If you're going to have a website as part of your home business and you haven't registered your domain name yet, by all means do so now. That means you'll need to complete the domain name search, find a good domain name registrar at a cost you can afford and set up your web hosting account.
Most domain name providers today also offer website hosting services, so you can accomplish both tasks with one service provider. In fact, in some cases, you can get your domain name registration for next to nothing if you also set up a web hosting account.
Designing Your Website
If you have any design ability you can pretty much design your own website these days. You really don't need to know much about HTML coding anymore if you use a decent web design software tool, but it sure helps get you out of a jam. Some web hosting companies also offer tools to help you quickly design a website or they may offer to design a basic site for your home-based business for a nominal fee. When you're first starting out, any of these options may work well for you.
Another option is to use an available website template. Free website templates are available from places like Open Source Web Design. Even if you don't know HTML, you can browse through the templates to find ideas you can then relay to whomever is designing or building your website.
Content for Your Website
Right from the start, you'll want clear, concise, and grammatically correct writing without spelling errors. Nothing speaks louder to a lack of professionalism than a poorly written site. Your prospects won't think you're a serious contender for their business and they sure won't get a very good impression of your home-based business. If you don't have very good writing skills, consider hiring a web content writer for this purpose. Rates are often charged per page, depending on the length of the content. Providing notes, an outline, and any supporting information to your writer will save time and money. Any web content writers you select should not only have a good command of the written word, they should have some marketing savvy and some knowledge of how to get the attention of search engines to maximize your site's traffic.
If you're going to operate a home-based business where your customers are coming mainly from the Internet, it will be even more important to have a professional design and tone to the site with content that gets search engine attention.
Even if you write your own content, hiring someone to optimize your pages for search will go a long way toward bringing more traffic to your site. While you don't need to spend an arm and a leg to do this, you'll want to use someone who knows what they're doing, so you'll need to check into their experience and results. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a lot more than just repeating the same words over and over again, and a competent SEO professional will know what tactics to use and offer other suggestions, such as getting other sites to link to you. Some SEO consultants will offer a free SEO evaluation of your site and suggestions for improving your search rankings.
Search Engines and Your Website
All search engines are very secretive about what they look for at any given time. No one can guarantee you a number one listing for any given word. If they do, you should be extremely skeptical. Making a mistake in this area - by using what's referred to as "Black Hat" SEO techniques, can result in one or more search engines classifying your website as spam, and your site may be completely omitted from search results as a consequence. Getting back in the search engine's graces after using black hat SEO techniques can take a year or longer and involves a lot of work.
You need to understand that getting good search results doesn't happen overnight, and the longer you're on the web, the more relevant content you can provide on your site, and the more meaningful links you can have coming in to your site, the better your chances are of beating your competition in the search rankings. The keywords you chose on your site also have a big impact on how you'll rank.
Like the rest of your home-based business, you should expect your website traffic to increase over time, just as you would expect your business volume to grow over time.
An Online Presence without a Website
You can also effectively establish an online presence for your home-based business without a website. Instead, you can post information using a blog. The major blog services - like Google Blogger, WordPress and TypePad provide easy to use tools for posting and maintaining your content. While it can be helpful, no HTML knowledge is needed in order to get a blog up and running and post as much content as you want.
More in the Business Identity Series
- 8 Steps to Your Business Identity - Introduction & Overview
- Brainstorming Your Business Name and Tagline
- Address and Phone Numbers for Your Home Business
- Checking into an Employer ID Number with the IRS
- Opening a Business Bank Account
- Creating Your Business Logo
- Ordering Your Business Cards
- Creating and Ordering Your Business Stationery