There was a time when a small business didn’t need a website or even an online presence. But those days are long gone, especially since small businesses started thriving on the Internet. This is further supplemented by COVID-19 that has reinforced the need for better online infrastructure to meet people’s needs and requirements efficiently. This is why it’s a great time to build a small business website and breathe life into your business idea.
Building a great small business website is an easy activity, one that you can even do by yourself! However, you can elect to hire either freelance website developers or a full-time team of developers as per your requirements. Usually, a small business website does not require constant updates or maintenance and so relying on freelancers or building the website yourself is the best way to go.
Are you ready to build a great small business website? Here are 10 key steps to getting started with building your small business website and making it an all-out success.
10 Actionable Steps To Building A Great Small Business Website
1. Choose A Great Domain Name
Your domain name, or your website address, is the first touchpoint to your website. It is important to make a strong and memorable first impression in the minds of everyone who comes across it. Remember, your website address will be published on all your marketing messages across platforms.
While a good domain name will get you website visits, a great domain name will establish you as a brand. For instance, a name with the .cyou domain is an effective way to get your small business to stand out from the crowd before anyone even visits your website.
Having said that, here are 7 handy tips for choosing a great domain name:
- Make it easy to spell, remember, and understand. Your domain name needs to be meaningful, catchy, and have some contextual relevance.
- Keep it short and memorable. The shorter your domain name, the easier it will be to remember and type it into a website browser.
- Avoid using hyphens, numbers, misspellings, and special characters. Your domain name should be easy to understand when someone hears it for the first time. Avoid including any complications that will hamper the memorability of your website address.
- Use a cool new domain extension. Apart from the fact that the name of your choice will be hard to acquire on a conventional domain extension, using a new domain extension like .cyou will help you stand out from the crowd and build a strong online brand.
- Choose a broad domain name that accommodates future growth of your business. A name like www.apparel.cyou is much broader in its meaning as compared to www.buyshirts.cyou since it allows you to sell all kinds of clothing and retail objects.
- Verify for trademarks and copyrights. Research the name of your choice to check if it doesn’t infringe on any brand or business’s trademarks. You can search on USPTO.gov to check for existing patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
- Craft a domain name that has SEO value. Try to pick a domain name that is keyword-rich and one that can attract backlinks on valuable anchor texts. Location and description-based domains offer good SEO value. For instance, www.LondonApparel.cyou or www.SyndeySurferCoach.cyou.
2. Purchase Secure and Scalable Website Hosting
The next step is to purchase the services of a secure, supportive, and scalable website hosting provider. A hosting provider is a company that offers the technology and services needed for your website to function properly and for it to be viewed by people on the Internet. Website hosting can cost anywhere between $2 and over $1000.
The cost depends on which hosting plan you select and the duration for which you make your purchase. Usually, yearly hosting plans cost a tad lesser than monthly plans.
Here are three broad hosting plans that you can use for your small business website:
- Shared Server: As the name suggests, this is a shared hosting plan that costs relatively lesser but has its share of downsides. Shared hosting means your small business website will share a server with the hosting provider’s other clients. This will surely hamper your website’s performance. Also, if one of the other websites is hacked on your server, there’s a good chance your website will be exposed to the threat as well.
- Dedicated Server: This is the most expensive hosting option since it ensures the safety and performance of your website. Having a dedicated server plan means that an entire physical server machine is dedicated to your site. This exclusivity comes at a price; one that most small businesses are usually not looking to pay. Also, you might find it a bit too much for your small business website; unless you are experiencing vast volumes of traffic.
- Virtual Private Server (VPS): This hosting plan is well-suited for your small business website since it offers the best of both worlds. The costs for a VPS server are nominal and it offers the combined benefits of both the plans mentioned above. A VPS machine is designed in a way to offer the affordability of shared hosting and the security and performance potential of a dedicated server hosting plan.
A few tips to keep in mind when choosing your hosting plan provider:
- Make sure your provider offers 24/7 phone or chat support.
- Pick a provider who offers an easy-to-use server interface panel.
- Check the server security standards and levels of maintenance and if you can install SSL certificates with ease.
Some popular website hosting companies include:
3. Clearly Communicate What Your Business Is About
When people land on your homepage it is important to let them know who you are and what you do. This is critical because you don’t want your potential customers to be confused when they first visit your small business website.
Include an attractive hero image or homepage banner with a blurb of text that serves as a clear messaging to describe the nature of your business.
Also, do mention your ‘About Us’ page, ‘Contact Us’ page, and social media handles in the footer and the header (if possible) of your website. Make it easy for people to learn about you, reach you, and engage with you.
4. Get A Professional Email Address
To make your small business look like the professional outfit that it is, you should get a professional email address and feature it on your ‘Contact Us’ page and the footer of your website.
For instance, firstname.lastname@example.org sounds far more professional than email@example.com. A personalized email address that has your business’s domain name instantly establishes your small business as a professional entity.
Getting a professional email address is easy. Once you get your small business website name with .cyou, you can simply use G Suite from Google to create your professional email address.
