About This Guide
If you're starting your own business on a budget and need to save every penny you can, learning how to, and building your own online presence, can be a wise investment of your time & energy... if it's done correctly.
For most businesses, your website is usually the most reliable source of new customers.
Obviously, I would recommend making sure you hire someone like ourselves to get you up and running properly so that your website works properly, looks great and can be found by customers when they search for your services/products.
However, if you're sure you want to do this on your own, this advice is probably some of the most trustworthy you will find on the internet.
Most blog articles you find in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) after searching for things like "best domain provider", "best website builder", "best email provider", etc. are full of recommendations to the providers who offer the best commissions for sending customers to them. This may not actually the best choice available to you!
The providers and tools mentioned in this guide are all in our own digital toolbox. We use them day in, day out so you know they're tried and tested!
Do you have any other recommendations? Leave them in the comments section below.
Top Tools of The Trade
Here are some of the tools used by professional web designers and marketing agencies to help grow business and monitor SEO performance.
Domain: DON'T purchase your domain name through the more popular GoDaddy or 123-Reg websites. Instead, purchase your domain through NAMECHEAP. Why? It's cheaper and you won't be bombarded with "upsells" of features you don't need.
Emails: DON'T use a general @gmail.com or @outlook.com email address, use a custom email address for your business. It looks more professional and you only get one chance at first impressions.
We highly recommend Google Workspace. Prices are around £6.50 per month. It's well worth it for security, cloud storage and ease of use. Google Workspace also includes a whole bunch of other apps and can actually completely replace the need for a Microsoft Office subscription.
Website Builders: DON'T use any website builders offered to you by your domain registrar!!! (GoDaddy, 123-reg, etc.)
The likes of Wix, Squarespace and Shopify make it very easy for just about anyone to create their own website. However, they are full of "bloat" (unnecessary features and code) that COULD slow down your website... unless it's built properly. This affects your users' experience and can negatively affect your search rankings.
The best setup for your website:
- Buy your domain from Namecheap
- Host your website on SiteGround or Cloudways
- Setup your emails through Google Workspace and make use of its Cloud Storage and Apps
- Use WordPress with Breakdance web builder to build your website
- Don't focus on repeating keywords you think customers will use to search for your business
- Don't use large images
- Don't sacrifice usability for style
- Don't have a complicated navigation menu with too many options to choose from
- Clearly state who you are, where you do it, how you can help and how people can contact you as soon as they land on your website
- Optimise all your images so they load fast (try to keep images under 300kb in size)
- KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid! Web browsers these days expect to find what they're looking for within 3 clicks and in under 60 seconds. Give the user what they're looking for and have "call to actions" readily available (call to actions can be message buttons/contact info)
- Structure your website so everything can be found easily
If you have any quick questions, simply comment below or use the chat box and we'll get straight back to you.
Nope, it doesn't mean it's time for a quick snooze 😉 It stands for Name, Address and Phone. Keep them consistent on EVERY SINGLE LOCATION your business can be found online.
In local search engine optimization (SEO) terms, Citations are mentions of your business's name, address, and phone number (commonly referred to as NAP) on a website that isn't your own. These can include social media profiles, business directories, guest blog posts, etc.
Name: If your business name is "EZI Clean", your domain name is eziclean.com and your business is an exterior cleaning company, DON'T be tempted to add "Exterior Cleaning" to your Business Name on your citations. If, however, your business name is "EZI Clean Exterior Cleaning" then that is the name you should use.
Address: The most important address to get right is on your Google My Business Profile. Ensure the address on your website matches that of the one on your GMB profile. Don't have a physical location to show? See Google My Business Tips.
Phone: Try to keep one phone number on show for general enquiries across all citations.
Google My Business Profile
Google wants your business profile to appear as accurate, simple and informative as possible. Simply fill out as much info as possible but avoid these common mistakes when creating a Google Business Profile:
- Don't over-sell - Don't make outlandish claims such as "best at cleaning carpets in the world" or "unbeatable prices".
- Don't stuff your description with keywords - don't repeat different versions of the same search phrase. It doesn't work and you'll get your profile suspended.
- Avoid Fluff! Pretend to be your potential client when you read the description. Give your description useful information and no fluff!
- Don't copy anyone else's descriptions - Repeated content will get you suspended or search rankings penalised (this applies to website content too by the way).
- Service Area: IMPORTANT! If you're a local business with a physical address on display to the public and you serve customers away from your premises, Google doesn't tell you this but you your service area should only extend to areas that are maximum 2 hour drive away from your location. So DON'T be tempted to extend your service area any further away than a 2 hour drive or you risk your profile being suspended.
- Don't select too many business categories - Choose the fewest number of categories that it takes to describe your overall core business.
- Don't add unformatted or low quality images - Use high definition images that look appealing and upload your logo that meet Google's Specifications.
- Don't set your GMB up and forget about it...
- Work it in to your workflow to invite your customers to leave you a review by sharing an invite link. This can be done manually by email, text or in the footer of your invoices. If you're using a CRM such as HubSpot, you can set up an automatic email to be sent to customers.
- Respond to all your reviews.
- Post updates to your GMB page frequently.
- Keep opening hours up to date (update them if they change on bank holidays, Christmas, etc.)
View all Google My Business Profile Guidelines here.
The Top 10 Social Media Mistakes You Should Avoid
- Neglecting to Check Your Stats (and spending too much time looking into them!) - Check out what works and what doesn't. Keep adapting your posts and improving your engagement rates.
- Failing to Know Your Audience - Put yourself in your target audience's shoes - what will make THEM engage with your business?
- Thinking That Your Audience Is Everyone
- Inconsistent Information - Make sure all your company information is filled out accurately and keep your branding consistent.
- Applying One-Size-Fits-All Content - Vary the language, graphics and media types to engage a wider audience.
- Attempting to Be on Every Platform - Choose the platforms your audience is on mainly. Maintaining several channels can be time consuming and you'll not have time to engage with your audience.
- Over-posting (and Under-posting!) - Post enough to keep you on the radar and make sure what you do post has some value to the viewer.
- Being Too Salesy in Your Social Media Posts - Don't be cringe and don't go for the hard sale! Offer genuine advice and post genuinely useful information.
- Failure to Respond - Make sure you engage as much as possible with your audience who comment or react to your posts. Keep the conversation going and your post will automatically appear on more timelines, improving your reach!
- Ignoring Video Content - Experiment with various media types. These can be presentations, images, videos, reels, interviews, walkthroughs, before and afters, collages, the list is immense!
Here are some sources for inspiration for your social media posts:
- Check Out the Competition
- Use Trends and Challenges
- Ready-Made Templates
- Promo’s Social Media Calendar
- Follow Inspiring Brands
- Ask Your Audience
- Everyday Life!
- Keep your business Name, Address & Phone Number consistent on ALL your citations;
- Buy your domain from Namecheap;
- Host your website on SiteGround or Cloudways;
- Google Workspace for emails, cloud storage and apps;
- Build your website on WordPress using the Breakdance Builder;
- Ask other people to test your website before publishing it;
- Create a Google My Business Profile. Make sure it's accurate and that you use high quality imagery.
- Put the effort in to creating engaging, catchy and informative social media posts and engage with your audience.