It can be hard to know where to get started when creating a website. You may be a business that’s just starting out and want to set up a brochure style website for your customers. Or you may be an established business and want to create an online store where customers can buy from you. How do you get started?
This guide will walk you through what you need to set up a new website and promote it online.
Choosing a domain name
First of all, you’ll need to decide on a domain name. This will usually be your business name. If your business only operates in one country, make sure you choose a country specific domain name. For example if you’re in New Zealand, you would choose yourbusinessname.co.nz. However if you intent to sell products or services online outside of your country, it’s a good idea to go with a .com as this will allow your website to rank in search engines across different countries.
Choosing a hosting provider
You’ll need a server to host your website. This means you’ll need a place for the website files to sit – your host. Hosting is very cheap, and can be purchased for as little as $5 per month. I would recommend HostGator, their hosting is cheap, reliable and easy to set up.
Choosing a CMS
You’ll need to decide on the software you use to create your website. This is called a CMS or content management system. I would recommend WordPress, it’s one of the most popular CMS’s available and it’s free. It has a huge developer base, with hundreds of thousands of plugins which can be used to customise your website to your business needs. WordPress is easy to install with most hosting providers – such as HostGator.
Getting an email address
With a domain name, you have the option of setting up an email address for professional appeal. For example: firstname.lastname@example.org. Again HostGator offers free email hosting functionality, however this can take a bit of technical expertise to set up. It may be worth contacting an IT professional to take care of this for you.
Customising your website
There are many predefined themes available for WordPress and other content management systems. For a list of free WordPress themes, see here. WordPress makes it easy to customise themes with a series of widgets and options. Alternatively you can use a plugin such as origin builder to build a template from scratch or use an agency to build and design a website for you, such as White Dog Digital Marketing.
Marketing your website
The “build it and they will come” approach unfortunately doesn’t work online. You need to market your website. There are many different channels you can use to promote your website to get visitors and sales / enquiries.
Here are the most common:
Google AdWords are paid ads in Google search. You can display an ad at the top of the search results when people search in Google using keywords related to your products or services. AdWords is a very popular option, however it’s worth contacting a professional to set up your campaign and manage it for you, as it can be very costly if you don’t know what you’re doing. Alternatively there are online courses and exams offered by Google to help you run your own campaigns if you are willing to spend the time and effort to learn.
SEO or search engine optimisation is the practise of optimising pages on your website to rank in search engine like Google for certain keywords. This is very similar to AdWords, except unlike AdWords, when you’re featured in the search results, you don’t have to pay for the listing to be there. SEO is a fundamental of online marketing and is a technical discipline. It’s worth contacting a professional to audit, optimise and grow your SEO in the long run. However, there are many courses available to get you started if you’d like to give it a go yourself. Don’t expect results over night though, SEO takes time. It can take anywhere from 6 months to a year to work effectively given the right strategy and tactics.
Google My Business
If your business has a physical location or service area, then it’s worth listing your business in Google My Business. This allows your website to appear in the maps results of Google, and in the map pack in the Google search results. You can get started here, it’s free to set up.
Email marketing is a highly cost effective way of promoting your products and services, however you need a database of contacts who have opted-in to email communications from your business. This can take time to grow, however it’s highly profitable in the long run. If you have a customer database already, then you can get started right away. A good email marketing platform to use is MailChimp. It’s free to send emails under a certain threshold, and has great segmentation and automation features.
If you don’t already have an email database, you can create and grow one by asking visitors for their email address when they visit pages on your website. A good way to do this is to create a blog and offer something of value, perhaps a discount, a free course or some other information in exchange for their email address. Social media can also be useful for promoting blog posts in order to grow your email list.
Facebook ads can be a great way to get traffic to your website. Facebook has very precise targeting options, and is relatively cheap compared to some other paid advertising services. It’s worth contacting a professional to set up and monitor your Facebook ad campaigns, to make sure you’re getting the most reach for your dollars. I recommend setting up a Facebook business page and posting to it regularly to grow likes, expand your reach, and communicate with your customers.
Other Social Media
Aside from Facebook, there are many other social media websites that can provide value to your business such as:
It’s worth setting up a business profile on each of these as it also has a positive impact on your SEO. To make the most out of these channels, you should try to post to them regularly. Each channel also has paid advertising services that suit different business types.
To make sure your website is performing, you’ll need an analytics platform to measure visits, enquiries and sales. Google Analytics is a great choice as it’s free and easy to use. Google Analytics will tell you which channels are generating the best results for your website, help you optimise your website for users and enable you to make data lead marketing decision in the future. Here is a guide to setting up Google Analytics for your website.
Overall there are many different routes to go down when setting up and promoting your website. If it all seems a bit overwhelming you can contact an online marketing professional such as White Dog Digital Marketing to help you.
This post was brought to you by JamieJamieson.me.