5. Use A Strong Content Management System (CMS)
Depending on your budget, business type, and overall business goals, it is advisable to use a strong and reliable content management system. CMS is a software tool or application that is used to create and manage digital content. You don’t need a programming or software background to use CMS.
Here is a list of five top CMS tools that you can use for your small business website:
- WordPress is the most popular CMS platform since it offers numerous useful plugins, a large support community, and an easy to use interface.
- Drupal is also a very popular CMS platform that offers the same benefits of WordPress, although it is slated to have better security.
- Joomla offers better SEO parameters and multilingual capabilities as compared to WordPress, however, the latter trumps Joomla given its vast array of plugins.
- Squarespace is a complete website builder that offers a ‘drag and drop’ user experience, domain names, hosting support, SSL security, CMS, and more in one complete package.
- Wix is similar to Squarespace but it offers a better and more user-friendly experience.
6. Choose The Right eCommerce Builder
If your small business website is intended to sell products, then you should consider building your online store with the right eCommerce platform. If you want your website to showcase products, display reviews, suggest similar products, support payment, track orders, and do more, then you need a dynamic eCommerce platform to help build your small business website into a full-fledged online store.
Here is a list of four proven eCommerce builders:
- WooCommerce: This is a leading eCommerce website builder that converts WordPress websites into an eCommerce store. WooCommerce also offers numerous free and premium website themes and a host of nifty plugins like WordPress.
- Shopify: This is a standalone platform that allows you to build a full-fledged eCommerce website and allows you to manage inventory, products, payments, shipping, discount codes, and more. With Shopify, you do not need a software developer since all the technical details are already set up in the backend when you subscribe.
- Shopify Plus: This offers higher levels of customization along with international eCommerce options along with a higher level of support.
- PrestaShop: This is a freemium, open-source eCommerce solution that allows you to create your own online store. It is currently being used by over 300,000 businesses.
7. Create A Beautiful Website Design
Your small business website must leave a strong first impression on people. The design should be seamless and responsive across device types and it should get people to come back to your website.
Follow the suggestions mentioned below to create a stellar website design:
- Use high-quality images and maintain a standard easy to read typography across all pages
- Ensure the speed of your website is optimized and reduce the size of any code or multimedia content that is hampering the performance of your website.
- Study what other small business websites like yours are doing. What design components, themes, fonts, etc. are they using to improve the design and performance of their website.
- Understand your audience and include elements and pick a design theme that will appeal to them.
- Establish a brand theme and stick to that throughout the website. Your brand theme will include, brand colors, tone of voice, font styles, image styles, among other parameters.
- Design your user’s journey and a logical navigation sequence to ensure that you offer the best user experience.
- Mention your contact information on the footer of all your pages so people can easily reach you.
- Include call-to-action buttons (like ‘buy now’ or ‘sign up now’) in an eye-catching design that people can easily click on.
Create pages that are standard for a small business website:
- Contact Us
- About Us
- Product or Services
- Terms and Conditions
8. Make Your Small Business Website SEO-Friendly
To make your small business website a success, you need to optimize it for search engines. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of guidelines or best practices that will enable search engines like Google crawl and index your website so that it appears on their search result pages when someone searches for a particular set of keywords.
The better your website design and content, the higher your website will rank on search queries for those keywords. Broadly speaking, here’s what SEO includes:
- Keyword research
- Optimal website code
- Fast website loading speed
- Having an SSL Certification
- Responsive website design
- High-quality backlinks
- Relevant internal links
- Linking to your social media handles
SEO makes a world of a difference for businesses that want to do well, out-perform their competition, and drive tons of traffic for a fraction of the cost of any paid marketing campaigns.
9. Consistently Publish High-Quality Content
A great way to enhance your SEO score is by starting a blog and publishing meaningful content packed with relevant long-tail keywords that you want your website to rank for.
However, content can also include publishing videos, infographics, images, podcasts, and more. The idea is to publish good quality content on a regular basis with the right keywords and then promote that content so as to get more people to visit your website.
Write value drive blog posts, feature customer testimonials, do guest posts, interview industry experts. There are numerous ways to publish fresh content that will get people to visit your website and engage with it.
Doing this will help you get quality backlinks and in turn, give search engines a positive sign about the authenticity of your website. Make sure your content uses an appropriate brand tone that people enjoy reading.
10. Install Website Analytics
Install Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Bing Webmaster Tools to help you analyze traffic and ensure that all parameters of your website are working perfectly. These tools will help you track the following information:
- Daily, weekly, monthly, annual visitors to your website
- Total number of views for each website page
- Bounce rate, or the percentage of users who left your website abruptly
- Average time spent on the website and on each page by users
- Crawl errors on the pages of your website
- Broken links
- High performing keywords that got users to your website
- Backlinks to your website
- More such information to optimize your website for SEO and plan the next steps with ease
While creating a small business website can seem like a herculean task, it isn’t actually the case. By following the steps mentioned above, you can prioritize tasks, create a plan of action, and simply start!
Be sure to choose the right domain name for your small business website and do explore name options on a brand-new .cyou extension. The .cyou domain launches on June 16th with a special Early Access Program which means you can buy the name of your choice by paying a small access fee.