Practical Tips How to Build a Small Business Website
For a small business, your website is your primary point of contact with customers. Even if you have a physical location, your website will still be the place you see the majority of your traffic. Last year, 87% of UK customers regularly shopped online
Table of contents
- Why Getting Your Website Right Matters For Small Businesses
- Where To Start With Website Building
- 8 Practical Tips For New Website Builders
The trend is similar across the world. Online shopping has seen unprecedented growth in the past 2 years. Even though some of this was due to exceptional circumstances. Customer trust in online retail has grown. That means that online retail continues to grow post-pandemic.
This gives small businesses a great opportunity to establish themselves in the ecommerce market. The same statistics we quoted above showed a 36% overall growth in the UK's online retail market in 2020.
Why Getting Your Website Right Matters For Small Businesses
Without a huge marketing budget to rely on, a small business has to take care to optimize its website for discoverability. Organic searches and word-of-mouth will be the key to your small business’s growth.
This means that it’s important to work on both the presentation of your website (What your customers see.) As well as the backend optimization (What a search engine algorithm looks for.)
A quality user experience will help you get word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied customers. A website that performs well technically and ranks well for SEO values will get you that all-important organic search traffic.
In a crowded market, having a well-optimized website can help your small business stand out. According to research by Google, bounce rates increase exponentially as load times increase. Up 32% going from 1-3 seconds and up a staggering 90% when going from 1-5 seconds.
You can see how important a functional website or app is to close a sale. As a new business, you might not know where to start with website building. We’ve compiled this guide to tell you everything you need to know, from the basics to more advanced tips for success.
Where To Start With Website Building
If you’re building a website from the ground up, you need to start by setting out your objectives. Your business will have its own specific needs, so focus on what you want your website to achieve.
Then, you need to consider the basics. Start with what platform you’re going to develop your website on.
When you’re choosing a platform to develop on, you have one key decision to make first. Do you want to be in full control of your website, using a solution like WordPress.org? Or do you want a third-party hosted option with help from experienced website builders?
It’s an important choice. One option is not superior to the other. If you have talented web developers in your business, then you might want more control and customization. If you just want to get a website off the ground quickly, then outsourcing some tasks makes sense.
Much of your decision-making as a small business will be limited by your budget. Make sure you know your budget and forecast your website development spend. It can be more costly to build a website from scratch initially. But you’ll save ongoing costs in the long-term.
All-in-one platforms offer more convenience for businesses that are less familiar with ecommerce. If you don’t know your stackflow from your development tools then this is the option for you. They come with management fees or subscription plans that enable long-term support for your website.
If you choose to build from scratch, you will still need to consider a domain or server host. There are also ongoing costs associated, so plan accordingly. You can expect basic benefits like SSL certificates, a free domain name, and built-in security as standard.
You should also consider what tools will integrate with your platform when planning budgets. Can it interact with your remote work software? Will it integrate with the best tools for affiliate marketing? Keep questions like these in mind.
Just having a website isn’t enough to drive traffic to your business. You need to offer content that appeals to your core demographics. Depending on your business this could be blog content, youtube tutorials, viral TikTok content, or whatever your audience wants.
If you don’t know where to start with a content strategy then look for the best-in-class examples in your market. If you want your content to stand out, look at the examples from the best personalization websites.
8 Practical Tips For New Website Builders
So you know how to get started with web development. But now you’re off the ground, how do you optimize your website for success? Here are eight of the best tips for new websites to focus on.
Domain Names & Discoverability
What’s in a name? For an ecommerce business, a lot. Having a simple and easily searchable domain name can make a big difference to your site's discoverability. There are several online options for domain name generators, like GoDaddy, BNG, and InstantDomainSearch.
Aim for something simple but unique. Registrations of shorter domain names increased 26% in 1 month in October 2021. The same statistics show that descriptive domain names (like “mybusiness.myarea”) are on the rise, too.
