As a new business owner, there are a few essentials you should invest in, with one of these being a website. There are several benefits of setting up a website for your business, with benefits including the ability to reach a wider audience, to further promote your product or business, and to increase brand and business visibility to those in the local area (and beyond), not to mention converting these visitors into paying customers. Despite the aforementioned benefits, many business owners struggle to grasp the concept of a website, perhaps not understanding how it will directly help their business. If Covid-19 taught us anything, it’s that as business owners, we cannot solely rely on in person foot traffic for business. Therefore, the creation and maintenance of a website is crucial, not only in regards to a visually appealing design, but also a website that can engage your customer, converting them into customers.
However, if you’re willing to spend the time to set up your website, you’ll experience these benefits first-hand, perhaps transforming your business entirely, and providing you the next stepping stone to online success, whether you’ve just made your first website after transitioning from the high street, or you’ve been neglecting your online presence and are ready to make a change.
So, with this in mind, this article is an introductory ten-step beginner guide to creating your very own website for your business, helping you get your product in front of more customers, and representing your brand for all to see.
Obtain a GREAT DOMAIN NAME
Before designing your website or selecting a hosting provider, you’re going to need to obtain a domain name. However, you must choose a great domain name, preferably one that represents your business, is not too long, is easy to spell, and if possible, is also SEO (search engine optimization) friendly, too. You can buy a domain name from different providers, with popular options including Domain.com, GoDaddy, Bluehost, and HostGator (there are many other places to purchase a domain, too). The average cost of a domain name is anywhere between $10 and $15. However, this can fluctuate massively, depending on whether or not the domain has previously been registered before, whether purchasing off another business or if the domain is in high demand. Some domain names are worth thousands, while others, worth a few dollars – it’s all about finding one that works for you.
Website hosting is a service that you’ll need if you want your website to be online and visible to the masses. Without website hosting, your website will not appear in the search results. Your website needs to be published and hosted on a server, otherwise it will not rank nor benefit from your hard work. Therefore, it’s important to tackle this step early, finding an excellent hosting provider who suits your business and website requirements.
When shopping around for a website hosting provider, you should look for several things:
- A solid reputation – you can usually read online reviews to get a feel for the provider, reading what other businesses have to say, and discovering whether or not it’s the right choice for you.
- Excellent customer service (preferably 24/7) – when you’re just starting, you’re likely going to need a little bit of help here and there. Therefore, aim to choose a provider with excellent customer service, a team who can help you when required at short notice.
- An affordable price – for most new businesses, it doesn’t make sense to splash thousands on a new website (and hosting provider). Therefore, you want to choose a host that offers a competitive package available at an affordable price.
- A variety of hosting plans – this allows you to find the exact package to suit your needs, whether that’s dedicated customer support, guaranteed download speeds, or website migration between different URLs.
- Impressive web up-time and speed – if your website is never online, then you’re never going to sell any products or land new clients. Ensure the hosting provider has reliable up-time and very minimal if no downtime. (You can read reviews to find out more accurate information for each provider.)
- An easy-to-understand interface – you need an interface that is easy to understand and digest, one that solves problems, not causes new ones that require the support of a support team to fix.
The average cost of website hosting is between $10 and $50 per month. However, this is dependent on the hosting provider and the selected package you chose.
Choose your website content management system (CMS)
A content management system (CMS) is dedicated software that allows you to build and customize your website. Popular CMS systems include:
- Shopify – A great e-commerce platform choice for beginners, with dozens of templates to choose from, built-in features, and a support team always on hand.
- WordPress/Woocommerce – a low-mid level learning curve compared to other platforms,but one of the best content management systems available. With plenty of customization, unrivaled site speeds, and endless plugins, the WordPress (and the Woocommerce) plugin allows you to create your site in line with your vision.
- Wix – drag and drop builder ideal for those with less experience. However, you are sacrificing customization and potential site speed, not to mention, Wix is generally not the best for SEO either, especially when compared to other CMS’s.
- Webflow – great option for creatives who do not want to engage with more complicated platforms, enabling you to display your best work with ease. Drag and drop builder allows you to create a website without touching a line of code. However, you must host with webflow and cannot host your website elsewhere, limiting your growth and site functionality.
- Squarespace – easy to use, relatively fast, and accessible to virtually every small business. Nevertheless, Squarespace is not great for SEO and has very limited design capabilities. Not a bad option for starting out, but certainly room for improvement.
To further help you decide which CMS platform is the right choice for you, we’ve collated a list of prices for you to see below:
- Shopify – average price of $29/month
- WordPress – median price of $11/month
- Wix – average of $14/month
- Webflow – between $12-35/month
- Squarespace – median price of $16/month
Identify your company brand identity
Your brand identity is how you position and convey your business core values to your audience and to other businesses. It’s important to build this identity correctly from the beginning, establishing your brand voice, core values, tone, unique selling proposition, color scheme, and logo.
