8 Crucial Steps to Creating a Fantastic Small Business Website

Know the eight simple steps of making a great small business website.

A website is an important asset in the modern marketplace. Even companies that operate brick-and-mortar stores understand the importance of creating a commanding online presence. It increases brand visibility which can result in more leads and sales.

Therefore, if you’re thinking of taking your business to the next level, you have no choice but to build an effective website that will communicate your brand message perfectly.

In this article, I will take you through eight simple steps of making a great small business website. Let’s jump right in:

1. Determine your website’s principal goal

The first step to developing an excellent business website is by understanding what the purpose of your website is. Do you want to sell products online, or are you simply looking to build awareness? Or perhaps you want to use the website to drive foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar business?

Knowing the goal helps you build the right website that will get you the best results. For example, if you want to boost foot traffic to your store, you’ll need to consider local SEO tactics when building the website. You could, for instance, use your local area’s name in the domain name or the homepage design.

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On the other hand, if you want to add eCommerce functionality to your website, you’ll need to think about customers’ privacy, payment processing options, etc.

Therefore, figure out the goals of your website and use them to create a blueprint for your site’s design.

2. Choose a domain name

If your business has been operational for a while, you’ll probably have to stick to your business’s name for the domain name. That will help you deliver a consistent brand experience for your customers.

But, if you’re starting from scratch, you’ll have lots of freedom when it comes to choosing a domain name. 

That said, there are some best practices that you should follow if you want to create a successful domain name for your website.

First, make your domain name short and memorable. A domain name is supposed to be an extension of your brand. By making it memorable, repeat customers will be able to find you pretty easily in the future. Shorter domains are also easier to remember.

Second, use the correct domain extension. There’s no doubt that .com is the most popular domain extension. It’s probably the most familiar domain extension to internet users as well. 

However, you don’t have to stick with that suffix. Non-traditional top-level domain (TLDs) extensions like .io and .agency have also become quite popular.

Some people also use extensions linked to specific regions. For example, .ca for Canada, .uk for the United Kingdom, and .nyc for New York City. These are worth considering if you want to target a specific location.

You should include keywords related to your business in the domain name if possible. When you read a domain name like www.neworleansbakery.com, you get an idea of what the business is about right away. It’s a bakery business in New Orleans. That’s the power of including relevant keywords in the domain name.

That domain name format is actually good for your SEO too. Search engine crawlers will figure out what your website is about pretty fast. This could help you rank faster on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

However, you should consider the potential growth of your business. For example, you may not want to forego a domain name with the word “bakery” if you hope to extend your business operations beyond baking.

That’s why some people opt for branded domain names. These are domain names created using a business name and not necessarily what the business does.

Once you settle for a name, check the top domain name registration platforms like GoDaddy and Namecheap for availability.

3. Select a web hosting service

Web hosts provide storage space for website owners. Your small business website needs a reliable hosting provider with great uptimes, fast speeds, optimal security, and excellent customer support.

For uptimes, look for a hosting provider with at least 99.6% uptimes. A reliable provider also offers solid-state drive (SSD) storage and content delivery network (CDN) to ensure fast page load times.

In terms of security, you’ll want a provider offering an SSL certificate, server monitoring, and regular backups.

A good hosting service has great customer support too. They’ll be reachable via live chat and direct line. More importantly, they’ll have knowledgeable staff behind the line 24/7 to sort out any technical issues you may experience.

There are three types of web hosting services to choose from. One is shared hosting, where you will share a server with other websites. It’s the cheapest option, but it does have some caveats. Security may be far from ideal, and page load times could be poor.

Dedicated hosting is the other option. Under this plan, your website will receive a dedicated server. Therefore, it won’t experience the issues synonymous with shared hosting. On the flip side, dedicated hosting is quite expensive.

The third option is virtual private hosting (VPS). VPS hosting is where one server is partitioned to function as a dedicated server but with multiple websites. It’s, therefore, supposed to be better than shared hosting and more affordable than dedicated hosting.

We recommend going with dedicated hosting, but consider the other two options if the price is an issue. In any case, pick a plan from a reliable provider with great reviews.

4. Create your pages

Creating your website pages should be easy once you know the goal of your website. If you are selling products, you’ll need basic pages like a product catalog. 

