps of where I am today.

     

    Calm In The Chaos - Rachel Brydon

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    My inspiration is a lady called Alison Powell. She organised a world record attempt in June 2011 in West Wales for ... skinny dipping! We had to be at least waist height for more than 10 mins for it to count. We smashed the record as there was well over 400 of us (previous world record was 250). She did it for Marie Curie and on the way to the beach there were quotes and motivational statements from cancer survivors and family members.

    She made the event fun, inclusive and about positivity. I gained so much from the experience. I went alone and felt empowered and supported. Making women feel great about just being is such a powerful gift to give them.

     

    L'atelier Kauldhar - Jasbir Kauldhar

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    For me it has to be my mother, Banso. She is my absolute rock. When my father passed away, all she worried about was making sure she put a roof over my head before anything happened to her. Not long afterwards, in 2018 she suffered a heart attack, was pumped full with statins to which she was allergic and ended up being bedridden, unable to move her arms and legs and wheelchair bound for most of that year.
     
    When she eventually managed to start walking, she could barely walk a few yards before getting breathless. Still, all she worried about was me. We eventually got the roof over our heads and slowly she started to find the will to live. Being free in our own home, her strength and resilience spurred her on to keep going. To walk even though she was weak. To get up and do things around the house despite tiring quickly. Slowly but surely she continues to build her strength, so much so that her consultant calls her a warrior cos she’s rarely seen any cases where people get to walk again. Still, all this time, she had me at the forefront of her mind.
     
     
    Not only was she pushing herself to do more, she was encouraging me to half faith; that the good times will come; that eventually we will finish renovating the house; that we’ll soon have a brand spanking new kitchen instead of the temporary kitchen we’re still making by with; that I’d get work soon and we’ll be fine. If it wasn’t for her not giving up on me, I’d have given up a long time ago. Even now, every day, she’s encouraging me to keep going, that things will turn around; that my business will soon start flying. She makes every single day of our lives worth getting up for and it’s for her that I now spur myself on to be the best I can. I push myself to continue even when it all gets too much, so that I can fulfill her dreams of having a second home in the Mediterranean; somewhere we can escape to and be free to be ourselves and have proper holidays l and enjoy our precious time together.
     
     
    Sweetness & Lights - Sharon Deal
     
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    Pauline Skevy, taught me a very valuable lesson in life a few years ago when my son was little and it's carried me through such a lot of situations since and had a profound effect on how I view and deal with things.
    My son must've been about 8 years old (he's 19 now) and suffers with an eye condition called Nystagmus. We went to a fun fair and he wanted to have a go on the rifle range. I didn't want him to be hurt when he couldn't hit any of the targets so dissuaded him as much as I could and wouldn't let him try it. Mum objected to this and said she would pay for him to have a go despite my saying that it would be a waste of money and he wouldn't be able to see the target, let alone hit it. I stomped off angrily - she couldn't possibly know my son better than me!

    I came back after having taken my daughter on another ride only to find a gigantic 6ft blue teddy bear sitting on a bench with my mum and son. He was grinning from ear to ear, so pleased with himself and I was amazed.
    Apparently, mum told the stall holder about her grandson's eye condition and to stand right back because she didn't know where he would aim. The chap shot out the target at the same time as my son, making him believe that he'd done it all himself. He was 18 years old before we told him the truth and he'd always believed that he had the ability to do anything he wanted.

    Mum's attitude was that everyone should be given a chance and I should never put my limitations on anyone, especially myself. It was a very valuable lesson and one I live by every day.
    I started my business after we lost her a few years ago but I can hear her cheering me on and telling me not to worry and go for it.
     
     
    The Lazarette - Janette Watson
     
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    My late friend Fran was the most inspiring to me. She was the cleverest person I have ever known. She sailed around the world solo, and was given two prestigious awards by the Ocean Cruising Club. I have taken screenshots of her obituary written by her ex-husband and friend Peter.
     
     
    Iris Dares Designs - Nicola James
     
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     My amazing friend Cici has been a rock over the last year - a true rock. She has such a hard time balancing work and parenting and kicks ass! I don’t know how I’d cope without her - she helps out so so much with my children and my sanity! I feel so lucky to have her in my life!
     
    Celebrsnt Spain - Debbie Skyrme
     
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     I would like to nominate Jennifer Claire Constant founder of The Celebrant Directory.

    A true advocate of "community over competition" Jennifer has gone a long way in the world of wedding celebrants and officiants to create a supportive environment where we all recognise our individuality and our niches within the sector.
     
    Jennifer constantly thinks of ways to encourage us to market to our ideal client and engage the people we want to attract. She launched the first ever online celebrant summit bringing together officiants from all over the globe, "CelebrantTopia" ....Plus she is a really nice lady!!!