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If your website a vibrant source of low-cost marketing and constant customer flow, or simply a place to park information? A website can be an invaluable tool if it has all the right qualities. Here are five questions that will help you figure out whether your website is pulling its weight.

What makes your website different? As a part of your brand, your website should focus on the things that make your enterprise unique and should be built for scanning and not reading. Whether it is better service, a unique product, or a superior sense of style, your small business website should always represent the best and most meaningful traits that your company has to offer. If not, it isn’t working to its full potential.

Are you an expert in your field? Even if you think that you are, you must effectively present your case to your clients. There are several ways of doing this. First, you can offer internet courses on websites such as YouTube. Second, you can publish articles about your business’s specialty in various places on the internet. By linking to these elements, and posting links on them leading back to your website, you will increase exposure while building your brand. Everyone wants to believe that the person they are doing business with is an acclaimed expert, and this will give you that image.

Is your website professional? First, avoid using templates and cookie cutter materials that will make your website (and your business) seem unprofessional or unremarkable. You need and deserve a professionally designed, completely unique website that represents your company alone. Also, make sure there are no grammatical or other errors in your website. This will look careless and brand you as unprofessional. All of these mistakes can be prevented by hiring a pro to do this important job for you.

Do you personally respond to communications? No one wants to email a small business about a problem and get an impersonal autoresponder. While these are faster and more cost efficient, they will hurt your brand in the long run. If people wanted that disappointing experience, they would be dealing instead with a much cheaper big box retailer. If you or one of your employees interacts personally and professionally with every person who sends a communication to your company, it will make an impression that they will carry with them. If your brand includes good service or a personal touch, this is all the more important.

Is your website part of your brand? In other words, is your website so unique and appropriate for your business and your brand that it simply could not belong to anyone else? From physical aspects such as colors and logos to more vague characteristics such as the style of speech and type of interaction with the public, every aspect of your brand should be communicated on every single page of your website.

If you are breaking any of these rules, there is still hope. Working with a branding consultant to develop both your brand and your website will help you to get the website that your small business deserves.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & Creative Director of Logo Design Works. Since 1998, Mash has helped thousands of businesses express their brand messages through creative and award winning logo designs.