Your business website is your chance to create something that can reach people literally across the world with the message of what you have to offer. Your site links your business with those who need its services.
According to Forbes, these are the top reasons a business needs a business website:
- Organic Traffic
- Customer Service
- Updated and Announcements
- Digital Marketing
Of course, all of these are important. But, the fact that it can create credibility may be the most important. Why? Because the credibility of your business is a direct link to the Fundability™ of your business.
The Connection Between Your Business Website and Fundability
Many small business owners do not realize that their business website can play a major role in the Fundability™ of their business. In fact, it is part of the very foundation of Fundability™.
Potential lenders are highly likely to search for your business online. If they find no online presence, or only social media, or even worse, a very poorly designed business website, they may very well deny funding. Even if that isn’t the decision maker, it can be the breeze that pushes the needle to the denial side if they are on the line.
But where do you get started? How much should you budget? What’s more important, design or maintenance? Do you need to pay for a designer, writer, or SEO specialist? Which areas are okay to skimp on and what do you need to splurge for?
Your Business Web Page From the Beginning
What makes a good business website? Well, it needs to be one that people can find when they look for it. It also needs to be one that shows up when people don’t even know your business is what they are looking for. Strong SEO can make this happen.
Yet, a business website is not just another way for your customers and prospects to find you. In this day and age, most consumers start with an online search when looking for a service or product. Your website is your first impression, on both potential customers and potential lenders.
The short answer is, yes. Prospects will search for your business online, likely using Google. Think about it, from Gmail to Google Workspace, Google is everywhere.
So, what happens if they can’t find your site on the web, except via social media like Facebook or TikTok?
You can put out a lot more information via a web page. Your social media pages can be another means to direct people to your site. However, it should not take the place of a well designed business website with strong SEO.
Having your own website also means owning your site and your message fully, whereas a Facebook page is subject to Facebook’s Terms of Service. Social media sites also can (like anything else) go out of business. Retaining your own information on your own site (and backing it up regularly) will prevent that sort of problem from happening.
Paid Hosting vs. Free Hosting
What is the difference between using a custom domain on a hosting plan, versus a free site on the web?
For one thing, you have more control over your own site content if you purchase a hosting plan.
A free option will likely not offer as much control. For example, it may require you to use only their particular website builder. A cookie cutter website builder might make an e-commerce site look too much like a news site.
It’s important to pay attention to these things on the front end. A business website is hard to move, and the better decision you make in the beginning, the less likely it is that you will have to move around the web anytime soon.
Answer the Hosting Account Question By Working With a Hosting Company
Yes, it will cost more. But you will own your content. This is vital, in case you’re working with a smaller hosting provider, and they go out of business. Fighting to get your information off of a web server is not fun. You may also be able to get better phone support with a paid account.
If you are unsure and want to do some research before you take the plunge into a paid account, find out what other business websites are using the hosting service you are considering. Ask these other businesses what kind of experience they have had with that particular service.
You’ll Get a Custom Domain Name
Between yourbusiness.freehostingservice.com and yourbusiness.com, which do you think looks more professional? Which does it seem customers and prospects would trust more?
Paying for hosting and a custom domain name goes a long way toward building credibility with prospects and potential lenders on the front end. Not only that, but it can actually help with SEO as well.
Good Domain Names
The best domain name will probably include your business name. A short and easy to spell domain name is better.
Try to keep zeroes and ones out of domain names because they may look like letters. The last thing your business wants to do is confuse visitors with your own domain name!
If you can get a .com or .net, run with it. These are the most common, but also they are harder to get now because so many are already taken.
JoesPizza.com is going to be easier to remember than JoesPizza.co. But, if you can’t get JoesPizza.com, JoesPizza.co is better than JP.com, as no one will really ever get that as a pizza place. There is a balance.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Why do some websites pop up in search results before others? How do you get your page to show up higher in search results? The answer is SEO.
That is, search engine optimization. It is both the art and science of teaching search engines that your content is what people are really looking for.
You, the business website owner, should only care about Google. Other search engines have similar requirements. But even combined they are nowhere near as large as Google.
What’s the secret sauce to the best search engine optimization to ensure the search engines love your site? Don’t we all wish we knew? SEO is one recipe that is constantly changing. Almost as soon as you get it figured out, it changes again.
It’s affected by a number of factors including keywords, keyword density, internal links, external links, anchor text, and more.
