Having a website for your business is a must in the digital era. Not only will it give potential customers a glimpse at your products or services without having to travel to a physical store, but a properly managed website also serves as an effective marketing tool for every kind of business. Here, we will discuss how you can create a website to boost your own small business.
Choose a Memorable Domain Name for your Website
Before coming up with a domain name, it’s crucial that you already have a registered business name. It can also help you avoid complications in the future in case someone else registers your business and domain name. That being said, you should have ideally set up your website and social media accounts when you registered your business name. However, if that’s not possible, check if your business name is available as a .com domain name. You can always choose a local domain or a .shop one depending on what you like or what is available. Make sure to keep it short and sweet so that customers won’t have a hard time remembering it.
Select a Reliable Website Host
A web host is where your site will actually be stored for users to access. This is why it’s essential for it to have no downtime and fast loading features. Some of the most commonly used web hosting services are from DreamHost, HostGator, and GoDaddy. Their affordable monthly plans and upgrade options make them appealing for small business owners. You can include the cost for web hosting in your overall business plan so you have a clear picture of your total online costs.
Create Different Website Pages
Good business websites always have more than just a home or landing page. A huge part of your effort in building a website will go into creating the different pages and filling them with high-quality content. This will also include some creativity and coding skills for web design. While you can outsource this part of the process, it’s still better to know how to do it yourself so you can fully control the outcome. A cursory knowledge of web development can go a long way when tweaking your website to exact specifications, as this precision is usually achieved when coding from scratch or editing open-source code.
Secure Online Payment Methods
Making online payment methods available through your website will create a new avenue for more sales. The most convenient way to do this is by using e-commerce software. Business News Daily enumerates some of the best e-commerce software this year, with Shopify and Magento coming out on top. Shopify is best for beginners who want an easy-to-customize payment page without touching any code. On the other hand, Magento is open-source software that lets you play around with the code to design your shop and payment options to your liking. Once again, in both cases, you can benefit from a basic understanding of web development to truly make your website look and function the way you want it to.
Overall, building a website is doable on your own if you make time to learn about web development and design. By carving your own space online, you’re also creating an accessible platform for your potential customers and partners.
An important first step in any local SEO strategy is to claim and verify your local business’ Google My Business (GMB) listing. Getting on Google My Business can increase your chances of showing up in Google’s Local Pack, Local Finder, Google Maps, and organic rankings in general. Qualifying local businesses can claim this free listing on Google and include information about their company, like their address, phone number, business hours, and types of payments accepted.
Additionally, over the past several months, Google has added some great features to Google My Business that companies should take advantage of that enhances your Google My Business listing and helps to grab viewers’ attention — and can increase how you rank in local search results.
Many local businesses just claim their GMB listing and forget about it. What most businesses don’t realize is that there are a variety of other features Google gives you that you can use to optimize your Google My Business listing and several reasons why you should frequently check your business listing to ensure that its accuracy stays intact. Want to know more?
Complete all the information Google asks for
There are a variety of questions Google wants you to fill out to complete your Google My Business profile. When done, your listing will have valuable basic data that will make it easier for potential customers to find more information about your company. And if you don’t fill out that information, someone else could. Many business owners don’t realize that anyone can suggest a change (or “edit”) to your business listing — and that includes your competitors.
When a searcher clicks on your GMB listing they see a “Suggest an edit” option:
When someone clicks on that option they can literally edit your Google My Business listing (and make some pretty dramatic changes, too):
And these aren’t just “suggested” edits — these user-generated changes can actually be made live on your listing without you even being notified. This is just one reason why it’s very important that you log in to your Google My Business dashboard regularly to ensure that no one has made any unwanted changes to your listing.
If you log in to Google My Business, you can switch back to the “Classic” dashboard here:
In the classic dashboard, you might see “Google Updates” notifications.
