Most small business owners know the perks of having a website. It’s one of the easiest ways to boost brand awareness and connect with customers.
Over 76% of consumers check out a company's site before visiting their location (Visual Objects). With your own digital storefront, you can capture leads from search engines, sell different services online and grow your brand.
Building a website doesn't need to drain your time or budget; there are countless free website builders available. Here’s everything to know when building a small business website.
Why create a business website?
97% of leads learn about businesses online (Fit Small Business). By creating your own website, you can set your brand’s narrative and get discovered by more potential customers.
- Online presence: Your website raises awareness of your brand. People can find your business and learn what you have to offer.
- Instant booking: Adding online booking options helps to boost conversions; visitors don’t need to contact you to confirm an appointment.
- Credibility boost: A well-designed website showcases your professionalism and expertise, while customer testimonials build trust with leads.
- Limitless reach: Optimizing landing pages can bring in leads from your local area or from across the globe. Either way, you’re able to increase your customer base and revenue.
- Information hub: Your site becomes a central source of information about your business. Save time for both you and your customers by providing essential details on services, pricing, opening hours and team members.
- Convenient customer support: Incorporating live chat, or simply providing your email and phone number, ensures that leads have a direct route to ask questions. This is invaluable to lead conversion and presenting your customer service positively from the get-go.
- Marketing magic: Utilize your website to promote various services, share news and special offers, publish blog posts, and link visitors to your social media for further engagement.
- Stay competitive: When leads are comparing businesses in your area, a standout website gives you a competitive edge. Ensure visitors have all the information needed to make an informed decision, capitalizing on their initial engagement.
How to build a business website.
Building a business website is the first step to growing your online presence. It requires careful planning, research, and an understanding of your target customers. Templates may exist, but websites are not one size fits all.
Attention to design, content and user experience is crucial to establishing credibility and adding to your customer count.
1. What does your website need?
Keep your website’s design laser-focused by doing the following.
- Identify your target audience: Start by understanding your potential customers — what do they like, what do they need? This knowledge helps to develop your website’s design, content and functionality.
- Determine the purpose of your website: Are you looking to generate leads, promote services, or facilitate bookings? Be crystal clear on your primary goal to focus your efforts effectively.
- Outline key features and functionalities: Consider specific features you want on your website, like an online booking system, contact forms, image galleries, testimonials or a social media stream. This way, you can choose the best website builder for small your business and structure each page accordingly.
No matter how long your business has operated, you need to nail down its mission and message. These details can direct what’s highlighted your site, whether you build it or employ a designer. For example:
- Brand purpose
- Brand values
- Unique selling proposition (USP)
- Brand voice and tone
- Key messaging
- Visual identity
If you’re a barber, your website should embody the essence of your shop, whether it's known for quick cuts, relaxed vibes or premium quiffs. By promoting your values to the right audience, you'll create an immersive experience from the first interaction.
2. Pick the best website builder for your small business.
A small business owner typically takes on a range of duties. Sure, a web designer can work wonders, but with simple and free tools available, you can create a unique, branded website independently.
According to Built With, nearly 17.5 million websites have been created using online builders. Most people start by meticulously designing a homepage. Ensure that your homepage goes beyond showcasing your specialties; it should lead visitors to reserving your time. Here are some of the best small business website builders that are easy to use and connect to your Booking Page:
A user-friendly drag-and-drop interface that lets you create a website without breaking a sweat. Wix offers a wide range of professionally designed templates. Think of it as having a personal design assistant.
Squarespace offers visually stunning templates and modern designs that make your website look like a work of art. This website builder provides a polished and elegant look, perfect for businesses that want to make a statement.
With WordPress, you're in control. It's a versatile platform that lets you create a highly customized and scalable website. Whether you're a beginner or pro designer, WordPress offers themes and plugins that bring your vision to life.
Each builder enables you to feature a convenient ‘Book Now’ button on any site page. This takes visitors directly to your Booking Page. You can also craft a dedicated booking section that allows customers to confirm an appointment without leaving your site. Convert more leads by reducing the need for calls and emails to get a spot in your calendar.
3. Choose a domain name and provider.
Your domain name is your unique website address on the internet. It consists of two main parts: the custom name and the top-level domain (TLD).
For example: in 'Setmore.com', 'Setmore' is the name and '.com' is the TLD. '.com' may be the TLD you recognize most, but there are several others available, such as .org, .net, .edu and .gov. Some relate to a specific type of organization, purpose or geographical location.
Domain names are used to access websites, send emails and establish an online presence. We recommend picking a domain name that's memorable, easy to spell and is closely related to your business. You may even want to sprinkle in some relevant keywords to enhance search engine visibility.
Examples of optimized URLs
Use hyphens to separate words: Space words in your URL with hyphens (-) instead of underscores or spaces. Hyphens are preferred by search engines and increase readability.
Avoid stop words: Eliminate unnecessary words like 'and,' 'the,' 'of,' or 'in' from your URL. These words take up space and search engines prefer succinct URL slugs (everything after .com below).
Maintain consistency: Ensure your URL structure is consistent across your website. Consistency makes it easier for search engines to understand and categorize your website's content.