Beyond the primary product/service pages, you’ll also need important website elements like contact us, about us, and a privacy policy page. These pages are critical for boosting customer relations. A privacy policy is also mandatory for eCommerce businesses. You’ll need to explain how customer data is collected, stored, and shared.

Your website pages need to be interlinked as well. Make sure to use relevant call-to-action buttons to link these pages. You could, for instance, link the privacy policy page to the contact us page by asking customers to contact you if they have privacy concerns.

Additionally, you should include links to the about us, contact us, and privacy policy pages on the homepage.

5. Set up your payment system

Set up an online payment system if you intend to sell products through your website. Keep in mind that customers value options.

A good example here is PayPal for eCommerce, which provides credit card, debit card, PayPal, PayPal Credit, and Venmo payment options.

Great payment systems also provide fraud and chargeback protection. For example, PaymentCloud and PayCafe are known for automatically scanning individual transactions for fraud. Any suspicious transactions are blocked and red-flagged immediately.

Lastly, make sure the system integrates with your eCommerce software properly. For example, if you are using WooCommerce for your store, check the payment system if it’s compatible with the platform.

6. Go live with your website by testing it and publishing it

Before publishing your website, test it thoroughly to ensure everything is working correctly. Any top web design agency will conduct the tests before handing the website to you, but it doesn’t hurt to do another round of tests, right?

It’s particularly important to ensure your website is mobile-friendly. The majority of internet users are on smartphones and tablets, meaning most of your visitors will probably come through these devices

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Also, major search engines like Google moved to mobile-first indexing. Therefore, creating a mobile-optimized small business website can help you rank higher.

To check if your website is optimized for mobile, drop your URL here. Google will analyze your site and produce a report within moments.

Make sure the website is working on all major browsers as well.

Finally, integrate your website with analytics programs like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These programs produce critical insights into how your website is performing. They show metrics such as traffic, traffic sources, click-through rate, time on page, etc.

The data should help you make informed decisions regarding your website. For instance, if it shows a specific page has a very low time on page, it would be worth checking the page for potential issues.

Once you're satisfied with all your tests, publish your website, then move on to the next stage of promoting it.

7. Use social media to promote your website

With over 3 billion users, Social media is one of the most effective ways of promoting your business. 

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And you don’t even have to invest in paid social media campaigns. Platforms like Pinterest and LinkedIn have a fairly strong organic reach that could help put your brand out there for free.

But if you have the funds for paid marketing, we strongly recommend investing in retargeting campaigns.

Don’t use social media just to promote your products, though. You should also use it as a channel to engage your potential customers. You can also provide efficient customer support through Facebook and Twitter pages.

Find out the most popular social media platforms for your customers and create your pages there.

8. Consider investing in search engine optimization

The top organic result on Google usually takes 28.5% of the traffic, while the second position has a click-through rate of around 15.7%. In contrast, less than 1% of users click through the results on the second page on Google.

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is usually the difference between the websites ranking on the first page and the rest. Therefore, to get optimal visibility and traffic, you have to invest in SEO.

SEO is broadly categorized into two segments; onsite and offsite SEO. Onsite SEO involves aspects of your own website that affect your rankings. These include page speed time, internal linking, content optimization, writing title tags & meta descriptions, URL optimization, image optimization, etc.

Meanwhile, offsite SEO deals with external factors that affect your rankings. Building backlinks is one of the best ways of boosting rankings. You can build backlinks through guest posts.

If you’ve built a website for a local store, customer reviews may also affect your rankings. You’ll need to optimize your Google My Business profile and request your clients to leave some positive reviews.

Wrapping Up

Let’s do a quick recap. To build the perfect business website, you need to identify the goal of your site. Next, create the appropriate domain name and find a reliable hosting provider. From there, build your site pages, set up a payment system, then test your website before it goes live. 

Finally, with social media marketing and an excellent SEO strategy, your website should start rising through the rankings.

So, are you ready to take on the online marketplace?

About The Author

Ian Loew is a web entrepreneur and inbound marketing expert, and the Owner & Head of Business Development of Lform Design. After four years of helping Fortune 500 companies with MGT Design, Ian embarked on his freelance career before establishing Lform Design in 2005. He leads a team of creative professionals to deliver inspired online experiences via modern, responsive websites that reflect his clients' core values. When not at the helm, Ian can be found mountain biking with friends or spending time with his family.

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