Think of it this way, a clothing retailer in Hampshire might choose a domain like “hampshire.clothes” or “clothing.hampshire”. It’s simple, descriptive and targeted at your local audience.
This is one of the most important factors for a new website to get right. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means how easily your content can be understood by search engine algorithms.
This is how search engines like Google rank the content you see when you put something into the search bar. If you’re not already aware, the majority of all organic search traffic on the internet comes via Google. This means it’s vital for an SME to understand SEO.
There are several tools you can use, both paid and free, to get started with SEO optimization. Google Analytics will let you keep track of your site’s ranking and your market’s keywords. Tools like Clearscope will let you analyze the SEO optimization of your written content.
Simple Yet Eye-Catching Design
The next two things you need to account for will make up your users' first impressions of your site. The first is the visual design. It needs to be appealing, clean, and easy to navigate. Having a clear call to action on each page is a good start.
There are thousands of WordPress blogs out there and even more ecommerce sites. Avoid overly generic designs and let the personality of your brand show on each page. This means maintaining consistent visuals, tones and fonts, among other things.
The second aspect that makes up a user’s first impression is performance. If your site is slow to load, you’ll lose a lot of business. Interactive elements and visually vibrant ads are great sales tools, but not if they come at the cost of your site’s performance.
You might remember earlier, when we mentioned that slow load times increase bounce rates. It’s hard to overstate just how important this factor is. Any load time over 1-2 seconds is likely to cost you business. At 10 seconds, bounce probability is increased 123%.
Remember that your customers will view your website through different channels. Even if you have a separate mobile app, some customers will still use your website on mobile, tablet and desktop.
There are several third-party mobile testing services you can use to make sure your app or website is ready for every market. Performance and Functionality are also factors that search engine algorithms use to rank your pages
Internal Links & Calls to Action
Avoid content dead-ends on your website. You don’t want to stuff your content with links, but you do need to make sure users can easily navigate around your site with a few clicks. Backlink to relevant content and always have a way for users to get back to your homepage instantly.
Having a strong call to action in relevant content can help convert browsing users to customers as well. It’s a win-win for SMEs as you can make this a part of your content strategy.
If you post relevant content in your blog or on your channel, you direct interested users to your site. They see the relevant call to action for your service and it’s already something they’re aware of or interested in. This leads to higher conversion rates than blanket marketing.
Enable Social Sharing
Here’s a free marketing tip that some small businesses are still missing out on. Enable social sharing on all of your content. If users enjoy your videos or your blog posts, give them a one-click way to share them on Twitter, Facebook or whatever social channels they use.
Testing & Implementation
Before you launch your website into the wild, you’ll want to test it. In fact, with development, it’s often a good idea to implement a testing-in-production strategy. This way, you can keep track of any issues as you finalize your designs and speed up the release of your final build.
Once you’ve published your website, released your ecommerce app, or both, you’ll need to keep testing. Refine your designs and your marketing as you go, for the best results.
Crowd testing methods like beta tests and early access builds can be a good way to source user feedback. These give you useful insight into your users’ needs as well as to help identify bugs that could occur in a live environment.
You have a lot of decisions to make when you’re building an online business. Both big and small choices matter. The specific details of your website can be a make or break factor for your success.
Don’t let the small details pass you by as you focus on big-picture questions like “Should I choose cloud hosting or physical servers?” Make sure your website is optimized and your sales portal is accessible, or all your marketing efforts won’t achieve much.
Author: Matthew Cooper - Marketing Automation & Operations Manager, Global App Testing
Matthew Cooper is the Marketing Automation & Operations Manager at Global App Testing, a best-in-class mobile usability testing software company that has helped top apps such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Craigslist deliver high-quality software at speed all over the world. Matthew has over 14 years of experience in the I.T Networking, Software & Services Industries. He is highly skilled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Content Marketing, Digital Advertising, Social Media Management, WordPress, Email Marketing, Marketing Automation, CRM, and People Management. You can find him on LinkedIn. He has also written content for Affise and BigCommerce.
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