Make a small business website that just works. Don’t waste time on technical details. Save lots of money too.
Are you a small business owner or individual needing a website? Do you need your website to practically run itself? Do you want an insanely fast, Fort Knox secure, scalable, affordable, highly professional small business website that requires zero back-end maintenance or technical expertise?
If this sounds like you, stop waiting, and start making your small business website right now. You’ll have a website up and running today.
If you’re ready to start, go to step one. If you’re skeptical, read a bit about WordPress first by clicking the link below.
If you still need more information before starting, check out some alternatives for making your small business website.
If you haven’t already, create your account at WordPress.com.
The first page you’ll see at WordPress.com has two buttons. One says “Get Started,” and the other says “See Plans.” Either button will lead you down the yellow brick road but I recommend checking out the plans first.
You can choose the free plan just to learn WordPress, if you like. You’ll get a full-featured test drive of the WordPress software and infrastructure. And you can keep your 100 percent free small business website as long as you’d like.
Here’s a free WordPress.com website I made a while back. Note that you won’t have your own domain name (instead of yourname.com it’ll be yourname.wordpress.com) and you will see an occasional ad on your website.
If you’re ready to take the plunge into a real small business website, however, you’ll need a paid plan. You can choose any of the WordPress.com plans; all have the necessary components to get your small business website up and running in a matter of hours. They all include plenty of space, unlimited bandwidth, knowledgeable technical support, the famous WordPress.com infrastructure, and a free domain name.
Note that only the Business Plan ($25 per month) includes access to and installation of custom themes and plugins as well as the ability to remove all WordPress branding (small footer branding).
Describe Your Small Business Website
Once you’ve chosen a plan, you’ll be asked to fill out a form. WordPress.com will use the information you provide to help you make your small business website. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers. Anything you choose here can be changed later. When finished, click “Continue.”
Choose a Suggested Theme
Next, choose one of the suggested themes for your small business website, or simply skip this step. You can always choose your theme later.
My suggestion? Choose one of the suggested themes and see if you like it. If you don’t, change it later.
Choose Your Domain Name
When choosing a domain name for your small business website, remember the following key points:
- Your domain name should be as short as possible.
- Your domain name should be memorable.
- Your domain name should be unique.
- Your domain name should be keyword-rich. This will help your small business website get found in search engines.
After you choose your domain name, type it in the box.
If you already own your own domain name, click the link that asks, “Already own a domain?” After clicking the link, just put in your current domain name, and click “transfer.” Keep in mind that domain name transfers can take up to a week.
Once you enter your desired name, you can either choose the free domain (yourname.wordpress.com) or choose a real domain name — included in the price of any WordPress.com paid plan.
Create Your WordPress.com Account
You will now be asked to create a WordPress.com account. Save your username and password in a secure location!
Pay for Your WordPress.com Plan
At this point, you’ll be asked to submit payment. The price showing at the bottom will be dependent upon the plan you chose earlier. If you chose the free plan, you’re already set to start making your small business website.
Step 2: Make Your Small Business Website
Congratulations. You own your own small business website. And you can rest easy knowing that WordPress.com will take care of all the technical details.
However, WordPress requires some effort to learn.
I’m in the process of making a new video that explains the WordPress back-end. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, here is a video from last year that explains the basics of making a website. Some things will be slightly different in the new video, but in general, things will look the same.
Step 3 — Add High-Quality, Educational Content to Your Small Business Website.
As you make your small business website, keep in mind that you’ll want people to be able to find your website using search engines like Google. The best way to make sure that happens is to consistently add high quality, educational content to your website.
Website developers charge hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars to make small business websites like the one you’ve created for nearly nothing. They also charge hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars for ongoing maintenance and SEO (search engine optimization) services so that your small business can be found in search engine results.
What you’ll discover (if you haven’t already) is that the SEO services rendered by developers are, shall we say, nebulous. What are they doing with your hard-earned $500 per month to get your small business website found in local search results? You’ll never know, because they won’t tell you even if you ask. This mysterious shroud thrown over SEO methodology puzzles me.
The secret to getting your small business website found in local search results isn’t (and shouldn’t be) a mystery. Let me explain it to you. It’s called content.
High-Quality, Educational Content Is King.
I’m not going to pretend to be an SEO expert. There’s a lot more to being found than simply writing good (great) content. Yes, Google does reward high quality, educational, regularly updated content, yes, but they also reward fast-loading websites, secure websites and websites that that have quality backlinks.
