So you have a small business and you are thinking you need a website. You might. The way I see it there’s three reasons a small business needs a website. Let’s assume it’s properly built, has great SEO tools, and a proper sitemap that’s piped directly into Google. That’s a good starting base for any website. Now, let me ask you a simple question.
What’s is it that you hope your site does for you?
I like simple. I like breaking things down to simple concepts, simple statements, simple ideas. I’m going to start out simple and get a little more complex the further down this post you get. Can you hang with that?
The answer to that simple question might very well indicate what type of site you need.
Was your answer something like…
- “All I need is a digital home on the internet for when somebody Google’s me.”
- “I need a place to disseminate information to my clients.”
- “I want new business, I want leads.”
Those are three very different answers and there’s nothing wrong with each. But each requires a slightly different website in response.
Did your answer sound similar to #1? Great! I think of this as an online business card. Owning that Google search for your own name is one of the smartest things you can do. You can do that with just a single page website. Let’s say you are “Mikes Widgets, Inc.” You’ll first want to get a domain name – something like MikesWidgets.com. You’ll also need to get a hosting account. But BEFORE you pull the trigger on the domain name, some hosts will register your domain name for free with your hosting account. (I know my favorite Green Hosting guys will do that) So you may want to do that all at the same time. Buying a domain name is around $10 a year and shared hosting should run you $5 a month but buy at least a year in advance ($60).
Once you have a domain and a hosting account all you need is a website. For $150 I’ll build a proper single page website for you.
To recap: That’s $10 + 60 +150 = $220 and you’ll have everything you need! (and own it all too!)
Did your answer sound similar to #2?
You just want a place for people to download forms? Get directions? Testimonials? That kind of thing?
It’s more than an online business card – more like an online brochure. In this vein I’ve built sites for a few doctor offices. You know when you go to get a check up and they ask you to fill out all those forms? What if they had them on the website as a pdf? You could print them at home and walk in with everything filled out! They need a place for their patients to go, get directs, contact info, and perhaps check out the office staff (bios). The site consists of a home page, a dozen or so pages and that’s about it.
You’ll need the same as the above; a hosting account and a domain name. As for the site, that generally sounds like a basic WordPress install ($750).
Did your answer sound similar to #3? You want your site to send you leads, to attract new clients, to make you money?
Let’s first talk about how people are going to find your site.
There’s the SEO Route in which you write content that get’s found in Google when people search for it. This requires a good deal of effort on your part. Writing keyword rich content on a consistent basis. Do it right, and do it often, with a properly built site, and you may show up in a Google SERP (search engine results page) and drive traffic to you in what is called ‘organically’.
And then there’s the CPC Route in which you run ad campaigns for the specific keywords you are looking to rank for. Each click on your ads drives that person to your site. These ads could be run in Facebook, Google, Linkedin and YouTube. This would be the opposite to ‘organic’.
Another option you have would be the Social Route in which you push your content to the social networks and have people share it there. When people click on the post in the network, they are brought directly to your site. Obviously networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus work this way but also sites like Pinterest could drive a good deal of traffic your way. (if you have pretty widgets)
No matter which way the visitor get’s there you’ll next want LEAD CAPTURE. When you get that lead capture you’ll have to have a plan for what you do with it. Depending on your sales cycle that’s generally going to be some form of incubation. One of the simplest and most effective incubation systems is the newsletter. Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll get my 2 to 3 posts a week delivered right to your inbox. Another reward for the lead capture might be a something valuable to download – like an ebook or special report.
As for the particular route you plan to take you don’t have to choose just one. Most businesses will use a combination of all three.
For the SEO route you should have a specific plan in place for your content – an editorial calendar. You’ll need to identify keywords you want to target. You’ll want to know what kind of search traffic happens for those keywords.
If you are running ads (the CPC route) you’ll want to send the clicks NOT to your home page but instead what is called a ‘squeeze page’. This is a landing page within your site that removes all the general distractions like menu bars and sidebars, making your new visitor focus more on the message of that page. This page will have a clear call to action.
For those going the Social route you’ll want to create the content on your site and then share it to the networks. There’s an art to doing this right. You could hire a teenager as your social media manager and see minimal success or you could hire an experienced professional and you might see fantastic results, or learn how to do it yourself. With the teenager and the DIY way, you know what you get for the time and money but beware of hiring the professional – there are fabulous professionals out there and then there are professional looking and sound people who are no better than the snake oil salesmen of days gone by.
Now if all that seems overwhelming here’s the good news. This is what I do for my clients everyday and would be happy to take your project on.
For some I build a simple site, teach them to use it and then fade into the background. For others I operate as the webmaster, an advertising executive, the social media maven and a community manager. No matter where you fall – know what you want your site to do for you and then call me. We’ll get you started in the right direction!
* and yes, I purposely used relaxing calming images for this post 😉