Nowadays, it's not feasible to run a business without being present online. Customers turn to the internet for practically everything - from product research to learning about location and operating hours. Building a website for your business is a low-cost investment and does not require you to know how to code or design. Moreover, social media platforms are excellent marketing tools, because they are cost-effective methods of sending out information to thousands of people. Putting your business online can help you establish credibility, reach a broader customer base, and expand your business cheaply and easily. If you can be flexible with your budget, you don't have to do it all alone. You can get managed services for small business marketing.
So, if all this sounds like a good reason to put your business online, here are the basic rules and tips for creating a successful business website.
Decide your website purpose
A business website serves as a space to provide general information about your business or a direct platform for e-commerce. Before you build your website, you must decide what will be your focus, what you want to achieve. Why is this crucial? Because the goal itself should be reinforced as users navigate throughout your site.
Choose a good domain name
The domain name (the website address) is the most crucial feature of your website. It's commonly known as the URL you'll be sharing with your clients and promoting on social media. For this reason, you want it to be easy to remember, spell, and type in. Try to keep it short, and avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and numbers. Also, decide on whether your top-level domain (TLD) will be .com, .net, or biz. Once you select your domain name, confirm whether it's available and purchase it through a domain registrar.
Purchase a web host
Your website, like every other, needs a server where all the data will be stored. As a small business, hosting your site might be too large an expense. For this reason, you will need a company (a website hosting provider) that offers the technology and services necessary for a website to be viewed on the internet. Depending on your budget, you can have a shared web host or dedicated hosting. The first option is the least-expensive and means you'll share a server with other sites. The other cost significantly more, but it means that you get your private server and would make your website perform most optimally.
Businesses that want to offer the option to pay online will need to integrate electronic payment systems into their websites. If the primary goal of your website is to sell products, choose a solution that specializes in creating an online store. However, do your research, since many host providers also offer an in-house shopping cart or integration with e-commerce programs. This way, you might be able to get a better offer or discount.
Create your website content
Your website must have a professional look, be easy to find, and present your company in the best light. The web design industry has dramatically evolved, so it is easier to use now more than ever. You don't need to know how to code to develop an attractive and functional site. You can easily buy a beautifully designed website templates without breaking the bank.
Make sure your main homepage banner and following banners are visual representations of your services. Place an introductory text blurb near the top of the page that describes who you are and what you do. Foremost, be clear about what your business does in a concise statement. Clients and customers should be able to understand what your company does within seconds of landing on your home page. Also, make a contact page (phone number, email address, and physical location, if applicable) from where your customers can directly link to you. It is also a good idea to include information about the founders and the team on the "About" page to help customers put real names and faces to your brand.
Since a good website is more than a static home page, keep your website updated with fresh and current content. Create various pages dedicated to different aspects of your business. For example, you can have a detailed catalog of your products or services or a blog section for company updates. You can also explore third-party services to utilize website design proposals and modify them according to your services, in order to increase your conversion rates. Also, be sure that each page supports the primary goal of the site and includes a call to action. The call to action, e.g., learn more, sign up, contact us, or buy this, also must match the information on the page.
When potential customers or clients are researching your business online, they are getting to know you by the content of your website. However, many might still be skeptical or hesitant to trust you right away. For this reason, use personal testimonial template and create a client review page, where happy clients will do the talking. You can also consider having a button that takes the reader to the available plans and pricing.
Lastly, if your business doesn't have a logo, hire a graphic designer to create one. Place your company's logo on your website, social media profiles, and business cards. This will help your clients to quickly and easily identify your company on the web.
Test before publishing your website
Before going live on the web, check whether your site works on all major browsers. Click through each page, button, and feature. Make sure all links are correct, each image shows up, and whether the format looks smooth. It is also a good idea, from the very beginning to incorporate an analytics program. This way, once the site is live, you can monitor page performance and quickly determine why a page or campaign is successful or unsuccessful based on your analytics.
Market your website on social media
Social media, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest, is the best way to increase your audience reach and alert customers and clients about what is going on with your company. It is also a great way to engage with your customers and leads to social media to help you build stronger customer relationships. Whenever you update your website with a new post, make sure you post about it on your social media outlets. Also, include links from all your social media profiles on your website. The most common places to put the icons are the footer or the ancillary bar.
Optimize your website for the search engines
Submit your website to major search engines to direct potential leads to your page. Start building relevant keywords into your content from the very first phases of your website. Having a strong focus on search engine optimization (SEO) from website launch will help you generate traffic early on.
Regularly maintain your website.
If you want to have a successful website, you need to make sure it is properly maintained. Check monthly to ensure your software is up to date. Run security scans frequently, so your website is clean of malware and hasn't been hacked. Also, staying relevant is important, so update your site regularly with info on new products, offers, and company news. And try to provide a user-friendly experience using the latest web technologies.
Dave Schneider is the founder of LessChurn, churn reduction app. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and has visited over 65 countries. In his spare time, he writes about SaaS and business at DaveSchneider.me