One of the best (and easiest) ways to advertise your business is to launch a website. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 28 million small businesses in the country, making it critical a business does everything it can to attract people. While some might say you can’t launch a site without a firm grasp of website SEO (or search engine optimization), the most important thing small business owners can do is establish a meaningful online presence.
The bottom line? For anyone who wants to run a viable business today, a website is non-negotiable. That’s why we’ve compiled some expert insight into how to launch a website — including why SEO isn’t required to get your site up and running.
A solid SEO understanding ensures your website appears on the first page of a Google search when someone enters a specific keyword (e.g., If you own an organic food market, you’ll want to appear in the search results whenever someone in your area searches for “organic food”). Search engines like Google use computer algorithms to decide what users see when they search for something. No one really knows what factors into Google’s method, but every time Google updates its algorithm, panic often spreads among website owners, says Search Engine Land.
Why? Because Google has 1.17 billion users, according to Statista, and even a small fraction of those users clicking on your website could boost your business. Research supports this: 28 percent of online searches for something nearby result in a purchase, says marketing company HubSpot.
Good website SEO involves having quality content with relevant keywords and back-end considerations, such as how fast pages load, how well your site works, and how easy it is to navigate. Fortunately, at WordPress.com we build all these features into our themes, so you don’t have to worry about load speed or uptime. But, remember: website SEO remains an imperfect science. So, why wait until you have an encyclopedic knowledge of it? Kick-start your efforts now, and launch your website today.
Map your mission
Before launching, ask yourself: why am I creating a website? Is it solely to promote your services, or is it to start a blog and attract more shoppers? Will you use the website to drive sales and give people the option to purchase items online rather than in-store? Understanding your overall goal(s) will guide how you structure your site. But that’s only one thing to consider. You’ll also want to:
- Create a name: WordPress.com is a one-stop shop for anyone who wants to launch a website. You’ll need a domain name, or website URL, which is what someone will type to access your site and learn more about your business. Your URL can be something as straightforward as your name or your business’s name — joesmith.com or californiacupcakes.com, for example — but this only works if you have a unique moniker; otherwise, it should be short, include keywords, and be easy to remember. Every WordPress.com site comes with a free WordPress.com address in the URL, but you can get a unique URL if you purchase a plan.
- Decide on site sections: If you’re creating a website for your store, you may want to include a “Contact” page, a page for store hours and directions, a products and services page, and an “About Us” page. Some small-business owners also launch a blog to showcase their expertise and connect with supporters. Take advantage of blog tools and design templates that you can easily incorporate into your site, so there will be no need to start from scratch.
- Think about visuals: To make your website engaging, you need visuals. Think photos and video of your business and bestselling products, or on-camera interviews explaining more about your company’s history. You can easily shoot video on your phone or scour stock photography websites for free images, but it’s best to take your own photos to give your website a more authentic feel.
- Go light on text: A text-heavy website can be off-putting, so keep it concise. Use user-friendly language and focus on what sets your business apart. Testimonials and a great portfolio are effective ways to accomplish this. Utilize free business and portfolio themes, which you can preview to see which is the best fit for your site. If you run a wedding photography business, for example, a theme that features a full-width slider to create a big display of your past photos might be the best option to showcase your business’s unique offerings.
Convert clicks into sales
At the end of the day, a website is a lead generator for a small business. It can drive in-store traffic or convert clicks into sales. In a way, it gives users an opportunity to virtually visit your business and learn more about what you do and the unique services you offer before they invest the time required for an in-store visit. Websites let people “try before they buy,” so it’s important that small businesses put their best digital foot forward.
So, get your website live first and showcase your business’s unique value to potential supporters. You’ll have plenty of time to think about SEO later.