Having a strong website is critical for the success of any small business, whether you’re a freelance photographer, a hardware shop owner, or something else entirely. With over 100 small company websites under my belt as a webmaster, I know what it takes to construct a successful business website.
These 10 steps can help your small business website succeed in the online marketplace whether you’re starting from scratch or just want to improve the effectiveness of your present site.
1. Obtain a good domain name
Often, your website’s domain name (sometimes referred to as its address) serves as the gateway to your content. It’s critical for both usability and search engine optimization that it produces a strong first impression (SEO).
Here are a few pointers to help you come up with a catchy domain:
Spell it out clearly. Avoid using jargon, slang, or terms that you’ve made up.
Make it as succinct as you can. It’s simpler to remember and write accurately if it’s shorter.
Make sure your domain name has the correct extension. Unless it is more acceptable to use another extension, such as.gov,.edu, or.org, try to always use a.com domain name (as opposed to.net,.co, etc.).
Stay away from the use of hyphens and numeric characters. There is a greater risk of people misinterpreting the domain name when saying it aloud since it is more difficult to recall and less beautiful and memorable.
Broaden the address to make it easier for the business to expand in the future. While BooksOnline.com was originally designed to sell solely books, Amazon.com has a considerably larger internet address and can now offer almost any form of consumer item.
Make sure you leave a lasting impression. Because there are so many websites on the internet, it’s critical that yours has a memorable name that people will remember.
Investigate the domain name’s availability on the internet. Try searching for it on Google to see if it’s already taken and check USPTO.gov to make sure it doesn’t have any trademarks registered.
Make sure you’re getting a good deal. Find out whether you can afford to buy your preferred domain name from the existing owner as most excellent domain names are already taken.
Don’t give your company a name that makes no sense. Choose a name that says something about your company so that people know what you do right away. Although Yahoo and Google have memorable names, branding them cost a lot of money, which your tiny firm may not afford.
Create a web address that will rank well in search engine results. When possible, attempt to come up with an SEO-friendly domain name that incorporates keywords and geographic area, such as “www.LasVegasElectrician.com.”
2. Purchase secure, scalable website hosting with good tech support
When a corporation provides the technology and services needed to access a website on the internet, they are referred to as website hosts (or website hosting providers). As soon as someone types in the domain name of your website, they will be sent to your hosting account, where all of your website content is stored securely.
According on the technology and support you pick, hosting services might cost anywhere from $2 to $100+ each month. Purchasing a yearlong plan instead of a monthly plan generally results in a discount.
In order to get an excellent web hosting package, follow these guidelines:
Even if a “shared server” hosting package costs as low as $2 per month, I strongly advise against it. When you use shared hosting, your server and resources are shared with other users, which might have an impact on how well your site performs. Your website might get contaminated if one of the other websites hosted on your shared server is compromised.
The most costly choice is a “dedicated server” hosting package, which may cost anywhere from $100 to $2,000 per month, but it will provide your website the best performance. To have a dedicated server plan is to have a server machine that is solely devoted to your website. This gives you complete control over all of the resources and is more secure than a shared hosting plan. However, the price is prohibitive for the majority of small firms. Unless you already have a really high-performing site, this is overkill for the majority of startups and small enterprises.
A “virtual private server” (VPS) hosting package, which gives you the best of both worlds, is the compromise I usually propose. Depending on the package, you should expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $50 each month. With a VPS, you get the affordability of shared hosting with the security and speed of a dedicated server hosting plan on a single system that has been partitioned into numerous machines.
Provide phone and/or chat support from your web host so that you can get assistance immediately if an issue arises. When an issue has to be fixed right away, email support might be annoying since it takes so long to respond. The best way to get help is via phone, but you may also use online chat.
Your server must have a user-friendly server interface, such as cPanel. A skilled server administrator can assist you examine and make changes to your server’s content without you needing to utilize terminal commands.
Find out whether the server you’re contemplating has any security measures in place. Accessing your server over Secure File Transfer Protocol is something you’ll need (SFTP). Daily backups of your server’s content are recommended. Installing Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates should be as simple as one or two clicks. Do frequent security checks on the web hosting service. There’s nothing better than knowing how your web hosting provider keeps its servers secure by reading their documented security protocol.
