Building a website for any business is never an easy task. Websites are often soul-crushing. They are items on our to-do lists for months or years that we dread to even begin to cross off. However, once we cross them off, it’s awesome! Today, I’m going to help make it easy to cross that website off your to-do list with the 10 simple keys you need to build the best small business website possible.
Choosing your domain
This may not seem like a big deal but your domain name is basically your street address for the internet. You need to make sure it is memorable, easy to type, and represents your company well. To get started, go to a site like GrabThatName.com and begin searching. Try searching for your exact company name, initials, and maybe your slogan. Getting the “.com” should be your top priority and be sure to grab any other extensions that may be relevant to ensure a competitor or other business doesn’t pick it up confusing your audience.
Find a rockstar hosting provider
Finding a hosting provider can be daunting. When you search for companies, you’ll often find cheap monthly fees which also results in cheap service. We recommend investing more than $10/month in your hosting provider and picking a provider that specializes in the type of website you’re building. For example, if you have a WordPress website, a company like WP Engine or Flywheel would be beneficial because they are WordPress-specific hosting companies. If you choose a content management system (CMS) like Wix or Squarespace, they also cover hosting so you can skip this key.
Have a clear message
Donald Miller, the founder of StoryBrand, says, “if you confuse, you lose”. I couldn’t agree more. Too often, companies are trying to be cute and clever with their marketing message and this confuses their potential customers. You need to tell your audience exactly who you are, what you do, and how they can buy your product or service. Yes, it really is that simple.
Choose a CMS that serves your business
Choosing a content management system for your business is so important because every company is truly different. Just because we use WordPress, doesn’t mean that would be best for you. Just because your friend has a Wix website doesn’t mean your business will have the same needs. There are about a million choices when it comes to a CMS, but here are a few:
WordPress is the CMS of choice at our agency. We utilize it with almost every build for our clients. It is easy to use when you get familiar with it and incredibly versatile. It is the most used CMS for a reason.
You’ve probably never heard of Striker Sites and that’s okay… it’s because we created it. Striker Sites is a simple DIY (do it yourself) website builder that has marketing-focused templates we’ve created to help make having an effective website simple for any business owner at any stage.
Wix is one of the most well-known website builders out there. It is a great product with nice templates but shouldn’t be used for long term. I see Wix really as a stepping-stone. If you don’t have a lot of money right now and have a big vision for your company in the long term, use Wix now and then upgrade to something better. If you plan on your business always being a side hustle, Wix is perfect for you.
SquareSpace is rising in popularity with solopreneur or one-person businesses. It is easy to use and has nice templates. If you’re newer with a low budget but can splurge a little more than the Wix price tag, I highly recommend SquareSpace.
Webflow has come out of nowhere as a top choice in CMS/web builders in 2020 and 2021, though the company is older than that. Webflow has a steeper learning curve than Wix and SquareSpace but its future potential is much greater and is a great option for growing small businesses.
Figuring out eCommerce
eCommerce is something I highly recommend you avoid if you can. At Imphasis, we take very few clients who are looking for online shopping capabilities as there are other agencies and web shops that can deliver a great product for a great price. However, there are two options we will talk about to help get you started.
WordPress + WooCommerce
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that can turn your website into an online store. It isn’t difficult to use but there is definitely a learning curve when you first get started and customization, though possible, can be difficult.
If you’re building an online store, I 100% recommend building it with Shopify. It is literally built for eCommerce and will make your life so much easier. The downside is customizing Shopify can be tricky because there are fewer agencies who specialize in it but that’s a trade-off I would make (and yes, we are not a Shopify agency… that’s how much I believe in it)!
Crafting a Good Experience for Your Users
We’ve all been to websites that were a nightmare to use, whether it was to request an appointment, buy a product, or even check for hours of operations. Some websites prioritize the design over the effectiveness of the site overall. Yes, you can have a pretty website that is also functional. If you can achieve this, your customers will LOVE you.
Optimizing Your Website for Search
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a beast a lot of business owners don’t want to wrestle with or even begin to learn about. Organic search is one of the most scalable ways to get traffic to your website on a consistent basis. So, even though it may not be much fun to think about, or do, SEO is important.
The most important aspect of organic search is making sure your website can be found. You can do this by implementing an on-page SEO strategy. This covers SEO techniques that are applied to the site itself like meta titles and descriptions, alt tags, and other technical items. Most website builders have tools included to help you with your on-page SEO and WordPress has several SEO plugins like RankMath, Yoast, All In One SEO, and more to make your life a little easier.
Most people don’t realize how much Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines consider when ranking a website. There is a lot you can control, but so much more you can’t! The most common technique of off-page SEO is link building. This is the process of gaining backlinks to your website from other related sites to gain authority. Tools like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) are a good place to start when you’re building out your off-page SEO strategy.
Publishing Regular Content
When you create quality content on a regular basis, you aren’t only helping your site in regard to SEO but you’re also making your website desirable to revisit. No one wants to visit a website they’ve been to previously unless they have a reason. When you publish quality free content that somebody would pay for if it were for sale, you position your site as an authority and make it to where your browsers will return time and time again and ultimately become buyers.
Install Website Tools
One of the most skipped over aspects of a website is the addition of tools like Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Pixels, and more. If you’re looking to track any type of data to use your website for marketing purposes, which I hope you are, you need all of this and more. Make sure your website designer adds everything that should be added and be sure your DIY builder offers options or assistance with making sure all this is set up properly.
Ongoing Care and Upkeep
Websites can no longer be set and forgotten. The days of throwing a glorified Microsoft Word document online and leaving it alone for 3 to 5 years are gone. Like a house or a car, it’s important you’re always working on keeping your website at peak performance and are consistently improving it. Make sure you track your website’s analytics, search rankings, and interaction to ensure it is giving you a return on your investment so you don’t have to spend so much of your time finding customers and spend time running your awesome business instead.
As your business continues to grow, each one of these keys will prove to be more important. Just remember that a great website takes time and you won’t see massive results on day one. If you have questions, be sure to hire a web designer, agency, or consultant to help you maximize your results.