A website may be one of the most important marketing tools for your business, but it can be overwhelming to get started. If you need one, why you need one, where to start, what is hosting, what the heck is SEO? Well, take a breath, we are here to guide you and keep the process simple!
Let’s bring it back to the basics. What is a website?
Web·site (/ˈwebsīt/) noun
A website is a location connected to the Internet that maintains one or more pages on the World Wide Web.
What should you include on your website?
When someone lands on your website they are looking to learn more about your business. Your audience has an attention span of about 8 seconds. Build a meaningful connection with your audience. Before you start to look for a website development company or start your website yourself (if you are going the DIY route) you need to answer some basic questions:
- What you are about? What is our value proposition?
- What do you sell/offer? Overview of services & product features.
- Do you need e-commerce?
- Why should people hire you?
- How to reach/contact you?
- Where are you?
- Who are you?
- Social Media links/feeds
People research before they buy.
88% of consumers pre-research their buys online. Before purchasing a product or service, customers would like to know and see more about your company, and the perfect platform to showcase these is a professional website.
Make a great first impression
Your website is your digital ‘brick and mortar’ shop. It is where people come to browse, check out your prices and decide to buy. Just like a brick and mortar, you need to make a good impression the first time people visit. Make sure your window display is dazzling, easy to understand and easy for people to find what they are looking for. Use short, powerful sections of content and images that are sectioned off by clear concise headers.
How to choose a domain name.
Choosing a domain name is similar to choosing a company name – it requires a lot of thought and consideration… sometimes your business name comes from finding the perfect domain name.
- Make it easy to type (don’t use slang)
- Keep it short
- Avoid numbers and hyphens
- Research it (make sure no one else has it)
- Register both .ca and .com
- Ensure it is owned by you!
Where do I register & what does it cost?
It costs approximately $9.88 USD a year per domain. We recommend whois.com for domain registration. WHOIS is one of the world’s top and most affordable online identity provider’s.
Again. Make sure your domain is registered in YOUR NAME. Not your website developers. It is one of your business assets and you need to have it in your name.
Websites are hosted on special computers called servers. Your domain points to the host so when a website user types in your domain name their computer will connect to your server and your webpages will be delivered to them through the browser.
Why does speed matter? User experience and search engine indexation. End users are impatient!!! If your site loads 4x slower than your competitors, who do you think you target market is going to shop from? You know how annoying it is to go through a site that won’t load – don’t be slow. Plus Google penalizes for site speed. A slow page speed means that search engines (Google) can crawl fewer pages using their allocated crawl budget, and this will negatively affect your indexation.
When your site goes down or has a problem, how reliable is the support that you will receive from your hosting company? Can you call them/access them 24/7?
Security not only affects you – it affects every single person visiting your site if they are unknowingly downloading a virus from your site. A hacked site can get you on the blacklist with Google.
Ensure your site has SSL authentication and is secure so that your visitors know they are visiting a site that has a secure connection. This protects your potential customers when making purchases or submitting their personal information online.
Who we suggest
We recommend SiteGround.com. We feel that SiteGround is one of the best hosting companies out there. SiteGround is remarkably good at offering quick, helpful, and knowledgeable support to their customers.
Don’t pick the cheapest solution… pick the best solution.
Choosing a platform.
Okay so now you have your content, domain and hosting… what’s next? You need to determine what platform to actually build your website on.
Things to consider:
- Can you build it yourself.. Do you want to?
- Determine your needs today vs. the future
- Do you need e-commerce?
Consider future growth
If you plan or hope to grow your business, think carefully before choosing a low-cost platform aimed at very small sites. Platforms like Wix and Squarespace can work great for businesses that plan to stay relatively small & use just a few features.
Drag and drop platforms
Drag and drop platforms such as Wix, Squarespace and Weebly may be a good entry level DIY option for small businesses. They are powerful, simple to use and offers great all-around flexibility when creating your site. You can create a website for your small business in hours and get online really quickly and smoothly. Each platform has it’s own pros and cons to consider so please do your research and find a platform that will work best for your business.
