Are you thinking about building a website for your business? If you are, then I’m sorry to say you’ve got a long road ahead of you! It may seem like a pretty simple thing, but websites are actually incredibly complex. They take time to set up, but it’s worth the wait.
Actually, let me rephrase that slightly. Good business websites take time to set up and are incredibly complex. Bad ones can be up and running in a matter of minutes, but they won’t be anywhere near as effective as a website should be.
There are plenty of tips and tricks out there that will help you build a great website. In this article, you’ll be given a nice little list of things you really can’t afford to forget when building and publishing your site. Each of these things is important in its own way, and I’ll describe why they’re necessary as you move through the list. So, get your reading glasses on and check out the list below.
Naturally, you can’t forget to have a dedicated homepage when building your website. This is almost like a shop window for traditional retail businesses. It’s the face of your business; the part of your website people will see when they land on in for the first time. As a result, you need to make a good first impression or run the risk of losing some leads.
There are plenty of elements that come together to create the ideal homepage. For me, it’s all about finding the right balance. On the one hand, you need to display certain pieces of information. On the other hand, you don’t want to overload your homepage with too much text and content. So, you have to try and find a happy medium where you include vital information that people need as soon as they visit your site. For example, include a short bit of text detailing what your business does and how you can help. Outline a few of your services if you’re a service-based business, or display visual links to product pages if you sell items online. The main thing is that your homepage should be different to other pages on your site. It’s almost a welcome page for users, so focus on making them feel welcome.
This isn’t so much a design element of your site, but it’s still something that requires a lot of attention. Web hosting basically refers to how your site ends up online. Every website in the world has a host, which means it’s on a server of sorts that connects it to the internet. You need to do some research and look at the various hosting options available to you, picking one that suits your needs.
There are three main options to choose from; shared, VPS, and dedicated. Shared hosting is when your website is hosted on the same server as loads of others. Dedicated hosting is when you have a private server all to yourself. VPS hosting is when your site is on a virtual private server, and it kind of sits in between each option. There’s a main physical server that holds various virtual servers. Your website will have its own virtual server, but it’s part of an overall shared server. Each option comes with its pros and cons, but it mainly boils down to money and practicality. Sure, having your own dedicated server is ideal, but it costs a lot and isn’t practical for many small businesses. Whereas sharing a server is cheap, but then you have possible performance issues with so many sites on the same server. A VPS is almost the happy medium that blends good elements of both. But, if your business can’t afford the hosting fees then a shared one could be your only option.
A sitemap is exactly what you think it is; a map of your website. It allows users to navigate your site with consummate ease, but it also presents SEO benefits too. You see, sitemaps make it much easier for a search engine to find your web pages. This is where things get a bit technical, so I’ll try and keep the jargon to a minimum. Basically, search engines like Google have ‘crawlers’ which are little things that scour the internet looking for websites. When you have a sitemap, it’s so much easier for these crawlers to find your site and alert Google. Also, having a sitemap improves the user experience (thanks to the easy navigation) which will also lead to SEO benefits.
Granted, this can be a pretty confusing part of your site, and it’s hard to really explain it in as much detail as possible without using loads of technical mumbo-jumbo. But, the good news is that you can quickly create sitemaps using things like a visual sitemap generator. In just a few minutes you’ll have a visual map of your site that points users in all the right directions. Some people even decide to have two maps on their site; a visual one for people to use, and an HTML one for search engines. Either way, this is definitely something you can’t afford to forget.
Needless to say, you can’t forget about your contact details when building a business website. If you do, then don’t expect to see many new customers anytime soon. This is so essential when you operate a business that relies on contact from potential clients. If you need them to get in touch with you, then what better place to elicit this communication than your website? Drive traffic to the site and include clear contact details and information for them to look at and use. Even if you sell things online, you still need contact details for any customer queries or complaints.
Ideally, your contact information should be at the bottom of every page when someone scrolls down. They should see your phone, email, and any other forms of contact too. At the very least, you should have a link at the bottom of each page to a ‘Contact Us’ page. Again, this page is an essential part of every website. Here, you can give more detailed information on how someone can contact you. This includes a map that shows where your premises are, and possibly even a contact form they can fill in. No matter what, don’t forget to include your contact details on your website.
Keywords play such an important role on your website. If you don’t have any, then no one will find your website when they’re searching for it on Google. For example, if you have a web design business, then you need to include keywords on your site relating to ‘web design business’. So, when people search for those terms in Google, there’s more chance of them actually stumbling across your business.
You need to use your keywords wisely and focus on a few of them. Each page on your site can be focused on a more specific keyword that’s relevant to the page. Include your main keywords in the title of every page, along with a couple of headings. Then, place other ones in the content – but make it look natural. The reality is, when you write website content, you’ll end up including keywords without even thinking of it because they should come naturally to you. Again, this helps with SEO in so many ways. Mainly, your keywords help inform search engines about your site and what you offer. So, they can rank it in the relevant search results, and you’ll find your target audience!
Many of you may be aware of link building strategies that are all about getting external links pointing to your site. But, what do internal links do? If you’re not aware, this refers to links in your web content that point user to other pages on your site. They’re very important because they help improve the navigation on your site. As I already mentioned, good navigation is important when considering SEO best practices. You make your website very easy for people to use, and get them going to different pages. When someone visits your site and clicks on a link to go to a different page, this does wonders for your bounce rate. It means you retain more of your visitors and will receive a rankings boost as a result.
Of course, you don’t want to go overboard with your internal links. There’s no need to have one in every line of content, or even in every paragraph. Just link naturally when you think it makes sense. If you mention your blog, then that’s a great time to include a link to it so people can visit the right page with ease. All you’re really doing is making your website more accessible for users, and keeping it nice and connected.
So, when you’re building your website, make sure you don’t forget these six crucial things. Believe me, when you have them all as part of your site, you notice a huge difference in how well it performs and how web users react to it.