Suboptimal URLs (Underscores and hyphens are used):
www.myweddingsalon.com/blog/post_about_wedding_flowers and www.myweddingsalon.com/portfolio/wedding_decorations
Optimized URLs (Only hyphens are used):
www.myweddingsalon.com/blog/wedding-flower-ideas and www.myweddingsalon.com/portfolio/wedding-decor-examples
GoDaddy, Namecheap and Google Domains are popular domain name providers. Compare prices, customer support and additional services to make an informed decision. If you’re happy to share the spotlight, some of the best free website builders for small business offer free URLs if their brand name is included.
4. Design and brand your website.
Intuitive design and consistent branding are essential for a small business website as they create a positive first impression, differentiate the business from competitors and enhance user experience.
To ensure your website is easy to navigate and garners the most sales, prioritize a mobile-friendly design. After a negative experience, 88% of online consumers are unlikely to revisit a website (invision). A visually appealing site that adapts to smartphones and tablets provides a superior browsing experience for users on the go.
Select a template or theme that enables you to customize every element, from accent colors and fonts, to layout and buttons. Not only does this make it easier to draft an initial design, but it also means you can change things quickly when editing in future.
Make your site an extension of your brand to align your customers’ online and offline experience. Consistency is crucial throughout for a cohesive and eye-catching design. Put your brand's stamp on everything you do by personalizing your Booking Page too.
5. Enable online booking.
If you run a service-based business, add online booking options to your website to become more competitive. An attention-grabbing call-to-action (CTA) eliminates hurdles, keeping potential customers engaged and preventing them from losing interest. Seamlessly shift their focus from gathering information to booking an appointment.
You may be wondering how to create an online booking system for free. You can do this with your free Setmore account. Simply display a 'Book now' button on any site page and direct visitors to your Booking Page. They can view your services, real-time availability and costs, and confirm an appointment when it suits them. Your Booking Page and calendar are synced, ensuring you won’t be double booked.
Your website can feature as many ‘Book now’ buttons as you like. Edit the button code to offer the most relevant links on different landing pages:
- Direct visitors to your Booking Page
- Direct visitors to booking an individual service
- Direct visitors to booking a group service
- Direct visitors to booking with a particular team member
It's all about giving your visitors a tailored booking experience that suits their needs. And, for those wanting to use their Booking Page as their standalone business website, you’ll be glad to know the URL is customizable and you can even remove Setmore’s branding.
6. Don’t forget payments.
If the main purpose of your website is to take bookings online, be sure to attach a payment gateway as well. Adding secure and user-friendly payment options improves customer satisfaction and encourages repeat purchases. Better checkout design can significantly impact conversion rates, with an average increase of 35.26% (Baymard Institute).
Implementing a prepayment or deposit system encourages commitment to attendance and reduces no-shows. It’s also convenient for the customer — all they need to do after booking is show up.
Simply create an account with Square, Stripe, PayPal or LawPay to accept payments from your Booking Page. Trustworthy systems build credibility, instill confidence and streamline invoicing to save time. Customers can pay by card or digital wallet and your booking system automates their receipt.
7. Post unique content.
Adding content to your website is a must with a multitude of benefits. It helps strengthen your website’s visibility in search engine results, making it easier to find. Plus, a good variety of high-quality content keeps visitors hooked and returning to your website over time.
Establish yourself as an industry expert, gaining trust and recognition in your niche. You can detail your services, run promotions and even interact with your audience through comments and social sharing. Divide your content into these four categories:
Informational content: Designed to provide valuable and educational information to visitors. Aim to answer their questions and offer insights. This type of content is often used in blog posts, articles, guides, and FAQs.
- The ultimate guide to plumber marketing
- 9 tips for healthy living
- How to choose the right haircut
Navigational content: Helps users find their way around your website and locate specific pages or resources. It typically includes menus, site maps, search bars and navigation links.
- Main navigation menu with links to 'Home,' 'About us,' 'Services,' 'Products,' etc.
- Breadcrumb navigation indicating the user's location within the website's hierarchy.
Transactional Content: Facilitates user interactions and transactions, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter or filling out a contact form.
- 'Book now' buttons and service descriptions on your Booking Page
- 'Subscribe now' form for a newsletter
- 'Request a quote' form for a service-based business
Commercial Content: Promotional and intended to sell services. Focused on enticing visitors to take specific actions, such as making a purchase or contacting the business.
- Optimized service landing pages highlighting the features and benefits
- Sales pages with compelling copy and persuasive CTAs
- Advertisements and banners promoting special offers or discounts
A content management system (CMS) allows you to easily create and manage your website content. Many CMS options are available, but WordPress is one of the most popular and user-friendly choices.
Remember to research keywords and craft content that targets your audience’s needs. With SEO-friendly content, you’ll increase your site’s traffic in no time. Speaking of which…
8. Optimize your website for search engines.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to drive relevant organic traffic to your website. Effective SEO strategies improve your website's ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs), helping potential customers to discover your business.
|Element of optimization
Identify relevant keywords and phrases that align with your website's content and target audience.
Create unique and descriptive titles for each site page, incorporating relevant keywords.
