Blog

Contents

laptop

Chapter1

Introduction

How to make a small business website

Chapter 2

Hosting a Website

content-management-system

Chapter 3

Choosing a CMS (Content Management System):..

monitor

Chapter 4

Doing Research (Don’t make your site yet!!!)

blog

Chapter 5

Website Content (The Stuff)

seo

Chapter 6

Building Your Website

analytics

Chapter 7

Extras (That You Need)

web-design

Chapter 8

Regularly Create And Publish GOOD Content

web-maintenance

Chapter 9

Have a Website Maintenance Plan

Schedule a FREE Strategy Session

How To Make Your Small Business Website: A Complete Guide

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Introduction

So you’ve decided that your small business needs a website. First of all: you’re right! A website is the foundation of pretty much any small business, especially in the internet age. While many businesses are successful just using social media, or good ol word of mouth, a website is a simple way to make sure that the folks that wanna buy your s@#$ can find you.

Websites have changed DRASTICALLY since their inception in the early 90s, and that means that you need to be sure that your new site will not only drive customers in, but it’ll also be up to date with all the newest best practices for Google so you actually show up when someone searches for you and your business.

This guide will be a comprehensive how to for the small business owner who wants a website that will drive business to them in 2020.

  1. Why A Website FIRST
    1. When I talk to my clients I ALWAYS tell them to focus on a website FIRST. Why? Because a website is the only place where you own every last bit of real estate (well, digital real estate) and you are the sole architect of that item. Facebook Page? Can be deleted at any moment. Instagram account? Easily banned in an instant. Same with Linkedin, or any other social media platform that you can sell goods and services on as well. While these are pivotal items in the entire “marketing mix” your website gives you a place where you can really stretch out and share what you want to, how you want to. 
    2. This is important when you’re trying to figure out how you want to sell stuff to your customers. You don’t want Facebook deleting your posts because of length, or stifling them because they’re clearly a “sales pitch”  You want to share your ideas and see how your customer base responds. Your website gives you complete freedom to do that.
    3. Furthermore, Google search is still the number one place folks to go when they want to make just about any purchase. This means that having a website (or as I often call it: a Google profile page) is the easiest way to start to tap into that free moneymaker. That means that a site that starts to work on showing up on google’s front page for meaningful keywords TODAY will always be better off than one that starts tomorrow.
  2. Small Business Website Examples
    1. An Ecommerce Website
      1. Here’s a client site that sells health supplements.
    2. A Service Website
      1. Here’s a client site that sells landscaping services to both commercial and residential clients
  3. How much will a website Cost?
    1. Low (free-$20/month)
      1. You can spend nothing or close to it, and get yourself a website. If you have appropriate coding chops, and are willing to trade serious time for dollar savings, then this option can still get you a nice site. Make no mistake, though: sites where you cut corners based on price often don’t do well on Google search, and can cause a lot of issues down the road that will just cost to fix then instead of now.
    2. Medium ($200-500 and a small monthly hosting fee of $20-40)
      1. This site you bought a premium theme pack for, and a builder as well. Maybe you pay a guy on Fiverr to pagespeed optimize the site after you’re done, and you submit a site map to google. If you have no site, and you’re literally getting ready to make your first dollar online..this level is probably where you’ll land at. To learn more about which premium softwares are great for home gamers, check out www.ahrefs.com
    3. High ($1,000-$3,000)
      1. This is the level you should expect to spend if you’re ready to see quantifiable results from your site in a month or two–meaning actual sales, and in volume. You will spend most of this money hiring a full stack web developer, who will not only design your site for you, but will also give you some consultation on how to get the site traffic quickly so you’re not waiting forever to see some ROI.
    4. Really High ($1,000-$3,000/month)
      1. This is the level you’re shopping for if you’re already experiencing wins on your site in a pretty big way, but you want to expand into a now more competitive market, or your old, high traffic site needs a serious overhaul. This price will include a developer working with you to come up with a serious plan for a 301 redirect to help you maintain your current traffic as well as new design and SEO tactics that will help your team capture as much traffic as revenue at the end of the day.
    5. Extras ($100-$1000)
      1. Some extras you might get with your site are:
        1. Traffic dashboard (sometimes free, but feature rich ones cost) – this will help you keep track of all the traffic your site is getting, and where it’s coming from.
        2. Site Security ($100-$300) Site security comes in many forms, most of which focus on blocking brute force attacks from breaking in and injecting code onto your site for a host of nefarious reasons including stealing client information and credit card data…investing in good site security is a must if you plan on taking credit cards through your website.
  4. Can I build my small business website for free?
    1. As I’ve shown above– you can. It’s just not worth it.
How to make a small business website

