How to Create a Great Small Business Website that Boosts your Online Presence

Kaili Wardlaw / September 22, 2022
Small cartoon-like characters building a website by hand

Small business owners, how did you first feel about starting your own business? 

Overwhelmed, anxious, or even stressed maybe? Creating a small business website can feel like the same thing without proper instruction.

Many questions will cross your mind as you begin the journey of being a small business owner: 

  • How do I market my business online? 
  • Can I create my own website? 
  • What are the important parts of building a website?

BUT…with the right direction and determination, designing and building your website will be a breeze!

Getting started with your small business website

Before we get started, let’s ease that stress and answer some basic questions you might have:

  • How do I market my business online?

The first thing you want to remember when creating a website is this – remain realistic when making decisions, by finding things that represent your brand to consumers. Strive to find things like:

  • A suitable and functional platform for their online needs – find an inexpensive, functional, and business-friendly website platform that can help a business grow.
  • Understand how to market your business to your target customers – Did you know that each year $37 billion is wasted in ad spend from ads that fail to engage the target audience? So, before you market…MAKE SURE YOU KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!

Can I build my own website?

The short answer…ABSOLUTELY! Building an online presence is paramount to the overall success of your business. Here are a few things to consider when beginning your website-building journey:

  • Is it easy to use?
  • Is it reasonably priced?
  • Is data transferable from your chosen platform?
  • Customer service – trustworthy or inconsistent?
  • What are the important parts of building a website?

We can’t forget that when it comes to an online presence, some of the best websites are built from small and complex parts. The most important part of a website are the pages that sell your brand to your customers. Some of the top pages are:

  1. About page
  2. Home page
  3. Sales page
  4. Legal page

7 easy step to building your small business website

Now that you have a foundational understanding of what a website entails, let’s take a deeper look at 7 easy steps you can take to build an effective website:

  1. Choosing your website building platform
  2. A sensible and easy domain name
  3. Promote a clear description of your business
  4. Choosing a theme 
  5. Installing the necessary e-commerce software
  6. Quality content
  7. Necessary credibility builders 

Choose your website building platform

The options are endless but the most important aspects of a website platform are:

  • FUNCTION: What can it do? 
  • EASE OF USE: How simple is it?
  • PRICING: How much does it cost?
  • CUSTOMIZATION: Does it fit my brand?

As small business owners, you will want to understand the differences between three different types of website building platforms: DIY, Agency-controlled, and a hybrid option.

DIY, or Do-it-Yourself platforms, are a great place for beginners to start building their own website. The DIY platforms tend to be an inexpensive and customizable option for many. Examples of DIY platforms are: 

  • Squarespace.com 
  • Wix.com
  • Weebly 
  • Shopify

Agency controlled website platforms are options for more hands-off business owners. Don’t want to worry about coding and building your own website? Don’t want to stress with both online and offline business? Then hiring an agency or freelancer of your choice to take over is the right choice for you. While it sounds like the most appealing option, let you be warned…this can get expensive VERY quickly. If you want a fast and functional website – this may be the one for you!

Last but not least, you can choose a hybrid option which gives you the choice to be as hands-on or hands-off as you want to be when building your website. Hybrid platforms are recognized as the perfect choice for the more tech-savvy business owners, so just be aware of that if you choose one. If you feel comfortable creating the design of the website but don’t feel comfortable coding the site – it’s easy. GET SOME HELP! Platforms like WordPress can give you the freedom to tinker and build the site while giving you the support and answers you need for other aspects that may be new to you. 

Choose & Purchase a Domain Name

When it comes time to choose your domain name, this is both exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Here are five important steps to take in order to choose the right domain name for your business:

  1. Choose a domain name that is short and easy to remember. You want your customers to be able to type in and pull up your site quickly and easily! The perfect rule to follow is Miller’s Magical Number. This rule recognizes that consumers memorize short-term memory “chunks” – which in this case is seven words – plus or minus two. Ultimately, make it short and sweet so your customers can always find you.
  2. Add important keywords to the domain name. Adding important keywords into your domain name can help boost your business [specifically in search engine optimization – SEO]. Make sure to prioritize your keywords that go into the domain name and refrain from something known as “keyword stuffing”. Adding too many keywords to the domain name can make it look a bit tacky. Here, you take a look at an example of keyword stuffing for yourself…

Overwhelming right? Using a keyword too many times not only hurts your overall SEO, but it can also decrease your credibility with consumers. Be smart and intentional!

