I Need a Small Business Website Where Do I Start?

by | May 14, 2024 | Websites

When starting a website for your small business, it can take time to figure out where to start. So many components make up a website, and that’s before you get into the different styles, features, and functions available. And this is where many businesses make a mistake. They go for something they think looks impressive but doesn’t actually serve the needs of their clients/customers.

When you hire a web designer to build a new website for your business, it can be tempting to point them toward other websites you like, asking them to create something similar. But by doing this, you can miss out on crucial elements your website needs and end up with a website that doesn’t suit your business.

It’s good to look at competitor’s or other small business websites to learn what you like and dislike and communicate this to your web designer. However, you need to consider what’s right for your business and what will serve your clients/customers the best.

So, how do you choose the right website for your business? Let’s start with the key components you’ll need for your website, and then we’ll look at the key elements you should have in place when deciding on a new web design.

What do I need to consider before setting up a website?

You need to consider a few things before setting up your website. These things can be discussed with your web designer, or you can research them yourself. But it never hurts to get professional advice, especially if this is your first website.

  • Domain name
  • Hosting
  • Platform
  • Your business goals
  • Plan – structure, functionality, design, development, email signup, lead magnets, blog
  • SEO research and strategy (aka search engine optimisation)
  • Tracking

What is a domain name?

First and foremost, you need a domain name. This is basically your website name and the URL, aka your web address. Generally, your domain is your business name, but sometimes it can differ.

If you are considering a variation or something different for your business name, really think about your reasons. You want your domain name/URL to be easy for potential customers and clients to remember.

You will also need to choose your domain extension. This will depend on where your clients are based. If they’re Australian, I’d recommend the .com.au, but purchasing the .com and .au, too, is good practice if you can. This stops someone else from securing it, and you never know—you may want world domination in a few years, in which case you can use the .com when promoting your website overseas.

What hosting company should I choose for my website?

Many hosting companies are out there, as you’ll probably know if you have a Google. But how do you choose a good one:

  1. Try and get a recommendation from a small business friend or colleague. I personally use and recommend Siteground to my clients
  2. A hosting company that has servers close to your location or as close to will help with speed
  3. Look at what support the host offers. If something goes wrong, it’s guaranteed to be after-hours

Which website platform should I choose?

WordPress is my preference for building websites for small businesses, whether service-based or e-commerce. But depending on your needs and technical abilities, Shopify is a good alternative for an online store.

If you choose WordPress, ensure you select wordpress.org, not wordpress.com, as that’s the self-hosted option.

I recommend and use WordPress usually, even for selling online, unless my client particularly wants Shopify. I find WordPress so flexible and will grow with you as your business grows and evolves. I’ve worked with so many small business owners who have set up a DIY website on Weebly and Wix, and they find that after a while, they need extra features or functions and have to switch to WordPress or the like. So, I advise choosing a platform that will grow with you.

If you are going to create a website for your business yourself, ensure the theme you choose is mobile responsive, too. That’s one big part of Google’s ranking factors.

which website platform should I choose advice from she rocks digital web designer hobart

Small business goals

Considering your business goals before building a small business website is a good idea. Think about:

What do you offer?

Consider what you offer now and what you may offer down the track.

  • If you are a service based business, will you ever want to sell digital products?
  • Do you want to bring in more leads to your business?
  • Are you looking for a website that handles everything in your client’s/customer’s journey?
  • Do you want your website to be just the initial point of contact?

Your audience

Knowing your audience, i.e., your clients/customers, is crucial to making the right choices for your new website.

Suppose your audience falls into a particular age demographic, for example, in their early 20s. In that case, they will likely respond better to a particular website style and expect specific features that an older demographic might find frustrating.

So, think about the needs and expectations your specific audience will have.

Where are you on your journey?

One mistake businesses can make when starting out is trying to be everything to everyone. It can be challenging for a few reasons:

  1. From nailing your messaging when trying to talk to everyone as, you lose what makes you unique and stand out from the crowd.
  2. When designing your website, you fall into wanting all the bells and whistles, endless menus, and too many pages that not only overwhelm your clients/customers but will have you rocking in the corner, too.

Functionality

Functionality is an extremely important part of creating a website for your small business. Of course, you want your website to be user-friendly. However, you’ll also benefit from thinking about the future, how your business might grow, and what that means for your website.

Some things to consider when planning the functionality of your website are:

  • You ideally want someone to find what they’re looking for in 3 clicks.
    You also want to consider the best user experience (UX) for them.

UX is essential for larger sites when it comes to URL structure. You don’t want to make changes once your site is live or rename URLs unless it’s completely unavoidable, as you’ll need to redirect them, too. This is all doable, but you do lose some SEO goodness the more redirects you have. So, if you plan it out properly from the start, you won’t need to worry.

Ideally you can find what you want in 3 clicks.

SEO (search engine optimisation)

My favourite topic, or at least one of them, is SEO. It’s so important and the foundation for so much. It all starts with your keyword research, which is what your users will be putting into Google. Whatever you do regarding SEO, don’t just keyword stuff everything.

  1. Choose keywords that have enough traffic but aren’t too competitive. You don’t want to set everything up but not have a hope of ever ranking for it.
  2. Assign one keyword focus per page and then utilise synonyms of that keyword.
  3. Don’t use your focus keyword solely on other pages. Variations and longer tail keywords are good, though.
  4. You may need to focus on long-tail keywords initially while you build your website’s Google authority. Once you do that and get ranking, you can change your strategy and focus on more competitive keywords.
  5. Don’t forget to optimise your images:
  • a. Your file names should feature your keywords and synonyms.
  • b. Only use hyphens between words. Don’t use underscores, as Google can’t read them for some reason.
  • c. Be realistic with your image size. Think about what size you need your image to render at. If it’s only 330×330 pixels, then upload it at that. Don’t upload it 5000×5000.

Other places to use your keywords are:

  • Page titles
  • Image alt tags
  • URLs
  • Body copy
  • H1s and H2s and so forth
  • Anchor text
  • Meta description – although this doesn’t have an SEO effect as such. However, it does help immensely with click-through. That’s what people read along with your page title when choosing what to click on.

search engine optimisation what's involved tips from she rocks digital web designer hobart

Tracking

You also want to be able to track and monitor your site, so setting up Google Analytics and Google Search Console is a must. They’re both free, so why not take advantage of them and see what’s exactly happening with your site?

Are you all set on what you need to plan your website?

As you can see, there’s a lot involved in planning, designing, and creating a website. And then you still have the web design aspect to delve into, too. I can’t stress how important the SEO side of things is when planning your website, either.

Unfortunately, I can’t help you with a free website for your small business. However, I can offer you an affordable Rockstar Hour with me, during which you can pick my brain, and we can start a website plan and sort out the foundations for your website.

Or I have a DIY Website where I set up all the foundations and tech side of things, and you get to do the fun things and add your design elements, copy and images.

Don’t forget that a website is only one part of your digital presence, too, and you should also look at social media, email marketing, blogging, and podcasting, to name a few. Remember, don’t do everything at once. Pick one or two things and do them well before introducing another aspect. Depending on your business, you may not benefit from all those aspects. But if you don’t have one, a digital marketing strategy will help determine where you are best to focus your efforts and how you should do it.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you get online or have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

ruth slade from she rocks digital website and seo expert hobart

Ruth Slade is a Hobart based digital marketing specialist in SEO and website design, as well as social media, content creation and graphic design. Ruth loves working with small businesses and rocking their digital world. A lot of small businesses don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to the digital space, which is where Ruth comes in.

Join Our FREE Facebook Group

For support to rock your online presence – website, SEO, social media, and content marketing.