10 Key Steps To Building A Great Small Business Website

By Allison Bowlus
Whether you are a freelance photographer, own a hardware store, or have another type of little business, a bang-up web site is essential for your company ’ mho achiever. As a webmaster who has worked on build or market over 100 belittled occupation websites, I know what it takes to create great and engaging business websites .

If you are looking to build a new inauguration web site or make your current locate more effective, here are 10 key steps to getting started and helping your minor clientele web site compete efficaciously in the on-line market.

© ronstik – adobe Stock

1. Obtain a good domain name

Your knowledge domain name, besides known as your web site address, is often the submission compass point to your site. It is important that it makes a good stamp for serviceability purposes, american samoa well as for search engine optimization ( SEO ) .
here are some tips for coming up with an optimum domain name :

  • Make it easy to spell. Try not to use slang, made up, or extremely esoteric words.
  • Keep it as short as possible. The shorter it is, the easier it is to remember and type correctly.
  • Use the proper domain extension. Try to always make it a .com domain name (as opposed to .net, .co, etc.) unless it is more appropriate to use another extension, such as .gov, .edu, or .org.
  • Avoid numbers and hyphens. They are hard to remember and less elegant and memorable than word-only domain names, and may be misunderstood when vocalizing the domain name.
  • Make the address broad to facilitate future growth. For example, Amazon.com is a much broader website address than BooksOnline.com and allows Amazon to sell pretty much every type of consumer good instead of books only, as was its original purpose.
  • Ensure it is memorable. With so many websites on the internet, it is important that your website name is catchy so people will remember how to access it in the future.
  • Research the domain name. Google it to see if a similar website address already exists online, and search on USPTO.gov to make sure it does not contain any registered trademarks.
  • Check if the price is right. Determine if you can purchase your desired website address at a reasonable price since most good domain names are taken and will need to be bought from the current owner.
  • Avoid nonsensical names. Choose a name that conveys a meaning so that users will know immediately what your business is. Yahoo and Google are catchy names, but they were very expensive to brand, and your small business may not have the same budget.
  • Create an SEO-friendly URL. When appropriate, try to come up with an SEO-friendly website address that includes keywords and geo-location; for example, “www.LasVegasElectrician.com.”

2. Purchase secure, scalable website hosting with good tech support

A web site host ( or sometimes referred to as a web site host provider ) is a company that offers the engineering and services necessity for a web site to be viewed on the internet. You connect your domain name to your hosting supplier so that when users visit your web site address, they are shown your web site that you store on your hosting report .
Hosting services can cost anywhere between $ 2 to $ 100+ per calendar month, depending on the kind of engineering and support you choose. You can normally get a discount if you purchase a annual plan as opposed to a monthly plan .
here are some guidelines for choosing a good web site host plan :

  • Although you can get a “shared server” hosting plan for as little as $2 per month, I would typically advise against this. Shared hosting means you are sharing a server and its resources with other customers, which can make the performance of your site suffer. Also, if one of the other websites on your shared server is hacked, it is possible for your website to also be infected.
  • A “dedicated server” hosting plan is the most expensive option—cost can range from around $100 to $2,000 per month—but it would make your website perform the most optimally. Having a dedicated server plan means that the physical server machine is entirely dedicated to your site; therefore, all the resources are yours and it is more secure than a shared hosting plan, as long as the technology is optimal. However, it is much more expensive than what most small businesses usually are willing to pay. Once you have a very high-performing site, this may be what you need, but it is overkill for most early stage and small businesses.
  • The compromise I typically recommend is a “virtual private server” (VPS) hosting plan which offers the best of both worlds. The cost ranges from around $20 to $50 per month, which is affordable for the hosting services you will receive. A VPS is one machine that is partitioned to act as multiple machines, which gives it a similar affordability to shared hosting, with similar security and performance potential as a dedicated server hosting plan.
  • Make sure your hosting company has phone and/or chat support so you can be helped quickly if you have a problem. Email support can often take too long and become frustrating when a problem needs to be resolved immediately. Phone support is best, but chatting works well, too.
  • There needs to be an easy to use server interface like cPanel to access your server. You do not want to have to use terminal commands to view your server contents and make changes, unless you can afford to hire a professional server administrator to help you.
  • Check to see what kind of server security is in place on the server you are considering. You will want to be able to access your server via Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). There should be daily backups being made of your server contents. There should also be an easy, one or two-click method to install Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates. Make sure the hosting company performs regular security maintenance. Ideally your hosting company has a published security protocol you can review so you know how they keep their servers safe.

