Step 1: Choose a Domain Name & Get It Registered with a Hosting Company
A domain name is the name of your website. (i.e. www.YourWebsite.com) A domain name, just like your business name is protected under trademark laws, so be careful when choosing a name. More, than ever it is important to choose a name that correlates with your company name or your brand.
The first thing to do is to head onto a Domain Registrar and check if your domain name is available.
Below are some of the popular domain registrars available globally.
When it comes to choosing a domain name, the name is important but so is the extension of your domain. (.COM, .NET, .ORG, .IO)
Extensions were originally created to signify the nature of your business, however with time have turned into trust indicators.
.COM domains are TLD’s or Top Level Domains and are the most commonly used for organizational purposes.
.COM domains also install trust in their users.
Type your desired name below and click search. If your name is available, you will be redirected to the registration page, if not you will be given alternative options.
Domain name is just like your house address or telephone number, it must be easy to remember for customers to be able to find you.
Guide On Choosing Your Domain Name
- I have searched my domain name and .com is not available. What should I do?
Chances are if your company has a generic term in it or a common attribute like;
www.torontocleaners.com, it will not be available for registration. Sometimes, however, you may still be able to purchase the name by contacting the current owner. Domain names are considered to be company assets, and although you cannot permanently own a name as long as you pay your registration fee you can keep it. Domain names are acquired and retained by companies and domain brokers or investors. There are huge markets for domain acquisition like Flippa.com. Purchasing an aged domain( a domain that has been registered previously and has been active for a while can be both good and bad thus prior to buying a used domain consult a domain specialist or a web developer to ensure that your domain would not cause you PR issues in the future.
- Carefully consider the readability of the domain and its relevance to your business. The domain must be easy to read and pronounce and generic domains ( domains that consist of real dictionary words) are easier to index in search engines ( Indexing is the action of listing your website in google and other search engines).
- Shorter domains are better but not better than unique domains. Shorter domains like abc.com, cam.com, and root.com are considered to be top choices when it comes to registering a domain, however, domains like abc.com would cost you over $100,000 if not more. On the contrary using your geographical location may be a great strategy to registering a domain. (i.e. VancouverConstructionCompany.com) Keep in mind that your customers will not be going to search engines to search for your company name but instead for the services that you provide.
Once you settle on a name insure to buy it immediately, as there are automatic query bots working in the background that register domains that are being searched on the system.
Registering domains separately from your hosting package is more expensive thus it makes more sense to register a domain with a website hosting.
Which leads us to the next section “ Building your website!”
Step2: Building Your Website: What Platform should I choose?
This step is mostly based on your level of understanding of technology and web-based applications. There are 3 primary options when it comes to building a website.
CMS, Website Builder, and Coding. Each of these options has its benefits however for the purpose of this guide we will assume that you are not interested in learning on how to code as it is time-consuming and may not allow you to focus on your business.
Option 1: CMS or Content Management System based website.
There are many CMS’s available for average consumers. However, the most popular CMS today is called WordPress. WordPress is a free, open source system that runs on a hosting server. In order to install WordPress on your Hosting, you must first purchase a hosting. Our personal recommendation for hosting is Host Gator. Host Gator has a very affordable price and many options for hosting. It is also easy to install WordPress on a HostGator website. There is a designated button for WordPress installs right in the control panel.
To start with your WordPress installation, watch the video below.
WordPress doesn’t require any programming and unlike the website-builders use a back-panel menu t make changes. That is not to say that drag and drop don’t work on WordPress. WordPress enables style and functionality using Themes and Plugins that can enable different functions on your website. There are plugins that allow for drag and drop functionality on WordPress.
We have included a short video on how to build your first business website using WordPress below.
Bare in Mind the video is a little outdated so the promotions may have changed.
Option 2: Using Website Builders
Business owners that do not have the time familiarize themselves with WordPress can simply purchase a subscription through a website builder.
Website builders work by onscreen interactions. You can simply drag and drop items and objects. Unfortunately, website builders are not as flexible as WordPress and some functionality might be limited however if your business has online store component to it may be a better option to use a website builder platform like Shopify to ensure your customer’s security. It is not to say that WordPress is not secure however integrating e-Commerce platform into WordPress may provide to be a challenge.
Shopify has a great e-commerce platform and allows for cross-integration, which means that Shopify platform can be used with your WordPress website to create a Shopify store within your WordPress website.
