In today’s Internet age, having a website for your local & small business is a must! If you don’t already have a website, get one now. It’s no longer an option, but a necessity for your business’ survival!
As you know, everyone uses the Internet nowadays to search for dentists, plumbers, chiropractors, hair salons, and any other local businesses. If you want to attract new customers and grow your business, it’s absolutely necessary for you to build your presence on the Internet!
A website has the following benefits for your business:
- Increase your exposure – People hardly use the Yellow Pages anymore to search for local businesses. Nowadays, everyone uses Internet to search for local businesses. Thus, having a website is crucial for increase your business’ exposure.
- Provide information about your business – With a website, you can provide information, videos, photos to help your visitors connect with you and to learn more about your business’ services, history, and staff. Additionally, you can provide directions to your office as well as show your office hours.
Design and Create Your Business Website Yourself!
Introducing the SmallBiz Theme
The SmallBiz Theme WordPress theme is a WordPress theme that is specifically built for small and local businesses. You can quickly create a professional website for your business in minutes with this powerful theme.
Here are the reasons why the Smallbiz Theme is perfect for building local business websites:
- Professional designs and colors – You can choose from seven different layouts and multiple color options. Color schemes, header graphics and business information are easy to change.
- Easy to update and publish – You don’t need a webmaster to publish new pages to your website or make changes to existing ones. And since this theme is based on the WordPress Content Management System, updating a website is as easy as using Microsoft Word. You can add as many pages as you want and the dynamic navigation menus adjust automatically.
- Optimized for top local search results – The architecture of this theme is based on the creator’s experience in optimizing hundreds of websites for top local search results on Google. Solid SEO fundamentals are built into this theme, including placement of your business address on every page, service areas, an instant Google Map, and hCard microformats beneath the covers. With all these powerful SEO features, it will help you to rank on Google faster for your selected keywords.
- Touch-enabled Mobile layouts – Google says that 50% of all searches on mobile devices are for local goods and services. The SmallBiz Theme serves special touch-enabled pages automatically when a mobile a device like iPhone iPad or Android is detected.
- Great Support – Along with the theme, you’ll get a set of Getting Started videos, a robust FAQ, tons of video tutorials, and a Support and Customization Guide.
What You Need Before You Can Launch Your Website Online
First, you’ll need a domain name, which is the address of your website. You can get a free domain name by signing up and hosting your site with Bluehost.
The domain name should be short, memorable, easy to spell, and have your business name as well as your main keywords in it (i.e. www.GrandAcupuncture.com). Avoid the use of dashes or underscores in your domain name.
Secondly, you’ll need a web host to host your domain name. The one that I use and have been very happy with their service is Bluehost.
Hosting at Bluehost only costs $6.95/month and when you sign up, they will give you a free life time domain name. Additionally, their service allows you to easily install WordPress platform to your site, set up your own email with your domain name as the address. Plus, the customer service is first class!
Whatever you do, don’t get one of those free domains that is hosted on someone else’ website. This is your business so take it seriously.
Components of a Local Business Website
As seen in figure 1 below, the main components of a local business website are the header, the navigation links, the sidebar, the content area, and the footer area.
- The header – The header should contain a professionally designed Logo and a company or business tag line that briefly describes what your business do. Make sure you have a professional looking logo that best represents your business’ image. A professional looking logo is a must and it’s important for your business’ credibility.
- The Navigation links – Links to the other main pages of your website such as services, about us, resources, contact us, etc. should be right below the header.
- The Right Side Bar – On right side bar, you can include your business’ address, phone number, photos, videos, testimonials, endorsements from 3rd parties, seals/certificates, links to your Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter accounts.
- Content Area – The content area is where you have the content for each specific page. Be sure to incorporate your keywords in the body of the content as well as in the <h1>, <h2> heading HTML tags.
In addition to the above points, your website should look trust worthy and professional. That means using professional looking photos and graphics, clean layout, proper color scheme that aligns with your branding, and scannable copywriting.
Note that in the online world, people don’t read, they scan. So make sure you use small paragraphs with bullets and appropriate headings that are bolded throughout the page. By doing this, it makes it easier for your visitors to scan your website content and quickly understand your messages.