Write concise descriptions that accurately summarize the site page's content.
Use clear and user-friendly URLs that include relevant keywords and accurately represent the page's content.
Utilize header tags (H1, H2, etc.) to structure your content and include relevant keywords within them.
Develop high-quality, relevant and engaging content that incorporates target keywords naturally.
Optimize image file names, alt text and size to improve page load times and provide keyword-rich context.
Connect related pages within your website using descriptive anchor text to improve navigation.
Include authoritative and relevant external links to reputable sources, enhancing your website's credibility.
Ensure your website is responsive and mobile-friendly to provide a seamless user experience on all devices.
Optimize your website's performance by minimizing file sizes, utilizing caching and optimizing server response times.
Create an XML sitemap and submit it to search engines to contextualize the structure and content of your site.
Implement schema markup to enhance search engines’ understanding of your content and improve visibility in SERPs.
Install web analytics tools and regularly monitor website performance, traffic and user behavior for optimization.
Actively seek quality backlinks from reputable websites to boost your website's authority and search engine rankings.
Remember, SEO is an ongoing process; staying updated with best practices and algorithm changes is key to seeing lasting results. Check out these tips to stay one step ahead.
Conducting keyword research is straightforward with the right tools e.g. Google Keyword Planner, Semrush, Moz or Ahrefs. These offer keyword suggestions, search volume data, competitor analysis and more insights.
When conducting local keyword research, consider the following factors:
Include the name of your target location to focus on local search intent. For example, 'best photographer in [city],' 'plumbers near me,' or 'hair salons in [neighborhood].'
Evaluate the search volume of keywords to determine their popularity and potential reach. Focus on keywords with a high search volume but low or moderate competition.
Analyze the competitiveness of keywords in your local market. Look for keywords with low or moderate competition to increase your chances of ranking well.
Incorporate long-tail keywords, which are more specific and usually have lower competition. For instance, 'CrossFit Gym in [city]' instead of just 'Gym.'
Understand the intent behind keywords to align your content with user expectations. Are users looking for information, ready to purchase or seeking local services? Tailor your content accordingly.
Ensure that the keywords you target are relevant to your brand, location or services. This is crucial to attracting the right audience.
Analytics and Tracking
Use website analytics tools like Google Analytics to monitor the performance of your site pages and make adjustments based on the data.
Become a local hero
Enhance your SEO efforts by creating local landing pages, updating your Google Business Profile and implementing local SEO keywords on your Booking Page.
For example, if your landscaping business has branches across Oregon, ensure you create local pages that target keywords such as “landscaping services in portland”, “landscaping services in astoria” and so on.
If you’re a language tutor and offer a global service through video sessions or classes, make your website multilingual — you can even share your Booking Page in different languages.
9. Add essential features and functionality.
Make it simple for leads to complete an action or continue engaging with your brand. Depending on your business type, essential features may include a contact form, e-commerce capabilities, a social media integration, customer reviews or a booking system for your website.
Integrating a CRM solution is a popular choice as this enables businesses to streamline lead management and effectively personalize communication. By centralizing lead and customer data and automating tasks, you can boost efficiency in closing deals.
10. Test and launch your small business websites.
Before launching your website, ensure that all buttons, forms and links work flawlessly — you want users to have a delightful experience.
73.1% of web designers say the lack of responsiveness in design is a leading factor in driving visitors away from a website (Good Firms). Navigate your site on different web browsers and devices, testing how accessible it is.
You should also review all content, double-checking for errors or outdated information, so everything is up-to-date and accurate.
Maintain and update
Monitor your website to learn what’s gaining traction and what could be improved. Your visitors expect everything to run smoothly — and so should you. Ensure your content is fresh and engaging by adding new testimonials, updating landing pages and sharing industry-related blog posts or news.
Stay informed about design trends and make enhancements periodically. By keeping tabs on important data points using Google Analytics, you can bring in the right leads and improve site performance:
- Traffic sources: Track the sources of your website traffic (e.g., organic search, referral, social media, direct) to understand where your visitors are coming from and optimize your marketing efforts accordingly.
- Pageviews and unique visitors: Track the number of pageviews and unique visitors to assess overall website visibility and engagement levels.
- Bounce rate: This indicates the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate could indicate issues with content, site design or user experience.
- Conversion rate: Measure the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action, such as booking an appointment, completing a form or subscribing to a newsletter. This helps to assess your content in driving conversions.
- Average session duration: This metric shows how much time, on average, users spend on your website. Longer session durations generally mean greater engagement.
- Exit pages: Identify the pages from which visitors most commonly exit your website. This can help to identify areas where improvements are needed.
Google Analytics also connects to your Setmore account, allowing you to track and analyze booking-related metrics. This includes where visitors were routed from, how long they browsed your Booking Page, how many visitors booked an appointment, and more.
Why website design for your small business is important.
With competition in the digital space higher than ever, it’s essential to have a website that resonates with your audience. A well-designed site establishes a strong online presence for your business, capturing the attention of potential customers and communicating your brand identity.
Visitor experience is the key indicator of your site’s value. Utilizing a small business website builder can help to develop a user-friendly design that increases engagement and conversions.