This article has been contributed by Mark Quadros.
Today, building a website is a must for every kind of business.
Having a piece of the internet under your control is something that you can’t afford to ignore. Plus, given only 64% of small businesses own a website, creating one can signify a huge competitive advantage (if done well).
Image source: clutch.co
Thankfully, with today’s software, you can create a website for your business at a minimum cost and without knowing anything about coding.
There are tons of website building solutions out there waiting to create your perfect business site — you just need to go out and do it.
But… How, where, and why exactly?
That’s what we’re going to cover right now.
What to Do Before Building Your Website
The fact that creating a website has never been cheaper and easier doesn’t mean you should do it just for the sake of doing it.
Before buying your domain, be clear about the business you want to build, and the goals you want to achieve with it. Essentially, you need to determine:
- Your business model. Are you building an eCommerce business or an agency?
- The purpose of your website. Is it going to convert visitors into buyers right away? Or do you want your brick and mortar store to expand your online presence?
- The next action you want your visitors to do on each page
- Your brand identity
- The functionalities you want to implement
- Your team collaboration systems ff you’re going to work remotely.
If you’re clear about these points, it will be easier for you to choose the software and tools that will best serve your business.
6 Steps to Creating a Business Website
Six steps are enough to build a website. Of course, some of these steps will take you longer if you get stuck with perfectionism — which is not productive at all.
As a general rule, you want to build a minimum viable website that can do the job before going live. And only then, you can think about optimizing conversion rates, engagements, and the like.
The goal here is to get your website done, and here are the steps you need to take to get there.
Step 1. Buy Your Domain Name
Owning a piece of the internet starts with buying a unique domain name that no one else can claim, but you.
If your brand’s name is already taken, you can think about different variations like using a .io if it’s a software brand (like automate.io), .design for design sites, or playing with the words (like “getmatcha.com” for Matcha).
Whatever the case, don’t overthink it. You don’t need to be clever. It may pay off, however, to take SEO into account when deciding on your domain name.
As for buying domains, you can get one through a domain registrar.
NameCheap is a popular option among businesses. And as the name indicates, you can buy a .com name for as cheap as only $8.88.
It provides live chat support and protects your privacy by giving you free Whois Domain privacy (so people can’t stalk you by just knowing your domain name).
This option is a very good starting point for small businesses.
Domain.com is another domain registrar that you’ll quickly find on Google.
It’s not as cheap as NameCheap, but it offers many features like a free website builder. And with an extra $6.99, you get web hosting, email, SSL certificates, malware protection and some other nice-to-have extras.
The best prices come with longer subscriptions. So if you like the brand and you’re willing to pay for it right away, you can do it with no regrets.
Dynadot is really simple. Look for your desired domain, check if it’s available, and buy it at the best price.
But in addition, Dynadot offers tons of free extras. Some are hosting a website builder for one-pagers, domain forwarding, MX and TXT records, plus other features that are more suited for tech people.
All in all, it’s a great deal, and you can still choose it if you just want the domain name.
Your Web Hosting Service or Website Builder
Image source: bluehost.com
Yes, in today’s era, going to a domain registrar to buy a domain is not necessary. Many web hosting services and website builders already give you a free domain when purchasing their services.
That said, tech people may still be interested in buying domains separately. Also, if you have a bunch of project ideas, you may want to reserve their names in advance.
But for general business and to build a website today, you don’t need it.
Now, you still need to brainstorm possible domain names for the following steps.
Step 2. Choose Where to Run Your Website
Solutions for hosting a website are endless.
You can either pay for hosting and use WordPress for free or engage in a website builder solution with a subscription.
What’s best for your business depends on the features you’ll need. These could be multiple subdomains, blogging, landing pages or widgets.
Hosting + WordPress
Image source: ithemes.com
The solution that will give you total control over your website and allow you to get creative is to buy a hosting plan and use WordPress as your content management system (CMS).
38.6% of websites use WordPress as their CMS, and there are good reasons for that.
WordPress is more decentralized, as it allows developers to build any kind of plugin you could ever imagine; giving you the opportunity to build a unique website for your brand.
All you have to do is:
- Buy a hosting plan (SiteGround, Bluehost and Dreamhost are popular options.)
- Incorporate WordPress on your website (don’t worry, the hosting service will guide you through the simple process.)
- Start creating.
Note that the best WordPress plugins can be quite expensive, so this option may hit your budget a bit harder if you need more sophisticated website features.
Carrd is famous for offering free one-page websites with tons of templates and options for building a unique website.
The pricing is incredibly generous since, with just $19 per year, you can build up to 10 sites with custom domains.
You can do all the basic things that a business website needs, like videos, forms, widgets, embeds, tags and access to Google Analytics.
Possibilities are not as endless as using WordPress, but if you’re looking for a complete solution, Carrd is a great starting option.
Webflow is a website builder that allows you to build your website before paying for it (they also offer a free plan for individual projects).
While not as affordable as Carrd, Webflow offers different plans for different kinds of businesses like publications, eCommerce and enterprises.
Each plan has a monthly visit limit, so check that out before deciding.
Wix is an older and thus more popular website service.
Wix offers multiple plans for individuals, entrepreneurs and eCommerce stores for a lower price than Webflow, plus a free domain name for the first year.
They have been doing this for more than a decade, improving their templates, web performance and flexibility.
However, it’s not the best deal on the market considering its low speed (according to a WebsiteToolTester review) and how complicated it is to change templates.
So, you can use it if you trust Wix as a brand and you don’t mind the minor underperformances.
