21 Tips for Building Your First Small Business Website
Are you thinking of starting a small business? If so, you will need to create a website to promote your online business and connect with your customers. Building your own website can seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be! In this post, we provide 21 tips for creating your first small business website. We’ll cover everything from choosing the best web hosting company to designing your site. Follow these tips, and you will be well on your way to having a successful online presence for your business.
1. Choose the Right Hosting Company
When it comes to hosting your small business website, you want to choose a hosting provider that is reliable and has a good reputation. You also want to make sure that the company offers good customer service to help you with any questions or problems that arise.
The best way to find out which web hosting company is right for you is by reading reviews and learning about each company’s pros and cons.
Going with Bluehost might be a good idea if you are on a budget since they offer shared hosting plans starting at $13 per month. SiteGround is another good option, and they offer shared hosting plans starting at around $5 per month. In addition, their plan includes a free domain name registration when you set up a hosting account with them.
If you are looking for a more robust hosting plan, then WP Engine might be the right hosting provider for you. Their hosting services include managed WordPress hosting plans, and WordPress users can put together a stunning, mobile-friendly website in mere minutes. This type of hosting is perfect if you want a fast, reliable and secure website.
2. Pick Your Website Address Wisely
The next step is to pick your website address, and your address URL (domain name) for your entire site will be based on it. It will speak volumes for your business too, and a good website address should be a part of website features list. So when you pick your address, you want to make sure that it is easy to remember and includes the keywords you want to rank for in search engines. Doing so will make it easy for people to find your business online and grow your traffic.
An excellent example of this would be if you own a pizza restaurant. You might want to choose a website address like pizza-restaurant-name.com or, even better—pizza.com. If you have a hard time coming up with a good website address, there are plenty of domain name generators online that can help you develop ideas. Just make sure that the website address is available for purchase before registering it. If you really want to optimize your domain name, several fantastic tools exist for finding imaginative domain names.
3. Pick a Good Website Builder
Once you’ve determined that a website builder works for you, it’s time to choose one. If you are on a budget, then we recommend using WordPress’s free website builder. However, while a WordPress website is free to start, you can realistically expect pricing for WordPress software to fall between $11 and $40 per month after shelling out a one-off cost of around $200. There are also plenty of tutorials available online that can help walk you through the process of setting up a WordPress site.
If you are looking for other professional website builders, then Squarespace might be the one for you. They offer beautiful templates that are easy to use, and business plans start at $18/month. Plus, they offer a 14-day free trial, so you can test out the platform before committing.
Wix is another popular website builder that offers a wide range of templates and features. They also offer a free trial to try out the platform before committing to a paid plan. Wix’s unlimited plan for entrepreneurs and freelancers starts at $18/month and increases in price depending on your needs (e.g., more storage space, visitor analytics).
Other good website builders include:
GoDaddy: This popular website builder is perfect for startups. Plans range from $9.99 to $24.99/month.
Weebly: Offering a fantastic free plan, Weebly lets you build a professional website. Later, you can use it to grow along with your online company for under $20/month.
SITE123: This website builder is great for small businesses that want site speed reliability without all the bells and whistles. They offer two plans—a free plan and a premium plan for under $13/month.
Duda: This mobile-friendly website builder is best for pure, polished web design and customization. Duda Plans run from $14 to $44/month.
If you’re a small business owner who’d like to learn about free website builders for your small business, be sure to check out Small Business Trend’s article about 20 Free Website Builders For Your Small Business.
4. Plan for Future Expansion
if you think you’ll expand your business in the future, it’s important to plan for it in advance when designing your website. Make sure that your website is easy to update and add new pages as your business grows. Additionally, choose a platform that can handle increased traffic and bandwidth needs.
A WordPress site can keep up with a small company’s expansion, but some other excellent website platforms that are flexible and powerful enough to grow with you include Wix or Squarespace. Of course, GoDaddy is fine for growth too if you want a no-frills website.
Two of the best ones that allow eCommerce and bigger stores to expand are Shopify and BigCommerce. Also, if you are tech-savvy, Joomla and Drupal are great open-source options.
5. Have a Professional Website Design
A professionally-designed website is paramount to the overall success of your business. And the best websites are easy to use, fast-loading and optimized for mobile devices.
When customers visit your site, they need to know who you are and what you sell within seconds. If they can’t figure out how to navigate through your site or find what they’re looking for, then the chances are good that they will leave your site and go somewhere else.
Additionally, when you design with a professional touch, the design for a business site should include a logo that speaks to your brand. It should also feature high-quality images and videos, clear calls to action, easy navigation, quick loading time on all pages of the site (including behind the scenes) and security features.
Website templates can help you get started with a professional website design. Still, if you don’t know where to start, it’s probably best to hire a professional web designer who understands your business and can create a site that accurately represents your brand. They will be able to help you create a website that not only looks great but also converts visitors into customers.
When you hire a professional web design agency, they will be able to help you with everything from choosing the right domain name and website builder to creating an attractive logo that speaks to your brand.
Here are some tips for finding the right web design agency:
Look for an agency that specializes in small business sites.
Request case studies and a portfolio of their work.
