You’ve got a great idea for a new business, but you need to establish a web presence before you launch. Getting a website for your business or brand can seem like a daunting task and hiring a website design agency isn’t right for everybody. Here are three simple steps to take to get a website for your small business launched today!
Step 1 – Register a Website Domain Name
The first thing you need to do to get a website is register a domain. A website domain is simply the name of your website. It is what potential customers will type into the address bar to find your website. Your domain can also be used to set up a business email address. Business email addresses make you and your company appear more legitimate and trustworthy. Examples of domains are google.com and thethompsonmarketing.com.
Choose the right domain name
Similar to your business name, your domain name is your business’ identity on the web. Choosing the right domain name for your website is just as important as choosing a company name.
Here are a few things to consider when choosing which domain name to register:
Make sure your domain is available
The domain name you want isn’t always available to purchase. You can use NameSilo to find available domains for your website.
NameSilo is a great place to get started because they offer cheap domain names and enterprise-level security with advanced anti-spam filters. They also offer hosting packages starting at $2.99/month. We’ll get to hosting in the next step, though.
Choose a domain name that is easy to type
It’s very important that your domain name is easy to type. You’ll want to avoid words that have multiple spellings and refrain from using slang terms. A simple tip to make your website easier to type is to keep it short. The shorter your domain name, the less likely someone can mistype it when searching for you.
Firstly, identify keywords that your potential customers are searching for. For example, if you own a boudoir photography business you’ll want to perform keyword research before picking a domain name. With a bit of research, you’ll learn that “photography boudoir” has 15,000 more searches per month than “boutique photography”. In this case you’ll want to pick a domain such as “photographyboudierorlando.com” instead of “orlandoboutiquephotography.com”.
See also: SEO Tips for Small Businesses
Step 2 – Find Hosting Services
Once you’ve secured the right domain for your business website, you’re ready to look for a hosting provider. Website hosting is when a hosting provider allocates space on their server for your website’s files. Hosting is what makes your website available to be viewed online. With many hosting providers out there, it’s important you do your research before choosing a provider.
Understand your website’s needs
The first thing you’ll want to understand is what you’ll be using your website for. Are you selling products online with an e-commerce website, writing a blog, or simply marketing your services? Will you be accepting payments such as credit cards or PayPal, or do you only accept payment in person? Understanding what your website will be used for is essential when choosing a hosting provider.
Once you understand your website’s needs, there are several factors to consider before choosing a hosting provider.
Security, server reliability, and uptime score
You’ll want to make sure that your website is always up and running. If you run an e-commerce website, you’ll be losing money when your website goes down. If the server is weak or there is an unstable network connection, your website will likely be pushed offline.
No hosting provider can provide 100% uptime, but you’ll want to look for a provider that reports at least 99.5% uptime. For example, Bluehost has a great uptime guarantee of 99.98%. Bluehost is a great place to get started because they also offer a free domain and hosting at a low cost.
You’ll also want to ensure that your website is secure. Your website will not be trusted without the proper security. The difference between a secure website and a website that is now secure looks like this to the user:
Bluehost hosting plans include the proper SSL certificates to keep user data secure, verify ownership of the website, prevent attackers from creating a fake version of the site, and convey trust to users.
Can you add domains?
You’re starting with one website now, but you may discover you need more in the future. You’ll want to find a hosting provider that allows you to host multiple domains with a single hosting account. Most of Bluehost’s hosting packages allow for unlimited websites.
Considering this is your first website, you’ll likely end up facing a few issues when trying to launch. Make sure that your hosting provider offers fast and helpful customer support. It’s helpful to look for companies that offer a chat service so that you don’t have to file a ticket and wait a long time for your issue to be resolved.
Now that you’ve found the right hosting provider for your business, you’re ready to get your website built!
Step 3 – Choose a Website Builder
Unless you’re an experienced website developer, you’ll want to use a website builder. There are multiple website builders that are intuitive and user friendly. As a small business, WordPress is the recommended and most popular website builder.
Over 43% of the websites on the internet today are built with WordPress. WordPress allows for a high degree of customization without having technical knowledge. People often get confused when they do a search for WordPress, though, because there are actually two different versions:
- WordPress.org (recommended) – needs to be set up with your hosting provider. In most cases, it’s as simple as a few clicks. If you’re using Bluehost WordPress will be automatically installed.
- WordPress.com – this is a hosted website builder (more on this later). Hosted website builders are an all-in-one solution, so you won’t be responsible for hosting. Companies like Bluehost make it just as easy to host your own WordPress website.
Choose a theme
Once you have WordPress installed, you’ll be able to choose a theme for your website. You can also search for other themes and upload them to WordPress. You’ll want to find a theme that matches your business’s brand. For recommendations on the best WordPress themes, read: 29 Best WordPress Multipurpose Themes.
For more in depth training on how to install WordPress themes, read: Beginners Guide: How to Install a WordPress Theme
Insert a template
I highly recommend using the Astra theme(as shown selected above) because it comes with Starter Templates. No matter what type of business you have, you’ll find a template for you. If you’re running a photography business, you can simply search for “photography” and select the template you like.
Customize your website
Once you have a template inserted, it’s simple to upload your own content such as photos, videos, and text content. There are plenty of plugins that WordPress offers to make customizing your website even easier. For a list of must-have WordPress plugins, read: 24 Must Have WordPress Plugins for Business Websites in 2022.
It won’t be long now until your website is published and you’re ready to get your business going!
Alternative way to get a website
Remember earlier how I mentioned WordPress.com (not to be confused with WordPress.org)? I mentioned that WordPress.com is a hosted website builder, but what does that mean? A hosted website builder is a place where you can build a website (just like WordPress), but you’re not responsible for getting your own hosting.
Wix offers a drag and drop feature that makes building a website particularly easy. The interface is relatively user friendly and intuitive. You can sign up and get started right away with Wix without having to find a hosting provider.
The cons to Wix are that it comes at a higher cost than selecting your own hosting provider and building a website on WordPress. You’re also limited in terms of how much you can customize your website. The biggest downside in my opinion is that you cannot migrate your website out if the need ever arises. The need would likely arise if your website became too large because Wix doesn’t support large websites.
Similar to Wix, getting started on Squarespace is fast and easy. In just a few simple steps you’re able to get a website online without having to worry about hosting.
The website builder itself is very aesthetically beautiful and offers beautiful and modern templates for any business type. Just select the right template for your business and get started designing your website!
The cons to Squarespace are similar to Wix. The monthly cost is higher than selecting your own hosting provider and building a website on WordPress. Again, Squarespace does not support the migration of your website, so you’ll be stuck there unless you want to design another website.
If you follow these simple steps above, you’ll have a website for your business in no time! To recap the steps are:
- Register a domain name
- Find a hosting provider
- Find a website builder
The alternative method is to use a hosted website builder such as Wix and Squarespace.
If any of this seems overwhelming and you have additional questions, please comment below or reach out on the Thompson Marketing Website.