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Before you can start generating your own leads online you’re going to need to have your own website. And even if you’re happy to rely on offline marketing methods, such as networking and word-of-mouth, to get new clients it’s still essential to have a website because a lot of potential clients are going to want to check you out before they get in touch.
So it’s pretty staggering that, as recently as 2017, there were still 1.98 million small businesses in the UK that did not have a website. Research suggests that if the 32% of business services companies that don’t have a website were to introduce one, it would create an extra £68.45 billion of turnover across the sector.
What Stops Small Businesses Having a Website?
There are various reasons why so many service-based businesses still don’t have a website. If we leave aside those business owners who think that the internet will never catch on (!) and those who don’t believe anyone will search for their kind of services online, there are two main reasons for not having a website:
- The cost
- A lack of knowledge as to what’s involved in launching a site
In this in-depth guide, I’m going to address both these issues by telling you everything you need to know about creating a “brochure website” for a service-based B2B or B2C business (e-commerce sites are a bit more complicated) and showing you how you can create a professional looking site yourself for under £500.
How to Build Your Own Website
I built this website (the one you’re reading now) myself, even though I am not a graphic designer and have only a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, PHP and all the other languages that are used for developing websites. In fact, I didn’t have to touch a single line of code to create this site.
As we go through this guide I’ll explain how you can build a site using the exact same tools that I use.
I’m not saying for one moment that these are the only tools you can use to build a website for your business. There are lots of other tools and methods you can use to self-build a website. I’m sure most of them work very well, and I know that some of them can work out a bit cheaper.
I will mention some of these other options in passing, but my main focus is going to be on the systems and processes which I trust for my own website and which I know from first-hand experience will get you great results.
Even if you decide you’re going to pay someone else to build your website for you, this guide will still be extremely useful. There are some very good web designers out there, but there are also some whose ways of doing business are a bit dubious to say the least.
You’ll find it much easier to choose a reliable web designer, and be better equipped to oversee their work, if you have an understanding of what’s involved in building a website and know what all the different building blocks (domain names, hosting, CMS, SEO, Analytics, etc) are for and how they fit together.
So, let’s get started…..
Buy a Domain Name
Before you can build your own website you're going to need to buy a domain name for your business.
A domain name is what forms the basis of your website and email addresses and it is what allows someone to easily navigate to your website. The domain name for this website, for example, is theppcmachine.co.uk and that forms part of the address of every page on this website.
The internet is made up of vast numbers of computers and servers, each of which has a unique internet protocol (IP) address. So, for example, at the time of writing, one of the servers which runs the Google search engine has the IP address 126.96.36.199 and, if you wanted to, you could type that string of numbers into your web browser and you’d be taken to the familiar Google search page.
But the chances of you remembering that 188.8.131.52 is the address for Google are pretty slim. That’s why we have domain names. It’s much easier to remember google.com and so when you type google.com into your web browser, something called a domain name system (DNS) server looks up that domain name and tells your web browser that it needs to contact the web server that has the IP address of 184.108.40.206.
To use a simple analogy, every house in the world will have a precise location that can be referenced using longitude and latitude coordinates. For example, there’s a house in London which can be found using the coordinates 51.503396 (the latitude) and -0.12764 (the longitude).
These coordinates are the equivalent of a website’s IP address, and they probably don't mean anything to you even though the house in question is quite famous. That's why it’s usually referred to by its street address which, just like a domain name, is far more human-friendly and easy to remember.
Click here to reveal the street address of the famous house
If you don’t yet have a domain name for your business you will need to find one that’s not already been taken by someone else and then pay to register it. The cost of this varies depending on which domain registration company you use and what top-level domain (TLD) you want. The TLD is the final part of the domain name (.co.uk, .com, .net, etc) and is used to denote the country of registration and/or the type of organisation that the domain name belongs to.
Traditionally, most businesses have used either .com (the TLD for businesses that are in USA or which have a global presence) or a country specific TLD such as .co.uk, .com.au, .co.nz, etc. Because of the never ending demand for domain names, a number of new TLDs have been created in recent years, such as .london, .online, .world, etc.
