What are most startups lacking in the early phases? Capital. Cash. Dough. Small-time web designers can often be inundated with small startups wondering if they can get a ