Growing Your Business en_US Building a small business website is vital in today’s always-on, digital marketplace. Follow these ten steps to help you succeed. https://quickbooks.intuit.com/cas/dam/IMAGE/A2w4Cj5Bp/How-to-build-a-small-business-website.jpg https://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/growing-your-business/small-business-website-building/ Building a small business website in 10 Steps: Platforms, design, hosting & best practices
Growing Your Business

Building a small business website in 10 Steps: Platforms, design, hosting & best practices

Let’s talk numbers. And by numbers, I mean money and the sales potential of the online world.

There are currently over 4.38 billion internet users worldwide, 5.2 billion mobile phone owners, and 3.48 active social media users around the globe. Building a small business website, therefore, gives you access to billions of potential new customers. Emarketer predicts global retail ecommerce alone will grow to $6.5 trillion in sales by the year 2023.

Even if your business doesn’t operate online, 87% of consumers begin their product research there. And if you’re selling to local customers only, roughly “82 percent of smartphone shoppers conduct ‘near me’ searches”—researching primarily products, price comparisons, and special deals on the items they want to purchase.

So, there’s really no need to question if you should have a web basic presence anymore. Furthermore, having a professional website builds credibility for your business.

But only you can decide when it’s the right time to build your new business website. You have to factor in the need versus the current state of your business. Plus, getting started can feel overwhelming if you’ve never created a website before.

That’s why we’ve put together ten steps for you to follow when designing and building a small business website.

1. Decide if it’s the right time to build your website

Getting online might not be an immediate priority for most small business owners, with everything else you’ve got on your to-do list. Spending time at tradeshows, networking with local organizations, or investing in direct mail and advertising often deliver more immediate results.

Investing in even a simple website may require a bigger upfront time and budget commitment that you’re not sure if you can make right now.

How do you decide if it’s the right time to build your small business site?

Start by Googling your trade or industry

Google and other search engines are a good place to start because they’re the number one source of online traffic and visitors for most sites. Google also prioritizes local results when searchers seek out goods and services in their area. In many cases, search engines will suggest you add “near me” to words like renovation contractors, flowers, or restaurants.

The first two pages of results are a good resource. It’s important to note whether they’re dominated by review sites and associations, or businesses like yours.

If you see Angie’s List, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and local organizations throughout the top positions, it would be wise to focus your energy on being reviewed by customers on those sites first, instead of creating a stand-alone website.

However, customers will still want to see what you’ve done in the past, and better understand your services as part of their buying process. A good website helps them make a decision about whether to call you instead of a competitor.

Scope out your online market competition

You can use a free plugin like the MozBar Chrome Extension. Moz is a search engine optimization (SEO) tool. You don’t need to understand how everything in the tool works, or about managing SEO yet.

What you want to look for is the page authority (PA) and domain authority (DA) of the top Google search results. PA and DA — scored between 0 and 100 — will give you an immediate feel for how easy or difficult it’ll be for your site to rank on Google.

If page one of Google is full of sites with 50 and above, beating them will be harder, but it doesn’t mean you don’t need a site.

Competitive analysis before building a small business website

But, if you see 30 and below, the field is wide open:

And beating your competitors to put up a beautiful website will help you attract more customers.

After you’ve done your competitive research, talk to your existing customers or look at conversations on social media to find out where your audience turns when they’re looking for services like yours. If websites come up often, that’s a good sign making the online move will pay off faster.

2. Develop your small business website strategy

Even if you aren’t tech-savvy enough to build a site yourself, you’ll need to create a website strategy based on your business knowledge. Everything else, including the design, copy, and tech requirements will flow from your plan.

Answering the following questions will help you build your strategy…

(1) What are your main business objectives?

For example, what do you need the site to accomplish? Is it purely a brochure website to attract sales leads, or will you sell products and services online? Do you want to showcase your work as part of your portfolio of art, home renovations, designs, or photography?

Knowing what you want out of your online presence is critical, as it will dictate how your site will function and provide clues for writing copy and creating the design.

You also need to decide how you’ll set goals for the site and measure its impact on your business. You can use what’s known as “objectives and key results” (OKRs): a system used across the board from Fortune 500 companies to nonprofits.