But the focus for Google in 2018 (and on into the future) is user experience. They want their users to find high quality, relevant results. So every page on your small business website should be of high quality. What do I mean by that term — high quality?
- Every page on your small business website should be well-written, easy to read, and free from grammatical errors.
- Every page that you want to rank should contain a lot of useful content. It should be genuinely useful for potential customers and highly relevant for the chosen search term.
- Every page should include images that help explain the text.
- Every page should use headings and subheadings to break up the text.
- Every page should be educational; users are looking for more information and education before purchasing.
Post Content (and Update Content) on Your Small Business Website Regularly.
If you make a small business website with four or five pages and then let it just sit there, well, that’s a bad idea. Even if those four or five pages are high quality, educational, easy to read, and provide useful information for potential customers, that’s not enough. You should post new information regularly.
Google (and other search engines) reward websites that post new, relevant, high quality and educational content on a regular basis.
Use Long-Tail Keywords When Crafting Your Pages and Posts.
A long-tail keyword is simply a long, specifically worded keyword that potential customers might use to find your small business website. For example,
how to make a small business website
small business website
If you own a small landscaping business, and you make a small business website, you don’t want to focus on keywords like “landscaping” or “yard work.” These search terms are far too general. Your small business website will never be found with such keywords. You need to think of long-tail keywords that your potential customers may type into search engines.
Here’s an example.
A search for the term “landscaping” brings up a lot of random results on Google. But a more specific search like “landscaping in Vancouver, Washington” brings up much more specific results. A search term like this is a long-tail keyword that potential customers might use to find your small business in Vancouver, Washington.
Another relevant example would be the long-tail keyword I’m focusing on for this article — “make a small business website.” It’s a long, specific keyword that has less competition than more general keywords like “small business website” or “make a website.” Of course, I could make the focus keyword even longer — like “how to make a small business website.” If you need help, there are tools you can use to discover relevant keywords for your niche.
So when making a small business website and creating high quality content, focus on long-tail keywords that are highly specific to your business and your location. Then you’ll compete with a much smaller group of businesses, and your small business website is much more likely to be found.
Three Steps, and Your Small Business Website is Done. But Wait — What About SSL? What About Security? What About Updates?
Make Sure Your Website Has An SSL Certificate.
Small business websites without a padlock next to their url (the padlock indicates that the website has an SSL certificate) have a problem. Google has made it clear that they will penalize websites that do not have an SSL certificate. Do you want your small business website’s search ranking to fall because you don’t have a padlock next to your url?
All WordPress.com plans (including the free plan) include SSL. It just works. You don’t have to do a thing.
With many traditional web hosts (i.e., not WordPress.com), SSL is not standard, and you may have to pay for your SSL certificate and implement it yourself, which can be technically challenging.
Keep Your Small Business Website Safe from Bad Guys.
Since WordPress powers about 30 percent of the entire Internet, it has become a favorite target of hackers. If you have a traditional web host, it’s up to you to install and configure plugins that will take care of spam, brute force attacks, hackers and viruses.
All WordPress.com plans (including the free plan) include built-in security systems. You don’t have to install any plugins. You don’t have to configure anything. You don’t have to fight spam or hackers. All you have to worry about is your website’s content.
Keep Your Small Business Website Updated at All Times.
One of the most common ways hackers and viruses destroy your WordPress website is through outdated plugins and themes. It’s your responsibility, as a website owner, to make sure all plugins and themes are always up to date. If you don’t, you’re playing Russian roulette with your business.
All WordPress.com plans (including the free plan) are automatically updated, all the time. Don’t worry about it.
Be Sure Your Small Business Website Is Fast. Slow Websites Can Mean Lost Customers.
WordPress websites are resource-intensive. When you make a small business website, you will experience slow-downs in your website’s performance as you install new plugins and add functionality. It’s a given.
With a traditional web host, it’s your responsibility to keep your small business website running fast. That means installing and configuring complicated caching plugins. And sometimes that’s not enough. Then it’s time to start investigating the cause of your website’s slowness. That takes time. Energy. And if you can’t figure it out, you’ll have to pay for help.
It could also be that your website’s slowness is simply a result of poor web hosting. In that case, you’ll either have to transfer your website to a new web host (often a technical nightmare), or upgrade to a more expensive plan.
