Daily Archives: February 26, 2013

A Simple Guide to Launching Your Small Business Website and Blog

websites-blog-samplesSetting up and launching a business website is a must if you are to succeed in marketing. Whether you’re hiring a website designer or doing everything yourself, having an online hub is vital. There’s simply no way around it, and today we’ll show you how to create and launch your small business website. We’ll focus primarily on setting up a self-hosted website using WordPress.

Before that, though, a number of folks may question why they need self-hosted websites for their small businesses, when there’s Facebook, Twitter, and so on. Setting up a business site involves a bit of time and financial investment, while Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other social media outlets are free. So what are the benefits to running your own website versus relying on third-party social media?

Facebook vs. Self-hosted Site

It’s true that a business website probably won’t be able to attract the gazillions of users that are on Facebook and Twitter combined. However, a small business owner should still build a strong online hub for the following reasons:

1. Ownership

As “king of your online castle,” you own not just the domain, but all the content in the site. By registering your own domain, you’re not just sitting on someone else’s property. Setting up your stand-alone website builds your authority in your niche, and adds to your legitimacy as a professional business owner.

2. Stability

The nature of social media means that its content changes rapidly by the day – or the hour! Updates that you’ve written yesterday may no longer be visible today. Not so with websites and blogs. Posted content is available on your site as long as it’s online. Such evergreen content will continue to help you build your brand and increase your search engine ranking.

3. Control

As the owner of your website, you control everything that your audience sees about your business. You decide what the content will be, and the action steps that will be available to your site’s visitors.

These are just three reasons why investing in a self-hosted website will bring you a greater return than spending all your online marketing efforts on social media.

That said, we’re not saying that you should concentrate solely on your website.

In fact, the opposite is true.

Being active on social media is essential for marketing your brand. If you’re building an audience online, you should be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. However, none of these sites should take the place of your website.

Your website should be the hub of all your online efforts. Social media should be outposts used to drive your desired audience to your website, where they can then make decisions to purchase your products or engage your services.

Setting Up a Self-Hosted Website and Blog

When we talk about setting up your online site, we also mean getting a blog up and running as part of your website. Having a blog offers advantages than a static website doesn’t have.

In terms of posting evergreen, useful content that will help you rank high in search engines, there’s nothing quite as easy to use as a blog. Posts and pages are what will give your website/blog depth in your niche topic. And blogs are inherently set up to make frequent posting quick and painless.

The steps below outline the process for setting up your blog from scratch:

1. Register your domain name

For maximum SEO benefits and brand recognition, your domain name should be www.yourbusiness.com. You register your domain through one of many domain registrars, such as HostGator, GoDaddy, NetworkSolutions, etc.

Registration must be renewed yearly. You can save money by registering domain for several years at a time.

2. Secure a hosting service

A webhost is the physical server where your website and data are kept. Many hosting companies also offer domain registration. You pay a fee for using the server space and bandwidth to run your website.

3. Install WordPress

WordPress is one of the best and easiest software to use for blogging. The software itself is free, and is available to download at WordPress.org. Some hosting companies offer a one-click installation to your domain.

4. Install a theme

While WordPress comes with a pre-installed theme (or blog design), you may want to install a different one that will better suit your business and your purposes. There are many free themes available for download. These may be accessed within the WordPress software or downloaded from WordPress.org.

For better functionality and a more professional look, you can also purchase a theme or get a website designer to create a custom look for your website that will grow with your content. Full disclosure, there are some restrictions with WordPress and other blogging software templates. Most small businesses will be well served with most of the templates but when you start to add more bells and whistles to your company website you may need a more robust custom template that will handle custom programming.

5. Start blogging

Once WordPress and the theme are installed, you can start creating content for your website. Login through www.yourbusiness.com/wp-admin/ to start posting pages and posts for your new online hub.

If you’re a DIYer, these first steps will help you launch your small business website and start building an audience online. However, if you’re not the type to dive into domain names and WordPress themes, you may want to look into having a web design or marketing company do these for you. The important thing is for you to get your brand in front of your audience, and establish yourself as an expert that they can trust with their business. And a well-designed small business website is the cornerstone of your online marketing strategy.