Every business should have a presence on the web, even if that presence is just a page or two explaining what you do, and where people can find you. If you’ve been avoiding getting a website for your business – perhaps because you’re worried about how much it will cost to hire a designer, read on. You may be surprised at how easy it is to make your own business website.
Your Business Website Shopping List
To build a good website for your business, you will need a domain name, and a web host. There are some companies that will host your business website for free, and even some free “sitebuilder” services, such as Moonfruit, which offer tools to help you design your site. It’s not usually a good idea to use free services for a business, for several reasons:
- Free services usually have strict limitations on the amount of data you can store, and the amount of traffic your site can get each month before your account is limited.
- Free services don’t tend to offer e-commerce features
- Free hosting is often “oversold” (a huge number of websites hosted on one server), so can be slow and unstable
- Most free hosts don’t let you use your own domain name, so you end up with a web address that looks like this: mycompany.somefreehostingcompany.com – do you really want that on your business cards?
You don’t have to spend a fortune to set up a good website, though. Companies such as hostgator.com, 1and1.co.uk and dreamhost.com offer affordable hosting packages (just a few pounds per month for a basic package that will be more than good enough for most small businesses), and many of those packages come with a free domain name.
Building Your Website
Once you have your domain name and your hosting, you can start building your website. The first thing you need to do is figure out what you want to do with your website. If you want to use your website to post information about your company, what you do, where you can be found, and what special offers you have at the moment, then the best way to do that is to use a script called WordPress. This is a free blogging platform that is really easy to use, and perfect for both home users and businesses.
WordPress is easy to install – take a look at your web host’s control panel, and see if they offer a “1-Click Installer” or a tool called “Fantastico”. If they have either of these tools, you can have your website up and running in minutes! If they don’t have a one-click installer, take a look on the WordPress site for some good guides to getting up and running. Once you have WordPress installed, you will find free plugins and themes in the Appearance and Plugins section of the admin panel.
Plugins can be used to add extra features to WordPress, while Themes change how it looks. There are thousands of each to choose from. Spend some time browsing in your admin panel to get a feel for what’s out there. If you find one you want, just click “Install Now” and WordPress will handle the rest of the process for you.
Promoting Your Website
You may receive emails from companies offering to help you improve your search engine ranking, or promising to list your website in a huge number of directories. Ignore these emails. There are legitimate search engine optimisation companies out there, but they will not send you unsolicited emails about your site.
When your website is completed, you can promote it yourself by exchanging links or guest blog posts with other companies within your niche, linking to your site yourself via your social media profiles, and including a link to your site on your stationery and in your promotional materials. If you find that isn’t enough, and you still need a boost to your traffic, seek out a reputable SEO company to give you a helping hand.