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How to Make a Business Website

It doesn’t matter what type of business you run; having a web presence is a must. Whether you want to sell digital content, bring in prospective clients, or drive foot traffic to your physical store, a well-built website plays a critical role. 

According to research, the average cost of starting a small business website can range anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 if you use professional services. But if you don’t have this amount of money on hand to invest, you can do it yourself for less than $100.

While building a website can feel daunting, it’s not impossible. Whether you have a team or you’re a solo entrepreneur, you can build your business website in a few easy steps. 

Benefits of creating a website for your business

Before we dig into how to make a website, it’s important to understand why your business needs a website in the first place. In the simplest terms, a website makes it easier for you to grow your business, but why is that?

1. It gives you an air of professionalism

Not only does an online storefront give your customers a place to find you while they’re surfing the web, but it helps build a professional brand. In fact, 77 per cent of consumers believe that having a website makes a business appear more credible. You can take this credibility one step further with a branded email address. And since 74 per cent of consumers also say that they trust a branded email, it’s worth the extra step to use [email protected], over a generic email address like [email protected].

2. Customers expect you to have a website

Not only does a website make your business more trustworthy, but customers actually expect you to have one. Some 86 per cent of consumers would prefer a business to have a website over social media pages.

And while 46 per cent of businesses believe they don’t need a website, 81 per cent of consumers look at a company’s website before making a purchase. So, if you’re questioning whether you need one, rest assured the effort and expense is worth it. 

3. You own and control all the content

Unlike on social media platforms like Instagram, where your content and Instagram business account can be taken down, reused, or otherwise changed without your consent, you own and control the content on your website.

The terms of service that you agreed to (probably without reading) when you sign up for a social media profile gives companies power to do what they want. Your content can be taken down, changed, and even repurposed into their own simply by being published.

You might think this isn’t really a problem for you, but it’s often not people making content moderation choices. Instead, algorithms perform the task, and they’re notorious for making mistakes. It’s not unheard of for a valid business account to be shut down without notice or recourse.

If your entire customer database is housed on Instagram, Facebook, or elsewhere, and your account gets shut down without warning, you could start from zero.

4. It can help bring more customers to your business

More customers typically equals more money. A well-built and well-optimized website can help with your inbound marketing. Instead of having to go out and drum up business for yourself, it can help drum up leads for you.

Of course, this isn’t instantaneous. Just because you build a website doesn’t mean that the customers are going to pour in. You’ll need to design an inbound marketing strategy, set up sales funnels, and make sure your website is well-optimized and easy to find.

14 steps to make a great website for your business

With the “why” out of the way, it’s time to dig into the practical, actionable steps that you need to turn your website dream into a reality. It’s possible that not all of these steps will apply to your specific business.

It’s worthwhile to point out that you can also hire a design company or marketing consultant to make the entire process easier. But many solopreneurs have built themselves functional and aesthetically pleasing websites all on their own.

1. Determine the purpose of your website

Before you get too far in the website building process, you’ll want to stop and take some time to plan. Websites can serve several purposes from helping you share news to selling your products. So before you build your own website, it’s helpful to figure out what you need it to do.

Some of the most common ways entrepreneurs use websites to build their business include:

  • Spread the word about their brand
  • Sell products
  • Collect emails and create a prospect database
  • Position their brand’s expertise
  • Learn about their customers
  • Share news and updates
  • Establish a point of contact with prospective customers or clients
  • Get their brand, business, services, and products found

What you need your website to do for you will depend on the needs of your business. Also, keep in mind that your website will change and expand as your business does. For now, try to keep your immediate needs in mind, otherwise you might end up overwhelming yourself.

Also keep in mind that you’ll need a responsive design, since more than half of all global web traffic now comes from mobile devices

2. Build your pages

It doesn’t matter what the primary goals of your website are, it will require specific functionality to perform that task—if you want to collect emails or sell a product and collect payment, you’ll need to build in the tools to do this. Take what you know your website needs to do and outline:

  • The web pages you will need (hint: you’ll need at least an “about” and “contact” page).
  • What functionality your website needs to have—do you want to post blog articles each week? Should it have a contact form to collect emails for email marketing?
  • What you want the overall aesthetics of the website to look like—remember you want the look and feel of your website to reflect your brand. 
  • What you want your visitors to experience and do while they’re visiting your site.

You can absolutely do this on the fly, but planning it out ahead of time will help make sure that your website ends up doing what you need it to. Designing a website can take quite a while, so planning your pages out ahead of time means you should spend less time wondering what to tackle next. 