My advice would be to stick with the better known TLDs and try to find a .co.uk, .com, .net or similar domain name for your business. If the most obvious domain name has already been taken, try some variations. For example, if your business was called Wilkins Insurance Brokers, the following .co.uk domain names would all be suitable if your first choice wasn’t available:
In the past, I've bought all my domain names from 123-reg. I started using them in 2003 and in all that time I’ve never had any problem with them. They offer all the features you’ll need and their prices are reasonable too. At the moment they have a special offer for new customers where you can get a .co.uk or a .com domain name for only 99p for the first year (new customers only). After that the prices go up to £9.99 per year for a .uk domain or £15.99 for a .com domain.
I recently got told about another good place to buy domain names – Namecheap. They don’t offer domains for 99p but their pricing of £7.66 per year for a .co.uk domain and £10.38 for a .com is cheaper than the standard fees charged by 123-reg.
In the long run, it works out best value to buy your domain name from Namecheap. And that’s who I’ll be using for my own domain name purchases from now on.
Once you’ve registered your domain name, make sure you use it for your email address too. If you are not sure how to set this up, talk to the company that you’re going to host your website with. They should be able to provide you with instructions to configure your email client (Outlook, Gmail, Thunderbird, etc) to use an address in the format firstname.lastname@example.org and this will look far more professional than using an email address from the likes of Hotmail, AOL, Gmail, etc.
Choose a Platform to Build Your Website
When it comes to building your website, you’ve got three broad options for how to do it:
- Use one of the popular website builders like Squarespace or Wix
- Use a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla
The first option is definitely not recommended and is certainly beyond the scope of this guide.
The second option involves paying a monthly fee that gives you access to a range of pre-built templates which you can customise using a website building tool such as Pixpa or the ones mentioned above. You also get web hosting as part of the fee.
I don’t recommend this option because you’ll be limited in terms of how much you can customise the templates and the monthly fees can work out quite expensive if you need anything more than the most basic website.
So I recommend you use the third option. By using a CMS you can choose a design for your site (or get a custom one created by a designer) and then, so long as you’ve got enough skills to use a word processor, the CMS will let you edit the content of your pages, add new pages, and remove unwanted ones.
The most popular CMS, and the one that I recommend you use, is WordPress. It started life as a simple blogging platform but has evolved to the point where it now underpins around half of the world’s websites.
I recommend you use WordPress for your website because:
- It’s very easy to use
- There are thousands of different website design templates (themes) available, some of which cost a few dollars and many of which are free
- It’s fairly easy to customise these themes to meet your specific design requirements
- The vast majority of these themes use a responsive design, which means they are automatically mobile-friendly – this is extremely important in an era where the majority of websites visits are made on a mobile device and where Google favours sites that are designed to look good and load quickly on mobile devices
- If you want a totally bespoke design, there’s a huge number of freelance WordPress designers who can help you
- Google likes WordPress sites as they’re inherently search engine friendly
- There are loads of plugins (some free and some paid-for) that you can install on your WordPress site to give it extra functionality or to simplify certain maintenance and admin tasks
- Because so many people use WordPress and create plugins for it, there are loads of online resources you can turn to for help if you get stuck with anything
- WordPress itself is completely free
Key WordPress Concepts
WordPress is an open-source content management system that was first launched in 2003. Because it is open-source, anyone with the necessary programming skills is allowed to modify the WordPress software for free. As a result, WordPress has gained lots of new features over the years and has a whole library of independently developed plugins.
Pages and Posts
WordPress was initially designed as a platform for blogs and this is why it supports two different types of website content: pages and posts.
Pages in WordPress are intended to be used for content that doesn’t go out of date and needs to be a permanent feature of your site accessible from the menu – e.g. pages that describe your services, your about us page, the contact page and, of course, your home page. Pages are not intended to elicit reader interaction, so they don’t have social sharing buttons and don’t have the option for people to leave comments.
Posts are used for more topical content. Posts are date-stamped and are displayed in reverse chronological order. They usually show the name and bio of the author and they allow readers to leave comments. They are intended to be more interactive and conversational.
This article you’re reading now has been created as a post. Whereas my information about Google Ads Management is presented as a page. Hopefully you can see the differences between them.
