Image by Hal Gatewood
Building your Business Website

Having a website is an essential tool for many business these days and is expect by customers as they will often use this as first point of call to check your business credibility online.. For small businesses it is can be essential to help increase productivity and result in a higher turnover.

 

Having a website is know to increase productivity and allows SMEs to do the following:

  1. Use data to make decisions based on website traction and traffic

  2. Use cloud-based IT systems to sync with websites and automate processes

  3. Allow customers to view products and services on their website and even purchase these if you have an e-commerce system

 

A website allows your business to be showcased 24/7, potentially globally, to prospective customers. Even if you have been very successful at building your social followings or gaining leads through aggregator sites, you may find having your own website beneficial as you can then have a more direct relationship with your users and increase repeat business as they start to become more aware of your business or brand rather than just buying a product or service as a one off.

A shop window for your brand

A website enables potential customers or find you through search or discover more about you after they have seen your other marketing material or been recommended you by word of mouth. It is a shop window for your business and is a key element for finding and enticing new customers.

If you have products and services you can sell online and potentially you can take transactions digitally then having a website is essential. It gives you another channel to go directly to your audience. Online sales now make up a huge percentage of all retail purchases.

But even if you can’t sell anything directly online, you can use a website as an extension of your brand and your business card. You can offer information about your business and services, demonstrate happy customers with testimonials and showcase your experience, knowledge and other credentials to encourage potential customers to have confidence in dealing with you.

Considerations

What you need to consider when setting up your business website

1. Decide your website’s purpose

First you need to decide what you want your website to do for you and how you want it to operate. Will it be a shop? Will it be mostly static with information about your company and its services? Or do you want to make regular updates to show, highlight your knowledge and provide your clients with useful articles so they visit your site often and rely on your expertise. 

It is possible to just start with a simple website and grow it over time. Understanding what you want your website to do and its audience will help you understand how to promote it to the right audience through social media channels and online marketing and SEO. 

2. Buy your domain

You can’t have a website without a domain name – you will generally want one closely related to your business or brand name/ You then need to decide the domain type, for example, .co.uk, .com or .org or newer ones such as .biz or .co. Domains vary in cost so it is best to review on the website to see what is available and what is most cost effective

You can purchase a domain name from companies such as REG123, Easyspace, Godaddy or UK2.

3. Hire a web developer or build your own 

  • Hire a web designer to create a website. If you are going to hire someone to create your website ensure you check previous work and don't get over charged. Websites aren't very expensive now and make sure you own the rights and you can edit and update yourself using a content management system (CMS), so that you can quickly change things when you need to without going back to the site designer or developer or it will become very expensive. 

OR

  • Build your own website using a third-party website builder. For example, sites like Wix, Squarespace or Weebly allow you to build a website using simple, customisable templates. They usually promise that you won’t require any coding skills. Some will offer a free trial which will give you an insight into how easy or tricky building your site could be. This will only get you to a level unless you understand how to register the site on google and work around the SEO on the site.

4. E-Commerce 

If you want or need to build an online store you may want to opt for a specialist ecommerce provider. Examples include, Big Cartel, OpenCart and Zen Cart to display and manage your products, as well as to track orders and manage inventory. 

5. Online Payment

Keep your customers' details secure by using trustworthy third-party payment software such as Google Wallet and Paypal that you can use for your online store. Integrating this software may be possible via your third-party shopping cart software provider. 

6. Hosting

You will need to decide how to host your website. Web hosting is basically the technology that holds your website on a server and then delivers the web pages to your customers’ browsers via the World Wide Web.

What you need will depend on the likely number of visitors to your site and how quickly numbers will scale up. You may get web hosting as part of your package with your domain provider or website builder. If you haven’t opted for that type of solution

SEO and web traffic

SEO is a complex, layered discipline. There are different types of SEO and many factors that can influence your SEO. An experienced SEO consultant will help you identify the type of SEO that is important for your business but they come at a cost especially a good one.. The importance of SEO will be influenced by the industry your business is in and the importance of website traffic to your business growth.

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A helpful way to look at SEO is to consider that a search engine is just a referral engine — a tool that provides the best answers to users’ questions. For your small business to truly succeed online, you must do everything in your power to deliver the best result for the relevant searches you want to appear in. Think about what potential customers will search for and what you need to have on your website to make your site relevant. 

For small businesses, the main SEO areas to consider will be:

  • Website. A well-structured, fast, mobile-friendly website is essential. - See above for info on websites

  • Content. Relevant and permanently updated content is important - Check out our content page.

  • Page Titles. Basic optimisation is important so think page titles and meta descriptions for you website.

  • Local SEO. Local businesses need to consider local SEO practices. Register your company on google with address and details on the google map.

  • Link Building. This comes through being on websites with a high ranking and can be delivered through PR coverage.

  • Credibility. Case studies, portfolios, reviews and testimonials help you clinch the deal.

 

SEO can be complicated so understanding your current situation and marketplace is key to making the right decisions. And fortunately, for smaller businesses you can strip away much of the complexity, and the conversation ends up being just about content, links and website design.

Is SEO right for your small business?

Search engines are a key way in which we all now look for products and services and to build credibility and get in front of potential customers. 

The following should be considered:

  • Budget. Do you have a  budget to compete with established competitors or is it worth trying to compete through SEO

  • Speed. SEO takes a long time to deliver results, especially in competitive search terms.

  • Online Adverts. Ads now occupy a lot of screen space on first page of results.

 

So, while organic search visibility is always desirable, it should not be relied upon solely and you should explore other methods of delivering traffic to your website such as online advertising. These can deliver fast results while you start building your SEO presence. In many cases, a combined approach using online advertising and SEO can deliver the best results.

Can you do SEO yourself?

The simple answer here is yes. At least some of it if and if you have been running a website, then you are likely doing some SEO yourself already. It can be time consuming as it requires a lot of unique content and work being done on the site.

 

A professional will probably better job and generate improved results more quickly but will cost your business a fee every month.  Also, your time may be better spent on other parts of your business and paying an SEO consultant to do their thing.

Website and SEO

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