Creating an Effective Website for a Small Business
BY: NIK DONOVIC ON MONDAY, JULY 11, 2016
One of the proven business trends for small businesses is the website. Getting your business online is a necessity for any entrepreneur. If you’re selling online products or services, then a website is no doubt a major tool in your marketing strategy. Web sites are also important in offline businesses since relevant information is updated and accessible online for the convenience of customers.
Depending on what you're looking for, creating a website for small businesses can be easy. You can do it yourself, hire a web developer, or if budget is tight, use a free website builder. There are important steps which need to be followed during the whole process.
Decide The Purpose Of Your Website
The first step is knowing what you intend to do with your site. The intent will guide you in the development stages as you move forward with development. In business, the primary goal can be to gain more clients, or in a non-profit setting, helping people out. With a clear purpose, you’ll be able to map out the rest of the site much easier.
Select Your Domain Name
A domain name is one of the key features of any business website. In fact, it can be almost as important as when you chose the name for your business. The domain name the URL you’ll be sharing with your customers. It’s thus important to come up with something memorable to keep them coming back. Keep it as short as possible, free from numbers, abbreviations, and acronyms.
Choose a Web Host
A host is a server where data is stored easy access by the public. As a small business, it may be too expensive to host your website. You may thus decide to consider external hosts depending on your budget. Going for a shared web hosting is recommended for small-budget businesses, as it's far less expensive than a dedicated solution. On the downside, it also means that you’ll share a server with other websites that you may not choose, which could cause some security or reliability concerns. As your business grows, you may find it suitable to upgrade to different a different web host such as an in-office solution or a cloud service.
Build Your Pages
A good website should consist of more than just a home page. As a small business owner, you’ll need to create numerous pages dedicated to various elements of your business, from a blog (to keep customers informed of promotions and changes happening in your business) to individual products and services pages. A whole article could be on this topic alone, from properly optimizing the pages for search engines to stylistic elements, however, here are a few key points:
The content should be well-written for people visiting the site, as well as for search engines, and can be determined by the keywords you use. Use keywords as they relate to your business. Search engines have become smarter about establishing intent, and if you go for longer keywords, this can come across more natural than trying to fit in keywords for the sake of an exact match.
The majority of people are now searching for websites via their mobile gadgets. Designing a website with a cell phone or tablet in mind is an important facet to consider now. One way to do this is creating a separate mobile website. However, this also means different rankings on the search engines. These days, most companies are choosing to go with responsive web design.
A good site should be well-laid-out and easy to navigate. A potential client will find it easy to use compared to a website overloaded with information. Think back to your favorite sites and how they're laid out. Take some stylistic ideas on where menus are, what's in the menus, how the posts are laid out, among other factors.
A website should drive calls and sales leads. Getting customers to come to you can only be achieved through the inclusion of visible contact details, preferably at the top of your home page. Give customers a physical address, as well as a phone number and email to reach out if there are any questions.
Test and Publish Your Website
Before launching your site, make sure you’ve tested it and surely works on a variety of browsers such as Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, etc. Some stylistic elements may not appear consistent across all browsers, so a second look is always a good idea.
After your site is up and running, it’s imperative to maintain your website through frequently updating new content. Not only does it give you the opportunity to showcase new promotions and engage with your customers, but it also looks excellent for search engines crawling your site as it shows search engines that your content is fresh, unique, and always being updated.
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