Ultimate guide to creating a website for your business
In today’s highly connected world, creating your business website will be one of the most important things you do. However, getting it right – making the website really work for you – can be trickier than you might think.
In this ultimate guide to creating a website for your business I hope to give you an insight into some of the key things we think you should consider before you get started.
Think about search engines first
At the time of writing (April 2020) Google had 95% search engine market share in New Zealand. Google is where your customers will find you and where your prospective customers will search for businesses like yours. It makes sense to make sure you optimise your new business website to rank highly on Google.
The process of making your website easy for Google to understand and rank well is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). All too often this is an afterthought, but you’ll save time and expense to consider this right from the start.
Think about how prospective customers might go about searching for the products or services that you provide – what key words or phrases they might use – and keep these in mind as you work through this guide.
What is your website’s goal?
Do you want to create a website to sell your products or services online? Perhaps you want to generate leads to follow up offline? Maybe you want a “brochure site” providing information to your current and prospective customers and increasing your brand awareness?
Whatever your website’s purpose, it needs to take visitors on a journey ending in an appropriate call to action.
Buy a domain name
If you haven’t already purchased a domain name for your business you will need to do so now. Make sure you choose an appropriate top-level domain, e.g. .nz for a New Zealand company or .org.nz for a charity.
Try to choose a domain name that reflects your business name, product or service. You could also consider adding the location you operate in, e.g. taurangapainter.co.nz. Getting keywords into your domain name is great for SEO. However, make sure your domain name is easy to spell and remember.
What content should I include on my website?
Remember Google is trying to make it easy to find the ‘useful’ information, so quality trumps quantity here every time. Think about your users and what they want to read first. Make sure your content is well written and that Google can understand it easily too.
How to design your website
There are a number of ways you can go about building your website:
- Hire a web developer, designer, copywriter, SEO professional or more likely an agency with access to all these skills and create something totally customised. Unless you have at least a five figure budget, this option is probably not for you.
- Start with a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress and hire professionals to help. We think this is the ‘sweet spot’ for most small and medium sized businesses, enabling you to get the best value for money without restricting your options for future growth or compromising on essentials. It is therefore what we are likely to recommend if you use our web design service.
- Learn how to do it yourself with WordPress. This is a realistic option if you have the time and commitment required for a fairly steep learning curve. You don’t need to learn how to code, but you’ll need to learn how search engines work, how to write good content and develop a thorough understanding of WordPress.
- Use a drag and drop website builder like WIX, Squarespace or Shopify. This is probably your cheapest option and may seem easier when you’re getting started, but you will still have a lot to learn. The features of the platform you choose may restrict you, and if you ultimately choose to upgrade to something like WordPress you may have to start again.
When creating a website for your business, start with the basics:
- Home page
- About Us
- Contact page
Are you selling products online?
Choose a good e-commerce platform and make sure it has the essential features you need. There is a lot more to consider with e-commerce and so you should think carefully about what help you might need. Some of the more common areas that can catch you out are: shipping cost calculation; inventory management; interfacing with your existing systems; duplicate content (don’t cut and paste product descriptions or Google might not index them).
Get a professional look
Make sure your website looks professional. If you are going to hire someone to help design and build your site they will do this for you, but you should still consider what “look” suits your business – classic or modern, light and bright colours or dark and subdued colours. If you are going to build your own website your best option may be to use a ready-made template – just be aware that changes to some templates can lead to more work than building one from scratch, so take the time to find one that won’t require any changes.
Don’t scrimp on hosting
Google is obsessed with user experience and website speed is a big component of this. Google’s own research showed that just a half second delay on their own websites led to a 20% cost in user base!
People hate having to wait and Google will rank you lower if your site is slow. Make sure your site is properly optimised for speed and use a decent website hosting company. Cheap, poorly performing hosting will cost you business – this is one of the worst areas to cut costs in.
Getting people to notice your website when you go live
So, you followed our advice at the start of this guide and you created a website that is set up to be search engine friendly. You’ve provided the content people want to find and structured it correctly. Lastly, you’ve created a speedy website – your SEO marketing strategy is already off to a great start!
You can continue with this by further researching keywords that are relevant to your website goals and adding more content to target these keywords or phrases, so helping more people find your site. This strategy can be very effective in the medium to longer term. If you prefer to hire someone to help with this we offer a search engine optimisation service which you might want to consider.
The quickest way to Page One on Google may be pay-per-click advertising. This can be highly targeted, but is often expensive and another area you might want to consider getting professional help on.
It’s a good idea to make sure your site is linked to your social media accounts, and you may want to consider some paid or other promotion on social media.