Search Engines and SEO
The one thing that search engines understand well is whether or not you are putting out high quality content that is relevant to what users are searching for, or simply catering to SEO trying to get higher rankings. They will not stand for that.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Research
Let’s say your services have to do with the movies. To match what users want to stay in line with SEO, do you use the term movies? Or film? Or maybe cinema? Maybe pictures will work best. You’ll only know if you try.
The Purpose of Research
This is where SEO research comes in. By hitting Google, or any other search engine for that matter, with every possible term used in your business, you can check the top search results. Next, look at what your competitors with the top search results have on each applicable landing page.
To encourage visitors to click on your business website and buy your services, SEO dictates that you need to match what people are searching for.
When users reach for Google or other search engines, and they look for the kinds of services your business provides, you want them to find quality content which applies directly to what they are looking for. That is what SEO helps to happen.
Successful Keyword Research
The first key to successful SEO is keyword research. You have to know not only what your market wants, but also how they are searching for it. When they want to find something that your business can provide, what are they typing in.
For example, if you own a pizza shop serving Chicago style pizza anywhere other than Chicago, you may find some surprising search terms. While some looking for a local business may use terms like “Chicago style pizza near me” or “Chicago style pizza (insert city here),” they may not actually know what to call it.
You may be surprised to see that search terms like “thick pizza” or ” pizza with sauce on top” are common. SEO keyword research will reveal this, and content can be written accordingly.
After that, you have to find the balance between useful content and the right keywords and keyword density to convince the search engines to lead searchers to your site. That is search engine optimization at its core.
Having the right keyword is only part of the formula. If that’s all there was to it, you could simply type the keyword a bunch of times or insert it into random places in a post and be good to go. It’s called keyword stuffing and it used to work. However, Google caught on.
Now, you have to ensure the keyword is used the optimal number of times, naturally, throughout useful, well-written content. If you use WordPress, it can keep track of this so you don’t have to count. There are other SEO tools that will do the same.
A site that links out to other authoritative sites is going to perform better when it comes to SEO. In contrast, linking to irrelevant or poorly put together sites results in poor SEO performance.
Common SEO Tools
If you’re not an experienced website builder, start off with free SEO tools so you don’t pay for something for your business which you initially are unable to properly use.
If you use a WordPress website for your business, they offer a Yoast plug in to ensure your content is optimized for the search engines. In fact, many web pages are on WordPress for this reason and more.
More In Depth SEO Tools
Other SEO sites, such as MarketMuse and Surfer SEO, offer more in-depth options if you feel ready for that. Beyond keyword research, these sites also guide you toward the optimal structure and language for your post.
For example, they’ll tell you how long the post should be, the optimal number of paragraphs and headings, and even the best keywords to use in headings. This is detailed SEO information that can help tremendously.
It can be smart to hire a writer that understands how to use SEO tools also. If you use WordPress, it might be a good idea for them to know how to use it also.
It’s not hard to learn, as WordPress is known as one of the most user-friendly options available. Still, prior experience can speed up the process. Honestly, your budget likely makes many of the decisions related to tools you use and whether you hire a writer or not, at least in the beginning.
Make and Keep Your Site Mobile Friendly
Many business customers buy goods and services online only. A large percentage do this on mobile devices. Even more use a mobile device for research.
Considering this, it doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to realize how important it is to ensure your site is not SEO friendly, but mobile friendly as well. Most of us use our phones on a regular basis, even if we aren’t glued to them. Which, of course, many of us are.
A mobile friendly online store can help your small business cater to buyers on the go. Many businesses that offer an e-commerce mobile site do this quickly and effectively.
Even if you do not sell specifically online, your site should be optimized for mobile devices. If someone goes to your site on a mobile device and it doesn’t work, they may not go back to it.
Even Google cares about mobile first.
The Need for Speed
A slow business website is a drag in a number of ways. SEO gets people there, but it can’t make them stay.
We are an instant gratification society, and many visitors will leave quickly if the site does not load nearly instantly.
The last thing any customer wants is a slow site. Even if the site is user friendly in other ways, it will not matter if no one sticks around to find out because it runs so slow.
Time is money. If visitors are waiting on your site to load, they feel like they are wasting time.
As a result, you aren’t making money. Impatience is the norm in today’s society, especially when online.
Tips for a Faster Website
SEO and great site content is meaningless if the site doesn’t load quickly. An online store can be very image-heavy, which can slow a site down. Compressing images can help.
Also, check external and especially internal links to ensure they are not redirecting. A ton of redirects can also make a site load slowly.
