For small businesses to compete with the internet, they must be on the internet. Most have websites; unfortunately, many do not provide an experience that consumers want to repeat. According to author Barry Feig, there are six C’s a small business owner or webmaster for a business can use to increase repeat traffic.

The first one is content. Content is the reason people come to the webpage. The site provides answers to questions or solutions to their needs. The more solutions you can offer the more customers will come back to visit. The site’s content needs to be written in an informative way that is easily understood. Make the content fresh– something your competitors are not putting on their sites. This could be new products/services, new uses for your products, helpful hints related to your business.

The second C is currency- no not the green stuff but rather updating your site at least monthly with new information, specials, products or services. Include a feature of a product or service and really talk about how it can help or ask one of your vendor’s write an article on an industry-related topic that consumers might find interesting. Updating your content is essential.

Next is consistency. This is more stylistic than the process. Keep your website’s pages looking familiar with layout, fonts, design and look so it is easy for the reader to find items and learn how to navigate your site. If your site has a theme, make sure that the same theme is present throughout the site to give a consistent feel to the viewer. Choose a font style that is easy to read in clear contrast to the background color. Black on white is an excellent choice.

Fourth is credibility. If viewers find your information to be false, contrived or extremely slanted, you will lose credibility. The site represents your business, do not turn them off by blasting your competitors or adding content not related to your business like political rants. This “C” is all about you in business. You get to talk certifications, passion, love, or mission for the business. Do not be afraid to mix in a few personal stories either to help show you are human. Human-interest stories generate higher readership in the newspaper so add them to your website to increase readership and repeat visits.

The fifth C is convenience and making it easy for people to navigate your site. Generally, do not clutter the pages with boxes, frames, or other design techniques. Keep it simple and easy to read while maintaining a degree of attractiveness. Adding pictures of products or services is always a good idea but not too many on one page. Alternatively, having a particular story bordered (a line around it) to draw attention to it is not bad – just do not overdo it.

The last C is clarity. We have already touched on this point in the other “C’s” but it is so important to the success of your site we will repeat it. You should make your content clear, easy to read and not cluttered with industry jargon. By using familiar language, you make the reader feel at home, will spend more time on your site, and increases your credibility. If your site is not communicating to your readers in their language, you are missing the boat.

Websites are important marketing tools, but they are not self-sustaining. They must be maintained regularly. The five “C’s” will help you create a credible and user-friendly website. It all adds up in generating repeat traffic, which tends to results in increased sales.

Dr. Meridith Berry. Is a Grundy County economic development specialist and Richard Proffer, is a Cape Girardeau field specialist in business development.