Every business, large or small, needs a website. And launching a website has†critical steps. Itís their digital point of contact, an online portfolio, and an opportunity to generate leads and drive sales.
But before you create and you are ready to launch your website, there are a few things you should know. Read on for a handy guide to six things you need to know before launching a website for your small business.
Create a Website Thatís Utterly Future-proof
Perhaps the most essential part of launching your new website is making it future-proof. Technology and trends come and go, so you should strive to make your website as timeless as possible.
In the past, creating a website was strictly reserved for those with advanced coding knowledge. Today though, there are dozens of accessible and easy-to-use website builders and content management systems available.
Whichever platform you choose, bear in mind its usability as your business grows. What feels simple and intuitive for you might be difficult for others.
Consequently, itís worth considering one of the many accessible website builders available. These provide intuitive, easy-to-use dashboards that make your website management scalable as your business grows.
A fine example of how important future-proofing for your website can be seen in Googleís July 2018 update. Any site that is non-HTTPS is now blocked by the search engine, a rollout that impacted the SEO and traffic of countless websites.
Such an update had long been in the pipeline, and those businesses that didnít plan ahead their websites felt the damage. Itís a lesson in future-proofing for every small business. Here is a full-guide for your website redesign project.
Build a Web Brand that Stands the Test of Time
Future-proofing is especially important when youíre choosing a domain name. Choosing a web address that embodies your brand and stands the test of time is a vital but oft-neglected aspect of launching a website.
Changing your domain name further down the line can damage your brand and cost you time and money, not to mention the negative impact on your SEO.
Donít reference the year and avoid using current pop culture references such as catchphrases or slogans. Whatís relevant now isnít always relevant forever.
And avoid using words that limit your business. For example, letís say youíre a haircare company with the domain HairByAshley.com. If you decide to branch out into cosmetics, your domain name might limit your business.
Many of the new domains released recently offer businesses the chance to create fully branded URLs. For example, a business named Westfield Motorcycles could snap up the. motorcycles extension to create the URL: Ďwestfield.motorcyclesí.
Plan Your Website Structure
Before diving into your website creation or website redesign, create a draft site structure. It doesnít need to be particularly sophisticated ó even a few scribbles on a whiteboard will suffice.
Your websiteís structure should, foremost, be user-friendly. As your customers navigate your site, they should be able to find everything they need with ease.
Organize your pages intuitively, dividing your menu into broad sections such as portfolio, services, contact, blog, and so on. These can then be broken down into separate subsections that cater to your customersí needs.
For example, your services page can be divided into the different services your business provides: digital marketing, content creation, social media management, and so on. These can, in turn, be broken down into useful resources about each service you perform.
But while customer UX is important, so too is your websiteís SEO. The structure and link architecture is one of the most important parts of your siteís SEO, so it pays to plan this out in advance.
Google uses the links between pages to crawl your website, indexing each page and determining its ranking on the SERPs. A poor site structure hinders this process, which in turn negatively impacts your SEO.
A good website structure generally looks a little like this:
It keeps the number of links between the homepage and the rest of your website to a minimum which in turn makes it easier for Google to crawl your site. Internal linking can get complex, so do your research beforehand.
Minimalism is In
Weíre often told to never judge a book by its cover, but alas: weíre all guilty of it, your customers included. As such, itís important when youíre launching a website for your small business that your theme is slick, attractive, and user-friendly.
As a rule, your website theme should be clean, minimalist website design, and responsive across a range of devices. Too much content will distract your customers when they visit your website, so remember: less is more.
Avoid excessive images on the homepage. Every business, even e-commerce stores, should include only one or two photos on their homepage. These should be large, high-resolution, and high-quality.
Your siteís design, in general, should be intuitive. Avoid gimmicky menus or flashy animation. Some brands can pull this off, but theyíre in the minority.
Go for clean, easily navigable menus. Use contrasting (but branded) colors to make them stand out on the page and ensure it retains its simplicity across different devices.
Prepare for the Launch with a Marketing Campaign
Creating a marketing campaign for your new website gives it visibility, driving traffic to it and generating leads.
But your marketing campaign shouldnít only start once your website has been launched.
Build anticipation for your new website and create a drawn-out teaser campaign, drip-feeding hints of your site to your customers.
A strong marketing strategy spans multiple channels: email, social, PPC, and so on. If you already have a strong social following and a sizeable email subscriber list, take advantage of this by sending regular (but not too regular) updates about your new websiteís progress.
As a small business owner, your time is precious. Use automation tools such as SendPulse and SocialOomph to schedule your emails and social posts ahead of time. As well as saving you time further down the line, it lets you plan and tweak your marketing strategy in advance.
Plan Your Website Lead Generation Strategy Beforehand
Even if youíre still in the nascent stage of your business or you want to source new customers, implement a solid website lead generation strategy.
Create a landing page with a lead magnet, great content, such as an ebook or useful template. Next, create a PPC ad campaign that directs prospective customers to it. Think about how you can give value and content away for free ó and use that to drum up leads and interest.
Donít forget all your on-page SEO task as well. Before launching a site be sure that your meta descriptions, title tags, blog posts, and readability all should be considered. Next, set up Google analytics and Google Search Console to track and monitor performance.
Implementing a website lead generation strategy early on that slowly builds in frequency keeps your business in your customersí minds.
Creating a website for your small business requires time, effort, dedication, and no small amount of planning. Bear the tips above in mind when you’re building your website, and its launch will be a success.
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