Objectives are broad descriptions of your most pressing and important goals. They should be qualitative statements: short, memorable, and motivational.

Key results are quantitative metrics you’ll use to measure and monitor those objectives.

In Measure What Matters, John Doerr — the father of OKRs at Google — offers plenty of practical examples, like this “OKR Quality Continuum” on winning the Indy 500:

Here’s what OKRs might look like for three different small businesses:

Objective Key results
Baker: Showcase my very best work to “wow” prospective customers and get them to call or visit my shop. Create a folder with 100 of my best pictures and apply a single filter to them so they look amazing and consistent in one week.
Launch a homepage with all those images sorted by type within 30 days.

Post one picture per day to social media with a link to the image onsite (start on day 31).
Get 1,000 monthly visitors by day 90.

Florist: Develop strong customer loyalty by making my online business a collection point for new and existing customers. Input my existing customers into an email marketing service provider — MailChimp or Sumo — within 30 days of launching.
Create a homepage pop-up with a 20%-off discount for online orders.

Add 100 new subscribers in 60 days.
Build an email sequence for current customers to get 20 Yelp reviews and double customer retention (repeat purchases) in 90 days.

Roofer: Use my site to become the go-to source for roofing emergencies. Create my homepage with at least three of my best reviews from customers in seven days.
Send emails to 30 other customers to ask for Yelp and Angie’s List ratings.
Create a simple blog, make a list of the 10 most frequently asked questions in a roofing emergency, and post one new article each week answering a single question.

(2) Who are your competitors (and what do their websites look like)?

Make a list of your top competitors. You can do this by searching on Google as outlined above, or put together a list based on who you know is a local competitor.

Then, list the strengths and weaknesses of each of their sites, so you can emulate the best features from each one.

Also, decide from a visual perspective, which of their websites would you like your site to look like. All of this information can help the person designing your site (if it’s not you) to come up with a successful approach.

(3) Who is your target market?

Customers need to know immediately what’s in it for them, so your site design and content will need to grab their attention from the start.

To understand what information they’re after, and deliver the right tools they need, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is your target customer?
  • What demographics—like age, income, and geographic location—define your ideal buyer?
  • How often do you expect they’ll visit your website and / or make a transaction?
  • What information and functions do you need to provide your customers online?
  • What are their pain points or psychological motivations to buy your product?
  • Most importantly, what makes your business unique?

You can pull this information from your existing small business plan if you already have one. If not, keep this information to use when you write that plan.

(4) How much can you afford to spend?

Set a budget for yourself that includes both monetary and time costs. If you launch your own site, the complete set up should generally cost between $500 and $1,000. If you need to hire someone to help, that number can easily triple.

Your biggest consideration is time. Not just the time it’ll take you to get up and running, but also ongoing time to …

  • Create content: images, videos, and blog posts
  • Run online marketing campaigns: email, search, and social
  • Monitor review and rating sites: Google Business, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.

Give yourself a realistic budget that outlines what you can afford to pay in the short-term, including: (1) the monetary cost of launching, (2) the time commitments of launching. For example, that might look as simple as:

  • $1,500 to launch my site
  • 2 hours every workday for the first month

You can always increase your budget as your business grows.

(5) How often do you expect to update your website?

Will you change content regularly, for instance, or will your website be fairly static because the information is pretty general? Most brochure sites are the latter, while online stores will likely require some upkeep.

You’ll need to factor upkeep into your budget as well since either you or someone you hire will have to do the work. It might also require new imagery or copywriting on a regular basis.

Start by setting aside a fixed amount of time each week that you can afford to dedicate to your site. You can then adjust it up or down depending on what you find is necessary.

(6) Do you want to integrate third-party functionality into your website?

For example, do you need to integrate customer relationship management (CRM) software with your website content management system? Many sales organizations use a system like that to keep track of their sales pipeline and regularly update their site with new and relevant content or blog posts.

Also, do you want to be able to control the look and feel or customer-facing aspects of your site yourself, or are you happy to rely on a professional? This has implications for the type of content management system you might choose.

If you plan to sell goods or services through your website, you need to consider how you’ll process credit card payments, maintain security, and collect data as well.

While researching which web services to use, make sure the companies (like PayPal or Stripe) offer encrypted password features and secure payment processes.

