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How to Set Up and Maintain a Business Website

Surprising Info About Having a Business Website

With the majority of Americans using the Internet daily, it’s surprising to learn that 46 percent of small businesses don’t have a website, a Clutch survey found. The reason? Ten percent of businesses lacking a website cited lack of technical knowledge as the main reason, while another 11 percent cited the need for ongoing maintenance. If you’re navigating the process of setting up and maintaining a business website, here are a few basic steps to get you started.

Choose a Domain Name

One fundamental step in setting up a business website is choosing a domain name. Ideally, a good business domain name should sound relevant to human users, position the site well with search engines and attract traffic from high-value keyword searches. Choose a name that communicates key sales information, such as what benefits your company offers. Use keywords that are popular but not so competitive that you can’t land on the first page of Google search results. One way to select appropriate keywords is using a long-tailed string that includes a high-volume keyword along with other keywords that are less competitive. You can search for appropriate keywords by using keyword research tools. If you still need additional help brainstorming after identifying some keywords, try a domain suggestion tool such as DomainIt or NameMesh.

Select a Platform

Another basic step is selecting a platform for your website. Today’s most popular small business website platform is WordPress, used by 37 percent of small businesses, 99designs reports. Other common platforms similar to WordPress are Joomla, Drupal, Magento and Blogger. Which type of platform is appropriate for you depends on your needs, technical skill and budget. Template services are the easiest and least expensive to design and maintain, but they also allow the least flexibility for design options and functionality. WordPress is free and relatively easy to install, design and maintain, and has a wide range of functionality that can be expanded through plug-ins, but can cost some money on designer fees if you want a customized theme or plug-in. HTML/CSS sites offer the widest range of flexibility, but also cost the most and require the most technical skill. To help you decide which platform to go with, figure out what business functions your site needs to support first, then look at platforms that can support your needs through native capability or plug-in extensions. And finally, take your technical capability and budget into account to narrow down your options.

Design Your Site

Once you have a platform selected, you can focus on designing your site. HubSpot recommends that you start the design process by identifying how your site serves your marketing strategy. What problem are visitors to your site trying to solve, and how can you deliver it to them? Focus your design on steering your visitors toward a solution to their problem that your company provides. With this in mind, tailor the messaging and voice of your site toward your ideal visitor. Sketch your site’s structure out with a site map and wire frame tool to help you visualize its functionality and how it steers your visitor through the steps in your marketing and sales funnel. Optimize your site for different devices by making it responsive and testing how it looks on popular devices and browsers.

Establish Maintenance Procedures

As you are building your site, you should start establishing some maintenance procedures. One vital procedure is regularly backing up your site and data using an online backup service. This will ensure that you don’t lose your work during the design process, and after your site is running it will protect important data such as administrative logs and customer information. You can schedule automatic backups on a periodic basis. Your maintenance cycle should also include monthly security updates, bug fixes and reviews of performance data such as key performance indicators and SEO performance, as well as annual domain name renewal, browser compatibility checks and backup reviews.