Jade is the in-house copywriter for online business insurance broker Simply Business. When not working in the marketing team, she enjoys cooking, reading, and exploring new cities.
If you’re just starting your business, along with getting your stationery sorted and your business cards printed, establishing a strong online presence is paramount. A website will give you a platform to promote your business, provide information for customers or prospective customers, and can even be used to provide online purchase options or support.
It’s a lot simpler than you may think to set up a site. This is how to get started…
Pick a CMS
To maintain your website and publish content, you need a CMS (content management system). Don’t worry if IT isn’t your forte – there are lots of platforms available that make it easy for even the novice to get up and running. Open source options - those that are collaboratively developed and usually free to the user - include the popular Joomla and Drupal. Far outpacing them, however, is WordPress, used by many top websites and celebrated for its ease of use and flexibility. You won’t need a developer to set up your website, and you will be able to edit and add to it whenever you want.
If you need any more persuasion, we’ve outlined 10 reasons why WordPress is ideal for small businesses.
Set up your site
If you’ve been convinced that WordPress is the one for you, Simply Business have created a handy WordPress guide that takes you all the way through the process, from installing it to advanced additions such as optimising your site for search engines and setting up an online store:
Click image to open interactive version (via Simply Business).
Get the traffic moving
Our guide above will give you help with optimising your website so that it appears when people search for relevant keywords. It’s a tricky beast that involves thinking about page titles, meta-tags, and how you distribute keywords in your content.
Another important search ranking factor is how many links you have from other sites, something that can be boosted by contributing articles or blog posts to other sites, including one or two links back to your site. You can also use your social media pages to drive visitors, something that tends to be particularly successful if you can tweet or post about competitions, offers, or feature articles on your site that may interest users.
You should also take the simple but important step of integrating your URL (website address) wherever possible, both online and offline. Remember to add it to your email signature, and include a link in transactional emails too. Print it discreetly on your stationery, business cards, and literature, and remember to include it in print marketing such as on leaflets, posters, flyers and banners.
Keep it fresh
All too often, people set up a website and then forget about it, leaving it languishing online with an outdated look and incorrect information. This can be harmful to your brand! Keep your site looking fresh – WordPress has a plentiful supply of great themes, and you can switch theme or update the look and feel easily.
The same applies to your written content. Only include a blog feature if you’re going to use it. There’s nothing worse than a stagnant blog on a website, sparsely populated with a few posts from last year, or full of enthusiastic contributions at the beginning and then petering out to nothing. A blog is a great way of providing interesting content, announcing campaigns, and circulating interesting information, but it must be well tended to or it could be counter-productive.
Make sure that factual information is correct and up-to-date too. If your phone number or location changes, get it changed on your website straight away. If your opening hours are different over a particular period, or if delivery times are longer than usual, your website is a good place to keep people up to date. A good CMS means that you don’t need anyone to help you make updates or changes, but can do it yourself whenever you want.