3. Purchase your domain name

Your domain name is the website address for your business on the internet. Visitors type it into their browser, or click through to a link and end up on your website. You can’t build a professional website without one.

The best domain names are:

  • Easy to remember
  • Aligned with your business
  • Easy to spell

In most cases, your domain will simply be your business name (i.e. However, you could run into a scenario where your business name is already taken or costs a lot to purchase.

Common words and phrases are often already taken, so if you find that your ideal business domain name isn’t available, consider a minor change or adding a different business extension.

In Canada, the best business domain name extensions tend to be .ca (especially if you primarily or exclusively serve Canadians), .com, or even. co. But these days your extension can be anything from .xyz to .dog, so take some time to explore and decide what works for you.

You might also come across a scenario where you have a killer domain idea but the purchase price of that domain is astronomical. Easy to spell and remember domain names that are common words or phrases often face a hefty markup if they’re still available. So you might have to make a slight change here too.

Domain names can be purchased through a variety of places. You might find that your new host or website builder offers a free domain name for a year. But if that’s not the case, third-party services like Namecheap often have domain name sales.

It’s important to remember that you need to renew your domain name annually or you risk losing it. And the renewal fee is often more expensive than your original purchase price. 

4. Choose your website builder and host

Your website will need both a content management system (CMS) or business website builder, and a host. But, sometimes, the website builder you choose will determine your host.

When you use an all-in-one website builder like Squarespace or Wix, you don’t need to arrange for a third-party host. But a CMS like WordPress requires a hosting service like SiteGround, HostPapa, or GoDaddy to work.

If it’s your first foray into creating a website, then using a website builder with an all-in-one platform has clear advantages. There is a much smaller learning curve, and its easy drag-and-drop function means your website looks how you want it to. You can also do all of your management and maintenance within their platform.

You will have to pay a monthly subscription to this platform, which might look at its surface to be more expensive than using WordPress’s free platform and a third-party host. But when you really break it down, they’re pretty close.

Your first year at a third-party host can be as little as $3.99 per month (though you have to pay it in a lump sum) but any year beyond that will probably end up costing you upwards of $200 annually. Comparatively, Wix’s Unlimited hosting plan costs $14 USD per month.

5. Build your website

With your prep work out of the way, it’s time to dig into the actual building of your site. While this process looks a little different depending on the CMS you’re using, it usually involves the following steps:

  • Set up an account with your chosen CMS (if you haven’t already)
  • Connect your domain to your account (if you purchased it through a third-party service)
  • Set up the structure of your site, including components like page and category structure
  • Build pages and input the content that you have written (or write the content as you go)
  • Set up your main landing (or home) page
  • Put together additional landing pages you might have for lead magnets or products
  • Add products and descriptions (especially if you’re running an online retail outlet)

You want to make sure that you also have an easy way for prospective clients to reach out to you. This might seem like an obvious thing to include, but it’s an essential component that newer websites may lack. You can do this with a generic contact form, but it also helps to include a business email on your site as well.

6. Fine-tune your content

The content on your website will change as your business does, but you always want to put your best foot forward. That means that once your website is set up, it’s time to sift through it with a fine-toothed comb.

Check for spelling and grammatical errors or missed filler text—no one wants to unravel the lorem ipsum jargon. 

You also want to double-check that everything that’s on your website matches your overall brand. Remember, your website could very well be the first point of contact for prospective clients or customers, so you want to make sure that it’s informative.  

Don’t just look at the text either, take a critical look at everything on your site from fonts and colours to images and graphics. Everything that you present should be cohesive and eloquently represent who your company is and what you do.

7. Set up a payment system (if you need one)

With your structure set up and your content in place, it’s time to think about the business side of your website. Not every business will take online payments, but if yours has products or services that can be purchased through your site, you’ll need a payment platform or a POS (Point of Sale) system

Depending on what CMS you’re using, an ecommerce solution might be built right in (like with Shopify) or easy to add (like the WooCommerce platform with WordPress). In either case, these solutions not only allow customers to pay right on your website, but help you manage your products overall. 

These eCommerce solutions typically have their own payment solutions build-in, like Shopify Payments. But you can often connect a third-party service like Stripe or PayPal if that’s what you prefer.

Whatever you choose, you want to make it as easy as possible for customers to purchase from you. Plus, you want to make sure you can accurately track each cent that comes into your business.

8. Connect your analytics service

If you plan on growing your business, website analytics will play an important role. Analytics provide you with information about how many people visit your site, what they do while they’re there, and even give you (non-identifiable) information about who they are.

