Before building a website for your small business, you will need to come up with a solid plan that includes the following items:
- Niche Market
- Business Model
- Domain Name and Web Hosting
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Site Architecture and Usability
- Keyword Research and Content Development
- Web Analytics
- Venture Capitals
You want to pick your niche market and ensure:
- You will have a head-start to your competitors by being the first company to launch a site in this niche market
- You will still be passionate about the niche in the next 5 to 10 years
Use Google Ad Planner to discover if there are already competitors in this niche market and to clearly define your target audiences (or potential customers).
You want to figure out the core values that your small business website will provide to your users and customers. Your site should offer a solution to a problem of your users, by providing a product or a service. Your end goal is to monetize from your website, so you will have to sell the product or service.
With your service or product, you may want to provide a time-limited free trial, or a free membership with limited features. You want to give your users options to upgrade the service to paid memberships.
If at some point it is appropriate, you should also consider increase revenues by offer advertisers to place ads on your site. Unless you are negotiating with each individual advertiser, it will be easier to sign up as publishers on some reputable ad networks. Based on your site’s content, Google Adsense and Google Affiliate Network can target highly relevant ads to your website. Commission Junction is an ad network that offers the largest variety of advertiser offers.
Domain Name and Web Hosting
Your site’s domain name essentially represents your online business’s brand. When choosing your domain name, consider the name’s brand-ability for your audience, and rank-ability and link-ability for search engines. This leaves you two options:
- Keyword-rich domain names
- Brand-able domain names
A keyword-rich domain name allows you to incorporate generic keyword into your domain name. As Google values a keyword within the domain name for ranking purpose, your generic keyword should rank well in the SERP. The disadvantage is that many keyword-rich domain names are too generic which contributes little value to branding.
Good examples of keyword-rich domain names are SearchMarketing.com, SearchEngineStrategies.com, WebMasterWorld.com, SEOBook.com, WebTrends.com, and Hotels.com.
A brand-able domain name is the first essential step to build your brand which gives your site a point of distinction and your users an identity that is memorable. People take your website more seriously and are more likely to link to your site. The downside is that your site may not rank well on generic keywords that describe your products or services.
Good examples of brand-able domain names are Amazon.com, eBay.com, Yahoo.com, Alibaba.com, Digg.com, Ning.com.
Incorporate your SEO geo targeting strategies and choose a reliable web hosting solution to ensure your site’s 100% up-time.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Site Architecture and Usability
When starting small, you will have some advantages over the established big websites in search engine optimization. SEO consists of both on-page and off-page optimization techniques.
With on-page SEO, find the best practices from Google SEO for beginners and best Google SEO resources, and study Google’s, Yahoo’s and Bing’s search algorithms. Google SEO Starter Guide demonstrates Google’s perspectives for optimizing your website.
Site architecture (or internal site structure) is about incorporating the correct internal link architecture with URL structure and page naming convention allows your site the solid foundation for future expansion.
Create good website navigations (main menu and breadcrumbs) to reduce your site visitors’ bounce rates. Optimize the conversion rates by optimizing landing pages and implementing professional design, proper wording, video instructions, and customer reviews.
Keyword Research and Content Development
You must discover the keywords that your potential users or customers actually use when they are searching for your products or services. Create your keyword list related to your products and website using the SEM keyword research tools and Google’s Wonder Wheel tool.
Start by creating the basic content for your website with both your site’s users and SEO in mind:
With more and more content being created each day, duplicate content issues will eventually arise. Google has explanations about the duplicate content penalty and has also come up with a method for webmasters to tackle canonical URLs.
Having a business model for monetization, you will then need to measure how your users are using your site and track the ROI.
Your website requires other sources of traffic.
- If you SEO strategy has been set up correctly, it will be easy to advertise on Google Adwords and track your ROI with Adwords Conversion Tracking. Ensure you understand Google Adwords Quality Score before over-spending your marketing budgets
- Consider creating your profiles or pages within and market your site through social marketing sites, including Google Buzz and/or Twitter
- Recruit evangelists or industry experts to promote your services or products, so that other evangelists who are interested will follow
- Advertise on local newspapers to improve your brand awareness
Unless you are keeping your business small, once your site’s audience grows bigger and bigger you will need more venture capital funds.
You can’t expect your business to be success overnight, so your never-say-die attitude counts a lot!