After more than 16 years of helping small business owners to setup a website and going through the process many times I thought it might be a good idea to share my tips. Here are 6 tips you can follow to help get your small business website setup the right way:
- Get Your Domain Name(s): Your domain name is the most important step in getting a small business website setup. It is the name that you will refer to clients, place in advertising and setup email accounts with, so it needs to be easy to remember. Buy a domain name that is closely related to your business name or the service your provide. If your business is Australian based then I recommend getting a .com.au domain name (as long as you have an ABN). You should also try and secure the .com version of the domain name to prevent any misunderstandings in the future.
As a guide, you shouldn’t have to pay more than $20 per year for each domain name. When you register you domain name make sure you print out the confirmation emails and keep them handy. You will need this information when you go to setup the website.
- Write Great Content: The number 1 way to be found on Google is to have great content that is relevant to the products or services that you offer. I know from experience that this is often the most difficult part of the process for most small business owners so it is a good idea to start this as early as possible. If you find that this part of the process is holding you up then my advice is to seek the help of a copywriter. If you do get help then ask if they have any experience in writing content that is optimised for search engines as this will go a long way to helping your website get listed on Google.
- Organise Website Hosting: Good web hosting is also very important in setting up a small business website for a number of reasons. You should consider a local web host that provides good customer service. Unfortunately, with web hosting you usually get what you pay for. The two main problems with cheap web hosting are overloaded servers (which slow your website down or even cause it to stop working) and poor service. If you want to evaluate a web hosting company try calling or emailing them and see how quickly they respond and if they are helpful.
Often this part of the process is best left to a web designer or consultant who has already gone through finding a reliable provider that will meet your requirements. If you are using a web designer to do this for you then ask them who will be hosting your website and where they are based. A good web host will also take security seriously.
- Use WordPress: WordPress is one of the most widely used ways to setup a small business website and/or blog. It is used by millions of website owners around the world with companies like Ebay, New York Times, Sony and CNN using it to power their blogs and websites. WordPress is open source which means that you are not locked in to any one web design company. The core of WordPress can be extended via plugins and the look and feel is done by using themes. There are many free plugins and themes but also a large number of premium (paid) themes and plugins.
While WordPress will not suit every small business website situation, for the majority of small business owners it will do more than fine. A good WordPress developer will be able to advise on the best theme to use for your business or even be able to design a custom theme. They will also know which plugins to use to give you the best functionality, help your website to be found on Google and provide the best security.
- Get The Right Advice: There are many ways to go about setting up a small business website on your own which can be tempting if you are watching your budget. I often come across 2 types of small business owners – those who have paid a lot of money to get things done and have had a bad experience or those who have tried to do everything themselves and pulled their hair out trying to get things to work. You can prevent either of these experiences by asking your network of friends and associates for advice on who to use. You could also engage a consultant to give you unbiased advice on the things to look for. Getting the right advice will save you time and money.
- Ask About Support: Getting the right setup for your small business website is important and once it all goes live it can be very exciting. The last tip I can give is to make sure you have the right support for your website. A lot of small business owners make the mistake of getting a website built and then not getting any support for future updates or changes. Your requirements may change in the future along with your business so it is crucial to make sure you have good support.
If you are having issues with your website or emails it is always nice to know that you can phone or email someone and get a timely response. The last and most important aspect of support is to make sure you have a regular backup system in place for your website.
Greg is a digital marketing consultant and the owner of 46digital Marketing, a Sunshine Coast based small business digital marketing consultancy. He has been in the industry for over 16 years and helped dozens of small business owners to setup a website and get their business online. If you need advice on getting a small business website click here to contact 46digital.