Option 3 : Code Your Website
Although coding was not to be mentioned in this article we still decided to talk about it as coding has fundamental benefits that should not be overlooked. Coding a website does take a lot of knowledge and learning to create a more functional website however coded website would be unique in comparison to anything available on WordPress. Another benefit is that a uniquely crafted website using scripting languages can be converted into a WordPress theme and later utilized or updated using WordPress platform. If you are not sure about how to start it may be a good idea to hire a professional designer. Although a website like this may cost over $1500 you will get hosting, domain and other features like marketing included in your website price. This would ultimately save you the time.
Step 3 : Content Marketing strategy
Although you may have the coolest website in the world with the best products and the best services, it doesn’t mean that anyone can find you if your content is not properly organized and your website is not SEO optimized.
What is SEO?
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the action of optimizing your website to make it easier for the search engine to understand what your website is about and list your website for specific queries. Queries are keywords that are being searched on search engines.
“Did I lose you there?”
No worries. WordPress has tools like SEO Yoast that helps you with website optimization. In order to optimize your website for specific keywords, these keywords must first be present in your text. And this is where we get to our text portion.
A Business website is normally broken down into content categories:
Homepage: Your business homepage is normally where your business name will appear. Your mission statement, business pitch with your address and value proposition must be included.
Services: Services page is a page that underlines your products or services. Ensure to include a description for each service and a price. It is also important to have images and other forms of media. WordPress and Shopify would both ask for ALT attribute for your images. The ALT attribute is used to describe your graphic to visually impaired customers that use an audio system to read through websites, this is also a great way to tell Google about your photo.
About: About or about us page would contain the information about your business and would include information about your company’s history, achievements, team members and board members.
Contact us: A web page that is the navigator to your doorstep. Information like address, telephone number, a simple email form and a map (google map) are some of the things you could include on your page.
Yoast SEO would allow you to scan through your content and create Meta Description for each page or post. The Meta description is what search engines use to understand your website content. Unlike your customers, Google and other search engines cannot always understand what your website is about and may list your website for a wrong query are may not list it at all or list very low on the search results. In order to be found for relevant search queries a business must be able to perform some basic on-page SEO in order to make it easier for websites like Google to find and list your business website.
Although Yoast may not available for Website Builders, websites like Shopify have their own built-in SEO function that would accomplish the same goal.
Step 4: Finding Content For Your Business Website
“Where do I get content for my business website?” Well, not all of us are genius writers and graphic designers. A website like Fiverr and Up-work feature a great selection of content writers, logo designers and video creators that would be happy to help you with your website.
If you are more creative there are websites like Canva that allows you to design large graphic files and logos using online free banner tools. Finding high definition images that you can use on a website is not as challenging either. Websites like Unsplash.com have a great selection of Creative Commons Licensed content that can be used on a website for free.
Step 5: Design Your Website
Designing a business website involves some thought. Ensure that your information is not clustered and follows a proper structure.
- Ensure that your website is mobile friendly as 60% of any research done today is done on a mobile phone.
- Have a clear and responsive menu and navigation.
- Have some sort of an interactive call to action box or a pop-up. It is imperative to collect visitor information using an email subscription or some other means as email marketing is another solid way to increase your traffic.
- Ensure that your website load speed is optimal. You can use tools like Google Insights to ensure the speed of your website and correct speed related errors.
- Upon completion ensure to submit your website for indexing. The best way to index your new business website is to open a Google Webmaster account and submit a sitemap. Bing and Yahoo have the same functionality as Google and the links to each search engine are included below.
Tracking Your Website Analytics
Another great tool for analytical purposes is called Heat Maps. Heat Maps are imperative for business websites especially businesses that do have an e-store. Heat Maps would have a visual representation of your customer’s behavior. You can see where your users are clicking the most and scale your website based on the most popular content.
If all of this sounds too difficult or you do not have the time for it, consider hiring a professional Web Developer. Web Developers would on average charge $50-$100 / hour, however, a good web developer would deliver double the value.
Click below to find out, “How to Choose Your Web Development Agency”.
Websites are no longer as expensive as they used to be. Building a website requires some time however the bottom line is that with a website you can reach a large number of customers and analyze their buying patterns locally instead of paying fees to market agencies for research. Having a website also instills trust in your customers and keeps your business in sync with the times.