For more information, review this post that covers the top online security concerns for small businesses.

(7) Do you need to develop an online branding strategy?

Early on and with a limited budget, you might want to start with branding assets that you already have: logo, photography, and copy.

You can also find budget-friendly solutions to get started by creating the assets yourself, or being selective as to what assets (e.g., photography if you sell products online or copy if you’re creating a brochure site) are worth investing in now.

It’s ok if your site doesn’t look as ideal as you’d like from the very beginning, as you can update it as your budget grows. The most important factor is having a web presence and providing the right information if you aren’t selling directly online, to entice customers to call or visit your store.

For more information on how to develop a solid branding strategy for your small business, refer to this post. If you are going to pay someone to develop your website brand strategy, review this story about developing a creative brief.

(8) How important is mobile access for your business?

Most people look for information today through mobile searches, especially when looking for local businesses and products.

At a minimum, your site should be mobile responsive since it enables mobile users to read a mobile site without having to scroll or zoom, and has large enough buttons or “tap targets” for people to hit with their fingers. Otherwise, the experience for mobile users will be poor.

Also, Google now favors mobile-friendly optimized sites in its search engine rankings. So, mobile usability can also give you an advantage over your competitors.

The Google Mobile-Friendly Test can help you determine if your competitors’ sites load and display well on mobile devices so you can make the necessary adjustments.

If you’re trying to decide whether or not to build a mobile-exclusive app, consider your budget first and foremost. Then, decide whether creating the app will help to grow your business quickly, depending on who your customers are and how they typically shop for your products or services.

(9) What methods and channels will you use to promote your site?

You’ll need to plan and budget for advertising or content marketing to drive customers to your site. You can use this online advertising post as a guide to get started after your site has launched.

If you plan to use remarketing, then you’ll need to add remarketing pixels on your site. It’ll also help to read up on best practices for using cookies, which is now a legal requirement.

And if you plan to use social media to promote your business, you may want to add social sharing buttons to your site design. Additionally, you’ll need to create and manage those social media profiles.

Of course, you don’t need to do all of this right away. You can slowly test and add strategies that work for your business and your budget.

(10) Are there any online legal requirements for your particular profession?

For example, if you are running an ecommerce site, you’ll need a privacy statement.

And if you plan on collecting email addresses to communicate with customers regularly through a newsletter, you’ll need to be aware of proper anti-spam laws.

Review our post on how to start an online business to understand all of the necessary legal requirements.

Once you have all of the information for your strategy, put together a project brief to either give to a web designer and copywriter or use it to build and host your website. We’ll go through those steps next.

3. Choose and register a domain name

Finding an available domain name can be tough these days. Ideally, you should register your personal name or your business name, depending on how you plan to brand your business. However, you may find those names are already taken.

If that’s the case, you’ll have to come up with a creative name that still makes sense to your customer.

Before you choose and register the name:

  • Always avoid tricky spellings, such as dawg instead of dog, unless that is actually your business name.
  • Keep in mind that your customer could be typing your URL straight into their browser so make it short and sweet.
  • Take a look at the competition and make sure your name or something similar isn’t already being used.
  • It’s also worth checking if your domain name is available on prominent social media platforms.

Don’t give up if your first few choices are already taken. If you can’t find a good .com extension, try other extensions like .biz, .net, or .co. Choose how long you want to reserve the name—it can be anywhere from one to 10 years.

Popular sites for registering your domain name include GoDaddy, Register.com, and Namecheap.com. You can register your name for as little as $10 annually.

Choose a reputable registrar that has an up-to-date website, a customer support number, and good reviews online. Examples of the current top-ranked domain registrars can be found here.

You can try brokering the domain, too

If you simply must get that perfect domain, consider using a brokering service to help secure it for the best price possible. When someone has a domain you want, brokers can help with the negotiation to buy it.

Although, domains in high demand can be sold for thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Ask yourself if the ‘perfect domain’ is critical in your branding mission.

Or, try backordering

In this case, you order the domain in advance of its expiration date in hopes that the existing owner lets the renewal pass. Some registrars offer this service as part of their product offerings.

