Small Business Websites – Inbound Marketing for Small Business

Man researches how to make a small business website

Welcome to our multiple part series on inbound marketing for small business.  In this series we will go over the different parts of inbound marketing and how it fits into your current marketing strategy.  This week we will go over creating your small business website and how to make a great first impression.

Your website is the online representation of your business.  As we went over last week, it can be your marketing, sales, customer service, and PR departments all in one place.

Tools to Create a Small Business Website

While there are plenty of companies that will design your website for you, there are a couple of tools that can help you do it yourself.  Just as a warning, some of the links provided are affiliate links (marked with a *), which means that if you purchase anything from them after following the link, I may receive a commission.  That being said, I am only recommending tools that I personally use and pretty much every one of them was used to create this website.

Choosing a Domain Name

First, you need a website name (Domain Name or URL).  For the most part you want to use your business name with as little changes as possible with a “.com” ending (top-level domain or “TLD”).  If  you don’t have a business name yet, try to pick one that has the domain available.  There are websites to find business names with curated content and categories to recommend names for you, or you can think of a name yourself and see if it is available for purchase at a website like NameCheap*.  Unclaimed domains are usually between $5 and $15 per year depending on if there is a sale going on or if you get something other than a “.com”.  After purchasing a domain, you will need some place to host it.

Hosting Your Small Business Website

There are many choices for website hosting, but as long as they are semi inexpensive, have good up-time, and great customer service, any of them should be fine.  I personally use HostGator* as they have a pretty good control panel and have easy WordPress integration.  Unless your website is your business and you plan on having a huge amount of traffic, the smallest plan is usually adequate.  After getting the hosting package, you will want to find your “Name Server”.  If you used HostGator, you can use this link and follow the instructions to find it.  If not, use your host’s help page to search for “Finding your name server”.

After you find your name server, go back to where you purchased your domain (such as NameCheap.com) and enter it into the domain settings under the Name Server section as a “custom DNS”.  This will point your website name to your website hosting so that if someone types “yourbusiness.com” into the URL bar, it will take them to your website’s content.

Installing WordPress and Your Theme

A content management system or “CMS”, like WordPress, can be a great tool for putting up content without knowing how to code.  WordPress allows you to type the content and then format it using predesigned templates, making the website creation process much easier.  While the themes that come with it are pretty lackluster, there are plenty of websites that have free or cheap themes for sale such as Theme Forest.  I personally use a plugin (which I will go over later) called BeaverBuilder that has its own themes that you can purchase.

One of my favorite things about HostGator is how easy it is to install WordPress.  In your hosting control panel, there is a button that says “Get Started with WordPress Today”.  After clicking that button, click Install WordPress under the free options.  You will be asked to pick your website out of a drop down list and create an account login.  You will then receive an email with your temporary password and login instructions.  Usually the login site will be “yourbusiness.com/login”.

Customizing Your Website Theme

After installing WordPress and picking your theme, it is time to start customizing your website!  Unless you are running a news/blogging company or an online store, your home page should probably be static.  You will also want to change the colors and fonts to match your marketing.  Design choices can largely be personal preference, so you need to design your website to match what your potential customers will like to see.

Installing Website Plugins

Plugins are little additions to your website that you can add through WordPress to improve certain things.  They are all downloadable from the WordPress plugins store and all the ones I mention below are free (but you can get premium versions if needed).  Here is a list of some that I used on this website and recommend:

  • Jetpack by WordPress.com – Jetpack enables you to connect your blog to a WordPress.com account to use the powerful features normally only available to WordPress.com users.  I use this to check my site stats such as traffic.
  • Beaver Builder A drag and drop front end WordPress page builder plugin that works with almost any theme!  I use this plugin to edit the page live.  You basically click the section you want to edit and start typing and it just shows up formatted on the page without writing a single line of code.
  • Akismet – Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from spam. It keeps your site protected even while you sleep.
  • Yoast SEO – The first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.  It shows you if your posts are using SEO best practices as well as your posts readability.
  • WP Smush – Reduce image file sizes, improve performance and boost your SEO using the free WPMU DEV WordPress Smush API.  With the press of one button, it shrinks the photo to web sized so your pages load faster.
  • W3 Total Cache – The highest rated and most complete WordPress performance plugin. Dramatically improve the speed and user experience of your site. Add browser, page, object and database caching as well as minify and content delivery network (CDN) to WordPress.
  • Social Pug – Add beautiful social sharing buttons to your posts, pages and custom post types.
  • Google Analytics by WebKinder – Google Analytics for WordPress without tracking your own visits.

Creating Great Content

While there will be an entire post about content creation at a later time, here I will speak about the basic website structure you should use and the bare necessities for your brand new small business website.

  • Home Page – This is going to be your main landing page for your company.  You want to quickly go over everything your company does and why they should choose you.  This could include your general services, your company story, and maybe some past projects or testimonials.  You want this page to be attractive and informative without having any huge walls of text.  Wait until the specific pages to go into detail.
  • About Us/Team – Here you can go in-depth about your company story and talk about your team.  Include professional photos of your team members to give your company a more human feeling. Especially for service-oriented business websites, having pictures of your team makes you feel more authentic and may get a potential lead to give you a call over a competitor.
  • Services/Products – This is where you include what it is your company does and, if possible, how much it costs.  Obviously some services can wildly differ in cost and can’t be estimated without more information, but try to be give them as much information as possible.
  • Blog/Resources – Blogging isn’t just for bloggers anymore.  Use this section to give your clients information that they want to know.  This is the main part of your website when it comes to content creation and your inbound marketing strategy.  A well written, informative article can drive traffic to your small business website and can establish you as a thought-leader in your industry.  It will also let search engines, such as Google, know what your website is about and let you rank higher in their search results.  You want to be putting out content consistently to show that you are still active and growing.
  • Contact Us – Obviously your clients can’t hire you if they cant contact you.  Make sure there is an easy to find, simple place for your customers to go if they want more information or to purchase your goods/services.  If you have a physical location, make sure you put your address and preferably a picture and/or map.  Having your contact information in your footer or sidebar doesn’t hurt as well.

Other Tools

Stock Photos

One important part of creating a website is finding images to use.  Images will help elevate the look of your website greatly.  A common mistake is thinking that you can just google something and take whatever images pop up.  Images are intellectual property just like any other media and you can be liable for using them without the creator’s permission.  There are different types of permission, but you need to make sure you have the permission to use and/or edit the images for commercial purposes without credit.  If you misuse a photo, the owner can sue you for damages with costs into the millions, which can be detrimental to any small business.

There are a few tools you can use to find stock photos that are free or cheap to use and will save you a lot of headache.  I personally have started using unsplash.comphotopin.com, and deathtothestockphoto.com for my free stock photo needs.  If they don’t have what I’m looking for, there is always shutterstock.com or istockphoto.com for paid content.

Banners and Graphics

A tool that I recently started using for creating banners and graphics is Pablo.  This tool allows you to quickly place text over images for professional looking graphics in seconds.  Did I mention that it’s completely free? Even the images and fonts are covered under the creative commons license, so you are free to use them as you wish anywhere on your website.


I hope this has been an informative and helpful tutorial on small business website creation.  Whether you are a small business owner or a budding web developer yourself, feel free to send us a message and we would be happy to get in touch about how we can help.  In the next post, we will be talking about defining your target audience and how to use analytics to make sure your content is working for them.

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