Hosted or Self-Hosted
All websites have to be hosted somewhere – i.e. placed on a web server which is permanently connected to the internet. To use a housing analogy again, if you wanted to build a house you’d first of all have to buy or rent a piece of land to put it on and you’d want that land to have a road running past it so as you were connected to the transport system. Well, think of the web server as the piece of land, think of the hosting company as the farmer from whom you buy or rent the land, and think of the internet connection to the server as the road.
When it comes to building a WordPress website you can choose to host your site for free on one of the servers at WordPress.com. It will then have a web address like yourname.wordpress.com. This is useful if you don’t have your own domain name but your site will have adverts displayed on it and you’ll be restricted as to how much you can customise your site. So I don’t recommend this option.
Instead, you should go for the self-hosted option where you download a copy of the WordPress software and install it on a server that you’ve rented from a hosting company. This is actually much easier than it sounds because most hosting companies now let you install WordPress on your server just by clicking a button in your hosting control panel. So you don’t even need to download the software from WordPress.org.
Plugins are bolt-ons for the standard WordPress installation which add extra features. There are over 50,000 free plugins available plus a whole load of premium ones which typically cost around $50. There are plugins for:
- Adding an enquiry form to your site
- Installing Google Analytics on your site
- Helping with search engine optimisation (SEO)
- Compressing your images so they load faster
- Protecting your site from hackers
- Creating opt-in forms
- Embedding videos into your posts
- Making your site run faster
- And pretty much anything else you can think of
To install a plugin you can simply search for it from the WordPress admin screen or you can download it from the publisher’s site and upload it to your site.
We’ll come back to plugins later on when I show you the plugins I use myself and which I recommend you use on your site.
A theme defines the whole look and feel of your WordPress site. It controls things like:
- Page layout (number of columns, header and footer style, etc)
- Colour scheme
- The position of menus
WordPress comes with a handful of themes included when you first install it and you can search online for others. As mentioned earlier, a lot of these themes can be used for free whilst others require a small payment.
One of the great things about WordPress is that it is easy to change theme at any time. You could have an entire site with hundreds of pages and still be able to change the theme at the click of a button. This also means that when you’re starting out it’s really easy to test out different themes to see what they look like before you decide which one to stick with.
We’ll come back to themes in a bit when I’ll tell you all about Thrive Themes and why it’s the only collection of themes I recommend you use.
Hosting Your WordPress Website
I’ve already talked a bit about hosting and explained what it’s for and why you need it. But with so many hosting companies out there, how do you choose one to host your WordPress site.
There’s nothing particularly sexy about web hosting and you can’t see it or hold it in your hands. So most people tend to just get the cheapest hosting they can find. But if you do that you’ll be making a big mistake.
I’m not saying you should get the most expensive hosting you can find, but it’s definitely worth paying a bit extra to find a decent hosting provider for your WordPress site.
Reasons Why You Shouldn't Buy the Cheapest Web Hosting
If your site is hosted on an unreliable server your website is more likely to suffer from outages and unplanned downtime
Cheaper hosting often means there’ll be more websites hosted on the same server as yours. This can increase the chances of another website doing something which crashes the whole server down and takes your site down with it
A low spec webserver with older hardware and/or too many sites on it will run slower and if your website is slow it will increase the chances of your visitors getting frustrated and leaving, and it will harm your search rankings because Google is putting more and more emphasis on favouring sites that load quickly
A more expensive hosting plan is likely to include automated daily backups, which will be very useful if your site gets hacked or if you accidentally delete part of your site
It’s likely that you will want to run your email through the same server that hosts your website and this is another reason why reliability is important
A good hosting company is likely to provide you with a free SSL security certificate (so as your site can run on a secure https address instead of an unsecured http one); this will give your visitors confidence that your site is secure, and will improve your search rankings
If you choose a cheap web hosting service your website is more likely to be hosted on a server in a faraway land a long way from where most of your visitors are; this will make your site slower for those visitors so it’s worth paying a bit extra to make sure your site is hosted in the UK if that’s where your target audience is based
If you pay a little bit more for your hosting then you are likely to get better technical support as and when you need help with anything, and it is more likely to be available 24/7; cheaper hosting companies often have limited opening hours for support queries and/or make you ring a premium rate phone number to get help
Sometimes a hosting service will be cheap because you’re actually buying it from a reseller – i.e. someone who has rented a whole server from a big hosting company and is now selling that on in small chunks to people like you (the hosting equivalent of subletting rooms in a big house); this means that all your support enquiries end up having to go through the reseller who may be a one-man band with limited availability and who may have to keep referring queries back to the actual hosting provider on your behalf
Best Hosting for WordPress Websites
Having tested a few different web hosting providers over the years, there is now only one that I recommend for WordPress hosting. They’re called SiteGround and I recommend them for the following reasons:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it is vital that your website is on a fast server so that it loads quickly. People are very impatient. If your website takes more than a second or two to load, there’s a very strong chance that your visitors will click the Back button to return to Google and try someone else’s site instead. In fact, a study by Akamai found that:
- A two second delay while a web page loads can increase bounce rates (the percentage of people who leave your site without visiting another page) by 103%
- 53% of mobile users will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load
Google understands how annoying slow sites are for humans and they use this as a factor when deciding how to rank websites in their search results. They’ve been measuring the speed of websites and using this in their ranking algorithms since 2010 and in 2018 they started putting much more of a focus on how quickly sites load on mobile devices.
