In today’s virtual age, having an effective business website is essential for success. And while most businesses today understand the importance of having a website, many still don’t give enough impetus to its quality and effectiveness. For a small business owner, your website acts as your brand ambassador, information portal, and also a medium via which you conduct sales. Hence, having a well-built business website is essential for entrepreneurial success in today’s digital marketplace.
If you are looking to build a new small business website or revamp your existing one, here is a detailed guide to help you through the process.
1. Purchase an Effective Domain Name for Your Business Website
You probably spent a lot of time and effort in finalizing your small business’s name. Your business’s domain name requires similar if not more thought behind it.
Make it simple and concise
Ensure your domain name clearly states your business’s name and avoids any kinds of slang and difficult to pronounce or type words. Similarly, it is best to keep the domain name short and effective so it’s easy to remember.
Use the correct domain extension
When in doubt about which extension to use, also do your research to consult experts. But as a general rule, businesses are best represented by the .com extension as opposed to .net or .co. A country-specific domain is advisable if it makes sense for your business to attend only to customers from that country.
Avoid alphanumeric characters
Adding numbers to your domain could make it more complex and difficult to remember. The same goes with the usage of special characters like exclamation marks and hyphens.
Research the domain name
There exists a deluge of websites on the internet. So, it is very probable that the domain name you have in mind is already taken. Hence, it is advised to conduct the research early on so as to avoid any wastage of time and effort. This is also important for the cost of the domain since domains that are already taken will have to be purchased from the owner.
Do not forget SEO
For a small business with a small budget, spending enormously on branding is not possible. Hence, it is important to make the best use of SEO techniques. Try to make your domain name the best representative of your business, is SEO-friendly, and perhaps even try to include your geo-location (Eg: https://www.bakernewyork.com/).
2. Select a Web Host That is Secure, Scalable and Suit Your Business Website Needs
In order for your business to be viewed by others on the internet, you will need a web host. A web host is essentially a service provider that offers services necessary for your website to be viewed on the internet. Your domain name has to be connected to your hosting provider.
Web hosting companies offer a range of services, often bundled together in packages or plans. Hence, a small business owner will have to make a mindful decision about which plan best suits their business needs.
Web host companies have plans ranging from a ‘shared server’ to a ‘dedicated server’. While the shared server plan could cost as little as $2 a month, it would typically mean that your business will be sharing a server with other businesses. This could have problems like inadequate website performance and security issues.
A dedicated server will be more expensive but is the best option for optimal site performance since an entire server machine will be dedicated to only your website. This means you enjoy the benefits of optimal performance, tailored services, less downtime, enhanced security, and dedicated support services from your web host. However, the cost of a dedicated server could be significantly higher and could be unfeasible for small businesses that are just starting out.
You can take the middle route and opt for a virtual private server (VPS). Such a server is typically one machine partitioned to function as multiple servers. In most cases, very few servers are hosted on a single node, hence you can enjoy better reliability, scalability, and stability than a shared host. Moreover, you will also benefit from increased performance and security as a VPS is similar to a dedicated server but at a lower cost.
No matter which route you take, it is crucial to ensure that you receive support services so that problems could be quickly resolved. Most web hosting companies today have seamless and easy-to-understand server consoles. A server console is essentially the server interface where you can access your server and make changes if required. A seamless server console is essential for a small business as they are less likely to be able to hire a dedicated server administrator.
Lastly, give all the required attention to security details. Your web host should enable you to access your server via a secure file transfer protocol (SFTP), add necessary SSL certificates, and have regular backups. Some popular web hosting companies are GoDaddy, SiteGround, and DreamHost.
3. Make Use of The Best Content Management System
Content management systems or CMS are platforms that help you manage all the content on your website. CMS’s these days are fairly simple to use and almost all necessary additions or edits on your website can be made with a few simple clicks.
Some popular CMS are;
WordPress is one of the most popular CMS platforms, known for its user-friendliness, flexibility, and scalability. The platform comes with various useful plugins that are easy to integrate and help you extend the functionality of your website. It comes with pre-created themes that you can customize as per your needs.
It is supported by a strong community and is supported by thousands of WordPress developers. WordPress is known for its security issues as hackers try to target it most. However, with constant security updates by WordPress, this threat is minimized. WordPress website needs to be maintained regularly to keep the plugins and sites updated. Hire a WordPress development agency to manage your website professionally.
Drupal is another popular CMS and offers many of the same features as WP. However, as compared to WP, Drupal has limited theme and plugin options. It is more secure compared to WordPress and websites such as Pfizer are built with Drupal.
Drupal 8, the latest version has overcome many of the drawbacks and presents it as a potential alternative for building CMS-based websites.
Squarespace and Wix
Both these platforms offer a subscription model which includes design, security, domain name purchase, customer support, among others. Hence, they offer a complete package of services that you will require to create your website. Moreover, they have simple ‘drag and drop’ options that make website creation, design, and maintenance simple. Hence, for a small business on a budget, the above CMS platforms are the best out there.
Once you have selected a CMS platform, the next step is to create and design your website and fill it with all relevant information. For this, it is advisable to have a multi-page website. The following are the most essential pages to consider for your small business;
Your homepage should clearly state what your business is about and be supported by relevant visuals. The visuals used on the homepage should be the best representations of your business. Moreover, the font that you use should match your business (Eg, Times Roman and a business that plans kids’ birthday parties does not match).
This page will cover all the important information pertaining to your business like your origin story, goals, over and above the obvious information like what you do and where you are located. You can also use this page to let your customers know how you are different from your competitors and what makes you special.
This page will have the information through which customers can reach you like phone number, email, social media information, and address.