The following are some well-known web hosts:
3. Prominently display a clear description of your business
In order to avoid visitors feeling lost on your small company website, it’s critical to let them know who you are and what you do immediately away. A “hero picture” is a large, eye-catching banner that should be on your homepage, as well as any sub-banners. You should also have an introduction text snippet towards the top of the page that summarizes your company’s mission and what it does.
Also, make sure your “About Us” page links are immediately available on your main and footer navigation menus so that visitors can click on them and learn more about your company.
4. Implement the best content management system
A content management system (CMS) is a software program or application that is used to create and manage digital content. You don’t need a lot of technical skills to utilize a solid CMS to keep your site up-to-date. The CMS you pick should cater to your specific requirements; different systems are utilized for various reasons, such as user-friendliness, extensibility, and cost.
Here are a few well-known systems, along with a breakdown of their positive and negative aspects.
WordPress: WordPress is the most widely used content management system in the world. With a large and active support community and several plugins available, you may further customize and enhance your site’s functionality. For those who cannot find a plugin that meets their needs, WordPress developers will gladly create one for them.) WordPress is also cost-free and easy to set up. The vast majority of website developers are acquainted with it, making it easy to locate someone or a company to help you with your website’s development. Because of WordPress’s versatility and extensibility, I usually suggest it for small enterprises.
Despite its popularity, WordPress has a security flaw that makes it a prime target for cybercriminals. Your WordPress site must be constantly maintained and protected to avoid being hacked. WordPress sites must be frequently maintained and secured. Because it is impossible to safeguard every third-party plugin, maintaining the security of your WordPress site must be a continuous commitment via multiple 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: Drupal is an additional well-known content management system. While it doesn’t have all of the features of WordPress, it does have a big support community. However, it is less expandable than WordPress since it has fewer plugin and theme possibilities. It is a more secure CMS than WordPress. Whitehouse.gov, the White House’s official website, was formerly powered by Drupal, but it now runs on WordPress.
Joomla!: One more widely used content management system (CMS) is Joomla! Joomla! boasts superior SEO, security, and multilingual capabilities out of the box, but WordPress can outperform Joomla! with the addition of a few plugins.
Squarespace: Squarespace is a monthly or yearly subscription service that simplifies the process of creating websites and blogs by allowing users to “drag and drop.” Website design, development, software maintenance, metrics, domain name with yearly purchase, SSL security, 24/7 support, and hosting with unlimited bandwidth and storage are all included in this package. t’s great for designers since it gives you access to premium design templates. Using this service is an excellent option if your budget is low and you want a basic yet attractive website but can’t hire a web designer.
Compared to WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla!, Squarespace has a lot more manageable learning curve, but there aren’t nearly as many extension choices. On the other hand, Squarespace is a good choice if you’re new to website creation and don’t have much technical skills.
Wix: In many ways, Wix is the same as Squarespace, but it’s easier to use. It has comparable functionality and is available on a monthly basis only, rather than a yearly basis. Drag-and-drop functionality is also available in Wix—you can move things around freely on the website, but Squarespace has tighter restrictions on where you can move them. In comparison to Squarespace, Wix has a more rapid learning curve, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to publish a site fast.
However, Wix provides a greater selection of templates than Squarespace, but you must stay with your template choice or you’ll have to start from scratch. When using Squarespace, you don’t have to rebuild your whole site every time you want to change templates.
5. Choose a good e-commerce platform
Using your website to offer products or services will need the use of appropriate technologies. In order to enhance your revenues, you may want to start selling anything online if you don’t already.) Your business strategy will dictate the platform you utilize if people are allowed to interact financially with you.
Here are a few well-known e-commerce platforms for small businesses:
WooCommerce: It’s possible to transform your WordPress website into an online shop with WooCommerce, one of the most widely used e-commerce systems in the world. There are several plugins available for WordPress, and since it connects to WordPress, it’s incredibly adaptable. WooCommerce has a large number of pre-built themes, both free and paid. (In general, a paid theme from a well-known developer is preferable since it provides greater security and support.) For those of you who aren’t tech-savvy, you’ll need the assistance of a WordPress developer to get started. In addition, WooCommerce provides your small company with a large number of features and scalability it may need.
