Whether you are a freelance photographer, own a hardware store, or have another type of modest clientele, a great web site is necessity for your company ’ south success. As a webmaster who has worked on building or marketing over 100 modest business websites, I know what it takes to create capital and engaging occupation websites .
If you are looking to build a new startup web site or make your current web site more effective, here are 10 key steps to getting started and helping your small business web site compete efficaciously in the on-line marketplace.
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1. Obtain a good domain name
Your world list, besides known as your web site address, is much the entrance point to your site. It is important that it makes a good impression for serviceability purposes, vitamin a well as for search engine optimization ( SEO ) .
here are some tips for coming up with an optimum domain name :
- Make it easy to spell. Try not to use slang, made up, or extremely esoteric words.
- Keep it as short as possible. The shorter it is, the easier it is to remember and type correctly.
- Use the proper domain extension. Try to always make it a .com domain name (as opposed to .net, .co, etc.) unless it is more appropriate to use another extension, such as .gov, .edu, or .org.
- Avoid numbers and hyphens. They are hard to remember and less elegant and memorable than word-only domain names, and may be misunderstood when vocalizing the domain name.
- Make the address broad to facilitate future growth. For example, Amazon.com is a much broader website address than BooksOnline.com and allows Amazon to sell pretty much every type of consumer good instead of books only, as was its original purpose.
- Ensure it is memorable. With so many websites on the internet, it is important that your website name is catchy so people will remember how to access it in the future.
- Research the domain name. Google it to see if a similar website address already exists online, and search on USPTO.gov to make sure it does not contain any registered trademarks.
- Check if the price is right. Determine if you can purchase your desired website address at a reasonable price since most good domain names are taken and will need to be bought from the current owner.
- Avoid nonsensical names. Choose a name that conveys a meaning so that users will know immediately what your business is. Yahoo and Google are catchy names, but they were very expensive to brand, and your small business may not have the same budget.
- Create an SEO-friendly URL. When appropriate, try to come up with an SEO-friendly website address that includes keywords and geo-location; for example, “www.LasVegasElectrician.com.”
2. Purchase secure, scalable website hosting with good tech support
A web site host ( or sometimes referred to as a web site host provider ) is a company that offers the engineering and services necessary for a web site to be viewed on the internet. You connect your knowledge domain name to your hosting provider so that when users visit your web site address, they are shown your web site that you store on your hosting account .
Hosting services can cost anywhere between $ 2 to $ 100+ per calendar month, depending on the kind of technology and support you choose. You can normally get a deduction if you purchase a annually plan as opposed to a monthly design .
here are some guidelines for choosing a good web site host design :
- Although you can get a “shared server” hosting plan for as little as $2 per month, I would typically advise against this. Shared hosting means you are sharing a server and its resources with other customers, which can make the performance of your site suffer. Also, if one of the other websites on your shared server is hacked, it is possible for your website to also be infected.
- A “dedicated server” hosting plan is the most expensive option—cost can range from around $100 to $2,000 per month—but it would make your website perform the most optimally. Having a dedicated server plan means that the physical server machine is entirely dedicated to your site; therefore, all the resources are yours and it is more secure than a shared hosting plan, as long as the technology is optimal. However, it is much more expensive than what most small businesses usually are willing to pay. Once you have a very high-performing site, this may be what you need, but it is overkill for most early stage and small businesses.
- The compromise I typically recommend is a “virtual private server” (VPS) hosting plan which offers the best of both worlds. The cost ranges from around $20 to $50 per month, which is affordable for the hosting services you will receive. A VPS is one machine that is partitioned to act as multiple machines, which gives it a similar affordability to shared hosting, with similar security and performance potential as a dedicated server hosting plan.
- Make sure your hosting company has phone and/or chat support so you can be helped quickly if you have a problem. Email support can often take too long and become frustrating when a problem needs to be resolved immediately. Phone support is best, but chatting works well, too.