4. Find the best web hosting for your site

The next step is to find a web host. The basic anatomy of a website includes a domain, a host, and your file structure. The domain, or URL (Uniform Resource Locator), acts like a street address that provides browsers with a way to find your website host. The host is a server that provides storage and access to your website online.

Each website host is given an Internet Protocol (IP) address, allowing it to communicate over a network. Finally, the file structure is a series of files and directories that make up your website.

A web host then rents internet space to website owners, and that space houses the pages and images on your site. Most places that register domain names, like GoDaddy, also offer web hosting and building website templates. But you can use other sites like Bluehost as well.

If you choose a web host to register your domain name, be sure it’s registered in your name. If not, then you don’t officially own it, and it could cause problems if you decide to switch hosts at some point.

Selecting the right host

There are thousands of web hosting providers on the market, each with varying levels of products and services to suit your website strategy.

Some common services include:

1. Shared hosting

It might be your lowest cost hosting solution. However, they typically offer limited scalability. In this scenario, a single server has multiple websites running on it that all share the same server resources.

Site owners are given limited access to the server itself, although shared services usually have decent technical support. It’s ideal for:

  • Personal websites
  • Small businesses
  • Club websites
  • Low-volume websites

2. Virtual private servers

Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are often more scalable, with minimal to zero downtime. In addition, they’re noticeably faster and more reliable than most shared hosting services.

In this scenario, a single server is divided into separate instances. Each instance has its own dedicated server resources. The downside of a VPS is it may require site owners to have more technical skills to operate and manage it. They’re ideal for:

  • Site owners who want more control
  • Small to medium businesses
  • ecommerce websites

3. Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting is highly scalable, reliable, and fast. The beautiful thing about selecting a cloud hosting company is that a clustered and load-balanced service scales to your website’s requirements. Likewise, the billing is based on your usage, which means if your website is less busy you pay less money.

One downside to cloud hosting is that your data storage isn’t centralized. So if you’re running a website with high privacy concerns, it may not be for you. It’s ideal for:

  • Website applications
  • High traffic websites
  • Media heavy websites
  • Community websites
  • Mission-critical websites

4. Managed services

Unless you understand and are prepared to handle the infrastructure requirements for running a web server, you should align yourself with a company that provides responsive customer support and varying levels of IT management.

They’ll keep you up and running, and have a disaster recovery plan in place—just in case something goes wrong.

With regards to managing risks of data loss—especially if you collect personal customer information and credit card data—it’s often not a matter of if, but a matter of when.

Managed services give you peace of mind that this is taken care of for you:

  • Ecommerce websites
  • Health-related websites
  • Government websites
  • Mission-critical websites

Now that you have a strategy, URL, and a host, let’s talk about building your site.

5. Select from the best website builders

When it comes to building your website, you have four options:

  • Use a do-it-yourself (DIY) service.
  • Choose a website framework like WordPress, install a theme, and tweak it to your requirements.
  • Code your own website from scratch using the web language of your choice.
  • Hire a digital professional to design and build your website that’s custom-tailored for your business.

Your budget (which you should have set earlier), skill, and time will inform that choice. While taking the DIY approach may seem to be the most affordable route, it’s not as easy or as quick as you might think to design a practical and functional website.

A hybrid approach is often best, where a professional team designs and prepares the initial website, maybe using WordPress as the core “engine,” and then trains you on how to maintain and update it.

There are many services available that help you build a site fast, without requiring you to spend a fortune or know how to code. Here are some options to consider:

1. WordPress Designers

Using an existing blogging software platform is one of the simplest ways to build your small business website. The software is easy to use and doesn’t require any technical knowledge.

With flexible and attractive themes, you can quickly get a professional, customized website off the ground.

However, the high quantity of options available through WordPress can be overwhelming at first. Look for designers who are WordPress experts and can get your site up quickly and answer questions when you’re having functionality issues.

If you go the WordPress (or similar platform) route, first find a web host that supports WordPress, such as Bluehost or DreamHost, and then download the WordPress software, or get your designer to do it for you.

2. 99designs

If you’re wary of attempting to design a website on your own, 99designs is a good option. Through this site, you pitch a design brief detailing what you want on your website, and then a pool of designers compete in a design contest, submitting designs for your feedback.