If you’ve got an existing website and want to check how quickly it loads on both desktops and mobiles, this Google tool will test it for you and give you recommendations for how to make your site faster.
And this brings us to the main reason why I recommend you choose SiteGround for your webhosting. It’s seriously fast. I recently transferred this website to SiteGround from a UK-based hosting company that I’ve used for many years. And I decided to run some before and after speed tests.
Prior to moving the site, I ran it through both the Google PageSpeed Insights tool (linked above) and through Pingdom.
On Pingdom the site got a performance grade of 70 based on a reported load time of 883ms.
On the Google tests it scored a very respectable 96% for desktop performance but only 47% for the all-important mobile speed test.
After migrating the site to SiteGround I ran these two tests again and my load time on Pingdom had improved to 782ms.
Meanwhile the desktop performance score on Google was near enough the same, but the mobile score had increased to 83%.
PageSpeed Insights Results - Desktop
PageSpeed Insights Results - Mobile
SiteGround has a range of hosting packages that are specially tailored for people who want to run WordPress websites. These include:
- Automated install of WordPress at the click of a button to get you up and running in minutes
- A migration tool that makes it easy to move your existing site over to SiteGround from another hosting provider
- Automatically applying security patches and plugin updates for you
- A free content delivery network (CDN) plus various optimisations designed to speed up the loading of images on your site
When something goes wrong or you get stuck with something it’s good to know that help is at hand. So far I’ve only had to contact SiteGround for support on one occasion. I opted for live chat and was connected to a support representative in under a minute. He clearly knew what he was talking about and came up with a number of ways to fix my problem.
Your WordPress site will be automatically backed up once a day. There’s also the option to run an on-demand backup – for example if you’re about to try installing an untested plugin on your site and want to be able to roll back the changes if something goes wrong.
You get a free staging site. This is a copy of your WordPress site where you can test out changes to make sure they work, prior to pushing them over to the live site.
Like a lot of web hosting companies, SiteGround offers special pricing for new customers. Their entry level StartUp plan is £2.95 per month which gives you 10Gb of storage. Or you can go for the next level up which is the GrowBig plan at £4.95 per month. This gives you 20Gb of space plus some extra features.
In both cases you have to pay for a year in advance, so for StartUp that’s an upfront cost of £35.40 (plus VAT) and for GrowBig it’s £59.40 (plus VAT).
Once your plan comes up for renewal you’ll revert to the standard pricing which is £8.95 per month for StartUp and £14.95 per month for GrowBig.
If you want to lock into SiteGround's discounted pricing for longer, then there’s the option to pay in advance for two years or three years when you first sign up instead of one year.
If you can afford it, I’d recommend choosing the GrowBig plan because it includes the staging site and on-demand backup features. Also, if you have an existing site you want to transfer to SiteGround then they’ll do it for you for free if you sign up for GrowBig.
There’s also a third level of plan called GoGeek. This has even more space (30Gb) and extra features, but you’re unlikely to need those.
