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If you run a small business, having a website is absolutely necessary. In today’s world, before going to a restaurant, people check the menu (and then the reviews!) online, before having their shoes fixed, they check the available options in their neighborhood and their opening times. You could argue that everything happens online nowadays! Basically, if you’re not online, you might as well not exist. The chances of traditionally-run businesses to find customers are very thin nowadays, as having a strong online presence went from a great marketing strategy to a necessity.
All this website talk makes it look like a piece of cake. However, setting up a website for a small business might seem really tricky at first, especially if you’ve got no idea where to start.
In this article guide, I will outline the step-by-step process of creating your own website for a small business. There are several things you need to familiarise yourself in order to get the know-how on how to set up your own website. As everything, it requires work, but it’s far from impossible!
Ranking in Google and SEO of your small business website is another thing that I will discuss in this article. As Google became a hub for all online activity, making the most out of it and getting to that first search result page will surely increase your online exposure, which will be followed by more customers!
Pros and cons of creating a small business website
Having a website taps you into an enormous source of potential customers
As I said in the introduction – Google is the hub for all online activity. Having your foot in the door of the biggest search engine (but also consequently in others like Bing or Yahoo) will expose you to people who might be looking for products or services that you offer!
Whether your website is going to serve as an online store or an eCommerce platform, or simply as an online version of your business card, customers are going to be able to find you. And that’s exactly what counts!
People use the Internet just like they used to use phone books
When looking for services, people are more than likely to look online. So, if your business operates in a small niche of, for example, carpenters around the UK’s city of Lancaster, people looking for new furniture will be able to find you by typing keywords such as “carpenter lancaster” or “furniture carpentry lancaster” into Google. Otherwise, in order to find you, they’d have to actually have to go past your workshop! A website bridges this gap and allows businesses to be found much more easily! It’s available 24/7 and accessible from any place on Earth – even if your small business is located in the UK, you might get customers from the other hemisphere.
With a website, you will be able to start ranking in search engines
That’s a bit of a no-brainer to be fair. Everybody uses Google to find something. Having a website means being able to make it possible for your business to actually get found. As I mentioned before, people tend to check the places before making a choice where to go. Without a website, you will not even be considered in the choice-making process.
Having a website means that you can “pimp” your search engine visibility by the means of SEO. Your ultimate aim is to be able to find your website on the first SERP (search engine result page) – the closer to the top the better!
Cons of having a website
Well, to be completely honest, there are none! The only drawback would be the time and initial budget you need to spend to get your website up and running, but hey, it’s your business, so I assume that making it successful is a cause that’s close to your heart! Investing in a website will bring nothing but an increased ROI!
The aims of having a website for a small business
In the ancient times before the Internet took over our lives (so like, 30 years ago?), businesses used focused on different advertising channels as they do today. TV, newspapers, billboards and the radio were the main paid channels for marketing. They still play a huge role in contemporary advertising but are being slowly overshadowed by the Internet. Small businesses in the past were not likely to have enough budget to put up a billboard or a TV ad – they had to rely on the word-of-mouth marketing and on people simply walking past their offices.
As the traffic moves to the Internet, so should your marketing actions. A website is likely to costs much less (I’ll cover that in more detail later on) than a billboard or a TV ad, but it serves a similar purpose. A website is a way to get your business found – this is its ultimate aim.
Another aim, which a website for a small business needs to fulfill is to give an accurate description of what do you actually do. You need to include info such as: the history of your business (your values, vision and mission included!), contact info, products/services and prices. Having a website is one thing – making it informative is another!
How to come up with a perfect domain name for your small business website
A domain name is the unique bit of the URL that describes your website. You can find it in the URL bar. It looks like that:
Every website needs to have an allocated domain name. How to pick a perfect one for your small business website?
Best domain names are named after your business!
It seems obvious that it would be most beneficial for your online exposure to name your domain with the same phrase as your business. It’s however, not always possible to pick such a domain name – it might not always be available. If this is the case, make your domain name reflect the nature of your business. For example, coming back to the carpenter story, the domain name could be: www.carpenterlancster.com.
Try to find short domain names!
Generally speaking, short names are easier to remember. Sadly, many short domain names are already sold. If you do manage to find a short domain name that’s available, use it over a longer option. This isn’t to say that long domain names are inherently bad – sometimes a short name might not be enough to outline your business’s specifications!
Long or short – make it memorable!
You could go for a longer domain name – try to make it catchy and “earworm-y” so that it’s more memorable. Avoid acronyms – for a customer, it might be incredibly hard to memorize all the letters and for a new visitor, it will probably look like a mumbo-jumbo of random letters.
Hyphens are fine, but only in certain cases!
Use hyphenated domain names if it is actually reflected on your content pages, in headers and on graphics. Otherwise, refrain from hyphens – it might cause confusion among people who would like to look up your website. Do keep in mind that most people will type your business name without a hyphen – it’s simply more convenient and quicker.
How to build a website for a small business from scratch
After determining your domain name, it’s time to start actually building your website! As a small business, your website can be built entirely by you. The second approach is to hire a professional to develop and update your website for you.
Each of the two approaches has its pros and cons. In this section, I will describe both methods in detail.
The DIY approach
So you’re planning to create your own website! However abstract and impossible it might sound, creating a website for a small business is actually feasible and, most importantly, doable! There are several technologies to help you do that:
The most popular CMS (Content Management Service) platform – 58.7% of websites that use CMS and 28.8% of a total number of websites.
