Your New Website - the First Steps

small business website

Whether you decide to design your new website yourself or hire a professional web designer, a successful website must be developed with content, design, and optimization in mind.

The Content

Only you - the small business owner - can develop the content of your website. Because only you know exactly what your business does, what its goals are, and what you want to say about your small business. A copywriter may be able to assist you by putting this into words, but you are really the person who needs writes the content.

Break your content into small pieces that can be put into logical groupings (pages) within your new website. A good average is 250 words/page. Consider the keywords that visitors might use to search for you, and incorporate them throughout your website, with a density of approximately 3%.

The first page is your front door and should contain a brief description of you and your business: who you are, where you are located, and what you have to offer. Too much information on the homepage of your website can be cumbersome to visitors and may cause them to click away. You have merely seconds to grab your audience and entice them to stay. For this reason, take time to develop the content for this page. It will be well worth your time.

Develop the content for following pages in much the same way, keeping the information concise and on-topic. Incorporate references and ways to link to other pages within your website. Potential topics to consider are:

About Your Small Business, Industry News & Tips, Your Services & Products, Customer Testimonials, Contact Information, Employee Biographies, etc.

The Web Design (Layout)

Even if you have fantastic content, a poor web design that lacks originality won't keep your visitors on your website. A key ingredient to a successful presence on the World Wide Web is a well-designed website. And for many small businesses, it is worth paying a professional to web designer.

As a web designer, I recommend that you take time to visit the website of your competition. Does it work? Does it draw you in, so you want to click deeper into their website for more? Or does it drive you away, leaving you uninspired, uninterested, and disappointed? You also should pay close attention to how graphics, images, and photographs are used throughout these website. Begin a list of images you'll need to develop or gather to enhance your own website.

The most important aspect in your web design is the navigation, or the way you move visitors through your entire website. Make sure visitors can find what they are looking for quickly and easily. The obvious way this works is through the use of navigation bars. You can also help visitors move through your sites, and drive them to particular areas, by adding links to keywords throughout your web pages.

Optimizing Your Website

Optimization is the process used to bring your website to the attention of search engines. There are many different opinions on how this can and should be done. And strategies differ, depending on the size of your business, your product or service, and your budget. Yes, it's more than just submitting your website to Google.

As a small business web designer, I have many clients who are just starting their business and are on a limited or non-profit budget. So I believe it is always best to begin with the basics: a simple, logical navigation system that carries through your entire website; proper use of keywords and links within the body of your website; submitting your new website to free on-line industry directories where you may link to your website; and of course, submission to search engines. These are all things your web designer should be able to help with. Keep in mind that these are the basics. There are many search engine optimization (SEO) strategies available, like article submissions, back links, and pay per click campaigns. If you feel you are in a market that may benefit from some of these other strategies, you should seek further advice from your web designer or a reputable SEO professional.

No matter what your SEO strategy is, the hardest, but most important part is PATIENCE! It takes time for even the smallest changes to be picked up by the search engines. They crawl millions of sites each day, indexing the information and ranking them by relevance. The art of search engine optimization is extremely time consuming, so keep this in mind whether you do it yourself, or ask for the help of a professional.

About the Author:

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