Hosting a Website

  1. What Is Website Hosting?
    1. Website hosting is a service that you pay a monthly fee for (Or yearly) that allows you to have your website available to the general internet public. Can you host your website on your own, home computer? Why yes you can! And it’s a great experiment to do with kids to show them how the internet works. There’s a great guide on how to setup a LAMP server HERE 
    2. However most folks don’t want to host their own website because it takes a lot of time, know how, and electricity to host just ONE site on a computer. Therefore most folks just pay some nerd, or generally a roving band of nerds (better known as a hosting company) to host their site for them. These guys hosts thousands or sometimes millions of sites simultaneously, and therefore the costs work themselves out. You pay $20-50 a month (depending on extras) and they get to pay for pocket protectors. Everyone wins.
  2. Why do you need to pay for hosting?
    1. As I explained above, hosting a website to the internet costs time, knowhow and electricity (the holy triumvirate of things costing money) and so you have to pay someone for those items. Fortunately it doesn’t take much of any of those to make your one website appear online so, no big deal. Expect to pay $20-50/ a month to get your website hosting.
  3. Can you get your website hosted for FREE?
    1. Why, yes you can! But in exchange for advertisements on your website, or some other catch. It’s not worth it if you actually want your site to rank on Google, and get you some business.
  4. Domain Names
    1. Domain names are the unique identifiers of your website that allow folks to find you. The www.reallycoolwebsite I’m building.com thing you type into your browser’s search bar. These are those weird, annual payments you pay from godaddy.com or one of those similar sites.
      1. Buying a domain name
        1. You can buy a domain name for about $1-30 online, or sometimes much, much more! For instance, owning www.facebook.com would be quite a take! However for your own small business don’t spend any more than you absolutely have to on a domain name. Just pick one that you think people will remember, pay some amount less than $40, and move on!
      2. Domain registration
        1. Domain registration costs about $19 per year. All this does is keep a record for you in the DNS data base (there’s only 3 of these worldwide, wow!) and makes sure you’re not going to have your www. Whatever it is.com stolen by some unscrupulous hacker.
      3. Domain registrar: What is it?
        1. These are the folks you’ll pay to protect your domain name. Some common domain registrars are Godaddy.com, bluehost.com and hostgator.com. These are simply websites where you can purchase the www.myawesomebusiness.com domain name (you know, but your own business name)
        2. A great trick I learned years ago for purchasing domains is to Google search (yes, actually take the time to google) “Godaddy 99 cent domain” and then purchasing the domain through their paid ad at the top of Google. It’s usually on as a promotion so it’s an easy way to get a domain registered for a grand total (after fees and taxes) of less than $10.
content-management-system

Choosing a CMS (Content Management System): The thing that holds the stuff.

As stated above, the CMS is “the thing that holds the stuff” This means that you will install your CMS on your host ( as you learned about above) and your host will make your stuff (content) show up on the CMS. Make sense?

This will make a TON of sense once you install one. For the most part, your CMS is the main thing you’ll be logging into and making changes to for the remainder of your web development experience.

Understanding that it is only the thing that holds the stuff though..quite important.

