So what’s the first thing you should do once you’re ready to create your business’s online presence? First, I must apologize. The title of this article is a little misleading. Your first “easy” step to building an online presence is to come to grips with the reality that getting your business online is not “easy.” If it was, then every business on the planet would have a thriving website driving millions of dollars in sales.
That being said, having a framework of what is involved helps build the path forward and that is very empowering. That is what I hope to do for you today.
Pick and Purchase a Domain NameA domain name is simply what people type in to navigate to your website. For example: “qualbe.com.“ You will want to select a domain name that is unique and easy to remember. Shorter is usually best. Depending on the business you are in, it might be perfectly appropriate to use something like “www.yourbusinessname.com.”
You want to avoid using domain names with symbols and things that make typing or remembering a pain for people. You can find out what domain names are available using a search tool like Domain Name Search. Once you have purchased a domain name, you are ready to figure out what platform to build your site on.
Select a Platform to Build, Manage and Host your SiteAll websites need a place to live and store their files. This is commonly referred to as a content management system (CMS). Unless you are an experienced developer, it is best to build, manage and host the website all in one CMS. There are many options out there, but the two that I would personally recommend are WordPress and Squarespace.
I highly recommend WP Engine if you want to use WordPress. WP Engine offers an all-in-one place to manage the site and they provide amazing customer service. This is also a very widely-used platform, and many marketing companies can take over these sites in the future should you need expert help.
Squarespace works well if your goal is only to have a good-looking site that provides an online brochure of your business. The options for Search Engine Optimization (discussed later) and additional functionality are limited. I first and foremost recommend WordPress if you really want to have a website with ample customization options.
Build Your WebsiteGone are the days where you had to be an experienced web developer to produce a great-looking and smoothly-functioning website. Modern technology and amazingly skilled web developers have created “Themes” that allow us to build a site with visual design elements that most people can intuitively use with some dedicated time (who am I kidding? Lots of time!) and conversations with Google. Both WP Engine and Squarespace have multiple user guides that explain specifics on building and launching websites within their system.
Don’t forget to consider the user experience when building your website! Make it easy for people to discover who you are and what you do. Give them a next step for contacting you or making a purchase.
Help people find your new online presenceIf you build it, they will come…….NOT! One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that just having your website online is the end of the work. In reality, that is the easiest part of building an online presence. The real work comes from efforts to increase traffic to your website.
When I created my first website build several years back, though it is laughable now, I actually thought that when I finished my website the orders would start rolling in just by letting people know I had published it on social media.
While increasing website traffic is an endless endeavor, a great first step is to set up a Google My Business (GMB) and Facebook page. The GMB listing will give you a better chance to show up in local searches, and Facebook is where people spend large amounts of time so you want to be easily found there.
In order to consistently grow traffic to your website, you have two main channels: Paid Advertising and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Paid Advertising is best managed by experts because it involves spending money on ads for traffic. Without experience, you can waste a large amount of money almost instantly if you do not know what you are doing.
The good news is that basic SEO can be done pretty easily with a plugin (Yoast) and a guide like the Beginners Guide to SEO. Now, get to work!
Set Up Analytics. I repeat, SET UP ANALYTICS!If you do not set up some type of analytics or tracking on your website, you might as well try flying a plane in the dark without any instruments. Just as a pilot needs instruments to see what adjustments to make, you need to be able to see what is happening with your site so you can do the same.
The best free analytics tool, in my opinion, is Google Analytics. All that is needed for basic tracking is a piece of code added to the top of every website page. Here is a great support article with more detailed information about installing the tool on your site.
It is a dangerous assumption to think any website is a finished project that can be left alone. It is wise to consistently measure your traffic when making changes. Some other good tools to look into are heat maps and website recordings. These allow you to view how users are interacting with your website. This information is very helpful to make improvements and find errors you may not have known about otherwise.
Well, there you have it, folks. You know what to do once you’re ready to create your business’s online presence. As soon as you finish implementing these steps, go ahead and grab an ice cold drink, sit back and watch the traffic roll in.
But seriously, you know better. If you are feeling a little timid or afraid to dive in after reading, I want to encourage you to put your boots on and get to work. There is an amazing amount of knowledge and success that can be obtained through hard work and the use of the internet.
Until next time.