WordPress can be downloaded onto your computer for an installation or used as a hosted service. The service offers hundreds of plugins for customizing the looks of your website. Additionally, WordPress is used by big names such as: TechCrunch, The New Yorker, The Official Star Wars Blog, Beyonce and even Sweden’s official website – that’s for recommendations!
WordPress can be used for free! Although that entails a WordPress.com subdomain added to your domain name and WordPress ads being displayed on your website. There are also three paid programs: Personal for €4 pm, Premium for €8.25 pm and Business for €24.92 pm. You can check the specifications of each program here.
According to websitebuilderexpert.com, Wix is currently the most innovative website builder allowing you to create a beautiful and interactive website for your small business. Wix offers the most up-to-date designs and constant improvements, and new features that are specifically targeted at small businesses and design/artistic companies.
Similarly to WordPress, Wix can also be used for free. However, apart from adding a pesito.wixsite subdomain and having to display Wix ads, you will have to buy a separate domain.
Wix also offers paid programs: Combo for $14 pm, Unlimited for $16 pm, eCommerce for $20 pm and VIP for $30 pm. It’s worth noting that if you order a yearly or bi-yearly plan, the monthly prices will be lower. You can check the specifications of each program here.
Squarespace is a design-oriented website builder. It can be used to create a visually stunning and rich-looking website for a small business in the UK. Minimalistic, trendy and chic, it is perfect for businesses that operate in the visual realm – photographers, artists, restaurants or craftsmen.
Squarespace offers two website programs: Personal for €15 pm and Business for €24 pm. Additionally, there are two online store programs: Basic for €28 pm and Advanced for €42 pm. You can check the specifications of each program here.
The hire-a-pro approach
Building a website from ready-made templates is not a bad thing! However, if you plan on really conquering the world, you might want to consider a type of website for a small business made just for you. This is when you need to hire a professional web designer. Yes, it will be much more costly than using website building tools. But you will get what you paid for – a website designed specifically for your needs! What is more, a web designer can fix any bugs and improve the website as your small business grows.
If you need a bespoke website we are here for you! We offer great building service along with an affordable monthly subscription fee!
What to look out for on your small business website
There’s nothing worse than spending time and money on a website and then realizing that it ranks low on Google. Here’s what to look out for on your website for a small business!
Make sure you do everything in accordance with Google
Google takes many more factors into account apart from the keywords. User experience is one of the most important criteria. If your content pages are jam-packed with keywords making your articles look like nothing but huge clickbaits, Google will notice that rank your website accordingly thus diminishing your exposure. Same goes for all the practices referred to as Black Hat SEO. These are prohibited by Google’s Terms and Conditions and can get your website banned.
Make your website responsive
Loading times have a massive impact on how potential customers will perceive your website. Quality and correct display of all the content – videos, text and videos, is also crucial. Optimize all images and videos so that your website does not lag!
Cater to the mobile audience
Probably all people who would look up any website for a small business in the UK, own a smartphone. And none of them wants to visit your website and be forced to zoom in and scroll all around to see the content. That’s why you should have a version of your website optimized for mobile devices. It’s a matter of convenience, but you’d be surprised at how such tiny things can have an incredible impact!
How to make your small business website rank on Google
So you’ve got your website up and running! Well done! Now there’s another crucial task ahead of you – SEO!
Getting your website to rank at the tops of SERPs might be a laborious task, but as with everything – it’s doable! Here are some tactics you can implement to improve your SEO:
Keywords are the base of SEO. This is how Google categorizes websites and this is how your customers are able to find you.
Think of the phrases that relate to your business. I am going to use the carpenter from Lancaster example once again. The keywords for their website could be: “Lancaster carpenter”, “North West carpenter” or “furniture carpentry”. Such use of keywords will make this website for a small business in the UK rank higher in the total pool of searches for carpentry services.
Blogging and SEO go hand in hand. The former, when done right provides not only keywords on your content pages, but most importantly, value to your customers!
A specific task for a blog on a website for a small business is to provide expertise related to the field and to solve problems. Keep in mind that user experience also influences Google’s ranking!
Social media give you a lot of opportunities to promote your website and your business in general. Using different channels, you can build a unique voice and connect with your customer base in a more direct way. You can also share your content, which, in turn, will increase the visit count!
Link building occurs when another website links back to your in their articles. To do this, you simply need to produce content of high quality, so that other website owners will be enticed to use it as a reference.
By using keywords, you take care of your off-page SEO. Optimizing images, taking care of your website’s responsiveness and loading times, not cramming your articles with keywords and choosing the right headers are some of the on-page SEO practices. These are supposed to create a pleasant and smooth experience for the visitors of your website.
Creating your own small business website might seem like a monumental task. I hope that with this guide, I made the whole process clearer for you. Having a website for a small business would mean allowing it to grow and gain new customers. As the Internet became the main place to do business, a website is a great way to tap into this and fully benefit from the online environment. Without a website, your small business is sadly, not likely to survive!
Let’s have a recap of all the things you need to do in order to create a perfect website for a small business:
- Choose a domain name,
- Build your website using builder tools or have it made by a professional designer,
- Optimize your website, so that the user experience is as smooth and pleasant as possible,
- Take care of the SEO and make your website rank higher in Google.