Building a Strategy for your Small Business Websites

In this post we’ll cover a basic strategy behind using websites to drive your small business solutions. Please bear in mind that this is a very broad or beginners overview of how to get the most out of your website.

I understand that there are many other key areas like building a comprehensive business plan, market research, and a whole lot more. But I’ll leave those to the business experts and focus on what small businesses need to know about using websites.

Step 1 Set Purpose and Expectations

Decide the purpose and expectations of your Small Business Website.

I can’t emphasize this enough. This step really tells you what you need to do, and what you can expect in terms of how your website performs. Is the purpose of your site meant to bring information and offer services to random people who are searching for answers on the internet? Or do you have another way for your clients to find your site? For example a church can get to the top of people’s searches relatively easy, without doing a lot. Thats because its members create a lot of traffic and boost ratings, because they already know where to go. And strangers can find the site because people will usually search for churches within a very specific area and denomination like, “Catholic churches in Yokohama. And that will narrow the field, and help them find your site a lot easier. But if you are say, a consultant who works from home or online, and you don’t have an actual address. And you want a much broader reach, and you’re hoping your website will be that conduit to bring new customers in, then you need to build it in away that search engines will find it.

So really think through the purpose and expectations for your site. This will help the team of web builders, graphic designers, and writers you assemble to build your site reach, and hopefully pass the expectations of your site. This will also help you with setting the budgets of money and time, that you will need in step 2.

Step 2 Set Budgets

Think and plan for a “monthly budget” for your Small Business Website.

Whaaaat! Monthly! Yes, your web site will require some finances without you even lifting a finger. So what do you have to pay for to keep you site alive an accessible?

Initially you’ll have to pay for 2 things. Your Domain Name (or URL), and your Web Hosting Service. Your domain name is your unique internet address your site can be found at. Like yourcompany.com or yourcompany.biz. Web hosts are the companies that house the computers or servers that will actually store the data that make up your website. They connect your domain name to your website.  You can usually get these at the same company like Godaddy or Bluehost and you can pay yearly or monthly. The cost of a domain name can be anywhere from under $100 year and up. And web hosting can be any where from $10 a month and up. You can usually get better pricing if you pay by the year for your web hosting.

So realistically you should be budgeting around $30 to $40 a month depending on what kinds of services you want from you web host. Services like a domain email address (jon.doe@yourcompany.com) or if you need more space for video or SSL security all will add to your monthly or yearly cost. So budget for it, because there’s still more cost to come… Yay! More cost!

Step 3 Build Together

Build the site content and its SEO strategy together

When you put together your initial team to launch a new web site you often have different people handling or building the various elements of the site or implementing strategies for the various aspect for the site. For example you may hire someone to write or write your own content for the site, but hire someone else to build the site. And yet another person will handle posting or social media content. I’ve been in this situation a few times and what usually ends up happening more often than not is, everyone is does a great job, creating content and posting blogs, but because its not using the SEO format that Google and other search engines are looking for, your site and its awesome content are buried on page 157 of the search results page.

So before you build a site and it content make sure the person understands things like SEO (search engine optimization) and analytics is working closely with the person writing content and posting blogs. Everyone needs to know how to use keywords on each page and post. Understand what media should be posted on the website and how to link it with social media to maximize your visibility. The key is tying it all together so they flow to and from the website so that the effort and content do 2 things. They’re found by your potential clients, as well as provide solutions for them.

For more info on SEO please see the article SEO – Understanding the Basics

Step 4 Create Content

Create content and then, create more content for your Small Business Website.

I would be nice to get your site up, fill it with content and watch it go. But a website is much like a car in that, you have to put gas in it to get it going. And if you want to keep it going, or go really far, and if you want to go often, you have to keep putting gas in the tank.

So this is another budget to consider but this time, its time that you have to budget for. Now keep this in mind, new content is only important if you want to keep your sites search results in reach of your potential clients.

This is because Google grades or promotes sites that provide current, organic content (and yes, it knows if you’re faking it). And it penalizes site that are static or filled with random key words. Google grades your site on how helpful it is. Is it answering the question that are being searched for. So you should plan to put out moderate to heavy worded blogs or articles on a monthly basis at minimum. Especially blogs that answer the questions that your clients would be asking. For example, my clients are (hopefully) asking questions about websites, and searching for “websites for small business”. So a blog like this, once a month is key. So budget some time to write or link to others who can provide answers.

*Writing even once a month can be challenging but another way to get content on your site is share or link pertinent content from other sources and sites content to your site. I know its counter intuitive but this is another way that Google sees that your site is helpful. Linking to similar sites actually helps your sites rankings, and it gives you access to more content.

Step 5 Budget for Maintenance

Budget for maintenance, security and updates for your Small Business Website

If you decided in step 1 that your site is important and you need it to bring in customers, then you also needs to keep it running smoothly and keep it safe. Technology is always changing, so that means your web host sever’s software is being updated, and so is WordPress, and so are your plugins and so on. And each of these changes means you need to keep and eye on things, make sure nothing broken. No to mention the occasional hacker or the “oops!” mishap.

There is also Google’s ever changing and evolving search engine algorithms. 10 to 15 years ago it was just a few key words, a great site and few pieces of code could get you there. Now Google judges your sites intentions and how well you play with other. This also needs to be monitored, updated and analyzed. To use the car analogy again its like taking you car in for maintenance. And unfortunately most of don’t pay for car maintenance too. And we end up paying for big repairs or having to buy a new car.

So budget for site performance maintenance. And how much to budget depends on how much you want them to do. If you got it all figured out, and just need the bare minimum or if you don’t want to think of any of this stuff, and you want someone to take care of it all. Either way think of you site maintenance fees.

Now that you know have a basic idea of what it takes to launch a website, you can move ahead. Start to planing out your strategy for your small business website.