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Creating a small business website is essential in 2021
With recent lockdowns and many businesses unable to trade, a website was a lifeline for many small enterprises.
While unable to trade from bricks and mortar having a website gave many businesses the option to trade online or keep customers in their minds eye.
Having a small business website gives you the option to inform your audience, make customers aware of your brand and drive sales. Not only when in lockdown, but also when you are closed or when potential or existing customers can not physically get to you.
Keeping customers updated with your latest offerings via your website or building an email marketing list where you can keep them informed and entertained or offer them your latest products and deals.
By just having a simple website can give you the edge over your competitors and open up new markets. It does not have to cost you the earth to get going. If you have the time and willingness to learn a new skill you can build a simple website yourself.
With many tools available it is now mulch simpler to get your business online than it was in the early years of the internet. Gone are the days when you would need to know code to build a basic, simple web site.
Create a small business website design easily
Creating a small business website design has been made much easier with readily available drag and drop online software. Along with ready made templates it now gives you the ability to build a website, simply without to much of a headache.
In this article I am going to take you a few steps to take to get yourself on line.
Yes I can build you a website from the ground up and teach you how to update it yourself. But not every small business has the cash flow in the early years to spend on website built by a professional website designer.
So for the businesses who need to get online, take their first steps on the internet here is my advice to you.
How to build a small business website.
Deciding on the purpose of your website.
What would you like your website to do? Sell physical products, promote your services? Maybe you want to create a site for your local services such as a plumber, painter and decorator, florist, restaurant or take away. Or you may just want to display details of your physical store to direct customers to your premises. You may just want to create blog to review products or write about the latest trends within your business.
The great thing about websites is that they can evolve, and can be upgraded easily as you grow. You may not want to start with an online store selling products and taking payments. But keep the end goal in mind, as choosing the wrong platform to build your website can cause you a headache later.
Choose the perfect domain name
If you already have an established business you will want to match your company name.
If you are Bills Florist you may want to search for billsflorist.co.uk. But what if that name is already taken? Not to worry, try different versions of your business name. Simply add a ‘-‘ in between words may be available (bills-florist.co.uk). If you are local based business why not see if billsflorist’yourlocalarea’.co.uk is free to buy.
Keep it simple and to the point.
You can buy a variety of TDL’s or in other words .co.uk, .com. .org etc. Choose the one best suited to your business. I use .co.uk as I am UK based.
There are many online companies where you can purchase domains. Each domain is leased, and you can buy them for 12 months or longer.
Tip: Google ranks domains higher if the are leased for longer.
You can find deals on some sites for your first years lease for just 99p but check the costs for the following years.
Finding the perfect website hosting company
Depending on what platform you are going to build your website on can depict where you host your website.
If you are using one of the online building services such as Squarespace, WIX etc your hosting is included. If you do decide to go down this route, remember you’re a stuck with their hosting for the life of your website.
As the website is built on their platform it can not be moved to another host.
If you want to create a large website with lots of content such as an e-commerce site you may want a fast, robust host such as HostxNow or Fasthosts.
E-commerce website are usually a lot larger in size than brochure style websites and need speedy web servers.
You can save a bit of money on your hosting and go for the cheaper option. But remember that a slow website will annoy the end user, how many times have you left a website as it is taking time to load? The speed of a website is also a ranking factor with google. So having a fast website will help your search engine rankings.
Overall the faster the website downloads, the better the experience for the end user.
If you are going for a simple website or a mainly text based blog, a cheaper hosting company will probably do. 123-reg have some very affordable solutions, but if you start to grow your website and add lots of images test your website download speed.
A simple way to test your website grade is with Googles free page speed tool
Keep away from the free solutions, they tend to display advertising on your website to compensate for the no cost hosting. You don’t want your customers clicking away from your page via 3rd party adverts just to save a few pennies!
Take in consideration if they offer a SSL certificate (a secure website), a must in 2021. This gives you the little padlock on your website. It shows that any information sent through the website is secure and your customers details are safe.
It is even more important for e-commerce websites, as you will be taking address details of customers and making transactions.
Remember you don’t need an expensive host for a small simple website. If you plan to expand your website you can upgrade or move your website to a new host later on.
Choosing your website design platform
I mentioned earlier WIX, Squarepace and Weebly. All great companies that give you the tools and simplicity of building your own website. They supply you with the tools to create a website easily and you will most probably be happy with the results.
Wix, Squarespace and Webbly are drag and drop style websites. With user friendly tools and a host of ready made templates for you to get going. I wrote a the pros and cons of using these tools as well as employing a web designer in an earlier blog. Go and take a look before you make the leap.
Using he right website platform may save you money in the long run. Using a well known popular solution such as WordPress in my option can be the way to go when creating your small business website design.
WordPress is can be installed on most website hosting companies servers. Most major hosts have one click solution built in, so you don’t even have to install it. Check the details of the hosting companies and see what they offer.
Although WordPress will have a bigger learning curve than the online builders, it can be moved to new hosting company easily. It can be easily redesigned while keeping the content intact. It has 1000’s of plugins available to help you connect to such services as mailChimp (email marketing), social media platforms, any many more wonderful things.
Online shop with WooCommerce
Build your online website with it’s e-commerce add on WooCommerce.
Not only is it easy to use, there are many ready built templates you can use to create a professional looking website store to sell your wears. It can even keep track of your stock and flag up when it need replenishing.
You can connect your shop to a payment gateway in minutes and start taking payments. You can even connect it easily to PayPal, now one of the most recognised payment systems around.
There are many videos and blogs with lessons on how to use the platform and build your small business website. Just google ‘how to use wordpress’ and you will find 1000’s of pages of information on the subject. Just find the tutorials best suited to your needs.