If your WordPress site is running slow, they may offer some tips specific to them that can help.
Beyond that, you’ll find a number of tips on how to speed up your business website with a simple search.
Should You Have a Blog?
Content is king. It’s true. But that is not as cut and dried as it used to be. A better statement these days may be “relevant content” is king. A good business website will have a ton of great content relevant to your business and what others are searching for that is specifically related to it.
The Hard Sell
This is content that is designed to explain what you sell and why your customers need it. Typically, it is hard sell content, also known as direct marketing.
An online store will have a lot of this type of content. Product descriptions on each store page will likely use SEO to get people there, but also work to encourage visitors to click on the links to make a purchase.
That’s fine, because that is the purpose of an online store. The definition of a store is a place where people go to buy things. The SEO is intended to guide them there, and then they will hopefully spend money.
The Soft Sell
A blog is more of a soft sell mechanism. The goal is to use SEO and relevant content to get potential customers to the site by giving them information that they are looking for. It’s a way to create resources for other users, and low key leads them to your products at the same time.
It’s a great way to solidify your expertise in the industry. In the end, you will hopefully give readers the information they are looking for, and in the process if you don’t make a sale, you may have them primed for a future sale.
For example, a commercial cleaning business may benefit greatly from posts with information on how to keep an office building as fresh as possible between cleanings, information on the products they use, and more.
This can go a long way toward not only drawing customers, but also in solidifying your place as an expert in the market.
Hiring a Writer vs. Writing Yourself
Consider hiring a writer unless you actually have the time necessary to keep up with the SEO required for such a large project. That includes more than simply typing something up and calling it a post. You need to write great SEO content, consistently.
Fresh, Consistent Content
You’ll need to publish fresh content at least a couple of times a week. Remember, that includes any necessary research. It can be time consuming.
Each new post will need to be equally high quality. If you cannot keep up, it may be better to either hire a writer or not have a blog at all.
If you want to do it yourself and feel like you can keep up with it, there are a ton of resources available to help you create strong SEO content. But again, new content will need to be published on a consistent basis, which can take time.
Keep it Up to Date
Having a blog for your business that is dreadfully out of date is not going to help you at all. In fact, if anyone ever finds it, it’s likely to hurt you.
No one thinks much of a business that hasn’t updated online in 5 years. That’s a bad sign even if your SEO strategy works.
If you enjoy writing, then by all means go for it. In addition to tools for keyword research, you can use online tools like Hemingway App and Grammarly to help you write better. WordPress has similar options. If you have the time and talent to do it right, that’s great!
Effective SEO Blogging
Keep in mind blogging is a waste of time and effort if no one can find it to read it. SEO is just as important here as with the main site. That means checking search engines to determine if what you want to write about is something that people are looking for.
One strategy is to choose a topic based on what your search shows your market wants to know. Then, perform keyword research related to that topic to determine which keywords to use that will work best to get the content found by the search engine, or rather, the main search engine, Google.
Incorporating SEO naturally into posts can be tricky, but the search engines demand it. This often takes some creative backflips, which is yet another reason hiring a content writer may be a good idea.
Keyword Research Example for a Post
In the commercial cleaning example above, it may look something like this. You search “office cleaning” and find that others are searching for information on how often an office should be cleaned.
Then, you can do keyword research using a free or paid tool. Type “how often should an office be cleaned” into the search bar and see what comes back. It will likely be something similar to “office cleaning schedule” or “best schedule for office cleaning.”
Using this information, you’ll be able to craft a post that both gives readers what they want, and that they are able to find.
Other SEO Considerations
Continuously check your site for broken links. Try to prevent them, but they are bound to happen. At least learn how to create 404 pages for your domain. This is a page that lets the user know there is a problem and the link is not working.
Once your business website gains some traction, you may find that other sites contact you about links which no longer work. They may offer to replace your out of date or no longer working links with a link of their own. You will need to check their domain authority as well as you can.
Ahrefs is one of our favorite resources and it does exactly this. Then you can see if adding or changing links will help with SEO.
Alternatively, you may just want to keep the current link. You won’t really know unless you understand the domain authority of the site suggesting you replace a link.
The smaller the Ahrefs ranking, the better. Imagine your own company ranks at 308,675. If you are contacted about adding a link from a company with a ranking of 25,702, that is a great deal.
In contrast, if the other company has a ranking of 2,745,672, you may want to pass. It will not likely do your site much good. Some exceptions to this do exist however. If the site is relevant to yours and has really good content, your readers may benefit from it. Especially if it is a newer site that hasn’t had much time to grow in the rankings, you may want to add it anyway.
