10 Essential Steps In Creating A Website For Small Businesses
A great website is crucial for the success of your small business, regardless of whether you run a hardware store, are a freelance photographer, or run another kind of small business. We know what it takes to build fantastic and engaging business websites because I’ve worked on building or marketing over 100 small business websites.
Here are 10 crucial steps to getting started and assisting your small business website to effectively compete in the online marketplace if you’re looking to build a new startup website or make your current site more effective.
1. Find a catchy domain name
The main portal to your website is frequently your domain name, also known as your website address. It must leave a positive first impression in order to be effective for both search engine optimization and usability (SEO).
Here are some suggestions for selecting the best domain name:
Make the spelling simple. Avoid using words that are highly esoteric, made up, or slang.
Make it as brief as you can. It is simpler to remember and type correctly the shorter it is.
Please use the correct domain extension. Whenever possible, try to use a.com domain name (rather than one ending in .net, .co, etc.), unless .gov, .edu, or .org would be a better choice.
Avert using hyphens and numbers. They are less elegant, more difficult to remember, and more likely to be misunderstood when spoken aloud than word-only domain names.
Make the address inclusive to allow for future expansion. For instance, Amazon.com has a much wider range of products than BooksOnline.com, which enables Amazon to sell more types of goods than just books, which was its original intent.
Make it memorable, please. Because there are so many websites on the internet, it’s crucial that your website’s name is memorable so that people will know how to find it in the future.
Look up the domain name. Search for it on Google to see if a website with a similar address already exists online, and look it up on USPTO.gov to make sure no trademarks have been registered there.
Verify that the price is fair. Find out if you can afford to buy the domain name you want for your website from the current owner since the majority of good domain names are already taken.
Avert names that make no sense. Pick a name that has meaning so that users will understand what your business is right away. Yahoo and Google are memorable names, but branding them cost a lot of money, and your small business might not have the same resources.
Make a URL that is search engine optimized. When appropriate, try to come up with a keyword- and location-rich website address, such as “www.LasVegasElectrician.com,” that is SEO-friendly.
2. Invest in scalable, secure website hosting with responsive tech support
A company that provides the technology and services required for a website to be viewed on the internet is known as a website host (or, occasionally, a website hosting provider). You link your domain name to your web host so that users who access your website address are directed to the website you have stored on your hosting account.
Depending on the kind of technology and support you select, hosting services can cost anywhere from $2 to $100+ per month. If you choose to purchase a yearly plan as opposed to a monthly plan, you will typically receive a discount.
Here are some pointers for selecting a reliable website hosting package:
Even though a “shared server” hosting plan can be purchased for as little as $2 per month, I normally advise against it. The performance of your website may suffer if you use shared hosting because you are sharing a server and its resources with other users. Additionally, it’s possible for your website to become infected if one of the other websites on your shared server is hacked.
The most expensive option is a “dedicated server” hosting plan, which can cost between $100 and $2,000 per month but would give your website the best performance. As long as the technology is up to par, a dedicated server hosting plan is more secure than a shared hosting plan because the physical server machine is entirely dedicated to your website. However, the cost is significantly higher than what the majority of small businesses are typically willing to pay. This may be necessary once you have a very effective website, but for the majority of startup and small businesses, it is overkill.
A “virtual private server” (VPS) hosting plan, which provides the best of both worlds, is the compromise I usually suggest. For the hosting services you will receive, the price, which ranges from about $20 to $50 per month, is reasonable. A VPS is a single machine that has been divided into multiple machines, giving it affordability similar to shared hosting and performance potential comparable to dedicated server hosting plans.
In order to receive prompt assistance if you experience a problem, confirm that your hosting provider offers phone and/or chat support. When a problem needs to be solved right away, email support frequently takes too long and can become frustrating. Though chat works just as well, phone support is preferable.
To access your server, you must have a user-friendly server interface, such as cPanel. Unless you have the money to hire a pro server administrator to assist you, you should not have to use terminal commands to view and modify the contents of your server.
Check the server you are considering to see what kind of security is in place. Secure File Transfer Protocol access to your server is something you’ll need to have (SFTP). Your server’s contents should be backed up every day. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates should be simple to install with just one or two clicks. Make sure the hosting provider carries out routine security upkeep. Ideally, your hosting provider has a security protocol that has been made public that you can review to learn how they keep their servers secure.
Some popular website hosting companies include:
3. Display a concise description of your company prominently
To avoid confusion when people visit your small business website, it’s critical to immediately communicate who you are and what you do. Make sure your primary homepage banner (also known as a “hero image”), any subsequent banners, and the introductory text blurb at the top of the page all serve as visual representations of your services.
Additionally, make sure that the “About Us” page links on your main and footer navigation menus are prominently displayed so that visitors can click them and read more in-depth information about your company.
4. Use the most effective content management system
A software program or application used to create and manage digital content is known as a content management system (CMS). Your site can be maintained with the aid of a good CMS, and using one doesn’t require much technical know-how. You should pick a CMS that is tailored to your specific requirements because different platforms are used for various factors, including user-friendliness, extensibility, and cost.