All WordPress.com plans (including the free plan) are optimized for blazing fast speed. Caching plugins? What are those?
Can Your Small Business Website Handle a Lot of Traffic? What About Intermittent Traffic Spikes?
A common misconception is that a cheap hosting plan will be sufficient for a small business website that gets a lot of traffic. It won’t.
If you’re on a shared hosting plan (explained below) and your site starts to get a lot of traffic (consistent busy traffic or intermittent traffic spikes), you will likely get an email telling you that your website is a resource hog. Curb your CPU usage or upgrade!
Many web hosts get customers to upgrade to more expensive plans in this manner. They advertise unlimited website space and unlimited bandwidth but what they don’t tell you is that your CPU usage is limited. Go figure.
All WordPress.com plans (including the free plan) include unlimited bandwidth. They can handle any amount of traffic. There’s no need to upgrade your plan, even if you start getting heavy traffic. Let them come.
You like what you’ve seen so far, but you’re not sure if WordPress.com is the way to go for your small business. Following are some viable alternatives that I’ll split into three groups.
Shared hosting is low-cost, flexible web hosting. It’s called shared hosting because multiple websites (often hundreds) share one server.
It is easy to find shared hosting plans for as little as $.99 per month that offer unlimited bandwidth and unlimited storage space. This offer is obviously a lie; no company can provide that. Yet it’s regularly advertised.
That being said, shared hosting may be appropriate for those who want a low-cost, low-traffic, highly flexible website. With shared hosting plans, one can typically have multiple websites (using WordPress software or any other website builder), full access to the website’s core code, the ability to install WordPress plugins and email addresses that use your domain name. That’s a lot of flexibility for just a few dollars per month.
Pros of Typical Shared Hosting
- Shared hosting doesn’t cost much.
- Shared hosting allows the use of any website builder (or you can write your own code).
- Shared hosting allows installation of custom WordPress plugins and themes; this greatly extends the functionality of a WordPress website.
- Shared hosting typically allows multiple websites on one account.
- Shared hosting typically allows email associated with your domain name ([email protected]).
Cons of Typical Shared Hosting
- Shared hosting is cheap. Websites often run slow and are regularly affected by other poorly-performing websites on the same server.
- Shared hosting has hidden caps on CPU usage and server resource usage. Hosting companies often offer unlimited bandwidth and storage space, but they cannot deliver on this promise because once your website gets busy, it negatively affects the performance of other websites on that server. Web hosting companies simply can’t have this so they either throttle your website or force you to upgrade to a more expensive plan.
- You get what you pay for. I see folks spending inordinate amounts of time trying to speed up slow-performing websites. With cheap web hosting, sometimes no amount of optimization will speed up your site.
- Shared hosting is significantly more technical than a service like WordPress.com. You are responsible for keeping your small business website secure from hackers and viruses. It’s up to you to keep your website updated and backed up. It’s your job to keep your site lean and optimized for speed. You may be responsible for installing and regularly renewing an SSL certificate.
VPS (Virtual Private Server)
A VPS or Virtual Private Server is a more powerful and expensive offering than shared hosting. A VPS is a mix between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. You already know what shared hosting is; dedicated hosting utilizes an entire server for one website. Only extremely busy websites need dedicated hosting.
A VPS is actually shared hosting on steroids. There is still one physical server with multiple websites, but there are several different virtualized operating systems on that server. Each virtualized operating system acts like a dedicated server. So a VPS gives you most of the benefits of a dedicated server but at a much lower price.
Pros of a VPS
- A VPS is fast.
- A VPS typically uses better quality equipment and is more secure than a shared hosting environment.
- With a VPS, you can have multiple websites or even resell hosting.
- With a VPS, you can typically have endless email accounts that use your domain name ([email protected]).
- A VPS is less expensive than a full dedicated hosting solution.
- A VPS provides significantly more control at the server level than shared hosting. You will have root access and the ability to use scripts not allowed with shared hosting.
Cons of a VPS
- While a VPS is less expensive than the dedicated hosting it emulates, it is significantly more expensive than shared hosting.
- A VPS is technically still shared hosting as other websites reside on the same server. So, other websites can still affect the performance of your website.
- A VPS is complicated. If you’re not technically-minded or if you prefer not to get involved with the inner workings of your server, a VPS may not be for you.