Once you give feedback and designs are shaped, you choose a winner, sign a copyright agreement, and use the design however you like. The entire process only takes about 7 days. You also have the option to continue working directly with a designer through 99designs’ one-to-one projects.

3. Elance

This site is another great resource for outsourcing the building of your website. Elance is the largest freelance network for businesses, and it’s free to register and post jobs. Once you post a job, you then review proposals from Elance’s large community of freelancers and award the job to the person that best fits your needs.

You can then collaborate online through the process of building your website and give specific feedback and requests for the site development. Additionally, Elance lets you track job progress, and you only have to pay for work you approve.

Many web hosts like GoDaddy also offer free building tools, along with consulting services. If you find that none of the options above are appealing, let’s review a few other budget-friendly alternatives.

6. Identify more budget-friendly solutions

If you don’t want to hire one of the designer solutions we provided above, there are a few other cost-effective options. Here are four ways to get a professional-looking website built on the cheap.

Crowdsource your design

Website design often costs $1,500 or more, without even factoring in development and programming work.

You can save money by using a crowdsourcing company like CrowdSpring, which can provide you with a wide variety of sample designs. You’ll only pay for the one you choose, and you set the price at whatever you can afford (99 Designs starts at $599 for a custom website design). Still, you’ll need to find a developer to turn the design into a functional website.

Hire a student

Try contacting a program director at a local art college, and ask for a referral to a student who’s talented in website design. The student may be willing to do the job for portfolio credit alone. Or, at least charge significantly less than a professional designer does.

When you’re ready to turn the design mock-up into a working site, seek out another student or a novice in website development who may be willing to negotiate affordable prices.

Outsource abroad

Agencies in India, the Philippines, and other countries with a lower cost of living are generally able to underbid North American designers for web design and development projects.

Check out the portfolios on sites like Guru and oDesk and, if you see some you like, request proposals based on your specifications.

Barter for services

If you know any great website designers or developers personally, ask them if they might be interested in bartering. In return, you can offer your own professional services such as accounting or legal assistance — or if you own a restaurant — creatives may agree to work entirely or partially in trade.

Keep in mind; you’ll get what you pay for. If your site doesn’t look or function the way you’d expected, you may have limited recourse to change it. However, if you don’t have the funds to hire a professional design and development firm, these options can help you launch a website on a shoestring budget.

Let’s look at some of the most popular DIY design templates and best practices next.

7. Follow good web design principles and use DIY templates

To save on costs, many small businesses still choose to go the DIY route, even if it might take more of your own time to build. At a minimum, you’ll need to focus on good design best practices, which include:

  • A clean design with lots of whitespace around images and text
  • Captivating web content and copy
  • Easy navigation

We cover more of these tips in our post on how to start an online business.

Using a platform that offers well-designed, modifiable design templates and themes will ensure you automatically follow many of these principles.

Use an existing design theme

Here are some options that offer free or premium themes:

SquareSpace

SquareSpace offers award-winning web design templates, which are frequently used by creative professionals in fashion design, food, music, photography, and writing. However, many freelancers also use the site to showcase their other professional services.

You can try out a free website template, but you need to pay for add-on functionality like buying a custom domain, SEO features, mobile optimization, ecommerce tools, website analytics, and more. The platform offers both annual and monthly payment options to fit your budget.

Weebly

Weebly offers easy and customizable drag-and-drop features and is very similar to SquareSpace in its pricing and design template offerings. However, Weebly was created by and is integrated with Square for processing credit card payments. Therefore, it also offers add-ons for ecommerce like dynamic video design elements, site search, and customizable code that you will have to pay for.

Wix

Wix is very similar to Weebly and SquareSpace in its pricing model and design template offerings. It tends to be popular with small businesses seeking to create a brochure site. However, Wix also offers add-ons like ecommerce tools and other business-related functionality like connecting a custom domain and Google Analytics integration.

WordPress

WordPress offers more than 1,400 free website themes that you can customize to your liking. Like SquareSpace, Weebly, and WIX, you have to pay for additional functionality and customization of the theme.

WordPress tends to be the option of choice for freelance writers and publishers who will be creating fresh content on a regular basis, as the platform was originally built for blogging.