Shopify is a standard targeted solution for eCommerce brands.
It’s not the cheapest either, but they provide you with everything you need to set up an online store today. Literally.
Plans vary if you want to launch your eCommerce business or scale it to the infinite. There’s undoubtedly a solution for your online store.
So, if you want to manage your entire business in one place, then Shopify can be your best option.
Step 3. Get The Right Template or Theme
Before starting to build your first pages, you’ll have to choose a template (or a theme if you’re using WordPress).
With website builders, you’ll need to search among the hundreds or thousands of templates they offer and pick one. You can use a searcher for that and look for the kind of business you’re building, like restaurants, online stores, blogs and more.
Image source: wix.com
On the other hand, WordPress users have to install a theme. They can be either free or paid.
Unsurprisingly, paid themes are the ones that will offer way more customization options, templates, and features. So you’ll probably have to invest a little bit more if you want a solid theme.
Image source: WordPress
Here are some great WordPress themes:
One of the best themes for small businesses due to its speed and how easy it is to use. Plus, it has a free version you can upgrade from later on if you like.
A multi-purpose theme that gives you full control over your website. It’s made especially for people who know nothing about design and coding. The best and more famous option if you don’t mind the extra price.
This one is another excellent option for small businesses. It’s not only fast and comes with a multitude of options, but it’s also incredibly easy to use with a drag and drop builder incorporated.
Often claimed to be one of the best themes for businesses out there, it’s designed to build trust with your visitors as soon as they’re in — making it easier for you to show off your brand authority.
Whether you use WordPress or a website builder, you’ll always find a template that fits — no matter what your business is about.
Step 4. Create Your Basic Pages
If you have your website structure set up, you can start building the most basic pages.
When building a page, it’s crucial for it to have a clear purpose you can measure, a great user experience, a compelling design that resembles your brand and effective copy that converts.
Pages you want to implement first include:
The homepage should represent what your business does and clearly lay out your different offers. It should answer these questions: What do you do? How do you do it? Why should I care as a visitor?
This page is the perfect place to talk about your brand mission, vision and core values. And while it isn’t a top-performing page, visitors nowadays expect you to have an About page, so why not?
These are the pages where you showcase your brand’s products or services, using copywriting to persuade your audience to take an order, book a demo, schedule a call – you name it.
If you want visitors to reach out to you, adding a contact page is essential so your most interested prospects can clear out their doubts and hopefully make a buying decision.
Other essentials like a blog, landing pages and “splash pages”
As your business grows, you’ll need to add more and more content to your website for your different marketing campaigns, goals, new features and events. Don’t ever think that you’ve got “enough” pages, as long as you don’t create them for the sake of it.
A successful website example is HubSpot’s. It shows their brand visuals very well while having enough white space and simplicity to make it easy to navigate.
Image source: hubspot.com
As you can see from their homepage, their menu is organized in such a way that you can quickly dive into almost all their content without getting lost.
Step 5. Optimize for SEO
Now that you’ve created your web content. It is time to optimize for search engines.
If you’re using WordPress, YoastSEO is the go-to plugin for most users as it makes all the technical arrangements for you and makes it easier to do on-page SEO work (plus it’s free).
If you go for a website building software, it would normally be SEO optimized by default. And what you’ll need to find out are the on-page optimization options.
In general, what you’ll have to do is to optimize your content by:
- writing meta titles and meta descriptions.
- including the primary keyword in the page title, and somewhere in the body text (without stuffing keywords).
- enriching the content with LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing), synonyms, and secondary keywords.
- adding alt-text to images so Google can identify what they’re about.
- using the heading hierarchy properly (H1, H2, H3).
- above all, making sure that your page meets the search intent and provides the best answer to the user.
I personally use a tool like SurferSEO to optimize my blog posts using SERP (search engine results page)-driven data like keywords and competitor analysis.
You can also implement an SEO tool like Moz or ahrefs to conduct an SEO audit and spot unexpected technical errors, do keyword research and measure your SEO performance.
Image source: ahrefs.com
Also, you want to ensure your content is free from plagiarism and grammatical errors. I use Grammarly Pro with all my content to ensure my content is checked for multiple factors.
Leveraging tools and best practices will help you rank for the low-hanging keywords and start competing in the SEO game.
However, for more SEO strategies and technical tweaks, it could be a better idea to hire a specialist to do that technical work for you.
Step 6. Go Live and Promote Your Business
Once you’ve got everything set up, you can finally launch your website.
And after making sure that runs well and smoothly (probably fixing some minor issues), you can start using it to promote your business right away. Begin with:
- sharing your content on your social accounts to expand your audience through social media marketing.
- including your website link on all your profiles.
- speaking with potential customers in your network and sending them to your website.
- if you’re a brick-and-mortar business, you can display your website URL around different places at your establishment.
Whatever you do to promote your business, you can now refer to your website, and let it position your brand for you (while doing the work to get organic traffic).
If you do it well, you’ll eventually get more direct results like sales, leads, clicks, rankings, support requests and even phone calls (if you use the right VoIP service).
Websites Are Never Finished
Even after all of this, you’ll need to stay relevant, so put in the effort to update your website at least every month.
If you don’t optimize, you’ll stagnate — especially if your entire business runs online.
Keep an eye on your analytics, measure your KPIs and test until you get the desired results.
The real work has just started!
About the author: Mark Quadros is a SaaS content marketer who helps brands create and distribute rad content. On a similar note, Mark loves content and contributes to several authoritative blogs like HubSpot Sales, CoSchedule and Foundr.