Week 7: Website Essentials
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Having a website is undoubtedly essential for the vast majority of businesses today. Your business website is as important as your physical shop if you have one, and if you don’t it is likely even more important to your business.
I’m not going to go into explaining why having a website is essential to today’s business as I think today most people are aware of the necessity to be found and generate business. So the main purpose of this week’s blog is to empower small business owners to take more ownership and control of their website or perhaps if you are looking to take the leap into building your own website the information in this blog will be invaluable to you.
This post will be broken down into 3 sections:
- Domain name registration, hosting and business emails.
- Building your website
- Incorporating basic SEO practices
Domain Name Registration
Your domain name is the URL or address of your website. Getting this right is important to both the SEO of your website and the recognition of your brand. Although many people myself included, can get so tied up on choosing their domain name it stops them from moving forward so follow these tips and you should be well on your way.
A domain name is broken into three main parts the Subdomain, Domain name and the Top-level domain (see Image). It’s the second two you will need to choose and register as the ‘address’ of your website.
When choosing a domain name for your business a few things to take into account include your business name, what you do as a business and even location if you are a local business.
The rule of thumb I use for small businesses is if your business name is self-explanatory or a well know brand then simply using your company name may be perfect for you, but if not, you may want to consider adding to your business name. Adding a keyword or a bit about what you do i.e. CCS Autos may want to consider cssautoservicing.co.uk or cssautoshwroom.com. If you are a locally based business then using your town/city name can help with targeting your area.
The domain extension, the part of your domain name after the “dot” we are all familiar with .com it is still the most recognised extension seconded by the local country extension i.e. .co.uk although there are many more available today even using keywords as top-level extensions these days like .food or .info but the most recognised and trusted ones are still your best bet if you can get them.
Top tips for choosing your domain include, Keep it short and try to make it easy to type avoiding hyphens and numbers where possible. Can you make it memorable in some way? Research other domains in your market for ideas and examples.
Use an appropriate domain name extension.
Ok so you have an ‘address’ now you need to build your website and that data needs to be stored somewhere for recall when someone searches your site. That is what your website hosting does.
I have tried many different ones in the past however I have recently come across Bluehost and I do recommend it to all my new clients as I have honestly found them the be the most user-friendly (i.e. not built for tech geeks) it seamlessly combines purchasing of your domain, business emails and website hosting and the benefits sell themselves. So if you are looking for a good recommendation that is mine.
This brings me to a top tip for setting up your website is to as much as possible purchase your domain, hosting and emails all on the same platform, trust me it will save you hours of connecting everything and a lot of headaches.
Professional business emails using your companies domain name to many are a mystery, but setting them up need not be complicated and many of the top hosting packages offer free business email addresses. Bluehost on my last check I believe offered up to 5 free business email addresses and the domain name as part of their hosting package.
It is possible to purchase email and hosting separately however this is an unnecessary extra hassle and not necessarily more cost-effective with some of the packages available today.
So you now have a registered domain name, hosting and business emails. Now you need to think about building your website. Many people would never consider attempting to build a website themselves but others may not be able to afford a web developer to build their websites and find themselves being forced to consider it, the good news is, it is not nearly as scary as you may think if you are looking at going down this road.
Two points I would like to quickly go through regarding employing a web developer to build a website is to shop around. Prices can vary massively depending on both the skill of the person doing it and the methods they will use. Having a custom-built website for your business is often what is sold. It is not only often the most expensive option but it is completely unnecessary for 90% of businesses out there and also then leaves you at the mercy of your developer for updates and changes etc. leading to a long term dependant relationship.
If you are using a developer I would ensure it is one who uses an open-source web builder like WordPress. This is likely to be much more cost-effective too. As a guide, to most small businesses I would say you should not be paying more than £1000 for a standard 4-8 page website if it is an eCommerce website this can increase depending on the number and range of products and other factors but can be expected to be higher. This is a very general guide but put it this way, you should not in the vast majority of cases be paying £3000+ for a simple website showcasing your services.
The majority of websites out there follow the same structure and there are thousands of customisable templates that can be used on what is known as ‘open-source’ web building platforms like WordPress. WordPress is the worlds most widely used open-source software for creating websites and blogs so using something like this means you will always have an ample supply of people who can work on your site with no restriction and its simple enough to learn the basics yourself.
With the right theme and the new ‘WYSIWYG’ drag and drop editors (what you see is what you get) available on WordPress creating your own website is becoming easier by the day. I will be adding more blogs about building your won website at a later date but for now, if you are interested in finding out more take a look here for further information. https://www.wpmadesimple.org/guides/wordpress-basics/
SEO basics (Search Engine Optimisation)
The last week of this series will have more detailed info on improving your websites SEO but for now, it is worth being aware of some things during the build stage to help.
Your website and the page loading speed is a big factor in SEO so ensuring you use the right images compressed for optimised page loading is important to bear in mind. On websites, the two main image types you will use are .jpg or .png. JPG files are compressed and so file sizes and are good for website images. Don’t forget Canva is a fantastic tool for resizing and editing images including saving as a different file type.
Likewise during the build when writing content you need to think about what your client will be searching for and do some thorough keyword research ensuring you use them throughout your copy, including long-tail keywords. To learn more about this see a previous blog post here.
Website building is a big subject so we will leave it there for now but if you have any questions regarding today’s post please do email me directly at email@example.com.
Look out for next weeks blog on the basics of Social Media Marketing. To see what else is still to come up take a look at our introductory blog here and don’t forget, as always, please feel free to reach out. If you need help or advice on any of this please just get in touch via email, website or social media – we’re always happy to chat and give advice.
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Week 4: How – How Do I Find And Reach My Target Customers? So in week one and two, we covered the ‘Who’ and ‘What’ of your business
WEEK 3: WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS – WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS? So in week one and two, we covered the ‘Who’ and ‘What’ of your business marketing