- There needs to be an easy to use server interface like cPanel to access your server. You do not want to have to use terminal commands to view your server contents and make changes, unless you can afford to hire a professional server administrator to help you.
- Check to see what kind of server security is in place on the server you are considering. You will want to be able to access your server via Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). There should be daily backups being made of your server contents. There should also be an easy, one or two-click method to install Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates. Make sure the hosting company performs regular security maintenance. Ideally your hosting company has a published security protocol you can review so you know how they keep their servers safe.
Some democratic web site host companies include :
3. Prominently display a clear description of your business
It is significant to let people know who you are and what you do right away so they don ’ metric ton feel confused when they visit your small business web site. Make sure your independent home page banner ( besides known as a “ hero double ” ) and subsequent banners are ocular representations of your services, and besides that you have an basic textbook endorsement near the top of the page that describes who you are and what you do .
additionally, make certain both your chief and footer navigation menus have “ About Us ” page links easily accessible so people can click them and read more about your business in depth .
4. Implement the best content management system
A subject management arrangement ( CMS ) is a software program or application that is used to create and manage digital content. A good CMS will help you maintain your locate, and you don ’ t need a lot technical cognition to use it. You should choose a CMS that is designed for your unique needs ; unlike systems are used for different reasons, such as user-friendliness, extensibility, and budget .
The postdate are some democratic systems with descriptions of their strengths and weaknesses .
WordPress: WordPress is the world ’ s most popular CMS. It has a huge, active support community and many useful plugins to extend the functionality of your web site. ( And if you can not find a plugin that does what you want, it is easy to find a WordPress developer who can make one for you ! ) WordPress is besides free and relatively simpleton to install. Most web site developers are familiar with it so it is not hard to find an individual or means that can work on your site. I normally recommend that small businesses use WordPress to create their websites, due to its flexibility and extensibility .
It must be noted, however, that WordPress ‘s biggest weakness is security—because it is so democratic, hackers target it the most. Your WordPress locate needs to be regularly maintained and secured so it is not hacked. besides, it is difficult to secure every individual third-party plugin, so keeping your WordPress site secure must be an ongoing commitment through versatile best practices ( checking to see if your plugins have been updated within the past few months, making certain it is a plugin provided in the official WordPress repository, deleting unused plugins immediately, etc. ) .
Drupal: Drupal is another popular CMS. It offers many of the lapp benefits as WordPress, including flexibility, ease of use, and a bombastic hold community. notably it is a more secure CMS than WordPress ( safer from malicious activity ) ; however, it doesn ’ t have as many plugin or root options, which makes it less extensile. For many years, the White House web site ( Whitehouse.gov ) was run with Drupal, but has since switched to WordPress, which it even uses today .
Joomla!: Another popular CMS is Joomla ! Out of the box, it has better SEO, security, and multilingual capabilities than WordPress ; however, with the help of a few plugins, WordPress surpasses Joomla ! ’ sulfur capabilities .
Squarespace: Squarespace is a military service you subscribe to monthly or annually that makes web site and blog creation an easy “ drag and drop ” have. It includes web site design, development, software sustenance, metrics, domain name with annual leverage, SSL security, 24/7 support, and inexhaustible bandwidth and storage hosting all in one box. It is particularly suitable for creatives and provides you with ace invention templates. If you are on a close budget, need a childlike and beautiful locate, but can not afford a web site interior designer, this is a capital military service for you .
There is a a lot smaller learning curve with Squarespace than with WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla !, but it doesn ’ t have closely vitamin a many extensibility options. however, if you have little or no technical cognition and are looking for a flying and easy means to put up a web site, Squarespace is an excellent option for you .
Wix: Wix is very similar to Squarespace, but it is a bit more user-friendly. It offers a monthly, but not annual, subscription and includes alike features. Wix is besides a drag-and-drop builder—you can freely drag and drop elements anywhere on the foliate ; in comparison, Squarespace is more structured in where you can drag and drop on the page. The learning curl to using Wix is even shorter than Squarespace, so if you need to publish a site promptly, this may be your best choice .
