About one third of small business owners still do not have a website. Some might not want to invest in the cost. Others might think they can get by with just a Facebook page or Google My Business Profile. And a few may even feel like a website isn’t relevant for their business if they don’t sell anything online.
But a website can benefit nearly any small business. Even if you don’t sell products or services online, it can help to direct people to your location, get your business in front of more potential customers through search and provide some credibility for your brand.
How to Set up a Website
Creating a small business website also does not have to be complicated or expensive. There are tools out there to help you create a design and get your domain and hosting up and running. If you’re looking to start a business for the first time, or if you have yet to set up an official website for an existing small business, here are some of the most important things to know.
What Your Website Should Include
Basically, your website should include all the information that a potential customer would need to determine whether or not to do business with you. This looks different for every business. But some key elements usually include your business name, contact information, a small “about” section, photos of you and/or your team, customer testimonials, links to your social media profiles and business hours.
The information on your website should also be tailored specifically toward your customers. Instead of explaining what it is you do, explain how what you do can benefit them. Your value proposition should be front and center throughout your website, so customers really get a clear picture of why they should buy from you.
It’s also a good idea to include some clear calls to action so customers know exactly how to do business with you. If you sell products online, “buy now” with a link is an easy one. If you sell services, you might include “call now” at the bottom of every page. Basically, just make it really clear to your customers what their next step should be.
Essential Web Design Elements
The content of your website is essential. But the design can really make a huge difference as well. Your design should support the mission of your site by creating a clear and professional appearance.
Every business website should look a bit different. So you need to carefully consider your own branding elements and the design preferences that will appeal to your target customers. Also make sure it’s easy to read, i.e. don’t use a decorative font for body text or pair blue type with a green background.
Another non-negotiable is having a mobile or responsive web design. Responsive sites are made to be viewable on any device, from smartphones to desktops. Since so many people use mobile devices to browse today, especially when searching for local businesses, this is a must. Google also prioritizes sites that are mobile friendly for SEO. Most designers and templates you’ll find offer these options since they’re so prevalent today, so it shouldn’t be difficult to come by.
How to Build Your Website
There are a few technical elements that go along with creating a website, including domains and hosting. For your domain it’s always better to purchase a dedicated domain from a provider like GoDaddy than to opt for a free platform like WordPress.com. It lets customers more easily find your business, since they don’t need to type in an extra extension. And it just looks more professional. There are also plenty of hosting providers available for small businesses, including big names like GoDaddy and Bluehost.
Once you sign up for these services, it’s time to actually design your site. There are free website builders available to help you create a customized site. Or you could opt for a template or hire a web designer to do the work for you. Just make sure that the finished product looks professional. It’s better to spend a little extra on a paid template or a designer than to turn customers away with a confusing or ugly website.
Ongoing Website Maintenance
Once you’ve built your small business website, you shouldn’t just leave it untouched for years. It can be a really valuable asset for your company if you update it regularly and use it to your full advantage.
Constantly make sure all of your information is up to date, like if you change your business hours or get a new phone number. But you can also add updates that provide value for potential customers. You might include a blog section of your website or update important events throughout the year. These updates give frequent visitors a reason to keep coming back to your site and they can make it more relevant in online searches.
Additionally, you need to keep up with design and SEO changes throughout the years. Several years ago, mobile and responsive web design became essential for businesses. And Google releases updates every so often that might impact your content strategy.