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From creating a search-friendly domain name to deciding on a hosting platform, there are several steps to take when starting a website for your business. — Getty Images/golubovy

These days, customers turn to the internet for everything from researching products to reading business reviews. Even if you run a brick-and-mortar business, you’ll need to have an online presence — and a website is the best place to start.

Building a website used to be expensive and time-consuming, but current software makes it easier than ever. Here are five steps to building your business website.

Choose a domain name

Before you can set up your website, you’ll need to come up with a relevant domain name. This should be the name of your business, or a variation of it if your business name is taken.

You can purchase a domain name on a variety of hosting providers, such as GoDaddy.com. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when choosing and purchasing your domain name:

  • Choose a .com extension. Don’t be surprised if you come up with the perfect domain name only to discover it’s already taken. But, even if you love it, resist the urge to buy that same domain with a .net or .info extension. For search purposes, the ideal option in this case would be to vary the name and still choose a .com extension.
  • Don’t add hyphens. Another thing you want to avoid doing is adding hyphens to your domain name, as doing so will make it harder for your customers to find you.
  • Keep it as short and to the point. Don’t try to be clever when you’re coming up with a domain name. Just keep it simple and to the point. Ideally, you want customers to understand exactly what you do the minute they read your domain name.
  • Make sure the name is available on social media sites. You’re going to need to promote your website on social media. This will be a lot easier if your domain name is the same as your social media accounts. You can look at Namechk to see if your domain and social media usernames are available.

Read: [Guide to Web Hosting and Domain Name Registration]

Choose a hosting provider or website builder

Once you have your domain name, it’s time to choose a hosting provider or website builder. This will be the service that stores your website so customers can access it any time.

A website builder is a hosted platform that provides everything you need to create your website at one monthly price. In comparison, a self-hosted site is one that resides on your server. But most people use a third-party like Bluehost to host their website.

Here are a few options you can consider:

  • WordPress. With WordPress, you’ll find a hosting provider and create your self-hosted website. WordPress is one of the best options you’ll find in terms of customizations and features. Plus, it comes with thousands of plugins to choose from, which can increase the functionality of your site.
  • Squarespace. Squarespace is one of the best website builders for ease of use. It hosts your website for you, so you don’t have to worry about finding a hosting provider or updating your site. It also has great built-in SEO and analytics.
  • E-commerce platforms: If you plan to sell products on your website, then you’ll need some sort of online store. Using an e-commerce platform will be the easiest and least expensive way to set this up. Many hosting providers offer e-commerce platforms, including Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix. You can also build an online store on your WordPress website using a WooCommerce Plugin.

Read: [How E-Commerce Marketplaces Help New Brands Get Discovered]

Set up a business email address

Once you’ve chosen a hosting provider, you’ll want to set up your custom business email address. A business email address will make you look more professional, and also make it easier for you to separate business from your personal life.

The most common business email address will use your name followed by your business domain name, i.e.: yourname@yourwebsite.com. Fortunately, getting a business email address is fairly easy and inexpensive.

Ideally, you want customers to understand exactly what you do the minute they read your domain name.

Choose a template for your website

If you don’t have the money or the desire to spring for a website designer, your next step will be to use a template.

A template is a pre-made website design that instantly creates a professional-looking website. This allows you to set up a simple and functional website without needing to learn how to code. Most templates provide the framework but still give you the option to customize your colors, images, fonts, and more.

There are tons of free and paid templates available online. If you have the money, it may be worth your while to invest in a paid template. These tend to look nicer and come with automatic upgrades from the designer.

Create your website pages

Once you have your template set, you will create the different pages on your website. This is the part most people dread, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Depending on the nature of your business, you may have additional customized pages. But, to start, you’ll need to have these five:

  • Homepage.
  • About Us.
  • Products and Services.
  • Blog.
  • Contact.

Once the pages are set up, you’ll need to fill in the content and information. You should spend the most energy on your “About” “and Contact” pages because this is where customers will spend the most time.

Don’t forget about the extras

Once you have the fundamentals down, you will want to make sure you’re prepared with the following three extras:

  • Mobile optimization. About 70% of all web traffic happens from a mobile device. So if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it makes it difficult for customers to read your content. Plus, Google gives a boost to mobile-friendly websites.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO). If your website is optimized for SEO, it just means you’re giving your customers the best chance to find you online. There are many ways to improve your Google ranking, including keyword utilization and the rate at which you post.
  • Track analytics. Begin monitoring and measuring your website traffic with Google Analytics. Google Analytics will provide valuable insights about your visitors, how they are finding you and how they are interacting with your website. It will also show you which pages on your website are visited most frequently and how long users are spending there. This will give you valuable information on how you can continue to improve your site in the future.

[Read more: A Beginner's Guide to SEO]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published September 23, 2019