If you see updates, these are changes that Google made to your business listing because either their algorithm found new information about your business (perhaps from another directory/citation site or a change they found on your Google Map) or a Google user submitted an edit that was published. (Yes, when people make “suggested edits,” they are not really “suggestions” -– the changes are often made live without you ever getting a notification or the opportunity to dispute the change!)
When you click on “Google Updates,” you’ll see a box that allows you to “Review Updates.” It’s here where you’re given the opportunity to remove incorrect information that may have been made by a troublesome Google user.
Now, Google supposedly sends out emails to the owner and others managing your Google My Business account when changes are made, but oftentimes those people never receive notifications about changes to their listing. So beware: you may (or may not) be notified by Google if changes are made to your listing. (For example, your business category could be changed from “criminal attorney” to the generic “lawyer” category, which could negatively impact your search rankings.) That’s why it’s extra important for you to log in and check your listing frequently (especially when, quite literally, some businesses have had their address and website URLs changed in their GMB listing by nefarious users.)
If you see a change that is incorrect and you have difficulty changing it (like a bogus review, for instance), create a new post explaining the situation in detail in the Google My Business forum and reach out to one of the Google Top Contributor volunteers for help.
Also, it’s important to realize that Google encourages people who are familiar with your business to answer questions so that Google can learn more information about your company. To do this they simply click on the “Know this place? Answer quick questions” link.
They’ll then be prompted to answer some questions about your business:
If the person knows the answer to the question, they can answer and then they’ll typically be asked another question. If not, they can decline.
Now, some business owners have cried foul, saying that competitors or others with malicious intent can wreak havoc on their Google My Business listings with these features. However, Google’s philosophy is that this type of user-generated content helps to build a community, more fully completes a business’ profile, and allows Google to experiment with different search strategies.
Just remember, after you get your Google My Business listing verified, continue to check your listing regularly to be on the safe side.
Once you have your GMB listing verified, now is the time to optimize your listing. (This is where you have a greater chance to outdo your competition!)
Google My Business Posts
Google Posts are almost like “mini-ads” or “social media posts” that show up in Google search in your Google My Business listing (in the Knowledge Panel and on Google Maps).
To get started with Posts, log in to your GMB dashboard and you’ll see the Posts option on the left-hand side:
You can have fun with your Google My Business Posts by adding an image, a call-to-action (CTA), and even including a link to another page or website.
Not sure what type of Post you should make? Here are just a few Post ideas:
If you’re having an event (like a webinar or a seminar about your chiropractic practice) you can set up an event Post with a date and time, then add a link to the registration page.
Do you have a sale going on during a specific time? Create a “sale” event Post.
Does your latest blog post rock? Add a short description and link to the post on your blog.
New product you want to feature? Show a picture of this cool gadget and link to where people can make the purchase.
Want to spread holiday joy? Give potential customers a holiday message Post.
The possibilities with Posts are endless! Posts show up prominently in your business’ Knowledge Panel, so don’t miss this opportunity to stand out.
TIP: To grab a searcher’s attention, you want to include an image in your Post, but on Google Maps the Post image can get cut off. You might have to test a few Post image sizes to make sure it’s sized appropriately for Maps and the Knowledge Panel on desktop and mobile devices.
Want to have even MORE fun and potentially help your local SEO? Try adding relevant emojis to your Post. Google is beginning to index emoji-relevant search results. (In fact, you can now search Google by “tweeting” an emoji at it!) Additionally, people — especially younger people — are beginning to search (typically on their mobile devices) with emojis! So if a person is searching for “[pizza emoji] + nearby” and you own a local pizza restaurant and use the [pizza emoji] somewhere on your Google My Business listing — like in a Post with a special offer on a pizza order — you might have an SEO edge over the other pizzeria competitors in your city.
Not sure how to add emojis? If you’re using a Windows computer, you can add emojis by pressing the Windows key + the “.” OR “;” key at the same time on your keyboard. The emoji list of characters will appear and you can select the emoji you’d like to include (but don’t get carried away — one emoji is enough):
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