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Business Websites: How to Build Your Online Brand Presence

A good website is essential to marketing your business online. It’s a cheap way to reach the largest audience possible online, and you can use it to implement other marketing strategies. But simply creating a website doesn’t guarantee visitors or sales.

 

The easier it is for users and Google to read your website, the more likely Google is to recommend your website pages to people searching for a similar topic. Be advised, just because you hire a web designer, it doesn’t guarantee they’ll know how to optimize your site for search engines. You can have the prettiest site in the world, but if it’s not optimized for search engines, the site is virtually useless.

 

Learning the fundamentals of how a website should be set up or simply hiring an SEO expert can help you avoid this very costly mistake.

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Make Your Own Business Website

It’s a lot easier to set up a website than most people realize when given the right tools. Below, we’ll give you all the knowledge and resources you need to build a good, basic website that should rank relatively well.

Do I Need Help?

It’s important to know your limitations. If design has never been in your wheelhouse, it may be better to let someone else design your business site. Likewise, if getting really technical into how usable your website is, it may be a good idea to hire an SEO expert. Ultimately you want to make sure you put your best foot forward and if you need help to do that, ask for help, be sure to ask.

Creating A Website

There are many ways to build a website. But one of the easiest, cheapest, and most effective ways is with WordPress. In this section, you’ll learn how to set up your website step-by-step, and it should only cost around $150-$250.

 

Need more extensive help? Upwork has freelance developers specializing in WordPress you can hire by the hour (usually ~$20-$30) or for a fixed price. You can learn more about hiring freelancers on Upwork here

Price Breakdown

  • Website & Domain Name: $50.53 for a year or $105.35 for 3 years
  • Custom Email Address: $72 a year, or $6/month
  • WordPress Theme: $34-$69
Learning the fundamentals of how a website should be set up or simply hiring an SEO expert can help you avoid a costly mistake.

Website Domain & Hosting

Sign up for Hatchling plan here. If you commit to a 1-year plan, you’ll get a free domain name. Otherwise, your domain will cost around $12.95/yr and you’ll end up paying $10.95 a month for hosting instead of $3.95 or less. You don’t need any add-ons, so you can uncheck them.

All your login information will be sent to your email. You can log in here.

Next, you’re going to install WordPress here. Leave all your settings the same except for Site Settings & Admin Account, where you want to insert the following information, then click “Install”:

 

  • Site Name: Your business’s name (e.g. Dustin’s Plumbing)
  • Site Description: A quick summary of what your site is about (e.g. Dustin’s Plumbing offers fast and reliable plumbing installation, repair, and maintenance throughout the Atlanta area.)
  • Admin Username: This will be the username you use to login to your WordPress site. You can leave it as admin.
  • Password: A secure password to login with
  • Admin Email: Your email address

4. Log in to your WordPress site

at https://YOURDOMAINNAME.com/wp-admin/

 

Feeling Lost? There’s a great tutorial here that will walk you through these steps.

Get an SSL Certificate

Essentially, your site needs a license to prove its identity. This is called an SSL certificate. It’s free, but your web host will try to charge you $30+ to set it up. We’re going to install one for free – and in under a minute.

 

  1. Inside WordPress, install and activate a plugin called Really Simple SSL. There’s a video tutorial that will walk you through installing this plugin here.
  2. Once the plugin is installed, you can access it from the sidebar by going to Settings > SSL.
  3. At the top of your screen, you’ll see a button that says “ Go ahead, activate SSL!” Select it.
  4. Now, go to the Hostgator Portal and under Manage, select SSL Management. Make sure Auto Renew is selected so you don’t have to do this again. Then click the circle with arrows under HTTPS. If you see Enabled under HTTPS after clicking it, everything was done correctly.

Purchase A Theme

Next, you’re going to pick a theme – or the design you want to use that controls how your website will look. Designs are highly customizable, so don’t worry if there are specific parts you don’t like or if the theme was designed for another trade. You’ll be able to change this later.

Theme Suggestions

Below are a few of our favorite themes for tradesmen. These themes have all been individually vetted to ensure they work well on mobile, are SEO-friendly, have highly detailed instructions, and are easy to customize. And the best part? They’re all under $70 and have amazing support.

Honorable Mentions

These themes may be less easy to edit.

 

Installing Your Theme & Plugins

Now, you need to install your theme and plugins on your website, which you can learn to do here. Installing a theme and plugins gives you the ability to import a website into WordPress that’s already pre-made, so all you have to do is edit it.

