Small Business Websites
Are Proven Money Makers
Two facts you need to know about small business websites that can help your business:
- fewer than half of small businesses in the United States have a website, and
- of companies that do have websites, fewer than 20% have optimized them for search engines.
How do those things help you? They indicate overall weak competition. Simply taking the step of optimizing small business websites for search engines, business owners and managers can be ahead of more than 80% of the competition.
Small Business Marketing Hub
A search engine optimized (SEO) website should be the marketing hub of any type of small business, whether brick and mortar or strictly online. All other marketing and online public relations activity stems from the website and adds to it.
Search engines reward a steady flow of new content. That means adding new pages regularly and consistently. But don’t worry; new pages can take a variety of forms, including press releases, blog posts, newsletters, podcasts, video and updates from social media sites.
It’s not difficult to add content to small business websites if you use the right platform to build them. If you have the budget you may want to hire a full-service website developer to build it for you.
Expect to pay $5,000 to $10,000 for the initial work, not including copywriting. The developer will likely charge several hundred dollars annually to host the site and keep it working right. But that may not be your best option.
Don’t Make This Beginner Mistake
If that kind of custom work is beyond your budget – and it is for most small businesses – relax. It’s easier to build and maintain your own website than you may think, and far less expensive.
Don’t make the beginner mistake of using a free blogging service, such as Blogspot, Blogger, TypePad or the Wordpress hosted service to build your small business website. You will never own such a site, you merely rent it, and you don’t have full control.
The same applies to social media sites. A Facebook business page (really a mini website) can be a great marketing and customer relations tool for any business, but Facebook owns the site and makes the rules.
Get your own site and get your own domain name, preferably one with your business name in it. Quality hosting, including a domain name, costs less than $100 per year.
Affordable DIY Small Business Websites
There are two software platforms I recommend for small business websites, Wordpress and SiteSell. Don’t confuse Wordpress software with Wordpress hosting. The software is the same, but if you use Wordpress use just the software and get your own unique Web address.
SiteSell and Wordpress both feature content managers you can learn to use quickly. The content manager, or content management system, is the tool used to build web pages, including text, images and links.
This is an important decision. A content manager that is not user friendly is a content manager you will not want to use. If that happens you will avoid building more Web pages and your site will suffer for it.
Wordpress was developed as blogging software, but software developers have added so many tools and “plugins” that it’s now possible to build any type of small business website with it. This software is very search-engine-friendly, by design.
I recommend you get a website developer experienced in Wordpress to help you set up your site. In most cities you can find a developer or graphic artist with developer skills who will build a basic site for a few hundred dollars. Once built and activated, a Wordpress site is easy to maintain. You can create new pages directly in the content manager or compose in a word processor, then copy and paste.
It’s a good idea to use a Wordpress “framework” such as Genesis, WPZoom or Thesis to build your site. If you like the wide variety of customizable “themes” (templates) they offer, you won’t need a graphic artist, and you may find you can set up the site yourself. Some frameworks offer drag and drop design.
SiteSell is the platform used to build and maintain ThePRDOc.com. It’s important to know that SiteSell is more than a way to build small business websites; it’s a way to build a business.
SiteSell features a 10-step process for building websites, with detailed video and text tutorials to guide you step-by-step. It includes:
- Web hosting and automatic domain name registration renewal;
- a unique brainstorming tool to help you do basic and advanced topic research;
- a subscription to Wordtracker’s keyword research tool;
- full set of performance analytic tools to help you know how much traffic you’re getting and where it’s coming from;
- an invaluable page analyzer that helps you ensure each page you produce is sear-engine-ready, and
- built-in blogging, newsletter and autoresponder tools to help you drive more traffic to your site.
The time you invest to build a SiteSell site following the 10-step process will be a good investment of time because you will really understand your website.
More importantly, you will know how to keep improving it and making it more productive. And the search engines will reward you.
I’m not shy about recommending SiteSell because I know how well it works. At just under US$300 per year it also is a fantastic bargain. There really is nothing else like it.
Website Hierarchical Structure
Whatever platform you use, good small business websites require thoughtful planning to develop a hierarchical structure that is easy for visitors to navigate.
That structure begins with keyword research, to ensure the website is built on keywords people actually are searching for. The site should be based on a master keyword or short keyword phrases.
The home page will be optimized for that keyword; second- and third-level pages will be optimized for different, but related keywords to build keyword-focused content pages.
It helps to sketch out a site map that shows the pages you want on your site in relation to each other. A good site map looks something like a pyramidal corporate organization chart.
The SiteSell brainstorming and keyword research software help you find not only the best keywords for immediate use, but over time as you add more pages.
Keyword Placement for Small Business Website Pages
Keyword placement on website pages is important to getting high search engine ranking. Use keywords in:
- the title tag (the part that shows up at the top left of the web browser, above the page URL),
- the headline (H1 tag) and some sub-heads (H3 and H3 tags), if you use them,
- the first sentence of the first paragraph (as close to the beginning as possible), and
- two or three additional times on a page of 400-600 words (use more for longer pages).
It helps to include the page’s keyword in an anchor text link that takes visitors to a related page on your site.
Write for Search Engines or Humans?
Once you have identified keywords and developed a site map it’s time to start writing content. The keyword suggestions above work for any kind of web page (including blog posts, press releases, articles and newsletters).
Don’t overdo it with keywords: it’s possible to use a work or phrase too many times, which may cause search engines to downgrade your page.
Search engine algorithms today are so sophisticated they can identify relevant content contextually, including words that are similar to your keywords. In other words, if you write for a human audience you are almost guaranteed to please the search engines, as long as you include keywords as discussed above.
Please visit our Website Content Creation page to learn more about adding content to your small business website. Also, see our Video Content for Websites page to learn more about adding video to your site.
Note: this page contains affiliate links to Site Sell. If you follow them to SiteSell and purchase, I will receive a commission. And you will be well-served.
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Jim Bowman, The PR Doc®, looks for the latest trends and tools for small business marketing and passes along the best articles to you in condensed form in each edition.