What Features/Pages Your Website Should Have
A typical small or local business website should have the following pages:
- Home Page – The home page of a website usually receives the most visits. As such, it is important that you do a good job of branding yourself and presenting your business in a professional manner.You only have a few seconds to make an impression on your prospect. You must clearly convey what products and/or services you offer, who your target audience is, your value proposition, and why they should do business with you. The last point should be emphasized. Differentiate yourself from your competitors and offer something unique or better than your competitors. Be sure to place all the important information above the fold so that your visitors doesn’t have to scroll down to see it. Lastly, you may want to include some attractive photos that represents your services or products or a video of you talking about your business on the homepage.
- About Us Page – The “About Us” page gives you a good opportunity to connect and establish rapport with your visitors. This is a very important page of your website and it’s an area where I see most people don’t put enough efforts in. Here, you should talk about the mission of your business, your passion, the history of your company, how long you have been in business, and some information about yourself as well as your staff. Clearly and succinctly let people know what make you special, why they should do business with you and why they should trust you. You should also talk about your credentials and include testimonials, endorsements, awards, or mention of your business or yourself in the news. Be sure to include photos and/or videos of yourself, your storefront, as well as your staff. Make it as personable and likeable as possible!
- Products/Services Page – Clearly describe your products or services in a way that explains how it benefits your customers, how it can change their lives, and/or how it can solve their problems and pains. Additionally, what make your services or products unique or better than the competition. Remember, it’s not about you but it’s about what you can do for your prospects.
- Contact Us Page – The Contact Us page should include a map of the location of your business, directions to your business as well a form for customers to fill out if they need to contact you or ask you for more information. If you use Google Maps, Google provides you with a code that you can embed on your website so that the Google map of your business location can be published on your website.
- Resource Page – The Resource page can include links to sites that may help your visitors and links to free content that you produce yourself. Giving away high quality free content in the forms of articles, video instructions, downloadable PDFs and tip sheets, etc is a fantastic way to build your credibility and establish yourself as the expert and thought leader in your business.
- Success Stories/Testimonials Page – Testimonials are important for establishing your credibility and instilling confidence in your prospects’ mind. If you can get photos and videos of the people giving the testimonials, which would add more power to your credibility.
- Gallery Page – The Gallery page is recommended for business such as photography or general contractor. Here, you can show off photos of your past projects. You can also show the “before and after” photos of your clients/projects.
- Call To Actions – This is perhaps the most important objective of your website. Once you got your visitors to visit your website, you don’t want them to leave and forget all about you. Your job is to convince them to do business with you and to take some actions. Call to Actions could be calling you for more information or to make an appointment, filling out a “contact us” form, or signing up to your newsletter. To entice your prospects to take actions, you can provide them with a coupon or a free gift.
In addition to making sure your website contain the above elements, your website should follow the guidelines below to ensure the visitors have the best experience and to ensure the search engines understand what your website is about.
- Use relevant and meaningful names for each webpages. Don’t call it www.yourdomain.com/page1.html or www.yourdomain.com/page2.html. If you have a page about your dog grooming service in Seattle, then name your page something like www.yourdomain.com/seattle-dog-grooming-service.html.
- Avoid flash if possible – Flash takes awhile to load and it’s not search engine friendly. You don’t really need to use Flash to make a good website. Having a good layout and knowing how to combine colors, good spacing, and fonts can produce a simple, yet elegant and attractive looking website.
- Make sure you have original and unique content on every page of your website. The search engines do not like duplicate content and may penalize you in terms of ranking.
- Incorporate videos – Videos are great for enhancing your visitors’ experience. You can create a welcome video or instructional videos of how to use your products or perform a certain task. For example, if you are a fitness trainer, you can create videos of you teaching people the correct way to do squats or what are the best exercises to give you flat abs. Nowadays, it’s so easy to create a video. You can create a video with a Flip Cam or even your phone camera.
If you follow the above guidelines, you will have a trustworthy, professional, and attractive website that represents your business well. This is priceless!
Once you have built your website, the next step is to promote your website and drive visitors to your business!
Resources to Create and Setup Your Website
Below are everything that you need to set up and create a professional looking website for your local business:
- Get Hosting and free Domain at Bluehost
- Get hundreds of designers to compete and design a professional looking logo for you at 99Designs.
- Get the Smallbiz Professional WordPress theme – Allow you to easily setup your website in minutes. Another alternative for you to be able to easily create your website in minutes is the website creation solution from Homestead.
- Get attractive looking photos and images from Fotolia.com to enhance the look and feel of your website.