 

Once you’ve purchased a theme you like, you can find it on the Downloads page of the account you just created. To download your theme, click Download next to the theme you just purchased, then select Installable WordPress file only. Save the file to your desktop.

 

Go back to your WordPress site. On the sidebar, go to Appearance > Themes, and then click Upload at the top of the page.

 

You can also access this page by adding this to the end of your website name: /wp-admin/theme-install.php?upload (so it would look like so: dustinsplumbing.com/wp-admin/theme-install.php?upload).

 

Click choose file, then upload the file you just downloaded, and select Upload Theme.


Once the theme has been successfully installed, you’ll see the option to Activate it.

 

You may then be redirected to install some required plugins. If not, on the sidebar select Appearance > Install Plugins. Then click install under each plugin listed and, once they’re installed, Activate them. You can learn how to install plugins here.

Customizing Your Theme

Every theme is different, so there’s no universal way to edit your website. You’ll need to check your theme’s instructions (or documentation) to learn how to customize the theme to your liking.

 

However, there are some basics you need to know that will make editing your theme less scary and overwhelming.

WordPress Dashboard Basics

Your WordPress Dashboard is where you can make changes to your site. There’s a good overview of it here, but the primary elements you should know about are:

Posts

This is your website’s “blog” where you can write articles to share with your audience, such as “How to keep your drains clean” or “Best ways to save on electricity each month.”

Pages

These are the main pages on your website, including your homepage, services you offer, and locations you serve. For more info, see: How To Add Pages & How To Use The WordPress Editor.

Appearance

Appearance is where you can manage and customize your theme.

Plugins

Plugins can be downloaded to extend the features WordPress has available.

Settings

Control parts of your website that will be important later on, like the URL structure.

Page Builder

Generally, each theme uses a drag-and-drop editor, which makes it easy for you to edit your site without having to know code. You can find the editor your theme uses under Theme Suggestions, along with an overview of how the editor works, here:

 

 

The majority of themes provided use Elementor, which is super intuitive and the easiest WordPress theme editor to use.

 

This video provides a good overview of how to customize themes. WPLearningLab is a great resource if you run into issues.

 

But before you customize your website, you need to understand how to structure your website – or how to optimize it for search engines like Google. This is also called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.

Setting Up A Custom Email

Like your website, your email address has its own hosting, which is usually Gmail or Yahoo. By default, your email address is listed at their domain (e.g. mikesplumbing@gmail.com), but it’s possible to create an email that matches your website’s domain name (e.g. mike@mikesplumbing.com) which will signal to customers that you’re an established professional and increase customers’ feelings of trust.

Registering

To register a custom email address, you’ll need to sign up for Google Workspace, which will cost $6/month here. Make sure you sign up at https://workspace.google.com/pricing.html – otherwise, Google will try to trick you into paying $12/month.

 

Then, search for a promo code. Often you can get 10% off each month for 12 months and a free 14-day trial. In addition to email, your Google Workspace account has loads of other perks, like a Google Drive account for cloud file storage, calendar, and a full suite of other tools for your business.

Verifying Your Domain

  • After purchasing your domain, you’ll be greeted by a screen that says Your Google Workspace account has been created and directed to Continue To Setup in order to verify your ownership of your domain.
  • Select Continue To Set Up
  • This will take you to the Google Admin console. This is also where you’ll be able to add and set up other users’ accounts.
  • Select Verify
  • Then select continue
  • This screen will give you a TXT record you can copy.
  • In another tab, open the HostGator portal, go to Domains > Manage Domains
  • Now, go to the Hostgator Portal and select Launch cPanel.
  • Look for the Domains section, click Zone Editor.
  • Click Manage to view the domain’s DNS records.
  • Go to Add Record > Add “TXT” Record
Screen Shot 2021-10-30 at 2.25.11 AM
  • Fill it out as follows:
    • Name: Enter ‘Email’
    • TTL: Enter 86400
    • Class: Leave as is
    • Type: TXT
    • Record: Paste the code Google Provided
  • Then go back to Google and select VERIFY MY DOMAIN at the bottom right. This may take some time to verify.

We know that was a lot of information to go through step-by-step. But, the good news is that you’re now fully prepared to hit the ground running and create your business’s website.

 

Once you’ve completed all of the steps above, you’ll then be ready to move on to optimizing your website’s content, SEO, and structure. Remember, a great website is essential to your business’s success, so be sure to invest the time upfront into creating the best site possible.

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