Now let’s cover kinds of CMS

  1. Square space
    1. Ah, Squarespace. One of the easiest and fastest ways to get a website up and running. The best part: they do a pretty darn good website!! The drawback? Your ability to make a site that google will love will be greatly hindered.
      So who should use a squarespace site?
    1. Online store businesses:
      1. If you’re a company who is simply looking to run facebook ads to drive folks to a web page to sell them a product…squarespace is a great option. (although looking into Shopify wouldn’t hurt, either!) Squarespace will give you plenty of options to integrate into what other companies and softwares you need to, and you’ll be able to spend the majority of your time on what you need to: developing great products, and advertisements to sell them.
        Cost: Squarespace costs around $100/month, but there are discounts and specials all the time. Now this is where it’s important to remember: you’re paying $100 a month for a storage locker for your content….That’s it. Sure the storage locker has a great background, parallax scrolling, and all sorts of other cool features for good looks…but a box it remains.
  2. Wix
    1. Wix is not good. Not for SEO. it might do other things ok but… just don’t.
  3. Godaddy builder
    1. Same problem here. Why even try?
  4. WordPress
    1. This will be the builder we’ll be using. A complete guide to installing WordPress on your new host can be found HERE 
  5. HTML/ Template Themes
    1. His older, more cunning Uncle. There are things that raw HTML can do that a mere CMS such as wordpress will never be able to duplicate, but for the sake of you business owners, I will not implore you to learn to code from scratch your new website. Instead, Let’s use the gold standard of CMS– WordPress, and get you a site that kills it in SEO, and is also easy to work with on a day-to-day basis.
      To keep this article shorter in length, I’ve written a more complete explanation of my choice of WordPress for all small business owners HERE (Link)
  6. Drupal
    1. The MAcbeth of CMS. Read the play for more info.
monitor

Doing Research (Don’t make your site yet!!!)

  1. First: The real world.
    1. The single most powerful website creation tool is the interactions you have with clients inside of your business. Google’s overarching goal for it’s search engine in 2020 is to serve information specifically helpful to the users on the platform, from experts that have the right answers. What this means is that Google will “know” if the content on your site will specifically be helpful to the folks searching for your main keyword (contractor, chiropractor, dentist etc).
    2. The long and the short of it: Google knows if you’re speaking your customer’s language.
      Therefore it’s imperative you take the time to hear what your customers are saying. Take notes on

       

      1. What common questions customers ask when they call you or walk into your store.
      2. The main problem you’re solving for your customers. Common concerns/ objections your customers have on first, second or third purchases from you.
      3. Specific transactions that seem to give your customers the most value.
    3. This is so important because this language you write down ( “I love how safe I felt after you cleaned my yard and driveway of snow, I love knowing I can get to the store safely no matter the weather”) Is what you want to populate your website with almost entirely. This customer-centric language will help your customers know what to expect, manages their objections before they ever pick up the phone with you, and will get you closer to a sale faster than any high dollar copywriter will.
  2. Google Keyword Planner

    I could wax poetic about how to use Google’s tool…or I could link you to their guide here: https://ads.google.com/home/resources/using-google-ads-keyword-planner/

    My one tip: The goal for you is to choose 30-100 different keywords, and then organically integrate them into the copy of your website. This is a different goal than what Google’s Keyword planner is meant for. (Creating Google Adwords ads). These words will give Google a great idea of where you need to exist in it’s index, and will give you a HUGE leg up in the first few months of your new site being live.

  3. Spyfu

    Spyfu is a great FREE way for you to see what top 5 keywords your biggest competition is ranking for already.