The popular systems listed below have descriptions of their advantages and disadvantages.
WordPress: WordPress is the most widely used CMS worldwide. There are numerous helpful plugins to increase the functionality of your site and a sizable, vibrant support community. WordPress is also cost-free and comparatively easy to install. If you can’t find a plugin that does what you want, it’s simple to find a WordPress developer who can make one for you. Finding an individual or company that can work on your site is not difficult because the majority of website developers are familiar with it. Normally, because of its adaptability and extensibility, I suggest small businesses use WordPress to build their websites.
However, it should be noted that WordPress’s biggest security flaw is that because of its popularity, hackers frequently target it. To prevent hacking, your WordPress site needs to be regularly maintained and protected. Additionally, it is challenging to secure every single third-party plugin, so maintaining the security of your WordPress website requires a continuous commitment to a number of best practices (checking to see if your plugins have been updated within the past few months, making sure it is a plugin provided in the official WordPress repository, deleting unused plugins immediately, etc.).
Drupal: Another well-known CMS is Drupal. It provides many of the same advantages as WordPress, such as adaptability, simplicity, and a sizable support community. Notably, it is a more secure CMS than WordPress (less vulnerable to malicious activity), but it is also less extensible because there are fewer plugin and theme options. The White House website (Whitehouse.gov) was operated with Drupal for a long time before switching to WordPress, which is still in use today.
Joomla!: Another well-known CMS is Joomla! Although Joomla has better SEO, security, and multilingual capabilities than WordPress out of the box, WordPress surpasses Joomla with the aid of a few plugins! is capable of.
Squarespace: Squarespace is a monthly or yearly subscription service that makes it simple to “drag and drop” websites and blogs together. It is an all-inclusive package that includes website design, development, software maintenance, metrics, a domain name with an annual purchase, SSL security, 24/7 support, and hosting with unlimited bandwidth and storage. It offers you top-notch design templates and is especially suitable for creatives. This is a fantastic service if you have a limited budget, require a straightforward and attractive website, but cannot afford a website designer.
Compared to WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, Squarespace has a much lower learning curve! but it has a much smaller number of extensibility options. However, Squarespace is a great choice for you if you have little to no technical experience and are looking for a quick and simple way to create a website.
Wix: Wix and Squarespace are very similar, but Wix is a little more user-friendly. It offers a monthly subscription but not an annual one and has comparable features. Wix is a drag-and-drop builder as well, allowing you to freely place elements wherever you like on the page; in contrast, Squarespace has a more predetermined layout for where you can place elements. If you need to publish a site quickly, Wix might be your best option because it has an even shorter learning curve than Squarespace.
Wix offers many more template options than Squarespace, but once you select one, you must stick with it or you will need to completely rebuild your website. With Squarespace, you can change your template whenever you want without having to start from scratch.
5. Pick a reliable e-commerce platform
You will need the proper technology if you intend to sell products and/or services on your website. If you decide to allow users to financially transact with you online, you will need to choose the right platform for your business model (if you do not currently sell anything, you might want to consider doing so since e-commerce could potentially increase your profits).
Several well-liked small-business e-commerce platforms are listed below:
WooCommerce: One of the most well-liked e-commerce platforms in the world, WooCommerce, can convert your WordPress website into an online store. It connects to WordPress and offers a wide variety of plugins, making it just like WordPress in terms of flexibility. For WooCommerce, there are numerous pre-built free and paid themes available. If you’re not tech-savvy, you’ll probably need a WordPress developer to help you set it up and use it (generally, it’s better to use a premium theme from a reputable developer because it will offer better security and support). WooCommerce also provides your small business with a huge range of capabilities and scalability that it might require.
Shopify: Shopify is a cloud-based e-commerce platform that enables you to design and personalize an online store as well as control products, inventory, payments, and shipping. Because it is a standalone platform hosted on the Shopify server rather than a WordPress extension like WooCommerce, your e-commerce site would technically be separate from your main website if you have one. Unless your primary website has a Shopify integration plugin, you can link to your Shopify account from any regular website created with WordPress, Drupal, Wix, or another platform.
Unlimited products, unrestricted bandwidth, fraud analysis, promotional codes, reports, and many other features are among the features. One of Shopify’s main advantages is that you don’t need a developer to set up a store, and that when you sign up, everything on the backend is already configured for you. The drawback is that WooCommerce gives you more flexibility and control over your store.
Shopify Plus: Shopify Plus is the same as Shopify, but with more staff accounts, a higher level of customization, and international e-commerce options. Additionally, the level of support is higher. All of this obviously entails a higher subscription fee, and WooCommerce still offers more customization options and flexibility.
Business Squarespace: If you used Squarespace to build your website and only need a very basic e-commerce solution, you can go this route. Squarespace offers an e-commerce subscription option. A transaction fee is charged by Business Squarespace, but this can be avoided by upgrading your subscription to a simple online store. A free domain, SSL security, SEO, cart recovery from abandoned shopping carts, discounts, real-time carrier shipping, and more are all included. It has been noted that Shopify is more user-friendly, though. It simply isn’t as flexible as WooCommerce, like Shopify.
