Every business still needs a website, period. Yes, you still need a website. But you you can literally build your own website in one afternoon and here are 10 tips to building your own website.
While it used to be a magical space for those who created websites, today anyone can do at least a passable job with a website using some of the tools that are out there. With platforms such as Weebly, Squarespace and Wix there is no excuse why someone can’t have at least a halfway decent website that helps tell the story of your business.
Of course there are still a great deal of ways to optimize and polish a website and there are people who have spent a lifetime learning the inside tips about Google and other resources such that their skills are still very much in demand. But considering how many businesses have zero presence on the Internet, anything is better than nothing.
Recently I spoke with someone about helping them put up a website. Next thing I know they had created a multi-page site on their own that I thought was actually great. This could be your business and using tools like Weebly and Squarespace and Wix gives you the power to control the message on your time frame.
There are also communities available for all of these tools and each also has its own built-in help function as well. Furthermore, with Weebly and SquareSpace there are a lot of people whom I work with where I’m more of an advisor if things go badly.
So here are a few tips that can help you build your own website this afternoon and actually be very successful with it.
Your first tip is information. If you have a physical location, make sure your hours, contact information and telephone number are all correct. It seems obvious but since you’ll be in charge of your own site, make sure everything stays current.
All of these website tools also have functionality to incorporate Google Maps. You can make it easy for your clients and prospects to find you by integrating Google Maps and it’s really easy to do so. If your clients are looking on their mobile devices, they can literally click over and get directions to your store.
This seems really obvious but I know of businesses that have seasonal hours and it’s a good idea to make sure to change the site when you change the hours over in the real world. If you do have a Facebook Business Page, you can also use that tool to announce the seasonal change of hours.
Optimize for Google - Optimize for people
You might also take the opportunity to include information about your vision, philosophy, team and more. One factor in search engine optimization is having a good deal of correct information about your business that is relative to what people might be searching for.
For example, let’s say you're a winery that’s 100% solar-powered. This would deserve its own page with a nice description in text that tells your story. Google looks through your site regularly and “reads” the text to see what’s there. The more high-quality text that accurately depicts your business, the better.
It’s also important to have headlines that match your content. For example, in that solar-powered winery you might write a headline that reads, “solar powered winery in Lake County” and then have that same text in the first paragraph.
Having multiple pages also helps. Although the trend now is one big long scroll site because of mobile phones, it’s still good to have pages for specific aspects of your business. It doesn’t matter as much which page people come into your site on, it matters more that they get there in the first place.
While there are all sorts of tricks to getting your site found on Google, truthfully Google is looking to deliver accurate information to its customers so having accurate information on your site about your business means Google is more likely to deliver that information to its customers. Yes, in many ways it’s just that simple.
Your home page should never be called just “home.” Each of your pages on your site is a separate opportunity to tell the world about your business. So, each of the tools I mentioned have the opportunity to provide information about the page as a description. For example, if your business is that solar-powered winery, your “home” page’s description would be “solar powered winery in MyTown USA.”
The way to optimize the description of each page is to head over to Google and just start typing in their search for things you think people are looking for relative to your business. You’ll notice that Google starts automatically filling in the field as you’re typing - these are the terms people are looking for the most! That’s what you would use as the description of your page.
While text is important, so are pictures. Depending on what business you’re in, having great, professionally-produced pictures can make a world of difference. But in other businesses, having authentic photos taken with a decent cell phone might actually be preferable.
For example, if you’re selling used cars then authentic pictures of people with their new-to-them cars would be preferable to slick pictures that don’t tell an authentic story. A restaurant might use cell phone pictures to show images of specials and even the staff in the kitchen, or new hires.
No matter what method you use to take pictures, make sure that you have accurate descriptions of the pictures. Each website tool gives you provisions to provide text descriptions of the pictures. This is actually what Google uses to figure out what the pictures are of.
The importance of this is that if someone is doing a search for an image about pizza, for example, they may happen upon your site through that door rather than your home page. Again, this is another Google SEO trick. Yet another is to rename the picture files themselves with your website or phone number. So a picture of a slice of pizza instead of being called IMG49494.jpg might be named JoesPizza-555-1212.jpg. Just another little trick.
Facebook has a provision where you can literally have your own Facebook feed right on your website. You’ll notice that I do this on this website and it’s just another tool you can use. It’s also free.
If you regularly update your Facebook Page but are less likely to update your web page, it’s not a bad idea to have this feed right on your website.
You can find the information on how to do that here: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/page-plugin
Remember a few weeks ago I talked about fish bowling? This is where you use a tool to grow your mailing list in a physical location. Well you can fish bowl on your website too! And why not?
If you’re using tools like MailChimp (my favorite - and it’s free with under 2,000 names) or any other professional email tool there are components where you can have people sign-up right on your website. You’ll find these sign-ups on this website - perhaps that’s how you joined our family?
This is a great way to legitimately grow your list and increase your owned reach. Here are five tips for growing your email list as well.
All the tools I mentioned here, by default, include the ability to be mobile-friendly. The number of people who view your website on their mobile devices is ever increasing with some sites getting a majority of their viewership is on mobile devices.
Google uses a number of factors in returning search results. One of those is location. For example, if you’re in The Bronx and you search for pizza it doesn’t do any good to return results for pizza parlors in Greely, Colorado.
If your business services specific areas or geographies make sure this is in the information on your site. If your business serves the entire US or the world, that should also be readily apparent.
If you’re not a great speller or don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re” please, please, please have a sergeant on the Grammar Police look it over before you start showing it to the world.
While those who share your inability to master the English language won’t care that there are improper uses and misspelled words, those that do care will probably not be your customer. Remember the fewer barriers there are to turning someone into a customer the better.
Have a blog
You almost certainly should have a blog on your site to help with SEO and to keep your customers coming back. My article What Is a Blog and Why do I Need One will give you more information on this subject.
What about WordPress?
You’ll notice I didn’t mention WordPress as a tool to build your own site. WordPress is the tool that about a quarter of the Internet is built with. It may be one of the best tools out there and is also one of the most flexible. So why not recommend WordPress?
Because WordPress is open source and public domain and very, very flexible it also has tons and tons of options. I still believe that WordPress is better left to those who wish to truly immerse themselves in web design or have very specific needs.
There are sites I work on where the client/business owner has the ability to modify content on their schedule and this gives them the power of the WordPress framework but the ability to modify content on their schedule - also a huge bonus. This is also a good option but not what this article is about - building your own site in one afternoon.