    1. Put all these keywords into a spreadsheet organized by competitor name
       Then….GOOGLE each one and see how your competitors and others show up on google (this is called the SERP or Search Engine Result Preview)
      What types of sites are ranking? What do these sites have for content? How can you do it better on your website?
      Get these questions answered, and now it’s time to start writing the content for your site.
blog

Website Content (The Stuff)

  1. Content planning

    Content planning for a site is not hard…especially if you have already completed all of the steps above. All of the research and planning you’ve done before now will make the words simply jump to life on the page!
    To make your site’s content (Words, pictures and videos) first make an outline!
    Here are the main menu items you’ll need

    1. About Page:

      This will explain who YOU are as a business owner, why you started your business, and what you do to serve your customers that sets you apart from the rest of the crowd. You should spend 80% + of your time on this one page!!! The about page will answer many of your “but what should I put here?” questions. For more about writing a killer about page, check out Neville Medhora’s post on it HERE (LINK)

    2. Home Page Welcome Text:

      This will be a much shortened version of similar themes you wrote about in your About page. 50 words or less is a good goal to shoot for. You want to answer the question “Why should I stay on this website?” for new customers as they arrive with this text. Keep it short, simple, and informative as all hell.

    3. Services :

      This page should do two major jobs: Give Google more information (IE Use keywords!) and let new customers know what you do and exactly how you do it. Make a submenu item that will exactly explain each service you offer.

    4. Blog Posts:

      Finally, write one blog post about something that you think would be extremely helpful to a new customer. You want blog posts to be a resource for these customers. Blog posting is beyond the scope of this post, but do your best to really get your own voice out onto the site on this post.

seo

Building Your Website

  1. Choosing a Theme and Setting up
    1. There are 1000 ways to build a website. Many of them will actually let you rank on Google as well. For the sake of brevity I will be covering just a single system here: WordPress and using Elementor builder, as I find it’s the easiest system to use for beginners that doesn’t give up any SEO horsepower in the end. https://elementor.com/hello-theme/?gclid=CjwKCAiA_9r_BRBZEiwAHZ_v1xyFiFwcBar4w8uicO5-3ulSSU1QSG57Y3a6IMjSWj3cgkYTTCp0WRoCOqoQAvD_BwE The above theme will give you a good starting point, and has a TON of customizability built right in as well. The best part? It’s Free! : )
  2. Resources for when you get stuck:
    1. I’m sure you’ve all seen the “What my mom thinks I do/ What I actually do” memes for coders. That’s actually true. Learning how to search the internet for solutions to coding a web development problems is 90% of the workflow for building a site. Below are some great resources for getting through your problems:
      1. Elementor Help Center: https://elementor.com/help/
      2. WordPress support center: https://wordpress.org/support/
      3. WordPress Codex: https://codex.wordpress.org/Main_Page
  3. Filling in the content
    1. At this point you’re probably just about ready to be done. Fortunately, since you spent your time up front writing and organizing your content…you pretty much are! Build your pages, put your built content into those pages, and voila! We’re 90% there!
  4. Tagging your content
    1. Use your keyword research to make relevant tags for your content. This means every piece you’ve added images, pages, and videos should have descriptions added to them in the Media tab on WordPress. For more information about tags and descriptions you can go here: https://www.wpbeginner.com/glossary/tag/
  5. Creating Your Site Map
    1. Finally, once you’ve looked over your site and you’re sure you love it, you can develop a site map and submit it to Google. There are many plugins for site maps and this doesn’t need to be a labor intensive piece of the puzzle. Simply install Yoast SEO(https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/ ) and use it’s site map tool to create your site map, and then submit it to google following their steps…it really is that easy!
analytics

Extras (That You Need)