Some popular web site host companies include :

3. Prominently display a clear description of your business

It is important to let people know who you are and what you do right away so they don ’ t feel confused when they visit your little occupation web site. Make certain your independent home page banner ( besides known as a “ bomber image ” ) and subsequent banners are ocular representations of your services, and besides that you have an introductory text endorsement near the circus tent of the page that describes who you are and what you do .
additionally, make sure both your main and pedestrian navigation menus have “ About Us ” page links easily accessible so people can click them and read more about your business in depth .

4. Implement the best content management system

A content management system ( CMS ) is a software plan or application that is used to create and manage digital message. A dependable CMS will help you maintain your web site, and you don ’ t need much technical cognition to use it. You should choose a CMS that is designed for your unique needs ; different systems are used for different reasons, such as user-friendliness, extensibility, and budget .
The be are some popular systems with descriptions of their strengths and weaknesses .
WordPress: WordPress is the worldly concern ’ s most democratic CMS. It has a huge, active voice support community and many utilitarian plugins to extend the functionality of your site. ( And if you can not find a plugin that does what you want, it is easy to find a WordPress developer who can make one for you ! ) WordPress is besides free and relatively bare to install. Most web site developers are conversant with it so it is not hard to find an individual or agency that can work on your site. I normally recommend that small businesses use WordPress to create their websites, ascribable to its flexibility and extensibility .
It must be noted, however, that WordPress ‘s biggest helplessness is security—because it is so popular, hackers target it the most. Your WordPress site needs to be regularly maintained and secured so it is not hacked. besides, it is unmanageable to secure every single third-party plugin, so keeping your WordPress web site secure must be an ongoing committedness through diverse best practices ( checking to see if your plugins have been updated within the past few months, making sure it is a plugin provided in the official WordPress repository, deleting fresh plugins immediately, etc. ) .
Drupal: Drupal is another popular CMS. It offers many of the same benefits as WordPress, including tractability, still of use, and a big support community. notably it is a more procure CMS than WordPress ( safer from malicious activeness ) ; however, it doesn ’ t have as many plugin or subject options, which makes it less extensile. For many years, the White House web site ( Whitehouse.gov ) was run with Drupal, but has since switched to WordPress, which it however uses today .
Joomla!:  Another popular CMS is Joomla ! Out of the box, it has better SEO, security, and multilingual capabilities than WordPress ; however, with the help of a few plugins, WordPress surpasses Joomla ! ’ s capabilities .
Squarespace:  Squarespace is a service you subscribe to monthly or per annum that makes web site and web log creation an easy “ drag and drop ” experience. It includes web site invention, development, software alimony, metrics, domain name with annual leverage, SSL security, 24/7 support, and inexhaustible bandwidth and repositing hosting all in one package. It is particularly desirable for creatives and provides you with ace design templates. If you are on a tight budget, need a simple and beautiful web site, but can not afford a web site graphic designer, this is a great service for you .
There is a much smaller learning curl with Squarespace than with WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla !, but it doesn ’ t have about a many extensibility options. however, if you have fiddling or no technical cognition and are looking for a immediate and easy way to put up a web site, Squarespace is an excellent option for you .
Wix:  Wix is very similar to Squarespace, but it is a bite more user-friendly. It offers a monthly, but not annual, subscription and includes like features. Wix is besides a drag-and-drop builder—you can freely drag and drop elements anywhere on the page ; in comparison, Squarespace is more structured in where you can drag and drop on the page. The learning wind to using Wix is even shorter than Squarespace, so if you need to publish a web site cursorily, this may be your best option .
Wix has a lot more templates than Squarespace to choose from, but once you choose a template, you must stick with it or be forced to completely rebuild your site. With Squarespace, you can change your template anytime without having to rebuild the integral web site.  

