Of all the tools in a small business owner’s marketing arsenal, your website can be one of the most powerful. A well-designed site can be the critical difference that makes a customer choose to stay, browse and buy instead of moving on to a competitor’s page.
Many small business owners hire web design professionals to create their site, but building and managing your own is easy with Verizon Websites powered by Intuit, just launched this week. The service includes an easy-to-use site-building tool along with unique templates, tools for social networking and much more.
First Things First
In order to ensure you’re ready to update and populate your website, there are three things you should consider as you build a website:
1) Assemble Your Content. A good design is a starting point: the really important parts are the information and images on your site. Decide what information will be important to your visitors. Using relevant, descriptive text on your website is important not only to your visitors but also for search engines, which read the text to determine what keywords are relevant to your site. Make sure all your contact information is included in this content and complete pricing/product/service information is easy to find.
2) Choose a Design and Customize. Go to the Verizon Websites information page and create an account. Following registration, you will have access to more than 2,000 professionally designed webpages created to enable you to create a site that suits your unique business needs. Use the tools to quickly and easily drag and drop your business’s logo, photos, texts and graphics. You will also be offered the option to purchase a domain name (think www.yourcompanynamehere.com) for your site.
3) Click Publish. And your site is live to the world! After you’ve published you can make updates to your site anywhere you have access to the Internet, which includes functionalities like social networking tools and blogs.
- Get Noticed: The next crucial step is to get people to your website. Intuit's WebListings service submits business information to more than 100 major local search sites, including Google, Yahoo! and Bing, to help local customers find the business.
- Enhance. Use search engine optimization (SEO) technology to make sure your site gets found through important search engines. SEO can be complicated, so make sure your website provider offers tools to help you do this easily and provides education on how to do it yourself. You can find free online resources that can help you get started like this Online Marketing Toolkit.
You may also want to consider search engine marketing (SEM), which allows businesses to pay for increased traffic from search engines to your website. You have more immediate control over making your website easier to find in search engines, especially if your SEO results are not yet visible, or if you would like to increase awareness at a specific point in time – i.e. for an event or sale.
- Interact: Once you’ve got your site up and listed on the directories, use features like a blog, a Facebook page for your business and other social networking tools, which are free to use. These require your time and effort but pay off in terms of traffic to your site and new customers in your business.
The key to remember throughout all of this: what will get me the most customers? As you create your site, put yourself in the mind of your customer so that you create the best experience possible for them.
As leader of Intuit's Grow Your Business Division, Angus Thomson focuses on helping small businesses grow their revenues through services such as websites, customer relationship management, email marketing and online reputation management. Helping small businesses succeed has been a passion for Angus ever since he helped his mother run two small businesses of her own while growing up in San Francisco.
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