If you have built a new startup website or made your current site more effective, here are some next steps to help your small business website compete effectively in the online marketplace, and be a little easier to use.
Perhaps this should have been on the earlier blog but here are a few things to consider, you can always migrate your site if your hosting is not up to it.
Type of Server:
- Shared server. Pros cost just a few dollars a month. Cons You are sharing the server with others and this can mean your site is slowed as resources are consumed. Even worse if one of the sites is hacked it is possible for your site to be hacked or infected as well.
- Dedicated Server: Pros the physical server machine is entirely dedicated to your site; therefore, all the resources are yours and it is more secure than a shared hosting plan. Cons the cost can be beyond the budget for many and it may be overkill for most small businesses.
- Virtual Private Server: This is the one we use, even for our own site and our customers websites. A VPS is one machine that is partitioned to act as multiple machines, which gives it a similar affordability to shared hosting, with similar security and performance potential as a dedicated server hosting plan. It also gives us the flexibility to increase the capacity without waiting to purchase and install new dedicated servers.
Server Interface and Security
There needs to be an easy-to-use server interface like cPanel to access your server. You do not want to have to use terminal commands to view your server contents and make changes unless you can afford to hire a professional server administrator to help you.
Check to see what kind of server security is in place on the server you are considering. You will want to be able to access your server via Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). There should be daily backups being made of your server contents. There should also be an easy, one or two-click method to install Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates.
Content Management System (CMS)
A content management system (CMS) is a software program or application that is used to create and manage digital content. A good CMS will help you maintain your site, and you don’t need much technical knowledge to use it. You should choose a CMS that is designed for your unique needs; different systems are used for different reasons, such as user-friendliness, extensibility, and budget.
WordPress: WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS. It has a vast, active support community and many useful plugins to extend the functionality of your site. (And if you cannot find a plugin that does what you want, it is easy to find a WordPress developer who can make one for you!) WordPress is also free and relatively simple to install. Most website developers are familiar with it so it is not hard to find an individual or agency that can work on your site. I normally recommend that small businesses use WordPress to create their websites, due to its flexibility and extendability.
Both content quantity and freshness are important to search engines, so it’s important that you create a plan to publish quality articles and/or blog posts on your site and on external sites that link to your site. If you want to rank highly in search engine results and encourage people to return to your site again and again, you will have to update your website with new and relevant content as frequently as possible.
In addition to static page content and articles, a great form of content to post on your website is testimonials. Asking for testimonials from your customers and then publishing them on your website is a great way to post fresh, high-quality content on your site that makes your small business more attractive.
Website maintenance plan
A website shouldn’t be created and then allowed to grow stale. In order to have a successful website that ranks well in search engines and doesn’t get hacked, you need to make sure it is properly maintained.
Here are some tips to create a small business website maintenance plan:
- Check Webmaster Tools data at least once a month and have any vital errors emailed to you in real-time.
- Use traffic data to learn more about your audience so you can better cater to them.
- Use performance data to optimize and fix warnings and errors.
- Make sure all software is always up to date.
- Run security scans so you know your website is clean of malware and hasn’t been hacked.
- Follow my advice about SEO, and continually publish quality content.
- Find on-trend and effective ways to market your business online.
- Allow website users to provide you with feedback about your site.
- Continue to check out your competition from time to time to see what they are doing with their online presence and see if what they’ve done can work for you as well.
- Make sure your website is backed up in multiple ways at least once a day and at least 10 days back.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is an extremely important ongoing process that can mean the difference between showing up on the first page of search engine results pages (resulting in large amounts of free traffic to your website) or page 300 (resulting in no traffic).
Once your website is “crawled” by search engines, it competes with websites that have similar content. The better your website design and content are, the higher your site will show up on search engine result pages. Be aware that the “rules” the search engines use are changing all the time so it is important to keep up to date with these changes
The main SEO practices are :
- Keyword research and implementation
- Optimal website code
- Fast loading speed
- Having a mobile-friendly site
- Existence of high-quality backlinks (links on external websites with related content) that lead to your site
- Internal links throughout your site to keep people clicking and reading
- Using social media to link to your site (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.)