Sign Up for WordPress Hosting With SiteGround
Signing up for a SiteGround account is pretty straightforward. They’ll offer you the choice of buying a domain name from them or using one that you’ve already bought elsewhere. Their prices for domain names are a bit high so, unless you particularly want to have everything under one roof, I’d recommend getting your domain name from one of the providers mentioned earlier and then updating the DNS to point it to your SiteGround server.
There are two ways to update the DNS (which you do after you’ve signed up with SiteGround).
The first option is to log into the Namecheap website (or the website of whichever company you bought your domain name from) and change the nameservers to the SiteGround ones. This will mean that your web hosting and your email will then be managed from your SiteGround account.
If you only want to use SiteGround for your web hosting and keep your email with Namecheap (or whoever supplied your domain name) then, instead of changing the nameservers, you would update the DNS A record to point to SiteGround.
Personally I prefer to change the nameservers as I think it’s easier to be able to administer my website and my email through the same control panel.
During the SiteGround signup process you’ll also get the option to choose which datacentre you want your website hosted in. The choices are Amsterdam, Chicago, London, Milan, and Singapore. You should pick whichever one is closest to the majority of your audience, so choose London if your clients are mostly in the UK.
Once your account is created you’ll need to update your nameservers (see above). The nameserver changes won’t take effect immediately and, while you’re waiting, you should log into the customer area of SiteGround’s website using the details that will be sent to you by email and install WordPress using the automated install wizard. Make sure you choose a strong password for your WordPress administrator account.
Hopefully by the time you’ve done this, the DNS changes will have taken effect and you’ll be able to access your barebones WordPress website by typing your domain name into your web browser. If not, wait for half an hour or so and then try again. Also try clearing your web browser cache if the site doesn’t load first time.
Install Thrive Themes
WordPress comes with a built in WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) which is great for editing content or adding new pages to an existing website. Where it’s not so good is if you want to create new page layouts or insert more complex elements on your pages such as comparison tables, lead generation forms, boxed sections, call-to-action buttons, etc.
If you want to do that kind of thing (and, trust me, you will) then you are best off using some sort of page builder plugin for WordPress. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Elementor Pro so you might want to have a look at that, but the page editor I use myself and which I therefore recommend is called Thrive Architect.
Here’s a quick video overview of what Thrive Architect can do.
Now, you could simply purchase Thrive Architect on its own for a one-off $67, but a much better idea is to pay a little bit extra for a Thrive membership so as you get access to the entire Thrive Themes package.
If you do this you not only get Thrive Architect but you also get a whole suite of other Thrive plugins that will let you do essential things like: create opt-in forms, collect and publish testimonials, create quizzes that you can use to build your mailing list, test out multiple headlines for each blog post, and much more. You also get a whole library of page templates which have been designed to maximise conversions.
The other thing I love about Thrive Themes is their huge library of resources (known as Thrive University). This includes a whole load of really well put together tutorials on how to use all the different aspects of Thrive Themes, as well as a lot of more generic articles and guides about different aspects of digital marketing.
For example, if you’re not sure whether you need to have an opt-in box on all your contact forms in order to be GDPR compliant, the guys at Thrive have the answer!
And remember – everything you see on this website you're reading now was done by me (a non-designer) with the help of the various components of Thrive Themes. I can assure you that the small amount of money you spend on Thrive will be paid back many times over in terms of the amount of time and frustration you’ll save yourself when building your website.
Installing Thrive Themes is pretty straightforward and there’s a detailed guide available that will step you through how to do it. Once you’ve installed Thrive Themes on your site you should follow their getting started guide to get your new site up and running.
Install Essential WordPress Plugins
Once you’ve got Thrive Themes installed and activated, there are a few other plugins which I recommend you install. Some of these are completely free, some require a payment, and others offer a choice of a free version or a paid-for version (with the free version obviously having less features).
Although WordPress is a pretty secure platform, there are a number of things you can do to improve its security and make it harder for hackers to attack your site. The Wordfence plugin will help you lock down your site and will alert you to any issues as they arise.
One of the things that can make a huge difference to the speed of your website is the size of the image files used on the site. Often the images that people upload to use on their WordPress sites are far bigger and far higher quality than required, and this leads to unnecessarily large file sizes.