Wix: Wix actually has a very user-friendly Shopify extension. To use it, you must subscribe to Shopify and upgrade your Wix account.
GoDaddy Online Store: GoDaddy has a standalone subscription e-commerce platform that is relatively new and simple to set up and use. To start your shop with GoDaddy Online Store, very little technical knowledge is needed. The templates are neat and simple, and they can be modified to some extent. Tools for marketing and SEO, social media integration, scheduling appointments, SSL security, quick page loading, and other features are among the features.
6. Design an intriguing, enduring, and captivating website user interface
Make sure the user experience on your small business website generates results. You can achieve this by putting the following advice into practice:
- Make use of eye-catching graphics and legible fonts.
- Ensure that your graphics are optimized and compressed for quick loading. Search engines like Google will lower your ranking if your website is slow.
- Implement comparable elements that will work for your small business website after researching the competition to see how they have designed and optimized their websites.
- Find out what your target audience wants from your website through research, and then make it simple for them to get it.
- Maintain brand identity throughout the entire design of your website.
- Create a user-friendly navigation system that enables users to easily access the pages they require.
- Publicize contact details that are simple to find.
- Include clear calls to action, particularly “buy now” buttons.
- Create pages that are typical for websites for small businesses, like:
- About us
- Products/Services (with descriptions and visually appealing images)
- Sitemap (for SEO purposes)
- Management team
- Contact us
- Additional pages relevant to your specific small business
7. Make your small business website search engine friendly
In order for search engines to properly index, rank, and display your website to search engine users, you must implement a set of practices known as SEO on your website. Your website will be in competition with other websites that have similar content once search engines have “crawled” it. Your website will rank higher on search engine result pages the better it is designed and written.
The following techniques are primarily used in SEO:
- Keyword research and implementation
- Optimal website code
- Fast loading speed
- Being secure and having an SSL certificate installed; SSL is the standard security technology that ensures data passed between web servers and browsers remains private
- Having a mobile-friendly site
- Existence of high-quality backlinks (links on external websites with related content) that lead to your site
- Having lots of positive reviews online (Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc.)
- Using internal links throughout your site to keep people clicking and reading
- Using social media to link to your site (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.)
SEO is a crucial ongoing process that can make the difference between having your website appear on page one of search engine results (resulting in a ton of free traffic) or page 300. (resulting in no traffic).
8. Create and publish quality content on a regular basis
Create a plan to publish high-quality articles and/or blog posts on your site and on external websites that link to your site because search engines value both the quantity and the freshness of your content. You must update your website with fresh, pertinent content as frequently as possible if you want to rank highly in search engine results and draw visitors back time and time again.
Testimonials are a great type of content to post on your website in addition to static page content and articles. A great way to post new, high-quality content on your website that increases the appeal of your small business is to solicit customer testimonials, which you can then post on it.
Assure that the tone of your content is appropriate and consistent with your brand.
9. Put webmaster tools in place
Install Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, and other tools to use important data to help you analyze traffic and site performance. Preferably, you should do this using Google Tag Manager. The following kinds of data can be tracked using these tools:
- Monthly, weekly, and daily site visitors
- Views per page on your site, in numbers
- “Bounce rate” refers to the proportion of visitors to your website who leave after only viewing one page (Google algorithms give higher rankings to websites that have a low bounce rate, on the theory that visitors are spending more time on the site and find it valuable.)
- Visitors’ average time on the site
- Errors in the site’s crawl (errors that the search engines found on your site in crawling its content)
- Site links that are broken
- Attracting keywords for your website
- Links pointing to your site
- Download time for a website
- Additional details that can improve your SEO
10. Set up a website maintenance schedule
You shouldn’t build a website and then leave it to become outdated. You must make sure your website is properly maintained if you want to have a successful one that performs well in search engine results and isn’t hacked.
To create a small business website maintenance plan, consider the following advice:
- At least once per month, check Webmaster Tools data, and have any critical errors immediately emailed to you.
- Learn more about your audience using traffic data so you can better serve them.
- To improve and correct errors and warnings, use performance data.
- Ensure that all software is up to date at all times.
- Conduct security checks to ensure that your website is free of malware and has not been compromised.
- Use “split testing” to determine whether specific changes to your website’s design can improve its functionality. For instance, if you’re selling a product, you might have two variations of a specific landing page with different images and copy; split testing lets you determine which version has a higher conversion rate.
- Continue to publish high-quality content (see point #8) and heed my SEO advice (see point #7).
- Find trendy and successful online marketing strategies for your company.
- Give website visitors the opportunity to comment on your site.
- Continue to periodically check out what your rivals are doing with their online presence to see if what they’ve done can also work for you.
- Make sure to perform multiple backups of your website at least once per day going back at least 10 days.
As you can tell from reading this article, it might be more difficult than you initially thought to build a great small business website. However, your small business will have a great chance of succeeding in the online market if you stick to the instructions provided in this article.