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Just like any business in the physical world, you need a plan for your online company. Start at the end: when will the website be successful? What goals do you want to have achieved? With the end goal in mind, work back to the beginning and review what you really need for a website. Use this checklist to make sure the basics of your website are set.
What you really need to create a website
In many advertisements you are led to believe that all you need to create a website is a free platform. You can then have a ready-made website in a few hours. That’s partly true, but then you only have the basics: a layout with some images and a few texts. To have a website that is effective and can be found on the Internet, there is a bit more to it.
If you start a website without a plan, you will end up with an endless list of tasks to do. In addition, you may have bought useful plugins that are not necessary, but make your site slower. Many people give up before their website is finished.
There are also people who have too few requirements and implement too few functionalities. Then they have put a website on the Internet, but there is no one who knows or can find out. These websites miss their purpose because they don’t get any visitors.
Start with a plan: when is your website successful?
Just like any business in the real world, you need a plan for your online business. Start at the end: when is the website successful? What goals do you want to have achieved? With the end goal in mind, work back to the beginning and review what you really need for a website.
Our experience with clients shows that it’s best to get started with a basic website and add more features as your website grows. This way you avoid wasting time and money with tools and features that you – especially in the beginning – are not going to use. When your website has been up and running for a little longer and you learn to distinguish your target group and their wishes, then you can implement the more advanced features. You’ll then be ready for the next step of targeting your audience and catering to your visitors even more with the right information, products and services.
“Once you know what works, you can invest smartly in your website.”
If you want a website that doesn’t sell products, doesn’t require a payment system or login options, and doesn’t require an option to book appointments online, then a good basic functional website is usually all you need.
Checklist to start a website
We have put together a ‘need for a website’ checklist of 10 items for a basic website. If you’ve already done some research and know what your website should look like, you can use this checklist to make sure you’ve covered everything.
10 Components you need for a website Domain name Website hosting Website builder/platform WooCommerce for your webshop Website theme Email address Logo High quality images Texts Google Analytics 1. A domain name
A domain name is often the first thing you need when starting a website. Many website hosts will give you a domain name for free (or for a low fee per year) if you let them host your website. You can also check first if the name you want is available and see what the possible alternatives are if the name is already taken. In addition, you can choose from the many extensions including .com. If you don’t plan to go international (later on) with your website, then a .com extension or the extension for your country is a good choice.
Tip for a good domain name
If you want to sell bicycles online, for example, try to get a domain name like bikes.com. This domain name is already taken and is high (number 2 at the moment) in the Google rankings, because this company uses good SEO-proof texts in combination with ‘the’ right keyword in their domain name (many people who are looking for a bike, search online for a ‘bikes’). If you choose for a domain name ‘Johnson’ and your site offers bicycles, you can still rank high in search pages, but it will be difficult to overtake bikes.com.
There is a big difference in website hosting offerings: there are only a few that offer good service, customer-friendly use of the hosting package, and the features you need at a reasonable price.
If you want to use WordPress to create your website, you can get a package right away that allows you to start WordPress immediately. Another important thing: you don’t have to pay anything extra for SSL (a standard browser security) – these days an SSL should be standard included in your domain purchase.
If you are just starting out with a website, you won’t have many visitors yet. Usually, the medium package of the hosts provides sufficient features. If your site is growing and you are getting more traffic each month, you can easily upgrade your package.
3. Website builder/ platform
Instead of WordPress, you can also choose to use Wix, Squarespace, Weebly or Shopify to create your website or webshop. We have built sites using these builders and we have come to the conclusion that WordPress and WooCommerce offers by far the most and best options for creating a successful website that also works well on mobiles and is SEO-proof.
Because WordPress is used by millions of people, the choice of good plug-ins is enormous and they are constantly being developed to keep them up-to-date. Moreover, you keep everything that is your intellectual property under your own control and you can optimize your site extremely well for SEO.
4. WooCommerce for your webshop
For your webshop you can download WooCommerce for free within your WordPress environment. With this plugin you can easily publish your products, keep track of stock and orders and implement the payment process.
Magento is also a good platform for e-commerce, but it is recommended when your web shop has grown into a successful enterprise with many products.
The other platforms mentioned (Wix, Squarespace and Weebly) have a much smaller range of tools compared to WordPress and these are often not as well developed and also usually not free. Because these builders also host your website, everything you publish on your site is the property of these providers.
Basically, we recommend that you always keep ownership of your publications and use a better CMS, such as WordPress. Though, if you want to use
Shopify, and you need help, you can contact us, since we have enough experiences with that e-commerce platform to know how to get the most out of it. 5. Website theme
In WordPress, the design of a website is called a theme. There are many free themes that are functional. The tricky part is to choose one that fits your brand and your products/ services, and is also attractive to your target audience.
If you like a certain theme, but your audience don’t, it won’t do your business any good. So it is useful to test the effect of a theme. You can do this by choosing one, adding content to your website and publishing it including Google Analytics. Then you’ll see what your visitors do on your site and whether they think it’s attractive enough to spend more time on it. You can also ask your visitors for suggestions to improve your site. For having better results in the statistics, you have to adjust and improve your website.
