We all know having a website for your business is crucial if you’re going to stay relevant to your customers. Unfortunately, a lot of small business websites are less than stellar. I would argue that having a bad site can be even more damaging than not having a site at all, because a site with bad content and terrible design can project a negative image of your business. For business owners, setting up a website might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
WordPress is one of several services that makes setting up a website for your business completely doable. WordPress has tons of tools and resources available to get your site going, but it can be confusing to navigate the myriad of features if you aren’t familiar with them. We’ve compiled a series of steps to get you started on your business’ WordPress site. For more WordPress help, refer to the guide below, created by Simply Business.
Click image to open interactive version (via Simply Business).
Decide on Your Domain Name
Your domain name is the name of your website (i.e. smithwidgets.com). Selecting a domain name can be very straight forward, but there are several tips you need to take into consideration:
- Brainstorm keywords: Think of keywords people might use in their searches to find your business. Will people be looking for “local widgets,” or “high quality widgets”? Brainstorming a list of several keywords can help you get a list of possible words for your domain name going.
- Keep it unique: If you’ve come up with several possible domain names, do a thorough Google search for those domain names. If they already exist, come up with something different. You don’t want to have a domain name that’s similar to another site, as that will likely cause a lot of confusion.
- Keep it simple: Your site will be much more successful if your domain name is short, simple, and easy to remember. Keep all words relevant to your purpose, and change any longer words. Your site will likely be spread by word-of-mouth much more often if your name is easy to remember and simple.
Don’t let the technicalities of hosting scare you off; it’s actually easier than it sounds. A web hosting service allows your website to be available online. There are several types of web hosts available: free, shared, VPS, dedicated servers, and managed WordPress hosting. The hosting service you choose will be based on your needs, and there are plenty of resources that can help you evaluate your website needs.
WordPress recommends three hosting services, all of which would be a great starting point for WordPress beginners.
- Bluehost offers unlimited disk storage, unlimited monthly data transfer, unlimited domains on one account, one free domain name, control panel, SimpleScripts, and mirrored storage backups.
- Dreamhost offers WordPress 1-click install, auto-updates, unlimited hosted domains, a free domain name, unlimited disk space, bandwidth, MySQL databases, and email addresses.
- Laughing Squid is a smaller, local service that focuses on small business and quality service.
There are literally thousands of WordPress plugins that you can use to extend the usability of your site. Plugins provide extra “features,” like Google maps, social share buttons, search bar, contact forms, or a calculator. Obviously you don’t need the majority of plugins that are out there, but there are plugins specific for business websites that can help you and your customers make the most out of your site.
You can install your plugin from your admin panel within WordPress, under the “appearance” bar. You can simply search for your plugin, and click “activate.” Plugins are great features, but don’t get carried away by using too many. Install the ones you believe will benefit you and your customers most, but pass on ones you won’t use.
Some recommended WordPress plugins:
- All in One SEO Pack: This plugin makes it really easy to customize your title tags and meta descriptions for the pages on your WordPress site so they are better optimized for search engines.
- Tweet & Like: This is one of the many plugins available to help you add buttons on your site to make it easy for people to Facebook Like, Tweet, or +1 a page on your site.
- Top 10 – Popular Posts: Tracks visits to each post and shows your most popular posts in the sidebar.
- Yet Another Related Posts Plugin: Algorithmically recommends related posts based on the content of a post.
- Google Analytics for WordPress: Makes it easy to connect your Google Analytics account to your WordPress Account.
Maintaining Your Site
The key to a great business website is to maintain it well. If you create an interactive community on your site, where people can ask questions, or you post articles/information, people will rely on your site for information and service. You shouldn’t simply create your site and leave it alone, but rather maintain its relevancy and design.
About the author: James Daugherty is Seattle based blogger focused on marketing and social media.
Modern Media Icon image from Shutterstock.