With the New Year just around the corner, it’s time to get serious about a resolution to make your small business website a success. 

Not sure where to start? You’re in luck! 

We’ve made a list (and checked it twice) to help you get on track for your business’s best year yet.

1. Get a custom domain name

We don’t mean to harp, but this is a big one. Having your own domain shows customers that you take your business seriously, and they should too.

Namify is a free tool allowing you to pick a domain name that will cost about $2 a year. The tool uses machine learning to find a name that will be easy to brand. It focuses on creating niche associations rather than forcing keywords into your domain name.

Namify lets you pick a cool affordable domain name

2. Create a custom email address

Another benefit of having your own domain name is the ability to have a custom email address, like email @ mybusiness.com. 

Do you want your customers hearing from your old Hotmail address? Probably not. The good news is that you can set it up for free, once you have your domain name (see step #1)!

Having a custom email address means having more control over your business identity and keeping your business information more secure.

There are lots of WordPress themes that allow you to customize your footer to remove their branding and place yours, especially when you buy a premium theme.

One of the benefits of a premium website package is the ability to customize your site’s footer and remove the provider branding. This is a good step toward looking more polished.

An incredible number of new businesses overlook this step.

4. Make sure your site is responsive

Did you know that currently US consumers spend almost 1 in every 10 eCommerce dollars using a mobile device? 

Good motivation to have a great mobile version of your website for customers to browse on the go.

5. Create your marketing plan

Whether you’re just getting your business off the ground or looking to break into a new segment, it’s important to diversify your marketing efforts to stand out from competitors. There are many technologies available to help you along the way. 

For example, if you’re looking to design a logo or create social media collateral, there are design tools that make this process easy for anyone by providing templates and tutorials.

Text Optimizer is a cool tool making it easier to understand your niche, your audience expectations and create a marketing plan that fits both! Just run your core keyword through the tool and it will bring up niche associations for you to choose those that may apply to your business:

Text Optimizer lets you research your niche associations

6. Take care of your SEO basics

Believe it or not, search engine optimization is not a rocket science. If you are using the latest versions of WordPress or Shopify to run your site, chances are your site is pretty search friendly already.

What you need when starting out is taking care of SEO fundamentals:

  • Know your keywords
  • Build pages around your main keywords
  • Make sure those landing pages are link from the main navigation for Google to find name
  • Add your keywords to title tag and main content of the relevant landing pages

If you have doubts whether you did everything well, there are multiple website audit options that will analyze your site and inform you if there’s anything else to be done.

WebCEO SEO audit dashboard

WebCEO is extremely simple to use, and its suggestions are clear and easy to implement. It’s also available as a desktop app to make the optimization process even simpler. If you have several sites, WebCEO will let you manage all of them from one handy dashboard.

7. Get listed on location-based sites

Having your business listed – or claiming an existing listing – on Yelp and Google is very important for small businesses, especially if they do business locally.

It’s a great low-cost marketing tool, and that’s where your customers are already looking.

8. Get reviewed

Having third-party reviews is incredibly important to establishing your business. Encourage your past and current customers to share their experience with your brand on Google and Yelp. 

Just be careful with your wording. You are not allowed to ask for positive reviews, per Google’s and Yelp’s TOS. You can only ask for honest reviews.

You can use a web monitoring solution called Visualping to keep an eye on your new reviews. The tool will monitor your Google and Yelp pages and notify when there are new reviews:

Visualping monitoring of local reviews. You can use it to monitor your competitors’ reviews

You can also use those reviews on your site to make it look more trustworthy.

If you don’t have many testimonials or reviews yet, there are other credibility indicators that you can employ. Are you a member of any professional associations? Have you won any awards or certifications? Do you offer verified or secured online payments? How about a seal for your 30-day money-back guarantee? These are all great ways to relieve customer anxiety on your website.

The feedback and validation that your business has garnered over the years is a crucial addition to your small business website. It can be very helpful in giving an on-the-fence lead just the push they need to become a loyal customer.

We don’t have to tell you how important social media can be for a small business. The next step is to link to them from your website so your customers can stay connected with you in different ways once they leave your site.

10. Keep your site fresh and current

One of the most important things you can do to make sure your site looks professional is to keep the content and details completely up to date. It does not look good for customers to visit your site and find outdated information. 

Also, Google’s algorithm considers how frequently a site is updated in determining search rankings. A great way to make sure your site always has something new and fresh? Start a blog.