Creating your very own small business website sure is exciting. That is until you realize everything that's actually involved.

But this isn't the 90s anymore. Nowadays you can simply pick a theme and whip up a professional looking website to bring in the traffic and nail those sales.

We can already hear you muttering, "Yeah, but it's easier said than done," and you're right. But you know what? Building a website is one of the most powerful things you can do for your business. With most of society constantly connected to the internet, putting your biz online skyrockets your exposure and brings you closer to financial freedom (or a yacht).

So whether you're finally bringing your business to the 21st century or simply hoping to quit your day job, here's a straightforward small business website checklist so you can be sure you've covered all your bases.

Make your website SEO-friendly

Here's the thing, good SEO = higher ranking in search results.

Essentially, the better you rank in search engines, like Google, the more exposure your business gets. While you can always hire a fancy SEO expert to really dig into it, there are a few basic things you can do yourself to lift your website off the ground.

Insert keywords in titles, meta-descriptions, and tags

You can't do SEO without keywords. If you already know which keywords your business is targeting then you're miles ahead. On the other hand, if you're just getting started you can use free tools like Google Keyword PlannerKeyword Tool, and Answer The Public to see what your audience is typing.

Once you have a list of your top 3-5 keywords, put them in your titles, headers, links, and tags. For example, if you want your homepage to attract people searching for "disco dog collars", use the top keywords used in dog collar web searches.

Pay special attention to the places that people see when deciding whether to click on your website or not. Here's an example:

screenshot of bilimoria search engine listing Note how the keyword "Bilimoria Technologies" (that's us) is in the blue title, the green link (URL), and the meta-description.

If you're running your website on WordPress, you can install nifty plugins like All In One SEO Pack or YoastSEO which make sure you fill in all those important fields for every page on your website.

Track your traffic with Google Analytics

After you've done your SEO homework, you're going to want to see if it's working. There's plenty of software available to track your web analytics, but for beginners, it's safer to go with Google Analytics. (Plus it's free.)

All you have to do is head over there, create an account, and then verify that your website is actually yours (and you're not trying to spy on someone else's). After that, you can check your dashboard to see how many people are coming in, what they're clicking on, and where your SEO is falling flat.

Fill it with clear and consistent content

Content is a major driver of clicks, and the whole point of getting a website is to show people that you have what they need. The only way to do that is with good content.

For content that draws in eyeballs and gets fingers clicking, try to hit everything on this list:
  • Branding: Your logo should be in the top left corner and your brand name should be the first thing they read, followed by a tagline that tells them exactly what you offer. (Don't say "We make quality shoes", say "Custom-made shoes for senior citizens." Be as specific as you can.)

  • Scannability: Use short paragraphs (no more than four sentences) and bullet points whenever you can. Remember, people don't read online, they skim.

  • Easy-to-read: Avoid the quirky lingo and unexplained acronyms. Read your content out loud to make sure it sounds like something an actual human would say in a conversation. If it sounds salesy or unnatural, cut it out.

  • Media: Use good quality images and videos to complement your text. Be careful though, these can be heavy and tend to slow down your website. (We'll talk a bit more about that later.)

  • Blog: Most companies use a blog to bring in more views. If you don't have the time (or the money to hire someone), just focus on essential content like the homepage, about page, services, FAQ, and contact page.

  • Call to action: What do you want their next step to be? Do you want them to subscribe to your newsletter? Click the giant orange button to buy your product? Tell them what to do with a helpful call to action (CTA).
Here's an example of a small business homepage that includes all of these things:

Screenshot of Topspot homepage See? Plus, they have what we're about to cover next.

Add social media

Have you noticed that search engines are showing more content from social media? That's because social content is highly valued nowadays and it would do you good to join the movement. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are major social networks where you'll want to make your presence known.

But hold on there, don't just create the pages and hope people will find you. Be active on them, promote your services and add the social icons on every page of your website. (A good place to put them is in the header and/or footer since those are present on every page of your website.)

Speed: Optimize your website

Website speed is just as important as SEO. In fact, slow websites can actually hurt your SEO. To make matters worse, websites that take more than two seconds to load lose 53% of potential customers. Harsh, but true.

So to keep your visitors happy and increase your chances of turning them into customers, here are a few essentials to optimize your website.

Compress your images

Remember when we said images and videos can be really heavy and slow down your site? Well, this is how you can nip that in the bud. Compressing images simply means making them smaller so your website can load them faster.

Unless you have a website developer doing this for you, go ahead and use free tools like TinyPNG or the desktop app RIOT to really slim those images down before adding them to your site.

For WordPress websites, simply install the WP Smush plugin and it'll take care of your images automatically.

Make it mobile-friendly

Fun fact: 40% of online shoppers are on mobile. This means you need to make your website fast and easy for them to access on their devices.

Luckily, it's easy to find a website theme that's already mobile-friendly, but once you start adding this and tweaking that, you'll find that not everything fits perfectly on the small screen anymore.

Since you're just starting out, you don't have to worry about the effects of customization just yet (but keep it in mind). Right now, simply take extra care to choose a website theme that explicitly says it's "responsive" or "mobile-friendly". This way you can focus on your content without worrying if it's going to look like a Picasso on mobile.

Run it through a speed test

To make sure your website is making the cut, you can copy and paste your web link into Google’s PageSpeed Insights. It'll give you a score and then a bunch of advice on what needs to be improved.
Fair warning: Google's advice can get a little technical, but you can find every point explained (in plain English) in this enlightening website speed guide.

Bonus: Add a lazy loading plugin

E-commerce websites tend to be very image-heavy and this can really slow things down. There's a little trick called Lazy Loading where you can make the important images show faster. To get the scoop on this nifty tactic, head over to our Ultimate Guide for Lazy Loading Images.

Design: Make it easy on the eyes

Humans are instinctively drawn to beautiful things. If your website is easy on the eyes then you'll have a leg up on all those Quasimodo-looking sites out there. Here's how you can drastically reduce your chances of ending up with an ugly website.

Start with an aesthetic theme

If you stick to an attractive theme it's pretty hard to mess it up. You don't need to be an expert designer to make a beautiful website. Just follow the theme, use quality images, and have the common sense to not put red text on a red background.

Stick to 3-4 colors

Okay, usually themes have color pickers and here is where it can all go wrong. We get it, colors add pizzazz to any website. But there's no need to use the entire rainbow.

All you really need is a white background, black/grey text, and two other colors to make a few titles and buttons stand out. That's it. If you're clueless at choosing colors, use this nifty color theme generator to find your perfect business hues.

Keep it simple

Resist the temptation to fill in every empty corner of your website. White space makes it look clean and uncluttered, so allow your content to breathe and don't stuff in a billion images and ten different fonts.

If you need a bit more guidance, check out these award-winning business websites for some good ol' design inspiration.

Need a hand setting up your website?

While this small business website checklist is pretty short and sweet (if we may say so ourselves), it doesn't cover everything you need to know. There's hosting, customized features, advanced optimization -- you name it. If this is your very first website it can be a lot to take in, so it doesn't hurt if you get someone who has more experience to help you out.

Here at Bilimoria Tech we know it's overwhelming to set up this key asset for your business, so we're here to help. We'll sit down with you (or call you) and guide you through every step of the way so you can feel relieved that your business is in good hands. The best part? The consultation is totally free.

Your time is money, so save both by letting professionals take care of your website for you. Contact us today!