5. Choose a good e-commerce platform

If you plan on selling goods and/or services through your web site, you will need the right engineering to do sol. ( If you do not presently sell anything, you may want to consider doing so since e-commerce could potentially increase your profits. ) If you decide to allow users to financially transact with you online, you will need to choose the justly platform for your business model.

here are some popular humble business e-commerce platforms :
WooCommerce:  WooCommerce is one of the earth ’ s most popular e-commerce platforms—it can turn your WordPress web site into an on-line storehouse. Like WordPress, there are many plugins available, and it attaches to WordPress, which makes it extremely elastic. There are many free and bounty themes pre-built for WooCommerce. ( As a dominion, it is better to use a premium theme from a reputable developer because it will offer better security and patronize. ) If you are not tech-savvy, you will most probable need a WordPress developer to help you set it up and use it. WooCommerce besides offers a identical high amount of capabilities and scalability that your little occupation might need .
Shopify:  Shopify is a defile based e-commerce platform that allows you to create and customize an on-line storehouse, and to manage products, armory, payments, and transport. It is not a WordPress extension like WooCommerce—it is a standalone platform that is hosted on the Shopify server—so if you have a main web site, your e-commerce site would technically be divide from that. You can link to your Shopify account from your regular web site built with WordPress, Drupal, Wix, and so forth, unless your chief web site has a Shopify consolidation plugin .
Features include unlimited products, unlimited bandwidth, fraud analysis, discount codes, reports, and much more. The key benefits of Shopify are that you do not need a developer to set up a store, and everything on the backend is already set up for you when you subscribe. The downside is you do not have equally a lot control or flexibility over your store as you would with WooCommerce .
Shopify Plus:  Shopify Plus is Shopify, but with a higher horizontal surface of customization, more staff accounts, and international e-commerce options. It besides has a higher level of patronize. however, all of this obviously comes with a higher subscription cost, and it inactive does not have all the flexibility and customization abilities as WooCommerce .
Business Squarespace:  Squarespace has an e-commerce subscription choice, so if you chose Squarespace to build your web site and have very bare e-commerce needs, you can choose this route. Business Squarespace charges a transaction fee, but this can be bypassed by upgrading your subscription to a basic on-line memory. It includes a rid domain, SSL security, SEO, abandoned cart recovery, discounts, real-time carrier transportation, and more. however, it has been noted it is not a user-friendly as Shopify. And like Shopify, it is simply not equally flexible as WooCommerce .
Wix:  Wix actually has a Shopify reference which is very drug user friendly. You will have to upgrade your Wix report and subscribe to Shopify in regulate to use it .
GoDaddy Online Store:  GoDaddy has a relatively modern e-commerce standalone subscription platform that is relatively slowly to set up and use. very short technical cognition is required to launch your shop with GoDaddy Online Store. The templates are elementary and blank, and slightly customizable. Features include market and SEO tools, social media integration, appointment engagement, SSL security, rapid foliate load, and more .
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6. Create an interesting, memorable, and engaging website user interface

Make certain your little commercial enterprise web site interface leaves a positive impression that drives results. You can do so by implementing the play along suggestions :

  • Use beautiful graphics and easy-to-read fonts.
  • Make sure your graphics are compressed and optimized for fast loading. If your website is slow, search engines like Google will penalize your ranking.
  • Research the competition to see how they have designed and optimized their websites; implement similar components that will work for your small business website.
  • Research your target audience to see what they want from your site and make it easy for them to accomplish it.
  • Stay consistently on brand throughout your website design.
  • Design an intuitive navigation system which allows users to get to the pages they need quickly.
  • Publish easily accessible contact information.
  • Incorporate obvious call-to-actions (especially “buy now” buttons).
  • Create pages that are standard for small business websites, such as:
    • Home
    • About us
    • Products/Services (with descriptions and visually appealing images)
    • Sitemap (for SEO purposes)
    • Management team
    • Contact us
    • Terms of use (the online contract governing how users can use your site)
    • Privacy policy
    • Additional pages relevant to your specific small business

7. Optimize your small business website for search engines

SEO is a jell of practices you apply to your web site to ensure search engines exponent and rank your web site appropriately and then show it to search engine users. once your web site is “ crawled ” by research engines, it competes with websites that have alike subject. The better your web site design and subject is, the higher your site will show up on search engine resultant role pages .
SEO chiefly includes the keep up practices :

  • Keyword research and implementation
  • Optimal website code
  • Fast loading speed
  • Being secure and having an SSL certificate installed; SSL is the standard security technology that ensures data passed between web servers and browsers remains private
  • Having a mobile-friendly site
  • Existence of high-quality backlinks (links on external websites with related content) that lead to your site
  • Having lots of positive reviews online (Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc.)
  • Using internal links throughout your site to keep people clicking and reading
  • Using social media to link to your site (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.)