  1. Google Tag Manager
    1. Google Tag Manager is a box that you can put all of your other tracking software into on your website. Does that make sense? Basically, if you set up your Google Tag Manager correctly, you won’t need to write another line into your site ever again after this step.
    2. To setup your site with GTM, go here (https://support.google.com/tagmanager/answer/6103696?hl=en ) and follow the directions.
  2. Google Analytics
    1. This is the tool that will actually track traffic to your site. When you hear digital marketers talking about things like “bounce rate” “CTM” “CPC” and the like, they’re talking about the data that they’re getting from Google Analytics. Installing this tool is the single most important thing you’ll do for your new website, because you’ll learn where customers are actually going on your site, how long they’re staying there, and when they leave. This is the information that will direct any and all changes you make to your website from here on out.
  3. Google Search Console
    1. Much like analytics, Google Search Console tracks traffic to your site, but also tracks how many times your website shows up in organic search on Google. This tool will help you better understand what’s going on in the search engine world, and let you make changes from there. This tool could get it’s own super-post, and it may very soon, but for now, go here(link) and set up your account.
  4. Facebook Pixel
    1. Facebook’s ability to “retarget” folks who have been to your site at a very low cost is a secret weapon that builds more business than can be counted. The heart of this trick is the Facebook Pixel, which will track facebook users that land on your site, and give you the ability to send targeted advertisements to them in the future.
    2. Follow this guide (https://www.facebook.com/business/help/952192354843755?id=1205376682832142 ) to learn how to set up yours today.
  5. Email List Integration
    1. Find and sign up for an email list management tool. Some of my favorites are
      1. Mailchimp
      2. Aweber
      3. Constant Contact
      4. Infusionsoft

    Each has their own benefits and drawbacks. Prices will vary WIDELY. As a general rule, if you’re starting a brand new list and don’t expect to get 1000+ new subscribers fairly fast, using the cheapest option is fine. Switching services is as simple an exporting and importing an excel spreadsheet, and can be completed in an afternoon.

  6. Citation Completion

    Citations are the many different sites where you can “index” your new website for free. Facebook, Intagram, and Yelp are all examples of these. There are literally hundreds more as well. To see a comprehensive list (geared toward healthcare) click (HERE) , for a tool to check your citations and fill them out appropriately, click HERE

web-design

Regularly Create And Publish GOOD Content

  1. Create guides
    1. Just like this one, but geared toward your audience. The best thing your website can ever be is a resource. I am going to write another guide…on guides…soon! (hopefully. Email me here if you want it)
  2. Do updates about your business and how it affects YOUR customers. Not you.
    1. Always talk about your customers, not yourself.
  3. Do your (keyword) research
    1. Like above, take some time each month to do keyword research and figure out what customers are searching for. Then write blog posts about it that are helpful. Easy!
  4. Share the content on social media and your email list
    1. As you make new content, share it on your business and personal social media pages, and send it to your email list. This instant bump of traffic helps google understand where the post needs to live on it’s index, and will also give you some instant feedback–and business!
web-maintenance

Have a Website Maintenance Plan

Unfortunately, regardless of what squarespace says, websites need to be updated and new software needs to be installed from time to time. Whether because there’s a new HTML standard, or somebody has invented a new and interesting way to break into your website’s backend, having a website maintenance plan is pivotal to make sure your site stays safe and looks modern for years.
  1. Plugin updating

    If you haven’t done anything special to your site (like custom CSS or javascript) Be sure to keep automatic updating on for everything on your wordpress site.

  2. Seo best practices

    At least monthly, log into your wordpress backend and check how each pages’ SEO is doing using Yoast (https://yoast.com/ ) Yoast has a very simple system that will tell you the exact things you need to change to keep those pages’ content in google’s good graces.

  3. Business listing integration

    Business listing sites such as yelp, Google my business, and bing places all will have periodic changes to terms of service, and software upgrades as well. Be sure to take a cursory look at your listing pages to make sure they still look right and have the best information. This is a once a quarter/ twice a year kind of thing.

  4. Mobile optimization

    Google’s definition of “mobile optimized” changes at least once a year, as it keeps up with cell phone technology. Therefore it’s important to check your mobile pagespeed using Googles pagespeed insights (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/) This can mean some major necessary changes for your site, but keeping up with them lets you eat the elephant one bite at a time. I will be posting an entire guide on mobile optimization soon.