If you use SiteGround for your hosting, you can use their SG Optimizer plugin to compress your images. But if you're hosting your site elsewhere then you'll need a different image optimisation plugin such as Imagify. This will go through all your images and adjust them so as you get the smallest possible file sizes and fastest possible load times, without any noticeable loss of quality.
If you host your site with SiteGround they include a free caching and optimisation plugin called SG Optimizer which will make your site load faster. However, if you host your site somewhere else you will need to install a plugin for this. There are lots to choose from but, having tested a few, I recommend WP Rocket. It is easy to use and will make your site noticeably faster.
Even if you host your site with SiteGround it is still worth installing WP Rocket as it has some additional speed enhancing features which are not available in SG Optimizer.
There are lots of plugins which will help you do SEO on your WordPress site to make it more search engine friendly so as you get better rankings in Google. The one that seems to be the most widely used is a plugin called Yoast. I’ve used it myself in the past and there’s nothing wrong with it.
However, I prefer Rank Math. It’s got more features than Yoast and it’s completely free.
I’ve also heard good things about SEOPress but have never used it myself.
One of the things that website owners often forget to do is to provide internal links between pages on their sites. Internal links are important for a number of reasons. They help visitors to find more of your content and that means they will stay on your site for longer. Longer visit times are also a factor in SEO and can improve your search rankings.
And the other SEO benefit is that internal links make it easier for Google to crawl your site and index all your pages.
Of course, you can add internal links manually but LinkWhisper is a great plug in that will go through your site and suggest suitable internal links for you and then implement them at the click of a button.
I’m a big fan of 10to8. It lets you have a publically available calendar that shows when you are free for a phone call, meeting, etc. It automatically syncs with your Google or Outlook calendar so as it always knows when you are available and when you’re not. People can then go to your 10to8 calendar and pick a time to meet/speak with you that suits you both.
If you’re hoping to use your website to get in front of potential clients then 10to8 will make the job a lot easier. It’s free to use and the 10to8 plugin makes it easy to integrate the appointment booking into your website.
Lots of websites have started using chatbots to increase engagement with their visitors. A chatbot allows people to chat to a real human (you or one of your staff) if someone is available, or you can set up automated scripts to allow the chatbot to respond to common questions, book people in for appointments, offer them downloads, etc.
The chatbot I tend to come across most on other people’s websites is Intercom. I tested it on my site a while ago and it worked well.
However, I found that Drift offered more features for less cost and so that’s the one that I recommend you use. Once you’ve signed up for an account with Drift, their free WordPress plugin makes it really easy to add the chatbot to your site.
If you have decided not to use Thrive Themes for your website then you will need a plugin for creating contact forms on your site. Ninja Forms is a great choice. Alternatively try Contact Form 7.
Install and Configure Google Analytics
Even if you’re not sure at the moment how to use Google Analytics, it’s essential that you put it on your website from day one so as you start gathering data about how and when people use your site.
Google Analytics is a free tool that logs each visit to your website and can tell you how long people stay on your site, which pages they view, how they found your site, what kind of web browser they used, whether they completed a desired goal (such as submitting an online enquiry), and much much more.
Installing Google Analytics is pretty simple. First you will need to register for a free Google Analytics account. You’ll be given a Google Analytics tracking ID as part of this process. You can then use the GA Google Analytics plugin to easily install the Google Analytics tracking code on your site, just by installing the plugin and telling it what your tracking ID is.
Once Google Analytics is on your site there are a few things you should do to tailor it for your needs.
Set up Google Analytics goals
As mentioned above, Analytics can track when certain important goals (also known as conversions) are achieved – such as someone submitting an enquiry, downloading a free guide, making a purchase, etc. However, it can only track these goals if you configure them in Analytics to begin with. This video on setting up Google Analytics goals will show you how this is done.
Create Analytics events
It might be that there are actions people can take on your site which can only be tracked by Analytics if you set up events. This video gives more information.
Exclude known bot traffic
You don’t want your Analytics data being distorted by lots of visits from search engine spiders and other bot traffic. By ticking this box on the Google Analytics admin page you can exclude the majority of these visits from your reports.
Enable demographic reports
Google Analytics can tell you lots of interesting information about the age, gender, and interests of the people who visit your site. But before you can get this information you need to enable demographic reports.