An astounding 26% or a fourth of total website around the world use WordPress. WordPress allows you to build a website that meets your unique needs. A great option for a blog, business site, portfolio or online store.
Whether you sell online, on social media, or in-store, Shopify has many options.
Depending on budget and what you have in mind, you can use a drag and drop option, WordPress or Shopify. There are many things to consider when picking your e-commerce platform.
Have a plan
Don’t just start designing your website. You want to make sure that you are effectively meeting the needs of your visitors. Map out your buyer’s journey from the first time they visit your website to the moment they become a customer.
Plan it right
You are designing your website for the next step, not the final step. Design your website for your customers NOT you! What pages are they going to view, what content are they going to read and what offers are they going to convert on?
Mobile friendly facts
80% of internet users own a smartphone. It is almost suicidal not to have your small business website mobile responsive because Google uses your mobile version of your website FIRST when it indexes your site. Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead.
When designing your website, navigation is key! It is essentially the map that displays the core places users can visit. There is nothing worse than a site with disorganized or confusing navigation.
Once your visitors land on our site, do they know what to do next? You need to guide them through your website. If visitors cannot find what they’re looking for, they have absolutely no reason to stay on your site. More times than not, they will certainly bounce and find a competitor that offers a better user experience.
Keep the navigation bar clean, have navigation hierarchy and responsive design so it doesn’t change drastically from desktop to mobile.
Call to action buttons
Call to action buttons are many elements that indicate the next step the user should take.
One of the most important functions of any small business website is to focus on the inbound leads & capture as many as possible.
Contact details are key
Don’t overlook the fact that you have to make it easy for visitors to contact you! Contact page, email address, phone number should be found everywhere!
Images are important
Choose your images wisely. Do they fit with your brand? Don’t use extremely stocky images Don’t leave the watermark on – BUY THEM!
If you are selling products please ensure that the product photos, images and descriptions should be crisp and appropriate. You only have a few seconds to win or lose a potential customer.
So you’ve launched a great site… but can anyone find it? Basically Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is when you make your website more attractive to search engines, like Google, come along to index and rank your website.
Make sure you take into consideration the search terms your visitors/audience will use when searching for your product or service. This strategy should include creating content that’s relevant to the needs of your visitors.
An uncluttered site, clear content, proper URL’s, sitemap and relevant keywords will allow search engines like Google to index your website with ease.
Content is king
GOOD QUALITY CONTENT IS KEY!
This goes way back to websites 101. This has never changed. Providing high quality content is still one of the best ways to influence page rank.
Don’t be irrelevant
Your content must be relevant on your website. This plays a major role in getting indexed by search engines. Poor or irrelevant content is a game changers when it comes to attracting or putting off viewers.
Get your pen ready
You should be the one starting the content creation for your site. Even if you plan to hire someone to edit or polish it, you know the basic message of your company more than anyone else will. Tell that personal story. It makes people feel more connected to your business through your website by telling your story.
Ongoing website maintenance
There is one phone call that I hate to get. The one where a prospective client calls to tell me that their website is not functioning properly. They can’t update it, they have been hacked or worse yet, it crashed. I think about all the money they have invested in their main digital asset, their website is now gone or they will have to spend more to get it working properly again.
Think of your website like a car. You need to do regular maintenance such as WordPress plugin updates or things will break if not updated.
Your website is an investment. It should always be up to date as it is your one sales tool that never sleeps. Getting started can be quite intimidating for those that have never done one before but in the end websites really do matter. The lack of a dedicated and updated website can impact your business. Without a website you may not only fall behind your competition but may also miss the opportunity to connect and engage with prospective customers. A website can build trust among clients.
Contact us to download our website basics worksheet PDF to help guide you through the website creation process!
Ready to make the most of your small business website? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, let’s chat!