How to Set Up a Website for a Small Business – A 3-Step Guide

Natasha Shaw
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May 2, 2021

Do you love the creative side of marketing your business but have no idea how to start building a website? Or maybe you’re pretty IT literate but want to make sure you build a website that is effective?

Add into the mix, working out  SEO and how to implement the basics and well, it can be a bit of a headache.

This isn’t a technical guide of how to build a website. It’s simply essential information on how to approach setting up a small business website in the right way.

Step 1: What do you need your small business website to do?

The first and most important step in creating a website is to think about what you want it to do for your business.

Some small business owners rely solely on social media for their online presence, but for a lot of businesses that is not enough.

There’s no doubt that having a professional website can really boost your credibility as a small business owner. Also, an added bonus of having a website is that you have full control over it. If Insta or Facebook went bust tomorrow, all your content would be gone.

Scary thought, isn’t it?

So what do you need your website to do and what kind of functionality do you think you will need?

Maybe you want to set up an online store and sell your products online. Or maybe you just need a simple ‘‘shop window’ to explain how you help your customers and to generate enquiries. If you want your website to help generate enquiries, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a contact form. This makes it very easy for potential customers to contact you. If you’re a photographer or artist, you will need a gallery to showcase your portfolio of work.

No matter what your business is, building an email marketing list can be a goldmine. You’ll need to think about having a newsletter sign up form or a useful opt-in that people will want to download.

You might have a really good idea of what you need your website to do, but it’s always good to research your competitors and others in your niche. Doing this will help you see what kind of functionality you might need for your website, as well as if there is anything you can bring to your website that your competitors have missed.

Step 2: Focus your messaging and do keyword research

A well-designed website won’t get the results you want without a focused message and SEO-rich copy. Not only will this help your ideal customer navigate your website, but it also helps Google to understand what you’re offering.

Basic SEO doesn’t have to be complicated, but it’s a forever evolving beast. Two helpful resources for learning the basics are Yoast and Neil Patel.

A great start to optimising your site for SEO is carrying out some keyword research. Using keywords in places like headings, body copy and image names is good for SEO.

There are a number of tools that can help you with keyword research, some are free. Some tools that I’ve personally used are:

Other important factors that help with SEO and also give your website professional credibility are:

Professional logo and branding - When people visit your site, your logo is one of the first things they will see. It will help differentiate you from your competitors. Consistent branding also gives people a better feel about your business.

Focused messaging - What do you want a person to know when they land on your website? What actions do you need them to take? How are you helping them?

User experience- There is nothing worse than landing on a website and not being able to find what you need. It leads to frustration and is a sure-fire way to turn people off. Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal client, how would they use your website?

Call to Actions (CTAs - Having simple and clear Call to Action buttons are very important; they help people easily navigate your website, buy a product or get the information they want. As a lot of websites are viewed on mobile phones, it’s worth having some kind of CTA in the top area of your home page… don’t make people scroll!

Headings and subheadings - Breaking up paragraphs of text with headings and subheads helps people scan information easier. No one wants to see a wall of text! They are also a great place to make use of keywords for an SEO boost.

Images - Having your own photography is ideal, but there are some fantastic resources out there for stock images. If you are using stock images, always make sure you choose images that are appropriate for your brand and fit well together. It’s also important that they have a commercial use license too!

Contact form and social media links - Having a way for people to contact you easily  will help your website generate more leads. Contact forms are also a great way to cut down on spam, as your email address isn’t visible.

Step 3: Choose a website platform to build your small business website

You can’t really choose a website platform without having a solid strategy behind what you need from your website, which is why I’ve made it the final step.

I’m not going into depth in this post about the various different platforms out there and their pros and cons, but here are some popular ones :

Squarespace

WordPress (WooCommerce for online shops)

Shopify

Wix

Webflow

There are a million opinions on the best platform to build a small business website. As long as it works for your business, you are confident in using it and the running costs fit within your budget, then it’s a good choice.

Putting it all together

Building a small business website can seem a bit of a task to think about and I know many small business owners do get understandably overwhelmed. You want to get it right, look professional and for it to be worth all the time and effort.

This 3-step guide was written to help you approach setting up a small business website with a bit more clarity.

Just remember: considering your business needs and focusing your message is extremely important, rather than diving straight into looking at themes or templates.

Need a bit more?

If the technical aspect of building a website is making you break a sweat and is too much to fit it to your busy day, then I’m more than happy to help! If that is the case, then book a FREE Discovery Call to chat about your website.

written by
Natasha Shaw
I focus primarily on UX and UI design to help impact-driven businesses grow, with a healthy side dish of yoga and hot chilli sauce 🧡