Wix has a draw more templates than Squarespace to choose from, but once you choose a template, you must stick with it or be forced to wholly rebuild your site. With Squarespace, you can change your template anytime without having to rebuild the stallion site.
5. Choose a good e-commerce platform
If you plan on selling goods and/or services through your web site, you will need the right technology to do so. ( If you do not presently sell anything, you may want to consider doing thus since e-commerce could potentially increase your profits. ) If you decide to allow users to financially transact with you online, you will need to choose the right platform for your business exemplar.
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here are some democratic small commercial enterprise e-commerce platforms :
WooCommerce: WooCommerce is one of the world ’ s most popular e-commerce platforms—it can turn your WordPress web site into an on-line memory. Like WordPress, there are many plugins available, and it attaches to WordPress, which makes it extremely elastic. There are many barren and premium themes pre-built for WooCommerce. ( As a rule, it is better to use a bounty theme from a reputable developer because it will offer better security and patronize. ) If you are not tech-savvy, you will most likely need a WordPress developer to help you set it up and use it. WooCommerce besides offers a very high sum of capabilities and scalability that your minor occupation might need .
Shopify: Shopify is a cloud based e-commerce chopine that allows you to create and customize an on-line shop, and to manage products, stock, payments, and transportation. It is not a WordPress extension like WooCommerce—it is a standalone platform that is hosted on the Shopify server—so if you have a main web site, your e-commerce web site would technically be separate from that. You can link to your Shopify report from your regular web site built with WordPress, Drupal, Wix, and so forth, unless your main web site has a Shopify integration plugin .
Features include inexhaustible products, inexhaustible bandwidth, imposter analysis, discount codes, reports, and a lot more. The key benefits of Shopify are that you do not need a developer to set up a store, and everything on the backend is already set up for you when you subscribe. The downside is you do not have equally a lot manipulate or flexibility over your memory as you would with WooCommerce .
Shopify Plus: Shopify Plus is Shopify, but with a higher charge of customization, more staff accounts, and external e-commerce options. It besides has a higher floor of digest. however, all of this obviously comes with a higher subscription cost, and it still does not have all the tractability and customization abilities as WooCommerce .
Business Squarespace: Squarespace has an e-commerce subscription option, so if you chose Squarespace to build your site and have identical childlike e-commerce needs, you can choose this path. Business Squarespace charges a transaction fee, but this can be bypassed by upgrading your subscription to a basic on-line store. It includes a absolve domain, SSL security, SEO, abandoned haul convalescence, discounts, real-time carrier ship, and more. however, it has been noted it is not arsenic user-friendly as Shopify. And like Shopify, it is simply not ampere elastic as WooCommerce .
Wix: Wix actually has a Shopify extension which is very drug user friendly. You will have to upgrade your Wix bill and subscribe to Shopify in order to use it .
GoDaddy Online Store: GoDaddy has a relatively new e-commerce standalone subscription platform that is relatively easy to set up and use. very little technical cognition is required to launch your shop with GoDaddy Online Store. The templates are bare and houseclean, and slightly customizable. Features include market and SEO tools, social media integration, appointee book, SSL security, rapid page loading, and more .
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6. Create an interesting, memorable, and engaging website user interface
Make certain your belittled business web site interface leaves a positive impression that drives results. You can do then by implementing the pursuit suggestions :
- Use beautiful graphics and easy-to-read fonts.
- Make sure your graphics are compressed and optimized for fast loading. If your website is slow, search engines like Google will penalize your ranking.
- Research the competition to see how they have designed and optimized their websites; implement similar components that will work for your small business website.
- Research your target audience to see what they want from your site and make it easy for them to accomplish it.
- Stay consistently on brand throughout your website design.
- Design an intuitive navigation system which allows users to get to the pages they need quickly.