Creating your content and pages
Most Small business websites start with a basic set of pages. Homepage, contact page, services, about us and possibly a blog. I say possibly, but I must add, I encourage all my clients to have a blog. Most cringe at the thought of writing blogs, but it’s the one thing you can do to market you business for free.
If I had to choose just one digital marketing activity, this would be the one I would choose. More on this this later.
This is the overview of your business – the what, why and who for. What you do, why you do it and who for.
Keep your titles / headings simple and straight forward. The title of your page tells the user what your page is about. So keep it simple and straight forward.
What do these two titles mean to you?:
‘Whitby based painter and decorator’
‘Your interior wall artist’
The first one is straight to the point, the user completely understands what the page is about, what you do and the area you cover. The second one could mean a number of things.
Your page title and heading also tells google what your page is about. It uses this and crawls the words on your page and ranks it accordingly.
You will also need to add your logo, your contact details and a brief description of your services.
Add call to action buttons with a clear description too.
A call to action tells the user what action you want them to do next. A “call to action” could be to a landing page with detailed information, a download or sign up. Or, it could just lead to a contact page.
I see a lot of extremely cold and uninviting contact pages. Just a form, the words contact me at the top.
Make your customer feel invited, add a small amount of text to make them feel welcome.
- Add a friendly message with an inviting image.
- Add you phone number (you will be surprised how many sites don’t add this!)
- Social media links (another way you can connect with your customers)
- A map. You can easily add a google map that can give a user directions to your place of business.
- A picture of the exterior of your business. They may be visiting your premises, so a visual representation is always a good to help them know they are in the right place.
- Keep the form as short as possible, usually a name, email, telephone number and message field will be fine.
- If you are hooking up to mailchimp this is a good place to add a ‘subscribe to our email list’.
Your services page(s)
Depending on your business you may have just one, or a number of core services.
Make a page for each core service. Mention the benefits of using your services followed by the features. And of course add a call to action.
Add pictures to show off your work, or use a few relevant images to make the page more attractive.
You may want to add pricing onto each service page too.
We usually like to know how much something costs before we enquire. How many times have you clicked elsewhere because the website does not display some sort of price-point?
List your prices for services, you want loose business – people like honesty. If you don’t show your pricing it looks like you have something to hide. And if a customer can’t afford your costs – they are not your customer.
Show them the value of your services, give them a brief outline of costs. It will save you hearing ‘I’ll get back to you’ after a long conversation on the phone.
About me/us page
How many about me pages have you read on small business websites that give the life history of the individual. A CV of achievements that mean nothing to you? Or a long winding story about the struggles in their life.
It’s boring. And pointless.
Tell them what your business stands for.
People buy why you do it, not what you do.
Your service or product is provided by many other businesses, you may have great customer service or cheap prices. But at the end of the day, so do others.
Make you about me page about your customer. Yes I know you are shaking your head in disbelief, but honestly they are more likely to buy from you, than letting them know you achieved an A grade in Woodwork.
Think about the what the customers pain points are. For example if you were a painter and decorator, you may write something like this:
Decorating is not an easy task, getting the finish to a high standard can be frustrating. Taking up your weekends when you would rather be socialising, spending time with your family or just relaxing.
But don’t worry. I do this day in day out and have transformed the interiors of houses that have had more than their fair share of cover ups. The four layers of wallpaper easily disappear in no time when you know how.
Whatever condition your house is in, rest assure, it can be transformed into the professional finish you desire.
The first paragraph describes the pain points of the customer. The second one says ‘hey, I’ve got your back’. Leave it with me and it will be sorted.
This makes the reader think ‘that’s me’ and know you understand their problems.
Now the customer knows you understand their problems. Giving you the opportunity to talk more about your brand and story.
When I mention the importance of blogging to my clients, I usually get that look of horror. Most seem to hide away and make the excuse of
1. I don’t what to blog about
2. Everything has already been written
3. Who is going to read it.
Let’s answer each excuse.
- I did hear someone one else say ‘if you can’t write about your business, you are in the wrong business’. And I believe that to be true. You are the expert, you have the knowledge.What questions do you customers ask? Answer the questions, review products and services related to your business.For example a wedding celebrant could review the top 10 wedding venues in the area, or how to write your vows.
- Yep, everything has been written about. I’ve seen 100’s of paintings of Marylyn Monroe, I’ve read many books on digital marketing. But each one is from the mind of the person creating it.I prefer one version than another. Write about the subject from your point of view and add expertise.
- Your reading this, you found it. So why won’t anyone find yours?
Blogging is the one thing I would keep if I could not use any other form of digital marketing. Most other channels have a cost associated with it. To gain the reach you can with a blog you will need to pay for advertising in form or another.
The main reasons why I like blogs are:
- Firstly it’s free to do, and everyone like free.
- The more blogs I create, the greater the traffic to my website
- I can get at least three social media posts from each blog
- It gets shared, the more it is shared the more people see my business
- I can update it and keep it fresh if I need to
- It’s on the internet as long as I desire
- Did I mention it’s free?
Don’t put your head in the sand when it comes to blogging. If you want to build up traffic to your website write regularly and share it.
Think of a blog like this. A blog is a house and the internet is land, the more houses your build the more land you cover.
If you want to read more about creating blogs and content I advise reading Marcus Sheridans book – They Ask you answer.
Want to know more a Small Business Website Design?
If you have any questions on any of the points above send me an email or you could even join my FREE facebook group for Small Business and download my Local SEO guide. I regularly post tips, useful websites to help you build your business and regular zoom sessions on various web related subjects.