Ask for references from past clients.
Make sure the agency offers a free consultation to discuss your needs and get an estimate.
Compare prices before making a decision. Be sure to ask about hidden fees (e.g., design changes).
Plus, many agencies offer affordable monthly packages, so you won’t have any upfront costs or hidden fees. You can also ask them about other services such as social media management or optimizing your website copy for search engines if you’re interested in growing your business online.
If your budget is tight, it’s typically best to start with a free website builder and spend just a few dollars per month for hosting. You can always hire an agency to help build more robust features into your site later on down the road when it makes sense for your business.
6. Get an SSL Certificate Straight Away
If you want to accept payments from customers online, it’s essential that your website has an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is a security protocol used by websites to secure the connection between visitors’ web browsers and their servers. It encrypts data so hackers can’t access it without having an encryption key.
SSL certificates are important for small businesses because they help protect customer data and increase customer trust. Even if consumers aren’t aware of what an SSL is, 78% of them say they are reassured when they see the familiar padlock symbol associated with an SSL certificate in their browser.
If your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, then you’re at risk of losing customers who might not want to take their chances with a site that doesn’t have one (especially if they’re making payments online). Plus, Google can penalize sites that don’t have SSL certificates by lowering their search engine rankings.
You can get a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt or pay for it through your domain registrar or web hosting company.
7. Look at Similar Small Business Websites for Inspiration
If you’re not sure what you want your website to look like, it’s a good idea to look at similar small business sites for inspiration. That way you get an idea of the types of features and design elements you might want to include on your site.
You can find examples of some by doing a Google search for “small business websites” or by browsing through some of the top design galleries online.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to copy another business’s website—you should aim to create a site that is unique and reflects your brand. But looking at other small business sites can give you some great ideas for what you might want to include on your own site.
It’s also a good idea to check out the websites of local small businesses in your area so you can see what they’re doing and get some inspiration for what might work best for you, too.
8. Install Plugins to Boost Your Website’s Features
Plugins can help you add features for anything from a contact form to a search bar to powerful SEO tools. If you want your website to do more than just show information about your business, then it’s a good idea to install WordPress plugins to boost its functionality. However, bear in mind that there shouldn’t be too many plugins and that there are many free and paid plugins available for WordPress that are excellent.
We recommend starting with the following plugins:
Yoast SEO Plugin: Optimizes your website for search engines, making it easier for potential customers to find you online.
MonsterInsights: Tracks your website’s traffic and sees how people are finding your site.
Jetpack: Provides a ton of features and options, including social media integration, security enhancements and image optimization.
WPForms: Creates custom forms, such as contact forms, payment forms, survey forms and more.
SeedProd: Let’s you create pages for your site, including a beautiful coming soon page to capture leads while your site is in development.
9. Choose a Suitable WordPress Theme
Once you’ve installed the plugins you need, it’s time to choose a theme for your website. This theme is the design and layout of your site, and there are thousands of themes available. When choosing one, it’s important to make sure that it is responsive—meaning it will look good on all devices, from desktop computers to phones and tablets.
The following themes are great for small businesses because of their responsiveness, ease of use and mobile-friendly attributes:
X Theme by Theme.co is a multipurpose theme that has four unique designs that you can use for your website. It also includes over 40 modules and 20 widget areas which give you plenty of flexibility when creating your website.
Offering a free, flexible theme that is highly customizable, lightweight and easy to use, OceanWP is a great option for small businesses. Features that set it apart include mobile-friendly appearance, responsive design and lightning-fast loading capabilities.
BeTheme has over 650+ pre-built websites that can be quickly customized and put into production without any coding. It also includes a drag and drop builder, 20 header styles, unlimited color options and more.
Astra is a lightweight and highly customizable multipurpose theme that integrates seamlessly with popular page builders and eCommerce plugins. Its wide range of features like unlimited layouts and gorgeous appearance make it especially suitable for restaurants, niche-based sites and many other purposes.
Let’s add a word of warning here about themes that advertise themselves as “completely free.” Some experts caution against using them since some aren’t secure as the ones you buy. Still, you don’t have to make getting your theme a huge expense—even investing a small amount of money in one can help keep your site secure.
9. Simple is Better
Whether you’re working with a designer or just choosing a template, you want to keep the design elements simple on your business website and not have flashy colors (unless, of course, busy and flashy is aligned with your brand). Too much going on will only confuse and distract visitors from what you want them to do, which is buy from you.
While simplicity is the goal, you should also know how to pick colors for your business website. A good rule of thumb is to use a maximum of no more than three colors. Likewise, only use two or three different fonts and make sure they are easy to read.
10. Have a Contact Page
New customers and long-term shoppers alike need a way to get in touch with you through your business website, so it’s important to include a Contact Us page or something similar on your site. Your contact page should consist of information like your business address, phone number, email address and a form that allows customers to send you a message.
Many WordPress plugins, such as WPForms and Gravity Forms, allow you to create a contact form with ease.
Another option is to have a live chat feature that let you have a more personal and meaningful conversation with your online visitors.
11. Search Engine Optimization is Key
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving the ranking of your website on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. The practice matters because it can help your website appear on the first page of search results when potential clients look for the products and services you offer.