The brand details should remain consistent throughout your website and business – don’t change logos too often, keep the colors the same, and represent these across all fronts of your business (including your website).
If you are struggling to build a brand voice, you can work with a content creator to help you discover this, perhaps portrayed through well-written content, whether blog posts or general website copy.
Choose the website design interface
The design and interface of your website are crucial – do this correctly and you’ll create a user-friendly, sales-driven experience. However, get this wrong, and you’ll drive customers away from your site, resulting in fewer sales and a potentially sour reputation.
There are various templates available for all content management systems (as discussed above), each of which is partnered with a different price, while others are free. If you are on a budget, WordPress contains plenty of free templates, while the same also applies to Shopify, with more premium options also available, perhaps as an upgrade in due time. Consequently, if you’re willing to put in the time, you can design the interface yourself, definitely saving you money, but being very time-consuming.
Pro tip: When you have a minimum of $1,500 – $6,000 to invest and want your business website to get in front of more customers, stand out from the competition, and generate more conversions, you can hire a professional website designer/developer.
Identify how many pages you will need to best serve your customers online
Some websites contain fewer pages than others, mainly because these are not required and do not match their overall business plan or strategy. To determine how many pages you will need, you should analyze the needs of your consumer, what they need to know, and any other pages that you think will help them build trust in your brand.
For example, some pages may include an about us page, a blog, a product listing page/store, and your homepage. To get your customers excited about these pages (and your content), you need to think outside the box – do things differently than other companies, perhaps offer free content, samples, or exclusive items or content for those who sign-up to your mailing list.
Alternatively, you could also go the route of including video content, perhaps paired with a blog to further engage your audience.
Optimize your website for search engines
It’s all good having a website, but if your content is not optimized for the search engines, then your customers and user-base are going to have a difficult time discovering your hard work. There are numerous SEO practices you can follow to help get your website ranked, some of which include:
- Keyword usage – an SEO keyword is a phrase or word that is searched enough times to generate a good amount of traffic. You can use keyword tools such as Ahrefs or Ubersuggest to find these, implementing these throughout your website, on all pages, blog posts, and content.
- Focus on site speed – in recent updates, site speed has been a huge SEO determining factor. Your site needs to load quickly, elsewise users will click off and visit a rival site. There are numerous ways you can increase speed, including image and video optimization, using the correct plugins, and avoiding redirects where possible.
- Prioritize your use of headings – headings (H1, H2, H3 etc.) determine the structure and importance of your content. It’s important to use these correctly, enabling Google to crawl your pages properly, ranking your content for more categories and phrases. You should also include keywords in your headings where possible, further increasing SEO.
- Alt & meta tags – including descriptions of images and tags helps Google crawl the site to determine exactly what the page is about. Also, you’ll begin showing up in image search, perhaps generating even more traffic.
Install website tracking tools
Once you’ve got your website set up, you’re going to want to install various website tracking tools. These tools allow you to monitor the overall performance of your website, tracking metrics such as visitors, the bounce rate of your site (and individual pages), avg session duration, and more.
Tools you should use include:
- Google search console – this allows you to index your website, ensuring your content and site are present in the search results.
- Google Analytics – enables you to view traffic, bounce rates, session duration, and other more crucial data when it comes to monitoring performance.
- Ahrefs (or another website analysis tool) – these tools, although more expensive, enable you to conduct keyword research, analyze backlinks and competitor’s websites, and provide insightful metrics for your own website.
- Facebook pixel helper (tracking tool) – a chrome browser extension that allows you to track conversions from Facebook ads, monitoring traffic, and enabling you to adjust your marketing strategy depending on results.
Regularly create, update, and publish high-quality content
Having a website is one thing, but managing and publishing high-quality content is a whole other story entirely. Creating blog posts helps build site authority and credibility, allowing you to be seen as an expert in your industry or niche.
Also, this increases the SEO of your website (and individual pages), enabling your content to be easily found in Google (and other search engines) results, thus resulting in more traffic to your website.
An easy way to keep up with your content is to schedule a weekly/bi-weekly blog, ensuring this is high-quality, grammatically correct, and on topics in which your customers are looking for.
Implement a website maintenance plan
Finally, once your website is fully set up and you’ve got the ball rolling, you should set up a website maintenance plan. This is exactly as it sounds: a plan to keep your website in check, performing updates, making changes, and ensuring your site is performing to its very best.
Generally, this isn’t too difficult to set up, and if using a more basic CMS such as WordPress or Squarespace, is relatively straightforward, too.
We hope these ten tips have been informative and useful, enabling you to create your very first website for your business