So you want to take your small business online? That’s great news! After all, customers spend a great deal of time online, so why not meet them where they are?
Regardless of the nature of your small business, there are a series of steps you’ll need to take to get things up and running on the internet. Read on to learn about all the things you need to do to take your small business online.
Find a Host and Choose a Domain Name
To make your small business visible online, you will need a website. For that website to be accessible through the internet, it will need to be hosted. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is find a web hosting provider. This provider will host your website on one of its servers and thereby make it available online.
There are a variety of web hosts, web hosting types, and plans to choose from, and it really depends on your needs. The most common web hosting types are shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting.
Once you choose the type of web hosting you want for your site, your provider will offer you a selection of plans. These plans generally include the registration of a domain name. Domain names are the part of your website address that comes after the www., for example, www.mysite.com.
It’s up to you to decide what your domain name will be. Your domain name is your business’s nameplate on the web, so it’s crucial that you choose a domain name that represents your business accurately and that is easy to remember.
Design your Website
Now that you have a web host and a domain name, it’s time to start planning your website. Before you begin the design process, you need to decide what your website will do for your business. Will it be used to sell products and/or services? Will it be an informational site, or will it be used to generate sales leads? The intention behind your site is crucial.
For your site to successfully serve your small business, it needs to have a clear purpose. Once that purpose is established, the design of your site will go towards fulfilling that intention. For example, if you intend to sell products on your site, you will need to design the site so that visitors are drawn to your store.
Furthermore, you will need to include certain elements. For example, if you’re selling items, you will need to have a payment processing element. However, if you intend to generate leads, you will need an email capture form.
Make Your Website is Discoverable
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it plays an essential role in getting visitors to your site. SEO is the process of refining your site, so it ranks higher in search engine results and thereby increases the frequency of organic visitors to your site. It requires that you do things like include relevant keywords in your site’s content, uses meta tags, and have a website navigation tool.
The techniques for successful SEO are myriad and are best left to professionals. Therefore, we recommend hiring an SEO pro to optimize your site for high search engine rankings.
Get on Social Media
Setting your business up on social media where your prospects and customers spend their time is a lot like setting up a booth at the world’s largest virtual trade show. Through social media, you can build relationships with your customers and prospects. It allows you to answer their questions and demonstrate how your product or service will solve their problems. It also allows you to drive traffic to your website by piquing people’s interest.
Measure, Improve and Grow
Now that your website is live and you’re engaging with customers and prospects on social media, it’s time to look for ways you can improve.
Start by looking at the analytics for your site. Your site analytics will tell you things like how many visits you’re getting, how many of those visits are new visitors, and how many are repeats. It will also tell you which pages of your site get the most traffic and how long people spend on your site. This information will guide you in your strategy in the future.
For example, if you have a high bounce rate, meaning people leave your site quickly, you will want to investigate why this is and strategize to correct it. You might also see that you have many visitors who are accessing your site through mobile, and you might want to ensure your site is mobile responsive.
You should also look at the analytics for your social media. This will tell you things like what content gets the most engagement and when people are most active on social media. Using this information, you can decide what content to continue making more of and what content you shouldn’t bother posting anymore. This will help to improve your engagement to drive more people to your website.
To take your business online, you need to do four things:
- Choose a web host and decide on a domain name,
- Design your website with a clear purpose in mind,
- Optimize your site, so it’s discoverable on search engine result pages,
- Start engaging with customers and prospects on social media,
- Analyze your site and social media activity for ways to improve.