You should opt to connect an analytics service as soon as you can (preferably before you go live), even if you don’t plan on checking them at all. Analytics won’t be useful to you until you’ve been able to connect at least a few months’ worth of data—but if you don’t connect them right away, you won’t have that data to look at when you’re ready.

Platforms like Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix all have their own built-in analytics option, and for WordPress, you can connect a free plugin like Analytify or Monster Insights. But it will still be helpful in the long-run to connect a free third-party analytics program like Google Analytics and Google Search Console

While Google Analytics helps you find out who is on your site and what they’re doing, Search Console gives you insight into how they got there. Using a combination of the two can be a powerful tool to evaluate the success of your website. 

9. Test and publish your website

Before you hit “publish” on your website, you want to double and triple-check everything. You want every visitor, from first to last, to have a positive experience on your website. 

So, take a step back and put aside your website for a good 24-to-48 hours. Then, head back in and check absolutely everything. Read all your content from top to bottom, check every link, do a test to sign up for your email list, and make sure all the images are in place and show up.

When you’re happy with everything on your website, you can make it live. If you’re using WordPress, this could be as easy as turning off a coming soon plugin or turning your site from offline to online mode. With Wix, Squarespace, or other all-in-one platforms, it’s a button or two, usually under the settings.

10 . Make sure it’s mobile responsive

Not only do you want to do a test of your website on a desktop computer, but be sure to check each page of your website on a mobile phone (ideally, both iOS and iPhone), and if you have access to one, a tablet. This is an important step, since over 29.8-million Canadians surf the web with their phone. 

You can take this one step further by having a trusted friend, colleague, or mentor give your website a look-over. It can be intimidating to show your hard work to a friend. But since they haven’t been working day and night on the website, they’re much more likely to catch a mistake or point out an area that could use a slight tweak.

11. Make your site visible on Google with SEO

Organic traffic is important to business websites of all kinds. It helps drive visitors to your website by inputting a search term, all without costing you extra in advertising.

The search engine rankings of the various pages on your site determine where they sit on Google. Usually, the top 10 pages sit on page one, the next 10 on page two, and so on. This means that if your blog post on The best video conferencing software ranks 76 on Google for the term “video conferencing,” a searcher is going to have to do a lot of digging to get to your post. So, the higher the ranking, the better.

But littering your post with the term “video conferencing” won’t help you rank higher because Google knows what you’re trying to do. It doesn’t simply rank pages and posts that mention a topic the most, it’s looking for high-quality content that can answer the questions of visitors using their search engine. 

With that in mind, a combination of posting fresh content and running through a SEO checklist for each blog post can help you boost your search engine optimization. Here’s what you want to be adding to your post:

  • Main or primary keyword – This is the word that you’re trying to rank for, like “video conferencing.” Ideally, your main keyword will appear in both your main and meta titles, meta description, somewhere in the first 10 per cent of your content, an H2 or H3 header, and sprinkled throughout your content (but don’t overdo it).
  • Secondary and tertiary keywords – These keywords complement your primary one. They can be long tails that include it (like “best video conferencing software for small business”), variations of the keyword (like “video conference” or “video conferences”), and they can be keywords related to the topic (like “web camera” or “online meeting”). Ideally, you have a combination of all the above, and incorporate them in a way that reads naturally.  
  • Other media – This includes images, video, and audio that’s optimized. Most commonly, this applies to images. The file name of what you’re uploading to your site should apply to the subject matter, short, and have dashes instead of spaces in between words (for example “team-video-conference.jpeg), if at all possible. The alt text should also be filled out, and while it needs to accurately describe the media, if you can naturally fit in a keyword it’ll be to your benefit. Images, videos, and other media components have a chance of ranking in their own categories if properly optimized.
  • Internal links – These help move visitors through your website and tell search engines that there is other relevant content on your website pertaining to this topic (or similar topics).
  • External links – Link to relevant high-quality sources and opt for trusted sites with good information. 

This is really only a taste of how to optimize your site, but it’s a great start for new online business sites.

If you’re working in WordPress, free plugins like Rank Math and Yoast SEO can help you reach your on-page SEO goals by telling you how well optimized a particular page is according to these rules. Other business website builder platforms have their own SEO tools. 

12. Measure the success of your website

Simply having a website for your small business isn’t enough, you want to make sure that it’s working how it should. That’s where your analytics come into play.

Measuring the success of anything—whether it be a marketing campaign, email strategy, or website—is something that most entrepreneurs aren’t great at. It’s not because they don’t want to see growth, but more likely because they don’t know how to.

Interpreting the data that comes from your website and determining what’s working can be pretty easy, if you understand what you’re looking at. But identifiers like “unique visitors,” “bounce rates,” and “source medium” can seem like gibberish if you’ve never been told what they mean.