SEO is an highly important ongoing process that can mean the difference between showing up on the first page of research engine results pages ( resulting in big amounts of free traffic to your web site ) or page 300 ( resulting in no dealings ) .

8. Regularly create and publish quality content

Both capacity quantity and crust are significant to search engines, so it ’ s important that you create a plan to publish quality articles and/or web log posts on your locate and on external sites that link to your locate. If you want to rank highly in research engine results and encourage people to return to your web site again and again, you will have to update your web site with new and relevant content angstrom frequently as possible .
In addition to static page message and articles, a great form of content to post on your web site is testimonials. Asking for testimonials from your customers and then publishing them on your web site is a great way to post clean, high-quality capacity on your web site that makes your humble business more attractive .
Make sure your content uses an appropriate, on-brand tone that people will enjoy take .

9. Install webmaster tools

Make use of critical data to help you analyze traffic and site performance by installing Google Analytics and Google Search Console ( both preferably via Google Tag Manager ), and Bing Webmaster Tools. These tools can be used to track the pursuit types of information :

  • Daily, weekly, and monthly visitors to your site
  • Number of views on each page of your site
  • “Bounce rate”—the percentage of users who come to your site and leave after having only viewed one page (Google algorithms give higher rankings to websites that have a low bounce rate, on the theory that visitors are spending more time on the site and find it valuable.)
  • Average time spent on site by visitors
  • Crawl errors on your site (errors that the search engines found on your site in crawling its content)
  • Broken links on the site
  • Keywords that lead users to your site
  • Backlinks to your site
  • Web page download time
  • Other information that can help you enhance your SEO

10. Implement a website maintenance plan

A web site shouldn ’ thymine be created and then allowed to grow cold. In arrange to have a successful web site that ranks well in search engines and does n’t get hacked, you need to make certain it is properly maintained .
here are some tips to create a little business web site maintenance plan :

  • Check Webmaster Tools data at least once a month and have any vital errors emailed to you in real time.
  • Use traffic data to learn more about your audience so you can better cater to them.
  • Use performance data to optimize and fix warnings and errors.
  • Make sure all software is always up to date.
  • Run security scans so you know your website is clean of malware and hasn’t been hacked.
  • Use “split testing” to see if certain variations of your website help performance; for example, if you are selling a product, you might have two versions of a particular landing page with different images and wording—the split testing allows you to see which version has a higher conversion rate.
  • Follow my advice about SEO (see point #7), and continually publish quality content (see point #8).
  • Find on-trend and effective ways to market your business online.
  • Allow website users to provide you with feedback about your site.
  • Continue to check out your competition from time to time to see what they are doing with their online presence and see if what they’ve done can work for you as well.
  • Make sure your website is backed up in multiple ways at least once a day and at least 10 days back.


As you can tell after reading this article, creating a big small business web site may not be arsenic simple as you foremost thought. however, if you follow the steps set away in this article, your little business will have an excellent chance at succeeding in the on-line market .
About the Author
I ‘m a webmaster who specializes in WordPress, graphic blueprint, mobile-friendly web site development, search locomotive optimization ( SEO ), pay per click ( PPC ) advertise, user interface, e-commerce, and blogging/social media market. I am primitively from Ohio and received my Bachelor of Science degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, focused on Web Design and Interactive Media. I have been involved in construction or marketing over 100 clientele websites. To find out how to drive visitors to your web site, check out my article, Small Business Internet Marketing Strategy : Pay Per Click Advertising and Search Engine Optimization. Visit my web site www.allisonbowlus.com and get in touch with me on LinkedIn.

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This article was primitively published on AllBusiness.com .

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