Setting up an Online Store or Booking’s Page for Business Website
Since a large number of people make their purchases online, it is also a good option to integrate an online store within your business website. This will include everything from product listing to a customized checkout experience for customers to accepting secure online payment. If your business offers services, you can also add a booking or appointment page. You can use quick store developer platforms or hire an eCommerce development agency to build a custom store for your business.
If you decide to sell products on your website, you will need a reliable eCommerce platform. Some options include;
One of the most popular eCommerce platforms, Shopify lets you build and design an eCommerce store from scratch, list and manage products, inventory, and payments. It has a simple drag and drop interface which makes setting up a store easy. Moreover, Most beginners to website developers can get the hang of it in a few minutes. For this, Shopify is best for small businesses.
However, Shopify is a stand-alone platform. Thus it cannot be integrated into your business website. You would have to build a separate eCommerce website using Shopify.
However, Shopify comes with an end-to-end CMS. Hence, if selling online in your primary aim, you can choose to build your business website on Shopify itself.
Along with the features that Shopify offers, Magento offers customizable checkout processes. You can add payment processing options such as Google Checkout, PayPal, and more. Moreover, a benefit of choosing Magento also lies in its wide and active community of users. The Magento forum has an answer for everything. It helps you get online as fast as possible if you run into trouble. You can search for your question on the enormous database of user-generated content or hire magento developer for your store development.
The biggest reason to choose WooCommerce for a small business owner is that it offers the option to integrate an online store within your WordPress business website. It is replete with attractive themes to choose from and comes with several plugin options that ensure flexibility and scalability.
Create an engaging user interface
Your website interface must incorporate elements that attract and engage visitors along with offering a seamless user experience. This can be done by paying attention to small yet extremely important aspects like;
Appealing graphics and easy-to-read fonts that cater to your target audience. A seamless navigation plan through which visitors can enter and exit various pages on your website easily. Moreover, placing a relevant call to action (CTA) buttons at various places on your website will increase your customers’ convenience and eventually benefit you in the form of increased visitor participation or sales. A CTA button is an interactive element with the goal to get people to take a certain action, such as “Contact,” “Buy,” “Subscribe” or “Submit.”
Fill your website with rich content
Having quality content on your small business website will not only keep your visitors engaged but will also benefit in terms of better SEO performance. Consider adding a blog and a testimonials page to your website.
Many businesses create a blog that gives expert insights into the area of their business. Such a blog can help you bring visitors who are interested in that area and are seeking information and hence in the process get acquainted with your business. Moreover, this will indirectly inform your customer that you are an expert in the field. For instance, if you have a photography business, a blog post titled, “The photography spots in Las Vegas” will help you attract more visitors who are interested in the topic and create brand awareness. Blogging is also a great tool to attract returning visitors. Once you clearly know and understand your target audience, you can leverage blog posts to attract potential customers and build a rapport with your community.
Testimonials come from your past clients or peers. They help build credibility and trust in your potential customers. You can either use client testimonials as a separate section on your homepage or even have a dedicated testimonials page on your website.
4. Make Your Website Search Engine Friendly
Search engine optimization is a set of practices that help your website rank higher in search engines. In a space where there are millions of business websites, sometimes even in the same field, without SEO your website will be most certainly lost in the crowd. The following SEO practices can help your website perform better than your competitors on search engines.
Meaningful keyword planning and usage
This includes using search keywords relevant to your business at various places in your website like homepage, blog, or URL.
Fast loading speed
Search engines like Google often penalize websites with slow loading speeds. Hence, it is important to ensure that your website graphics are optimized, you have optimal website codes in place, etc. A fast-loading website is also important for visitor retention as no one likes a website that takes forever to load.
Add meta descriptions
Meta descriptions are the short descriptions that appear below your URL on search engines. This informs the search engines about what your website is about. A meta description rich with quality keywords can help your website rank better and enhance the click-through rate.
SSL is the standard security technology that ensures data passed between web servers and browsers remains private. This is crucial for your business’s credibility and trustworthiness and ensuring safe and secure transactions on the website.
A lot of browsing takes place on devices like smartphones and tablets. Your website interface should be optimized for such a mobile use to ensure customer convenience and good SEO performance.
Some other SEO practices include having backlinks and internal. Backlinks are your website links existing on external websites. Internal links are the links existing in different pages on your own website, linking them together. Adding links to your social media accounts will help you generate traffic from those sources and increase your click-through rate.
Things to avoid
- Stuffing pages with keywords
- Copying content from other websites or using AI to create website content.
- Cloaking – this is essentially a sly practice of hiding text in the HTML code of the website.
- Thin content – having similar content on various pages of your website.
5. Track Web Performance
In order to see whether your SEO efforts are working, it’s important to track your website performance and traffic with the help of analytics tools like Google Analytics, Bing webmaster tools, or Wix analytics. These tools can help you track the following information about your website;
Daily, monthly, and yearly visitors and the number of views on the various pages on your website.
Bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page. Hence a lower bounce rate means that more visitors are spending more time on your website and viewing more than one page. A lower bounce rate also enhances your website’s SEO performance.
Most engaging keywords
Analytics tools will give you information about the keywords that lead the most visitors to your website. This can help you understand the themes that work and leverage on that information.
These are the errors that the search engines find on your website in crawling its content such as broken links or errors in codes.
Overall visitor behavior
This includes information such as the sources from which your visitors are arriving (social pages, external websites etc), which pages they spend the most time on, activity on various pages (CTA buttons, comments, etc). Such information can help you make data-driven decisions and help you improve your website performance.
By reading this article, you must have realized that building a great business website for your business is not as simple as expected, However, you could Do it Yourself (DIY) by following the guidelines shared in this article. Alternatively, you could hire website design agency to assist you in building a professional website