If you have already conducted
market research and you know how to approach your target group, you can choose to use a paid theme. These have many useful features and look better than the free versions.
Themes can be customized with some HTML and CSS codes. In this way you can match your website with your company’s branding. If you don’t know how, we can do that for you.
When choosing a theme, there are a number of important points to consider. If you plan to go
international – immediately or over time – you need a website that is multilingual.
If it is important for you to rank well on the Google search page, then your theme must also be
technically (backend) SEO-proof. Many themes are not well constructed when it comes to SEO. With good SEO, your potential customers can find you more easy on the Internet. With SEO, you’ll also know what information to publish that matches their expectations.
If you are not sure whether the theme of your choice is SEO-proof, you can always contact us to check it out.
6. Email address
You can choose to use a free email address or a business email address for which you pay a few euros per month. Some people think you lack credibility if you don’t have a business email address, although many organizations (including large, international ones) just use gmail or other means of communication (such as social media, Skype or Zoom). There is something to be said about both.
One advantage to not purchasing email from your website host is that you can always switch to another host without having to change your email. For example, if you have your site at Godaddy (not recommended in our opinion!), you can also set up your email through Google Gmail. You can always convert this free email address to a paid, business email.
It may be advisable to get a paid email address if you are going to send emails and newsletters. This is also important if you plan to compete with your business and market yourself as a brand. For branding and marketing, it is very important that everything around your online business is professional alligned.
We use Google Workspace which has a company email linked to it. This is also linked to all kinds of other Google applications that you often need for an online business, such as spreadsheet, sliders, Google Analytics, Google Meet, Google Chat and more. Super convenient!
For contact options we also use social media platforms, WhatsApp and Skype.
It used to be a bit more formal in ‘the ol’ days’: there was only written mail, email or phone to contact a business. Nowadays, work and home are so intertwined that we have no problem sharing and using the various contact options with our clients. So it’s up to you whether you use a free email address or a business one, as long as you can be reached!
Of course you want a logo when you start a business: after all, a logo contributes to recognition and increasing your brand awareness. If you are skilled at it, you can create a logo yourself. Otherwise you can hire a freelancer to design one for you. We don’t offer that service, because we are convinced that there are talented people out there who can do this much better. It is our experience that it is best to focus on one or two specializations and do it well, rather than trying to keep all the balls in the air. We chose SEO and Marketing – not graphic designs such as logos.
8. Good quality images
Beautiful images can be important for a website (depending on the kind of site you have). The eye wants to see fine things too. The ideal is if you are able to create your own images for your online business. If this is not possible, you can use images from the Internet and modify them if necessary. Make sure that you
have the rights to use the images, otherwise it can be very expensive (it can be fined with $ 8000 per image if it is from an American owner). Here is a list of sites that have a good selection of images: Unsplash.com (free) Freepik.com (free and paid) 500px.com (free and paid) GettyImages.com (paid) Shutterstock.com (paid) www.shutterstock.com/nl/ (paid) 9. Texts
Unless you are already a celebrity and have a product that needs little explanation – like Tesla – great copy is absolutely a need for a website. Good texts are written with your target audience in mind, provide accurate and relevant information, have something new to say and are SEO-proof. If you have no experience with copywriting, outsource it. Contact us to see what we can do for you.
10. Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager & Google Search Console
Everyone who takes his or her online business and website seriously and has the ambition to get traffic flowing needs Google Analytics. It allows you to analyze who your visitors are: what city they live in, what cell phones or laptops they use, what pages they visit, how much time they spend on them, and whether they are curious about more pages on your site.
With a weekly analysis of the Google data, you can see which pages are interesting for your target group and which ones you would have to adjust. You can also continue to develop your site to target exactly the people you want to reach. In addition, you will find out if it is necessary to improve the display of your site on a cell phone to provide greater usability. By using Google Analytics, you realize that ” to measure is to know” certainly applies to the effectiveness of your website.
Google Analytics does not provide all the information you need to make your website competitive, but it is certainly a good starting point. To get notifications from Google to see if there are any points that need to be improved for the search engine, Google Search Console is excellent. Here you can also have a daily check how your pages are performing, how many clicks have been made on your pages, on what ‘events’ people act (which you configure with Google Tag Manager), what keywords are performing well on your site and much more.
Contact us if you want to have Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and Google Search Console set up properly.
In addition to the above points, it is advisable to link your website or shop to social media platforms so people can follow and contact you through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. Use the platforms where your target groups can be found.
Link building is an important part of SEO. Especially in competitive industries, you want to generate organic traffic through search engines to your website. A site with strong SEO construction, good on-page SEO, high-quality content and an excellent user experience can generate more organic traffic with good backlinks.
How do you get someone to press a button? A digital marketing company pays a lot of attention to the Call To Action (CTA) – button. Having such a button seems so simple that many website owners don’t spend any time on it at all. But it is one of the most important parts of your marketing campaigns. On your website, in your web shop, your email campaigns and your ads. That CTA button is important for your Click Through Rate (CTR), or click through rate.
What is SEO & How important are these techniques for sites?