Creating a website for your business is no longer an option, regardless of your market niche. Yet, 28% of small businesses still lack a website while many others default to a website using a website builder like Wix or Squarespace, which sometimes does more harm than good. Not only do these website builders cost money, sometimes hundreds of dollars, if you want anything close to a good website, but they also don’t perform well in search, which is where over half your traffic comes from. They’re also hard to customize and slow. Website builders also represent a nightmare when you decide to switch to something that’s better for reaching your goals.
So, now that I convinced you (I hope) not to use a website builder, what are your options?
A self-hosted website.
While it might seem a daunting task to create a self-hosted website, it’s really not that hard. I even wrote an ebook that steps you through the process of crafting your own website, with tons of images and step-by-step instructions you can follow with ease. You can do your website yourself, without learning to code, and for a cost of around $150. Using a developer is more expensive, but less of a headache (read this guide about what is a web developer?). Even if you decide to use a developer, it helps to understand what goes into creating a website for your business. Enjoy.
What to consider when creating a website for your business
#1 Choose the right domain name
The domain name for your website is important, as it’s the address (URL) used to reach your content and is highly visible to visitors. It’s important to make sure that your domain name is relevant to your business, using keywords that users employ when searching for your products. For example, if you own a pet store, you may want to choose a domain name like “mypetstore.com” rather than something like “bobsgarage.com.”
Domain names must contain unique combinations of letters, as well as an extension that matches your business. For instance, a .com extension indicates a commercial business, while a .org is usually an organization, .gov is a government organization, and .edu is an educational institution. Don’t simply choose a different extension because your desired domain name isn’t available (you can check availability at websites like Godaddy), as this doesn’t send the right message and may bring unwanted traffic to your website. whitehouse.gov, for instance, is the White House, while whitehouse.com is a porn site.
Capitalizations are ignored in domain names so this won’t help if your chosen name is already taken, although you might choose to capitalize your domain name to better brand your website. You can also sometimes buy a domain name you want from its current owner.
While some hosting companies offer a free domain name, it’s usually better to purchase one from a domain registrar such as GoDaddy or Domain. That way, you retain total control over your domain and can’t be held hostage by your hosting company.
#2 Choose the right host
When creating a website for your business, you first need to decide which platform or host you want to use. Think about the platform as the building that houses your business. Actually, your host is commonly a server farm consisting of massive numbers of interconnected servers to allow the host to seamlessly move your site content in a manner that optimizes speed and reduces downtime, which are both deadly to your website performance. So, consider your choice carefully.
Look for a reasonably priced host that offers:
- high uptime rates, above 99%
- fast load speeds
- sufficient storage capacity
- can handle your monthly traffic
- great customer support
In my ebook, I offer a few suggestions based on my own personal experience.
Some of the most popular companies offering website hosting include Hostgator and Bluehost. Both offer great pricing but lower performance. I use Siteground, which is a little more expensive but offers better performance. You can also purchase dedicated hosting, which is much more expensive but offers the best performance.
#3 Choose your CMS
A CMS, short for a content management system, is the guts of your website and the part that eliminates your need to learn HTML and CSS to create a website as we did in the bad old days. WordPress is the most common CMS, although Drupal and other systems also work great.
WordPress is free to use and it’s the CMS that’s the backbone of this website. It offers the code browsers need to translate your website into the beautiful result seen by visitors. It defines blocks you fill with your own content, as well as common elements such as titles, headings, and image handling.
#4 Choose a template
Templates also make it easy when creating a website for your business. They decorate the CMS to allow you to build a custom website with the look and feel you’re going for. Many free templates exist on the internet but you should choose one from a reputable company, such as WordPress, as they’re more stable and secure. You’ll also find paid templates designed to fit almost any type of business. Paid templates are often a one-time expense, although some now require a yearly fee.
#5 Add plugins
Plugins extend the functionality of your website by adding SEO tools to help visitors find your content, connecting your site to social media so visitors can easily share your content, helping to speed up your site, and even adding e-commerce operations. A great plugin to consider is one of the ones that add drag-and-drop capability to your website so it is easier to build pages — simulating the ease offered by website builders without all the negative aspects of these tools.
Here are the plugins I recommend:
- Jetpack, which is from WordPress and adds things like Spelling/grammar checking, an easy tool for creating image galleries, and a bunch more functions
- Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights, is the best tool out there for tracking your performance (you’ll need to create a free Google Analytics account then follow the directions for linking the account to your website.
- Yoast SEO helps bring more visitors to your site by helping you rank higher when users search for things related to your site
- W3 Total Cache helps your site load faster. You don’t need to understand how it works, but it caches the website, so returning visitors don’t have to wait for it to load again
- Social Profiles Sidebar Widget, which makes it easy to connect your social profiles to your website so visitors can find you there. It also makes sharing your posts easier for visitors.
- Akismet, which helps protect your site from spam
#6 Create high-quality content
The content on your website is just as important as the design. You want to make sure that it’s engaging and informative but not too long or boring for visitors. The best way to do this is by creating high-quality content yourself. If you have trouble coming up with ideas for what kinds of things people might enjoy reading about on your site, then consider hiring a professional writer who specializes in web copywriting services. In addition to informative content, take care in crafting a conversion process that is easy to use and create a customized payment page for when customers go through checkout.
#7 Minimize load time
The faster your site loads, the better. A slow load time can lead to high bounce rates (people leaving before they even see what’s on there) which hurts SEO rankings and affects how people perceive you as a business owner. To optimize for speed, try compressing images or using caching plugins. If all else fails, consider getting rid of any unnecessary scripts that could slow down page load times – it may take some tinkering but should pay off handsomely in terms of customer satisfaction!
In conclusion, by using the above tips, you can create a website that reflects your business in the best possible light and helps you attract new customers. So don’t wait – start creating your website today!
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