Keep in mind; you’ll have to pay for customizable themes and plugins if you want more control over the site versus what you get for free. But they’re often more affordable than hiring a designer to do it for you.

There are tons of affordable “Wordpress for Beginners” courses that can walk you through how to set up an account, how to build pages, and how to create excellent content.

The subscription site DreamTemplate also provides access to more than 7,000 premium WordPress themes for less than $60 each.

Once your design and development are underway, you should start developing your site’s content, which should be optimized for search engines.

8. Use basic SEO tips for small business

The term Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can sound scary if you don’t know much about it. It means to modify your website and increase your chances of getting found on Google.

The two most important aspects of SEO are keywords and links back to your site. Keywords should be your primary concern when creating content for your new website.

Your aim should be to use high-volume and industry-relevant keywords and phrases. Although SEO once was considered an act of stuffing your site full of keywords, this strategy doesn’t work anymore. You might even get penalized by major search engines for doing so.

You’ve likely entered thousands of keywords into Google already. The search engines then match those keywords to websites that offer a close match. These are the websites we then see on the first or second results page—ideally where you want to be. That’s why it’s so important to use the right keywords.

Tamara Warren, SEO expert at ALTA Digital explains: “You need to research which keywords people are actually using to search for the products or services you provide. And then use these keywords in the right places on your web pages.

“This will mean you improve your chances of getting found by potential customers. Keyword research tools like Wordtracker or SEMRush can help you decide which ones to focus on.”

Also, make sure you’re using the keywords naturally through quality copy and content. Once your site has launched, you can work on generating links back to your site through a formal content marketing and SEO strategy.

The more links you have pointing back at your pages from other reputable sites, the better your site will perform in Google’s algorithm, as it will deem your site as reputable as well.

If you want to learn more about how all of those things work, check out MOZ’s: The Beginner’s Guide to SEO. It includes the basic information you need to get your website found in search engines.

Speed it up

Fast page loading speeds are critical when it comes to webpage design. In fact, the probability of a customer abandoning your page increases by 90% when page load time goes from one second to five seconds, according to Google research. You can check your own page’s speed by running a Google Speed Test when just after you launch your site.

To speed up your pages, start with having clean code. JavaScript is often a leading contributor to slow loading pages. If you didn’t code the pages yourself, ask your developer to try minifying (or compressing) all of your site’s JavaScript files. Doing so can reduce them by up to 80% of their original size.

Oversized imagery is another key culprit. Optimizing images, using a tool like TinyJPG or TinyPNG, before you upload them to your site can decrease your page load time.

You can also use WebPageTest, which provides insight into a variety of key metrics that can be run from a number of locations around the world using different devices, browsers, and connection speeds.

Make sure your internal site search is working, too

Many companies that sell products online pay so much attention to SEO that they never consider whether their internal search is easy to use. However, a poor site search experience can cost you immediate sales. In fact, roughly 30% of ecommerce website visitors use on-site search and are twice as likely to convert.

It’s not uncommon for customers to use site search bars as a way to navigate through your site. So if your site search functionality only returns products that have the keyword in their title or description, rather than including other attributes of a product, you’re losing out on customers with high purchase intent.

For more on how to improve your site search functionality, review these best practices recommended by ConversionXL.

Finally, let’s look at some other best practices that’ll help your site content to stand out from competitors.

9. Follow best practices for small business websites

Here are some proven elements to help you build a website that boosts your visibility and helps you win more business.

Design your website with your users in mind

It’s important to demonstrate who you are in your website copy and imagery. More importantly, your users need to see themselves in it.

All of the homework you did when developing your website strategy will come in handy here. Be sure to answer their key questions to answer and address all of their fears, uncertainties, and doubts.

Also, don’t worry about having a super flashy design, which often distracts from your key messages. Having clean, minimalist, and structured page layouts allows users to follow your story, and keeps them on your page.

Then extend the “less is more” aesthetic to make sure there is a logical organization, or hierarchy to the pages on your site so that visitors intuitively know what to click to find what they’re looking for. And there must be an easy trail back to where they began. This can be done by keeping the main navigation bar present at all times.