Define your Brand to your Audience

Plainly speaking, you want to understand your business in order to promote your business. The business owner needs to know two things: (1) What brand your business is representing and (2) what your customers are looking for online. First and foremost, you want your website to consume a consumer-centric perspective, so promoting a clear and to-the-point brand throughout your site pages will help the customer better understand what you are all about. 

Choose a Theme

Have any of you ever attended a party with a theme? 80’s night, neon night, maybe even cowboys and aliens? Well think of it the same way when you are choosing the theme for your website. You want to find the best theme that suits you and your brand! Picking the right theme with the most efficient speed and security are just a few of the important things to look at, and Zapier can help further break down the process for selecting a website theme. Some important things to consider are: 

– Design – What do you want your website to look like?

– Compatibility – does it work well with other necessary tools?

– Speed – is the loading time and requests fast?

– Devices – is it mobile-friendly?

Install the Necessary Software

If you plan on selling your products or services to customers online, you definitely need some sort of e-commerce software installed onto your website! Why wouldn’t you want to expand your reach to new customers? While there are many different e-commerce marketing software options, some are suitable for small businesses while others are made for larger companies. Selecting the right software is essential to the success of your website so choosing based on things like business size, fees, types of products, etc. are important to keep in mind. Several popular e-commerce platforms can be found below:

  • WooCommerce
  • Shopify
  • BigCommerce
  • GoDaddy 
  • Business Squarespace

Create Quality Content

We can learn many tips and tricks on how to write great content from Neil Patel. One of the top marketing influencers shares a list of ingredients that can help anyone write quality content. He shares that “98% of all marketing teams say written content is their most-used content type, yet one in three marketers admit their content is ‘somewhat’ or ‘not so’ effective”. The aim of content marketing is simple…connect with your audience! Here are a few tips on how to generate quality content:

  • Outline your work – make sure to plan out your content before you begin writing. It makes it so much easier to get your ideas out and onto the template!
  • Introduction – you want a compelling and engaging intro so customers continue to read and see what your brand is all about
  • Be unique – no one wants to visit a website that is a direct copy and paste of their competitors’ content. You want to write content that your consumers will enjoy and that will teach them a subject better than anyone else.
  • Credibility – when writing, try to provide factual and credible information from highly-respected sources. 
  • Quality over quantity – When you begin to write content for your website, you should favor quantity over quality. However, once you get a consistent process down and begin successfully posting content that consumers read, switch your perspective from quantity to quality content. 

Build Your Online Credibility

Let’s touch on the subject of credibility once again. When we define credibility builders regarding a business’ website, we are talking about testimonials and customer reviews. Reviews and testimonials can help influence potential customers on whether they feel like they can trust the brand. Small businesses need the trust and loyalty of their customers to build business but online and offline. Testimonials mainly give positive reactions from customers after using the product or service, but customer reviews tend to give honest and unfiltered feedback on their overall experience in regards to the business. Below you will find a list of do’s and don’t s regarding customer reviews: 

✅Do give customers many different outlets in order to leave reviews (Google, Yelp, etc.)

✅Do create a Google Business listing to improve local SEO and give your visitors a change to find your business

✅Do reply back to negative or neutral reviews with a professional tone

✅Do be visible and present on your review profile pages 

❌Don’t create fake reviews in order to rank higher 

❌Don’t delete reviews you may not agree with 

❌Don’t respond with anger or blame if replying to a negative review

Whether it’s a 5 star review or a scathing review, stay true to your brand but also acknowledge your customer’s perspectives.

As a small business owner, building an online presence is just as important as an in-person presence. It not only reaches more customers but it also allows you the opportunity to build credibility to compete with similar businesses with larger online presences. Take your time and build your website to represent you and your brand effectively. Look and follow each step carefully and create a presence that no customer will forget.

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