If you run a small business, it’s likely that at some point you’re going to need a website to get started online.
You might already have a website and are feeling a bit overwhelmed, or just don’t have the time to make the most of it as a marketing tool. We know that as a business owner you already wear lots of hats and once you build or own a website – you’ll be adding digital marketer, website designer and developer to your list!
Some of you might just be starting a new business, or perhaps you are a creator looking to develop an online presence where people can find your work. Good for you! You’ve come up with a great idea, service or product, worked your way through all the business set up requirements but now you need to be able to showcase your work, your products and build your brand online.
Well, the good news is that website technology has never been cheaper than it is today; so getting an online presence is more affordable than it’s ever been. Technology is also getting easier to manage and you no longer need a team of web developers on standby to build and maintain your website. This gives small business owners opportunities that not so long ago would have been out of reach for many.
Small business websites – the tech
Many people when starting out don’t have a lot of money to spare so they try DIY website options like Weebly, Wix or Shopify. There are many different platforms available that will host your content for you, some for free. But …
Your website is an asset of the business you are building and therefore you should ideally own and control that asset. If you sell your business in the future, the buyer will usually expect your website is included as part of the sale. On free platforms this could be a problem. Sometimes it’s not easy to transfer content from one platform to another, so if you think your business will outgrow the free platform, you should consider going with a strategy that will save you time and money in the long run. Make sure when choosing a platform you know what you can and can’t do with ‘your’ website.
If you are an established business owner who started out on a free platform, it’s worth considering moving your content to a platform you control.
For other business owners, it’s not so much the money but the time that is the concern. Running a small business can be all consuming (let’s face it – is all consuming!) and you need to put your time and energy where you get the most return. Sometimes trying to save a few dollars turns out to be a bad investment if it costs you other business opportunities while your busy learning how to be a web designer.
To build a website that you own and control, then you need these things to start:
– a domain name – you will need to buy and register a domain name with a domain name provider. Some hosting companies also sell domain names.
– somewhere to ‘host’ your website (a website hosting provider);
– a content management system installed eg WordPress;
– a theme that suits your online business needs;
– content for the website – images, articles, information about your business, legal compliance pages, just to name a few; and
– plugins to manage functionality of the site (these are software components that enable customisation of your website, so he website does what you need it to).
You can organise these essential elements yourself or you can have a web designer set it all up for you.
Maintaining your business website
Once your website is up and running you will need to maintain it. What this involves will depend on the size and complexity of the website, the frequency of changes in your business or product lines, the skills of your team to maintain the site and how often changes need to be made.
Some of our clients like to DIY this part, others opt for a monthly package to have this taken care of for them.
Maintenance can involve lots of different activities, but at a minimum should include:
– keeping plug ins that support the websites functionality and security up to date;
– adding fresh content to keep the search engines happy (this helps customers to find you);
– backing up your website; and
– generating reports and metrics so you can see how the website is performing (this way you can adjust as you go along to improve your results).
What about ongoing SEO for my small business?
How much you focus on search engine optimisation (SEO) really comes down to what you want the website to do for your business.
The purpose of search engine optimisation (SEO) is to try and ‘rank’ your website in the search engines. This means that when someone types in certain words and phrases, your business appears in the list of results displayed. SEO targets what’s known as organic search, which is essentially free traffic to your business versus using paid online advertising.
SEO is important if you are trying to generate new leads or sales via your website.
Building a website is not usually enough on it’s own to generate ongoing leads and traffic to your site without other supporting marketing activities – these could be offline or online.
Some clients use alternate methods for attracting new customers but still have an online presence so that potential and existing customers have a quick reference source, and a way of interacting with them or buying products when it suits the client.
Others maintain an online presence to show that they are a credible business to both potential and existing clients. Service businesses often use a website to keep clients up to date or share thought leadership in their area of expertise. This builds both their brand and credibility in their industry or discipline.
Your business will determine what you need and a good quality website designer will discuss your needs with you before building or renovating your website.
If you would like a no obligation discussion to talk about how to get started online with a small business website, or to have an existing website reviewed, please give us a call on 1300 793 037 or get in touch via email here.