How Do I Get A Website For My Business?
If you don’t have a solid online presence in today’s digital world, you’re missing out on opportunities to grow. Even the smallest Sole Trader businesses need exposure to grab the attention of potential customers and future investors. Sadly, only around 50% of Australian small businesses have a website. Even more disturbing is the fact that 60% of customers say they only do business with companies who have an online presence. It’s easy to see that a website is essential, but just how do you go about getting a website for your business? Here are a few tips to get you started:
Choose a Domain Name
You undoubtedly took a great deal of time choosing the perfect business name. The same care should also be taken when deciding upon your business’s domain name, or website address. In a perfect world, you’ll simply use your business name as the basis of your domain name. In some cases, you may not be able to use your business name as it is already owned, or being used by someone else. It’s okay if your business name and domain name are not exactly the same as long as the domain you choose is relevant to your business. Use the following guidelines when choosing a domain name:
- Keep It Simple – The most important aspect of a domain name is its memorability. You want people to see your domain name and understand it. Avoid using numbers in place of words, such as 4 replacing the word for. Also stay away from cute/trendy words that won’t last.
- Make It Relevant – Upon first glance, you want people to get a general understanding of which industry you operate in. For example, if you’re a furniture store, use the word furniture in your domain name. It’s also a wise idea to include a locality if applicable.
- Research The Name – A quick Google search is a good way to find out if anyone else has already claimed a domain name. You will also want to do a trademark search and Copyright search to make sure you’re not infringing on another company or brand.
- Domain Extension – Your domain name, similarly to your business name, has to speak your desired audience’s language. You’ll also want to consider your domain extension. Commonly, .com is used, but another extension may resonate with your audience better.
- Branding Is Key – Finally, choose a domain name that is in line with your business’s core business philosophy. Consistent brand messaging, across every channel, is the key to branding success. Make sure that the name you choose for your domain reflects positively on your brand.
Once you’ve chosen the perfect domain name, it’s time to register the name and claim it as your own. If you’ll be building your own website, and are comfortable with taking on the registration, simply visit one of Australia’s domain registrars and follow the instructions. If you’re outsourcing your website design and build, the company you hire will likely do this part for you.
The Domain Is Registered – Now What?
Your chosen domain name belongs to you now, and you’re ready to get started on creating your new website, but you’re not sure where to start. The first thing you need to do is secure website hosting. This is a service that houses your website and makes it available for online viewing. There are both paid, and free, hosting services available. Of course, paid services offer more server space and better service, however, free website hosting is a good place to start for a small business on a budget. Some options include:
- GoDaddy – This is one of the most popular hosting companies on the planet. Their hosting plans start out at $4.99 per month for personal hosting and range up to $64.99 per month for business website hosting plans.
- Dreamhost – This is another of the web’s popular hosting companies. They offer standard and shared plans, as well as dedicated server plans for businesses that need more bandwidth and reliability. Plans start around $9.45 per month for the basic hosting service.
- HostGator – For as little as $3.75 a month, you get unlimited disk space, easy-to-install website templates, and guaranteed uptime. If you need more space, or additional domain hosting capabilities and email accounts, you can get that for around $9.45 a month.
- WIX – If you want to get your feet wet with a website, but aren’t ready to commit to a long-term contract, or monthly bill, this is a good beginner option. It’s incredibly simple to use, allowing you to create and host your site with drag and drop technology.
- WordPress – Perhaps the most well-known free hosting company, WordPress powers roughly 1/3 of all websites out there. It’s not nearly as easy to use as WIX, but it is, never-the-less, an easy to use, and free, hosting company. It includes many free templates and other gadgets too.
Creating Your Website
A website can be as simple as a few pages that introduce your business and its products or services. Many times, however, they offer in-depth information about the industry and related topics. In both cases, it is recommended that you keep your website design simple, clean and easy to use. If you’re not familiar with website design, or you don’t have the time to do it yourself, consider hiring a professional website design company. Follow these website design best practices:
- Fast Loading – Keep your website design elements simple so that visitors don’t have to wait for your site to load. The longer it takes for your pages to load, the more likely they are to go elsewhere. Use a tool such as Page Speed Insights by Google, or Pingdom to check your website speed.
- Mobile Ready – The vast majority of people use their smartphone or another mobile device to visit websites. It is vitally important, then, that your site is designed to be mobile-friendly. Doing so won’t affect the way the site appears on a computer screen. The intent is to make it available to anyone, anywhere, on every device.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – It’s imperative that you create and publish unique, compelling content for your readers. Optimising that content to capture search engine traffic is absolutely essential. This is accomplished through proper keyword usage, page descriptions and other tags. Familiarise yourself with SEO and incorporate it into your content development.
- Enable Analytics – You must measure the engagement of your website’s visitors. Key success indicators such as traffic, lead generation and conversions should be analysed regularly. Some hosting companies include analytic tools with their service. You can also use free tools like Google Analytics to gauge your site’s performance.
- Content Management – The key to online success is to consistently publish original, relevant content to your site. A content management system (CMS) helps you create, post, and edit content in the back-end of the site. You can also schedule posts for a later date, so you can create when you have time, and publish when it’s easiest for you.
- Images & Video – A website full of text is as boring as white bread, and doesn’t hold a visitor’s attention for long. Original photographs and graphics help to bring your words to life, break up the page, and generally make the content easier to digest. Original videos, showing your product in use, explaining how to use key features, or offering other solutions are also great.
Promote Your Website
As soon as you have chosen a website design, and have begun to add content, it’s time to start promoting it. There are myriad ways that you can do this, but it all begins with getting Google and other search engines to recognise that your site exists. Google does a great job of indexing sites, but it doesn’t hurt to stack the deck in your favour by following a few easy tips:
- Find Out If Your Site’s Been Indexed – Many times, the big search engines automatically index sites. To find out if yours has already been indexed, just enter the URL of your domain name in your browser with “site:” typed before it. For example, site:com. You will then see a list of all your site’s currently indexed pages and the meta tags used to index it.
- Submit Your URL – If you don’t find any indexed pages from your site, you’ll need to manually submit your URL to be included in the Google index. It only takes a few seconds to do, and doesn’t require any information other than the URL. Keep in mind it can take between four days, and four weeks to be indexed by Google for a newly formed website.
- Get Socially Active – One of the best ways to promote your business website is through social media posts. Highly professional business-to-business (B2B) sites often do very well on LinkedIn. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are perfect platforms for businesses targeting consumers. Every post you make, every photo you share, and every comment you leave should lead back to your website.
- Shameless Promotion – Your website is an important extension of your business and you have to let everyone know that it exists. Have it printed on business cards, letterheads, and every piece of promotional material you produce. Post it inside your bricks and mortar building and outdoor signs if you can. Don’t forget to add it to your business email signature as well.
There was once a time when having a website was a luxury for a small business, but these days, it’s more like a necessity. If you truly want to remain relevant and competitive, you must have a professional looking, functional online presence, with strong ‘calls to action’ to encourage people to take action (e.g. submit an enquiry form).
If you’re just starting out, and you’re not sure what steps you should be taking to get your business off and running, contact us. We love to talk to entrepreneurs like yourself, and we welcome the opportunity to help you make your business goals your reality.