Not all data is of equal value when it comes to measuring your website’s success. So here are a few things you’ll want to pay attention to:

  • Users, New Users and Sessions – The “Users” number is the overall visitors to your site within a specific time period, whether they’ve been there before. Comparatively, “New Users” are those that have made their first stop ever to your site within that time period. Finally, “Sessions” are the number of times that a user has interacted with your site—a single user can have multiple sessions if they visit more than once during the same period.

For example, during a specific time frame you could have two Users, one New User, and four Sessions—this would mean that you have one returning user, one that has never been to your site before, and one or both of them visited more than once.

  • Pageviews – This is the total number of pages viewed within the defined time period. Your total “Pageviews” number can include multiple visits to a page by a single user, which could occur during a single session. You can dig further into Pageviews to find your “Unique Pageviews”—this number is usually lower than the total, and is the number of sessions a page was viewed during but does not include multiple views during a single session.
  • Sessions by device – The percentage of users that view your website on a desktop, mobile phone, or tablet.
  • Traffic channel – This outlines how people are getting to your site, and breaks down:
    • Social media – Found your site through a social link
    • Direct – (Typed the URL into their browser or visited from a saved bookmark
    • Paid search – Came to your site through an ad that you set up
    • Display – Clicked a display ad
    • Other advertising – Via an ad that was not paid search or display
    • Referral – (Through a link on another website, but not directly from a social media platform
    • Email – Clicked on an email link
    • Organic search – Through Google or another search engine
  • Bounce Rate – This is the percentage of users who leave after visiting only one page on your site. You can dig into your pages to find what percentage of people exit after leaving that page.
  • Average time on page and session duration – These numbers tell you how long people spend on your site. Ideally, you want visitors to spend more time on both your site and pages.

This is a quick overview of what you’re looking at when you open Google Analytics (or another service). But if you really want to grow your site, it doesn’t hurt to dig into your metrics.

13. Regularly create and publish quality content

Creating your business website is only one step of the process. If you don’t utilize it to its full potential, then it does nothing for your business—which means you need to create a content plan. 

What does high quality content mean?

The term high quality when it comes to website and blog content means that what you’re posting is:

  • Well researched
  • Well written
  • Unique (not copied from other sources)
  • Provides value

Regarding blog posts, this usually means that a post is over 1,000 words (this is for the search engines, as Google and Bing typically don’t like “thin” content), shares meaningful information, and answers questions that your readers are interested in.

For this reason, you may want to avoid relying on those trendy AI (artificial intelligence) writing tools like GPT-3 and ChatGPT, as they can potentially harm your website if you use them to produce content at scale.

Creating content that fits this bill is a time commitment. But in return for publishing high-quality content, you have a better chance of:

  • Driving traffic to your website
  • Generating high quality leads
  • Increasing click-through rate (CTR) from search engines
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Improving you social media presence

How often should you post new content your business website?

There is no rule about how often you need to update your site with fresh content, but your website has the best potential to gain traffic if you publish between 2-4 high-quality pieces of content per week.

That’s a big take for new entrepreneurs, so if you have it in your budget, consider getting a freelance writer or content creator to help you out.

14. Maintain your website

A website is an ever-changing tool for your business that will change and grow as your business does. 

While it’s important to keep your website up-to-date with blog posts, company news, and industry insights, there are other important factors in maintaining your site. You’ll want to pay attention to things like:

  • Website speed and loading time (e.g. optimize for Core Web Vitals)
  • Security (i.e. frequently changing your website passwords, ensuring your site is secure with HTTPS, etc)
  • Dead or broken links 
  • Out of date information

As this can all factor into your visitor’s experience, and whether they end up purchasing your products and services.

Beyond that, making sure that your website software and any plugins or integrations are up-to-date is important. If it’s not, you risk being hacked, which can put you not only in legal hot water but contribute to a break in trust with customers and prospects. 

Your website can help your business go much further than you could on your own, and maintaining it helps ensure that customers keep coming in, even if you’re not actively searching for them.

 Register your business and launch your website today!

Sitting down and building your website all in one day can be overwhelming. Instead, take some time and build yourself a project plan on a timeline that works for you.

Maybe today you poke around on the Internet and see what other businesses in your industry are doing on their website, tomorrow pencil out what you want your website to do for you, and the next day you search for domain names. 

A good website really takes some time to create, but every business needs one. And, if you’re ready to make your business official, Ownr is here to help. Not only are there stellar guides on setting up and running a business, but we can help you register your business in minutes, from home (even in your PJs).

There’s no time better than right now to start your next business adventure.

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