Many small business owners ask the question even in 2019, of whether or not they should create a website for their business. The thought of creating and maintaining a website can be intimidating to someone with little prior knowledge of web design and digital marketing. It can also be time consuming, which can add to a business owner’s very busy schedule.
However, digital marketing is a must for small businesses in 2019. This includes having an attractive and up-to-date website!
Every Small Business Needs a Website
Let us think for one moment as a consumer. Have you ever searched up a business on the internet before choosing that business to purchase from? If you said yes, then you are not alone; 92% of consumers search for a local business online at least once within the past year according to BrightLocal.
It cannot be a coincidence that 83% of small business owners feel they have a competitive advantage over those without one! That statistic comes from a recent GoDaddy survey.
Building a website aids greatly in connecting with customers. It also allows you to attract new clients organically (ie. search engine traffic) or through using paid advertisements.
How to Create a Website For Your Small Business
There are five simple steps involved in creating a website for your small business. For many of the steps, you options depending on how much effort you’d like to put in and how much money you would like to spend.
Step 1: Purchase a Domain
The creation of every website starts with purchasing a domain. There are two main parts to a domain; there is the Top Level Domain (TLD) and the domain name itself. Let us use my website as the example:
The first part (akbarhshah) is the domain name. The second part (.com) is the TLD. You will need to specify both when purchasing a domain. (.com) is the most common TLD used. However, you may elect to use a different one. If you have a local brick-and-mortar business in a country outside the United States, you may want to use the TLD of your country. For example, Canada has the TLD (.ca), the United Kingdom has (.co.uk) and India has (.in). It is a common practice to purchase the (.com) of your small business even if you want a different TLD, so that nobody can steal it from you in the future!
The main part of your domain, the domain name, should be distinct and easy to remember. The most preferable domain name is one that matches the name of your small business. A complex name will make it difficult for people to find your small business on the Internet.
The two top places for purchasing a domain are Godaddy.com and Namecheap.com. Purchasing a domain name is cheap; it should cost you no more than $10–20 USD for a (.com) domain. The only exception is if your business has a really common name; you may have to pay a premium or choose an alternative domain. Do keep in mind that you don’t own a domain forever; you will typically have to renew it every year.
Step 2: Choose a Web Hosting Service
The second step is to choose a quality web hosting service. Hosting services provide the platform and servers on which your small business website is uploaded to the Internet.
When searching for a host, you want to look at what they offer. Most services offer more bandwidth in their basic package than you will need, so that isn’t an issue. Look at other included services such as email addresses and cloud storage. Finally, check if the service offers an SSL Certificate. This certificate is what makes your website secure. This is a MUST in 2019 especially if your website will be handling online transactions.
My recommendation for a high-quality, affordable web hosting service is Siteground. You may also consider Dreamhost as an alternative. Both are great for small business websites that handle low to moderate volumes of web traffic. They both allow you to use Wordpress as a site builder, which is the premier site building application.
Step 3: Choose a Theme and Create a Plan
A professional looking website can enhance the credibility of your small business. There are many decent “themes” available on Wordpress. However, I do recommend investing in the services of a professional web designer.
A professional web designer will work alongside you to create a unique and attractive look for your small business’ website. They will also ensure the website’s functionality is tailored to the needs of you and your customers. Hiring a web designer will save significant time and likely lead to better results than if you were to teach yourself how to do it.
Next you need a plan on what your website will include. Will it handle e-commerce transactions? Will you include a company blog? Regardless of your intentions, this is the minimum your small business’ website should include:
- Home page (the first thing your customers see — should give an overview of your company and what it offers)
- About Us page (describing your small business and its mission in detail)
- Services or Products Page (to let visitors know what you have to offer)
- Contact Us page (with email form, phone number, address if applicable)
Step 4: Build Your Site
Now you need to build your website. You can either write the web content yourself or outsource it online. Make sure the content is clear, concise, and error-free; typos can have an adverse effect on your credibility. You should also consider search engine optimization (SEO) when writing. Your content should include keywords or key phrases that people will search for to find your site.
You will need to download several plugins to give your website enhanced functionality. Do you want to sell products online? There is a plugin for that. Do you want little buttons to allow visitors to share your site on social media? There’s a plugin for that too! You can find plugins on Wordpress or whatever service you use.
Step 5: Publish and Test
The final step is easy. You finally get to publish! You should immediately test your site’s functionality on different devices and browsers. Don’t neglect smartphones; over half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices!
Digital Marketing For Your Small Business
A website is the cornerstone of your small business’ online presence, but it doesn’t end there. There are many aspects to digital marketing, such as:
- UX Design
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Loca SEO
- Email marketing
- Social media
These topics will be discussed in detail by myself in the future. If you have any questions about digital marketing or about creating a website for your small business, feel free to connect with me via email or social media!