This is often referred to as organic traffic, and it’s important because studies show that 75% of users don’t go beyond the first page of search results.
Some of the best ways to improve your website’s SEO and site performance include:
Creating high-quality content that is relevant to your target audience and adding keywords and phrases throughout your website
Including on-page optimization and optimizing your images for online searches
Using social media to share your content and increase your website’s exposure
Creating a blog and including keywords in the titles and posts
Building backlinks to your website from other high-quality websites
Adding keywords to your website’s title tag, meta description and header tags.
Also, the search engine results pages, or SERPS, are constantly changing, so it’s crucial to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques for improving your site’s traffic.
12. Invest in SEO Tools
To improve your website’s SEO, you need access to the right tools. Thankfully, there are many great SEO tools available that can help you with everything from keyword research to backlink analysis.
Some of the most popular SEO tools include:
Google Search Console
While all of these tools are great for improving your website’s SEO, it’s important to remember that no one tool can guarantee success. Therefore, it’s essential to use a variety of different tools and techniques to get the best results.
13. Consider Having a Content Management System
A content management system (CMS) is a software application that allows you to create, edit and publish digital content from a central location. A CMS is important because it can help you manage your website’s content more effectively, which can improve your website’s SEO and traffic. Many don’t require deep technical knowledge to use them, either.
Some of the most popular CMSs include:
Hubspot CMS Hub
14. Optimize Your Website for Mobile
To provide a great experience for your mobile visitors, it’s important to optimize your small business website for mobile devices. You can accomplish this by using a responsive design or creating a separate mobile version of your website. Additionally, you can use tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to check how well your website performs and how user-friendly it is on mobile devices.
15. Internal and External Links are Important
Hyperlinks or simply “links” are an important part of any website, and they can be used to improve your website’s SEO and traffic. Internal links point from one page on your website to another. External links, on the other hand, are links that point to pages outside of your website.
Internal and external hyperlinks are important because they help Google and other search engines understand your website’s structure and content. Additionally, they can help you increase traffic to your website by providing more opportunities for people to click through to your pages.
16. Add Social Media Integration
Social media integration can help you improve your website’s traffic and engagement. By adding social media buttons to your website, you make it easy for visitors to share your content on their favorite social networks. Additionally, social media integration can help you track how well your content is performing on social media.
Here are a few ways to add social media integration:
Add a Facebook Like button to your website and blog posts so that visitors can easily like them on Facebook.
Install a Twitter Follow button so that visitors can follow you on Twitter without leaving your site. Add a Tweet This button to make it easy for people to share your content with their followers.
Auto-publish your blog posts to your social media profiles so that your followers can see them as soon as they’re published.
Create a social stream to display your latest social media updates on your website.
17. Have an Online Store or Booking Section
If you have a product to sell, it’s vital to have an online store or booking section on your website. An eCommerce site can help you grow your small business by letting customers purchase your products from their computers, tablets and mobile phones. Additionally, many eCommerce platforms allow you to track sales and inventory so that you know how well your products are selling.
18. Use Professional Photography and Images
If you’re selling products or services, it’s important to use professional photography and images on your website. These help visitors understand what you offer and can be used to show off your products or services in action.
If you don’t have the budget for a professional photographer, there are plenty of options available online. You can purchase stock photos from sites like iStockPhoto, Shutterstock and Dreamstime.
However, resist the urge to use low-quality stock images. If you are not willing to invest in professional-looking images, it’s best just to skip it altogether. Also, from a design standpoint, images should be used sparingly and only if they support the message you’re trying to communicate.
19. Use Reviews and Testimonials
Small business owners can benefit from reviews and testimonials. So, if you have any from your happy customers, be sure to include them on your website. These can help improve your credibility and convince visitors that they should do business with you.
A few ways to incorporate reviews and testimonials into your site are:
Add a link in the footer of every page so that visitors can see them no matter where they are.
Link to reviews and testimonials in your email marketing campaigns so that new subscribers can learn more about you without leaving their inboxes.
Add a link to reviews or testimonials on your social media profiles so that visitors who click through from there can readily find positive feedback about you.
20. Utilize Video Elements
Video is an excellent way to engage website visitors and can be used to explain your products or services in more detail. Additionally, including videos on your website can help improve your SEO results.
There are a few ways to add videos to your site:
Embed videos from popular video-sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo.
Upload videos directly to your website’s server.
Create a video landing page to introduce visitors to your business and its products or services.
21. Test, Test, Test!
The best way to make sure that your website is effective is to test it regularly. This method lets you learn and tweak things as you go. Make sure that you track how well each element performs so that you can make changes as needed. Additionally, use analytics to see how visitors are interacting with your website. This information can help you decide what content to keep, change or remove.
Start Creating Your Small Business Website Today
Now that you have read the tips, it’s time to put them into action! Start by creating a list of the most important things you want your website to accomplish. From there, begin designing and building your site using these tips as a guide. And don’t forget to test, test, test along the way to make sure that you’re getting the results you want.
This article, “21 Tips for Building Your First Small Business Website” was first published on Small Business Trends