A VPS is a good option for a DIY business owner or someone who knows (or is willing to learn) significantly more than the average person about the technical aspects of managing a website.
If you need speed, high security, multiple websites, email that uses your domain name, and complete control over every aspect of your server, a VPS might be a good option for you.
I use a VPS from Inmotion Hosting for all my websites, including this one.
Managed WordPress Hosting
Managed WordPress hosting is hosting specifically designed for WordPress websites and managed by WordPress professionals. If you’re the type of person who wants to sit back and watch everything work without getting your hands dirty, managed WordPress hosting is for you. Keep in mind that many web hosts offer “managed WordPress hosting” packages. Not all of them are created equal.
Managed WordPress hosting is typically hack-proof. But if you do manage to find a way to get your small business website hacked, a good managed host will immediately take care of the hack for you. You should have no need to go out and hire a website guru to fix your problems.
Managed WordPress hosting should (hopefully) scale automatically. If you get a large traffic surge without warning (social media sharing, being featured on national television, etc.), your website should be able to handle it.
Managed WordPress hosting should include full daily backups. As stated earlier, not all managed hosting plans are created equally, so be sure to check the details of your chosen host’s offerings.
Managed WordPress hosting should be optimized for WordPress websites. Your WordPress website should be fast if utilizing quality managed WordPress hosting.
Basically, every issue you have with your WordPress website (SSL, hacks, site speed, security, backups, downtime, plugin compatibility, etc.), should be handled for you if you’ve chosen high-quality managed WordPress hosting.
Pros of Managed WordPress Hosting
- You don’t have to be technically-minded. Leave that to the WordPress experts.
- Website speed. Your WordPress website will be fast because it’s hosted on a server that’s optimized for WordPress websites.
- Security. WordPress professionals manage the security of your website. Hacks are (or should be) taken care of immediately.
- Backups. Your small business website will be backed up regularly.
- Updates. Your website will always be up to date. Always.
- Peace of mind. People who opt for managed WordPress hosting typically don’t want to worry (at all) about their small business website.
Cons of Managed WordPress Hosting
- Managed WordPress hosting can be expensive. Because you’re running on WordPress-optimized servers and because you have WordPress professionals at your beck and call, managed WordPress hosting can cost a lot.
- Limited flexibility with plugins. Certain plugins don’t mesh well with WordPress. The WordPress professionals know this and therefore limit your access to certain plugins.
I recommend Kinsta for managed WordPress hosting. If you’re the type who truly wants the best of the best, there really is no other choice. Peace of mind. Security. Speed. Scalability. I’m serious, folks. Check out Kinsta’s clients.
How Is Managed WordPress Hosting Different from WordPress.com?
Earlier I explained how WordPress.com is fully managed. So how is WordPress.com different from the managed WordPress hosting that I just described?
WordPress.com is different because it is more of an enclosed system. There are more limitations within the WordPress.com ecosystem. For example, you do not have the ability to install custom plugins and themes when using any WordPress.com plan other than the Business Plan.
You also cannot edit the core code of any WordPress.com plan.
Conclusion: How to Make a Small Business Website
For most folks with a small business, my top recommendation is WordPress.com. It’s easy, affordable, fast, secure, and scalable, and all technical aspects are completely managed for you. Make a small business website with WordPress.com, and just focus on your content.
Shared hosting may be perfect for small businesses who want the lowest price and the ability to install custom plugins and themes. Just remember that if you start to get a lot of traffic, you’ll be forced to upgrade to a more expensive plan. If you’re interested in shared hosting, give Inmotion Hosting a try.
A VPS (virtual private server) may work well for a small business owner who wants to install custom plugins and themes, have multiple websites, and maintain complete control at the server level. A VPS is highly technical and involves a steep learning curve, but also uses higher quality hardware than most shared hosting plans and is very secure. A VPS costs significantly more than shared hosting but shares a lot of characteristics with full dedicated hosting. If you’re interested in a VPS, give Inmotion Hosting a shot.
Managed WordPress hosting works well for those who want to install custom themes and plugins and also want everything to be fully taken care of for them. Managed WordPress hosting is like living in a high-end condo. Full service, zero maintenance, high security . . . if you want to experience living in luxury, a high-end managed WordPress host can’t be beat. If you want the full red-carpet treatment, check out Kinsta.
Learn More About WordPress and Web Hosting