Configure Google Search Console
One area where Google Analytics falls down a bit is when it comes to information about your search engine rankings and your organic traffic. For example, it can’t tell you what search terms people used to find your site in the organic search results and it can’t tell you what terms you are ranking for.
Fortunately, there is another free Google tool, called Search Console, which can fill in these gaps. It was originally called Webmaster Tools because it provides a number of tools and reports for webmasters who want to monitor their sites for errors and track their SEO progress.
If you don’t already have a Search Console account you should sign up for one and then link Search Console to Google Analytics so as you can see the Search Console data within your Google Analytics account.
Build an Email Mailing List
However great your website is, the majority of people are not going to want to make contact with you on the basis of their first visit to your site. They might only be in the very early stages of researching things and so not ready to talk to anyone yet. Or you might not have built up enough trust and credibility with them yet for them to feel comfortable getting in touch with you.
So your main goal should be to get people who visit your site to join your mailing list so as you can then keep in regular contact with them and keep yourself front-of-mind until such time as they are ready to take action.
If you’re going to have a mailing list, you will need some software to manage the list and to handle the sending of emails to your subscribers.
ActiveCampaign offers all the functionality you’ll need to build and maintain an email mailing list and only costs a few dollars a month.
Alternatively, you could look at ConvertKit. I haven’t used it myself but I know people who do use it and they speak highly of it.
If you want some ideas for what to put in your follow up emails then check out the free resources available at DripScripts.
Create Your Website Content
And now it’s finally time to start adding content to your site!
Obviously this will vary depending on the nature of your business. However, it’s likely that you will need to have a couple of different designs of Pages – one will be your home page design and the other will be used for things like the pages that describe your services, the contact page, your about us page, etc.
When writing the content for these pages, try to use powerful headlines that will grab people’s attention.
Also make sure your content is focused on the reader. People do not want lots of technical jargon or information about who you are and what you do. They want to know what they can get from your service and what the benefits are of working with you rather than one of their competitors.
If you haven’t already decided on a niche for your business then now would be a good time to do that so as you can make sure your content is properly tailored to your target audience.
I strongly recommend you have a blog on your website and that you commit to publishing at least one article each month (ideally you should aim for one a week, but let’s work up to that!). Your blog should contain information which is useful to your target audience and which also allows you to demonstrate your expertise. It’s also good to include case studies.
Here are a few examples of the type of blog posts you could write if you’re a financial adviser:
- Informational blogs about specific types of products – e.g. 5 Reasons Why You Need Life Insurance
- Comparison blogs – e.g. What’s the Difference Between Income Protection and Private Medical Insurance and Do You Need Both?
- Case Studies – e.g. How One Client Reduced the Cost of Their Mortgage by £500pm
- Topical posts – e.g. 3 Changes in This Week’s Budget That May Make You Worse Off
You could also create blogs that use video to explain or demonstrate something to your readers.
With written content, it’s important to break things up with subheadings, images, and other elements such as quotes, infoboxes, tables etc. Fortunately, if you’re using Thrive Architect this is very easy to do and there are lots of pre-defined building blocks to help you do this.
It’s also a good idea to use shorter paragraphs than you might use if you were writing for a printed publication. This is because long paragraphs make things harder to read onscreen.
Find Royalty Free Images
If you want an image that they don’t have, or if you want to find an image that is less likely to have been used by one of your competitors already, then you could look at buying images from somewhere like Shutterstock or iStock.
Wherever you get your images from, remember to resize them so they don’t take too long to load. Or use a plugin like Imagify to do this for you.
So How Much Does a Website Cost?
I said at the start that this guide would show you how to build your own website for under £500. So let's check the maths and see if we've achieved that goal.
Here are the prices of all the paid-for items I've recommended for you. Where something is charged on a monthly subscription I've shown the total cost for the first year.
That's a grand total of £418.06 (so well under our £500 limit)
Now that you’ve gone through all the steps to build your own website you should think about how you are going to drive traffic to it.
The quickest ways to do this are to use paid ads on social media or on Google Ads. If you want free traffic you’ll need to be prepared to put time and effort into SEO and wait three to six months for the results.
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If you want more advice on building your own site or have questions about anything in this guide, I’d love to hear from you.
Use the box below to leave a comment, or book a free strategy call with me.