Are you still using the paper Yellow Pages as your main form of advertising? Welcome to the 21st century, old-timer. Print advertising may still have its place in the world of digital marketing, but any business, small or large, must have a website in order to succeed.
Why You Need a Website
The main reason to put a website on the world wide web is that everyone expects you to! Even retired folks 80 years old and older are checking their computers for information on a business website. In fact, even the grandpa next door may be watching their Netflix movies on their computer.
Consumers have become dependent upon the web to begin their search for products and services. Do you regularly see people poking around on their iPhones? You can bet that they are using that smartphone device to make quick searches for places to eat, things to buy, and people to meet for vital services.
The bottom line is that you need a website just as much as you need your business phone or sign above your retail store. Thankfully, a website doesn't have to be complex. It can simply be one to three pages with basic information about your business location, hours of operation, product or service information, and maybe even a little background about yourself.
So what are the steps to getting your small business online?
Select a Domain Name
The first step is choosing your unique domain name. You will need to register your chosen domain through domain specialty companies like Go Daddy or just through your chosen web host (who often gives you a "free" domain name for signing up for a web hosting contract).
Resist the urge to use services that give you a 'free' URL. Those places are usually only marketing themselves. For instance, you could use Blogger.com as a potential free website. However, know that your URL will be hard to remember, when it is as long as YourBusinessName.blogspot.com.
It is much easier to remember YourBusinessName.com. But with all the hundreds of millions of domains already used up, you may not get the simplicity of using just your business name.
You may have to be clever, like using something like MyBusinessSeattle.com, or using a slogan such as CheapUsedComputers.com. But whatever you choose, make it something your customers will remember. Better yet, include an important keyword in the domain name to help with your search engine rankings.
- Hire a Web Hosting Service
This can seem like a daunting task with all the thousands of potential hosts in the industry. However, all you really need to do is look at a top 10 list of web hosts. Check hosting review sites, and you'll find that most all of the top web hosts offer affordable hosting for around an average of $5 a month.
Be sure your host offers an easy account control, such as cPanel, that makes it easy and intuitive to manage your site. Also keep a look out for a host that offers free marketing credits that can get you started on a pay per click marketing campaign. Most reputable web hosts will also offer a free web design tool, which we look more closely below.
- Design Your Website
Do it yourself - If you are computer savvy, you may want to design your own website. It can save you a lot of money on professional design. This way, you'll also know the ins and outs of the website, making it easy for you to update.
Use free web design tools - As mentioned above, most reputable web hosting companies provide you with a free tool to create a professional-looking website in minutes. Usually through the use of templates and drag and drop, your website can look spiffy and polished in no time. Know that using templates does take away most of the customization and personalization of your website.
Hire a professional - The third option is to hire a graphic designer to create and design your website. This is the best way to get your small business website to look and feel completely unique. The downside is that a professional designer can be costly. Just be sure that you work out the details to get the website results you want in a reasonable timeframe. You can hire designers through freelance sites, but make sure to review their feedback to ensure that they can deliver the quality you need.
Lastly, you simply need to publish your site. If you have chosen a web host, they will usually offer tips, articles and tutorials on how to upload your web files. Publishing simply means getting your web files from your computer to the host's servers. This can be done via the web using an uploading tool, or using a file transfer protocol (FTP) software.
Putting your small business website online can be done quickly and easily. If your small business is not yet on the world wide web, or you are just starting a new business, use these simple steps to make your presence known online.