Almost without exception, your small business needs a virtual location, and that location is a website. What that location looks like and the factors that matter most to your type of business will determine exactly how you create your location. However, just like a physical store, there are some essentials that every virtual location must have.
You Need a Specific Address
You can’t just host a blog on a free site like Squarespace, Blogger, or WordPress. That is like telling someone that your business is located somewhere in a large city, but not telling them where. Google favors sites that have unique domain names.
There are several factors that go into this address, including choosing a web host. There are many hosts to choose from, from popular ones for blogs like GoDaddy and JustHost or ones designed for ecommerce stores like Bigcommerce and Shopify.
Once you have chosen a host, you need to choose a domain name. You must first determine if the name you want is available, and you can do this using an online domain name search tool. Before you purchase your website name though, ask yourself a few important questions:
- Is the name simple? Is it easy to spell, say, and type?
- Is it relevant? How does this name relate to me or my industry?
- Is the name unique? Can the name be confused with another site or business?
- Can the name be taken the wrong way? When abbreviated or run together, can the name mean something humorous or off color? (Like the initials for the American Ski Society)
Once you have found and purchased a name, you can move on to finalizing other things about your virtual location.
You Need a Store Front
Your store front is the theme or design of your site. There are several themes you can modify and personalize yourself, or you can hire a web designer to create your site from scratch. There are many themes to choose from on many different platforms, and you can test drive many of them for free to see if you like the way they look before you install them fully.
When designing your storefront, you need to take some things into consideration. Do you need a blog? (The answer is yes, you do). Do you need an online store where customers can purchase goods or services? What kind of security you need? Will you be collecting customers’ personal information?
After selecting a theme and web design, consider all the other factors that go into appearance from logos to colors, font to text size. Your site also needs to be mobile responsive not only to rank on Google, but because nearly 70% of all searches are now conducted on mobile devices.
You Need Content
From product descriptions and photos to a greeting on your homepage, you need content. If you can’t write it yourself, you can hire professional ghostwriters or other freelance professionals to do it for you.
You need several types of content for your marketing to be effective. From direct to organic traffic, you need to have something for every website user.
- Home Page: This is your first impression, your initial greeting to your customer. It should be clean, simple, and have welcoming language.
- Product Pages: simple yet compelling descriptions of your products (if you sell them) accompanied by high-quality photos is essential
- Landing Pages: These are separate from your website, but related, and usually contain a simple call to action like “subscribe to our newsletter” or “download our free e-book.”
- Blog/Articles Page: Inbound marketing and content is essential to your success and ranking in Google. This is the primary source of organic traffic, and often these posts are the first place visitors see on your site.
This content must be of the highest quality and engaging to your website visitors. Using a mix of video, podcasting, and various types and lengths of written content will bring you the greatest success.
These are just the first three elements of your virtual location. Like any business location, it must be maintained. Website visitors (and Google) want updated content, engagement, and a good user experience overall.
One you have established your address, setup your storefront, and filled it with content, you will begin to flourish. Your virtual location matters as much, and often more than your physical one. Be sure it is the best it can be, and the traffic and customers will follow.by