Structured data is a term that refers to the box or table that sometimes comes up in the search results with information on the topic being searched. A small business that can master structured data will do well with most any search engine.
However, to create these types of resources requires technical knowledge that your website builder may not even have. No matter how good he or she is with HTML code, the code for structured data is odd. Even some seasoned designers struggle with it.
While the search engines love it and it is great for search engine optimization, the cost to get it may outweigh the benefit.
Most small business owners don’t realize that their business email address can affect their ability to get funding as well. The fact is, it can. This is yet another detail that can all but break the credibility of a business before it ever gets to underwriting.
Have you ever gotten an email from someone who represented a business, but their so-called business email was on a free domain? That would be something like Gmail or Yahoo or the like.
Best Business Email Address
What if their email address was something like “[email protected]?” That doesn’t look very professional either does it? Unless of course the business is one that sells gourmet chocolate covered grasshoppers or something similar.
These types of businesses do not come across as professional at all. It’s much better to use an email address with the same URL as your business.
So, if your business really is one that sells candy grasshoppers, but it is called Gourmet Grasshoppers, your URL would hopefully be GourmetGrasshopers dot com, dot net, or the like.
In this case, it would be best if your business email address were yourname@gormetgrasshopers dot whatever.
It’s much better for a business name, business email, and even the entire site to be uniform and feel like they work together.
A professional email address helps with enhancing the reputation of any brand online. If you’re still using a freebie email address as your business email, it’s time to stop that.
Tips for a Professional Email Address
It may pay to create an overall business email address which a lot of employees can use. Best practices encourage people to use business email aliases so they can receive email from the domain but directly on their own preferred email.
Check with your hosting provider. They may offer forwarding and email aliasing with other built in tools.
Checklist of Choices to Make Before You Make Your Business Website Goes Live
There is a lot that goes into building a business website, and it can be overwhelming. Here is the condensed version. The first decision you have to make is if you will hire a website builder or do it yourself.
Honestly, it’s best to hire a professional designer if you can swing it at all. If not, definitely use a site that makes it easy to create professional, custom sites that are easy to use. After you make that decision, start working down the Checklist.
Business Website Checklist
- Decide on hosting. Again, paid is best.
- Choose a domain name. The hands down best option for this is yourbusinessname.com. However, if that is not available, get the domain name as close as possible to that format. It’s the easiest way to be sure you can be found online by someone who already knows your business name.
- Choose your business email address based on your website URL.
- Think about search engine issues. The site has to be findable by the king search engine, Google. That means a strong SEO game.
- Make sure the site is fast. A good builder will know to ensure the photo gallery is compressed and that links are not redirecting. If you decide to do it yourself, remember these things are going to be your responsibility.
- Gather a list of resources. Many are listed above. This is especially important if you plan to create your website yourself.
- Decide if you will be the blogger or if you will hire one. If you do it, make sure you understand what you need to do related to SEO. If you do choose to hire a writer, be sure they understand SEO. Alternatively, you can hire a separate SEO specialist. This is someone who will provide you or a hired writer the guidelines necessary for each post to ensure it is SEO friendly.
A Business Website is Non-Negotiable When it Comes to Funding, Whether for An Online Store or Another Business Type
The decision to create a business is essentially a decision to create a website for that business. However, there are multiple ways to do this. You do not necessarily even have to learn HTML.
Unfortunately, the cheapest and easiest ways to create a business website are often not the ways that will best benefit your business. In fact, a cheaply made website that ignores SEO may be even worse than not having one at all.
With some things, you really do get what you pay for, and you get out of anything what you put into it. That means whether you hire someone or you do it yourself, a well designed website with strong SEO can only help.
You need others to be able to find your business on the web. Frankly, you need to be able to find it specifically on Google. That’s the main goal of SEO.
However, you do not want what they find when they google your business to be something that will turn them away. That’s where great design and strong content come into play.
Why Does Your Business Website Matter So Much?
It can be boiled down to this. Not only is the website the first impression your business will make on many customers and clients, but it may very well be the first impression potential lenders get as well.
Even if it isn’t the first, rest assured the site will make an impression at some point. When it comes to lenders, a bad impression can easily mean denial.
That’s why a business website is an essential element when it comes to building a Fundability Foundation™.
Find out what else you need for a Fundability Foundation to set your business up for the best chance at funding possible. Contact Credit Suite today.