The example below illustrates all of these points. They did a great job by keeping the phone number and email address prominently displayed as well:

Example of a well-designed small business website

Show some personality

Many small businesses have a vague “About Us” page — often full of marketing jargon. “It’s often a regurgitation of what services they offer or products they produce,” says Alice Morgan, website content expert, and co-founder of ALTA Digital. “Great content is about storytelling; finding a human connection which resonates on a human level”.

That’s why it’s critical to devote appropriate time and thought when developing your “About us” section. Share personal information that readers can relate to, including your setbacks on becoming an entrepreneur, your education, and experience. Make it about you and your team.

After all, people want to do business with people and this is a great place to start building a connection. Explain who you are and share compelling stories about the origins of your business.

For example, Kris Carr shares how her diagnosis of cancer changed her life and led her to create her own successful business. Likewise, Amy Porterfield’s “About” page tells her personal journey, which led her down a bumpy road towards entrepreneurial success.

Adding photos of yourself and your team builds an emotional connection that builds more trust with customers. Try to keep it real at all costs.

Add social proof and other helpful content

Including a description of your product or services and an introduction to your team is just the baseline of what you need to be successful. It’s vital to include information that helps your customers learn more, whether it’s through FAQs, blog posts, case studies, infographics, testimonials, or video tutorials.

For example, if you sell home staging services and create a page about your experience, be sure to include photos and customer testimonials about your most successful projects.

Then create a video or blog post to share tips on how people can prep their home to sell it. Additionally, you can add a section that discusses the problems people may run into when getting ready to sell their home.

Make sure the content you create helps you appear credible and personable to stand out from your competitors. They should feel like they already know you and will be comfortable dealing with you when they’re ready to get in touch.

If you’ve spent some time to generate reviews on Google or other reviews sites related to your industry, be sure to display the best ones on your site.

Social proof on a small business website

If you haven’t done so yet, you can start by creating a free business listing on Google, and make generating reviews part of your website marketing process. You can also ask your customers through email or in-person to write a review at the end of a project or purchase cycle.

Inspire visitors to act

Finally, don’t overlook using a clear call-to-action (CTA) so your visitors know what to do next after visiting your site. It could be downloading a resource, signing up for a free webinar or trial, completing a transaction, or using live chat for more information.

Those CTAs would be written as:

  • “Download our ebook”
  • “Sign up”
  • “Register now”
  • “Try it free”
  • “Buy now”
  • “Open chat”

Inspire visitors through a call to action on your site

For best results don’t just use a web form on your contact page. Include your physical address, phone number, and personal email as well. If you use a contact form, try the process yourself to make sure it works and delivers an email to your inbox.

10. Update and improve your site over time

We’ve given you a lot to think about when building websites. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

Even big businesses build their websites in phases. As a small business, you can start with the bare bones and build on it as your business grows.

Phase one could be as simple as a homepage, about page, services page, testimonials page, and contact us page. Phase two may then include a blog, and build out deeper pages within each of the sections you already have.

Phase three might be an entire revamp of your site because your branding has changed, or you might choose to add-on ecommerce capabilities.

Install an analytics tool to track your site’s performance

To meet the OKRs you identified in your website strategy, consider integrating a free tool like Google Analytics to your site. It allows you to analyze data about how users navigate your website.

Examining metrics like bounce rate and session duration reveals what visitors value, and how easy your site structure is to follow.

Many small businesses are so busy they don’t take the time to test whether what they’re doing is working or not. But having a better knowledge of successful activities helps you to make better decisions on your future website strategy and online marketing budget.

Are you ready to build your small business website?

Having a small business website opens up a new world of possibilities for entrepreneurs. If you’re ready to start building one, remember that it should help you start a conversation with potential customers. Make sure it’s easy and inviting for them to do so.

Begin with a strategy that includes a good understanding of your customers. Then, set goals to make sure your website is meeting your expectations. Follow the steps we’ve provided to register a domain name, find a hosting solution, and build a site that meets your business needs and budget constraints.

While improving your website can seem daunting, it’s one of the most worthwhile projects you can tackle. After all, a well-designed website can be a gift that keeps on giving, selling you and your company to potential new customers you don’t even know are out there.

Andrea Wahbe

Andrea Wahbe is a freelance B2B marketing strategist and corporate storyteller who writes about Canadian SMEs, marketing, and digital media trends. Follow her on Twitter Read more