Whether you are a freelance photographer, own a hardware store, or have another type of small business, a great website is essential for your company’s success. As a webmaster who has worked on building or marketing over 100 small business websites, I know what it takes to create great and engaging business websites.
If you are looking to build a new startup website or make your current site more effective, here are 10 key steps to getting started and helping your small business website compete effectively in the online marketplace.
1. Obtain a good domain name
Your domain name, also known as your website address, is often the entry point to your site. It is important that it makes a good impression for usability purposes, as well as for search engine optimization (SEO).
Here are some tips for coming up with an optimal domain name:
- Make it easy to spell. Try not to use slang, made up, or extremely esoteric words.
- Keep it as short as possible. The shorter it is, the easier it is to remember and type correctly.
- Use the proper domain extension. Try to always make it a .com domain name (as opposed to .net, .co, etc.) unless it is more appropriate to use another extension, such as .gov, .edu, or .org.
- Avoid numbers and hyphens. They are hard to remember and less elegant and memorable than word-only domain names, and may be misunderstood when vocalizing the domain name.
- Make the address broad to facilitate future growth. For example, Amazon.com is a much broader website address than BooksOnline.com and allows Amazon to sell pretty much every type of consumer good instead of books only, as was its original purpose.
- Ensure it is memorable. With so many websites on the internet, it is important that your website name is catchy so people will remember how to access it in the future.
- Research the domain name. Google it to see if a similar website address already exists online, and search on USPTO.gov to make sure it does not contain any registered trademarks.
- Check if the price is right. Determine if you can purchase your desired website address at a reasonable price since most good domain names are taken and will need to be bought from the current owner.
- Avoid nonsensical names. Choose a name that conveys a meaning so that users will know immediately what your business is. Yahoo and Google are catchy names, but they were very expensive to brand, and your small business may not have the same budget.
- Create an SEO-friendly URL. When appropriate, try to come up with an SEO-friendly website address that includes keywords and geo-location; for example, “www.LasVegasElectrician.com.”