Shopify: It is possible to develop and personalize an online shop, manage items, inventory, payments, and shipping using Shopify, which is a cloud-based e-commerce platform. As opposed to WooCommerce, this is a standalone platform housed on the Shopify server, thus your e-commerce site would technically be independent from your main website. Unless your primary website has a Shopify connection plugin, you may link to your Shopify account from any other website, including WordPress, Drupal, Wix, and so forth.
Limitless items, a limitless amount of data transfer and more are available as part of the service. There is no need for a developer to set up a shop with Shopify since everything is already set up on the backend when you subscribe. The drawback is that you don’t have as much control or flexibility over your shop as you would with Woocommerce.
Additional staff accounts and foreign e-commerce possibilities are included with Shopify Plus, which is essentially the same as Shopify but with more customizability. In addition, the assistance is better. While it offers more features for a larger membership price, it still lacks the same level of customization and flexibility as WooCommerce.
Small-business Squarespace: Squarespace offers a subscription-based e-commerce alternative for those who have extremely minimal e-commerce requirements but still want to use the platform. However, changing your membership to become a simple online shop will eliminate the transaction cost Business Squarespace levies. You’ll get a free domain, as well as SSL security, SEO, abandoned cart recovery, and discounts. In contrast to Shopify, BigCommerce has been criticized for its lack of user friendliness. And, like Shopify, it lacks WooCommerce’s level of customization.
Wix: Wix offers a highly user-friendly Shopify plugin. To make advantage of it, you’ll have to upgrade your Wix account and sign up for Shopify.
A new e-commerce standalone subscription platform from GoDaddy that is simple to set up and use has launched. Launching your store with GoDaddy Online Store requires just a basic understanding of technology. The templates are straightforward and uncluttered, with considerable flexibility built in. In addition to tools for online advertising and search engine optimization (SEO), this site offers appointment scheduling, SSL security, and a fast load time.
6. Create an interesting, memorable, and engaging website user interface
Ensure that the user interface of your small company website creates a favorable first impression and leads to conversions. Following these tips will help you achieve your goal:
Make use of eye-catching images and legible typefaces.
Compress and optimize your graphics for quick loading. Search engines like Google will devalue your website’s rating if it is too sluggish.
Investigate the competition’s websites to discover how they were created and optimized, and then use comparable components on your own website to evaluate whether they work.
Find out what your target audience wants from your website and make it simple for them to acquire it.
Maintain your brand identity across the design of your website.
Create an easy-to-use navigation system that helps people rapidly find the content they’re looking for.
Make contact information readily available to the public.
Consider adding obvious “purchase now” links to your website.
Create typical pages for small company websites, 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. Optimize your small business website for search engines
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a collection of techniques you employ on your website to improve its visibility in search results. You’ll be up against websites with identical material after search engines have “crawled” your site. If you have a well-designed and well-written website, it will rank higher in search engine results.
The following are some of the most common SEO techniques:
- 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.)
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), it’s critical since it might be the difference between your website showing up on the first page of results (where you get a ton of free traffic) or on page 300. (resulting in no traffic).
8. Regularly create and publish quality content
You should have a strategy to produce high-quality articles and/or blog entries on your site and on other sites that link to your site on a regular basis if you want to rank well in search engines. Search engine optimization means regularly adding fresh and relevant material to your website if you want to get found and keep visitors coming back.
testimonials are an excellent complement to your website’s content strategy in addition to static page content and articles. A excellent method to produce new, high-quality material on your website and increase the attractiveness of your small company is to ask your clients for testimonials and then publish them.
Make certain that the tone of your material is suitable and in line with your brand’s voice.
9. Install webmaster tools
Install Google Analytics, Google Search Console (ideally through Google Tag Manager), and Bing Webmaster Tools to assist you evaluate traffic and site performance. It is possible to keep track of the following information using these tools:
- 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
It’s a waste of time to build a website just to let it get stale. You must ensure that your website is well-maintained if you want it to perform well in search engine results and remain unhacked.
Here are some pointers for creating a website maintenance schedule for a small business:
- 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.
Building an effective website for a small company is not as easy as you would have imagined after reading this post! This article’s instructions will ensure that your small company has a great possibility of success in the internet market..