- Publish easily accessible contact information.
- Incorporate obvious call-to-actions (especially “buy now” buttons).
- Create pages that are standard for small business websites, such as:
- 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. Optimize your small business website for search engines
SEO is a set of practices you apply to your web site to ensure search engines exponent and rank your web site appropriately and then show it to search engine users. once your web site is “ crawled ” by search engines, it competes with websites that have exchangeable content. The better your web site design and content is, the higher your site will show up on research engine result pages .
SEO chiefly includes the comply practices :
- 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 an extremely significant ongoing process that can mean the dispute between showing up on the first page of search engine results pages ( resulting in large amounts of free traffic to your web site ) or page 300 ( resulting in no traffic ) .
8. Regularly create and publish quality content
Both content quantity and freshness are significant to search engines, so it ’ sulfur important that you create a plan to publish quality articles and/or blog posts on your site and on external sites that link to your site. If you want to rank highly in search engine results and encourage people to return to your web site again and again, you will have to update your web site with new and relevant content arsenic frequently as possible .
In accession to electrostatic page subject and articles, a bang-up shape of capacity to post on your web site is testimonials. Asking for testimonials from your customers and then publishing them on your web site is a great way to post bracing, high-quality message on your site that makes your small business more attractive .
Make sure your content uses an appropriate, on-brand tone that people will enjoy reading .
9. Install webmaster tools
Make habit of critical data to help you analyze traffic and site performance by installing Google Analytics and Google Search Console ( both preferably via Google Tag Manager ), and Bing Webmaster Tools. These tools can be used to track the be types of information :
- Daily, weekly, and monthly visitors to your site
- Number of views on each page of your site
- “Bounce rate”—the percentage of users who come to your site and leave after having only viewed 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.)
- Average time spent on site by visitors
- Crawl errors on your site (errors that the search engines found on your site in crawling its content)
- Broken links on the site
- Keywords that lead users to your site
- Backlinks to your site
- Web page download time
- Other information that can help you enhance your SEO
10. Implement a website maintenance plan
A web site shouldn ’ thyroxine be created and then allowed to grow cold. In order to have a successful web site that ranks well in search engines and does n’t get hacked, you need to make sure it is properly maintained .
here are some tips to create a small business web site sustenance design :
- Check Webmaster Tools data at least once a month and have any vital errors emailed to you in real time.
- Use traffic data to learn more about your audience so you can better cater to them.
- Use performance data to optimize and fix warnings and errors.
- Make sure all software is always up to date.
- Run security scans so you know your website is clean of malware and hasn’t been hacked.
- Use “split testing” to see if certain variations of your website help performance; for example, if you are selling a product, you might have two versions of a particular landing page with different images and wording—the split testing allows you to see which version has a higher conversion rate.
- Follow my advice about SEO (see point #7), and continually publish quality content (see point #8).
- Find on-trend and effective ways to market your business online.
- Allow website users to provide you with feedback about your site.
- Continue to check out your competition from time to time to see what they are doing with their online presence and see if what they’ve done can work for you as well.
- Make sure your website is backed up in multiple ways at least once a day and at least 10 days back.
As you can tell after reading this article, creating a bang-up small business web site may not be adenine simple as you first thought. however, if you follow the steps set forth in this article, your modest business will have an excellent find at succeeding in the on-line market .
About the Author
I ‘m a webmaster who specializes in WordPress, graphic design, mobile-friendly web site growth, search locomotive optimization ( SEO ), pay per cluck ( PPC ) advertise, drug user interface, e-commerce, and blogging/social media marketing. I am originally from Ohio and received my Bachelor of Science academic degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, focused on Web Design and Interactive Media. I have been involved in construction or selling over 100 business websites. To find out how to drive visitors to your web site, check out my article, Small Business Internet Marketing Strategy : Pay Per Click Advertising and Search Engine Optimization. Visit my web site www.allisonbowlus.com and connect with me on LinkedIn.
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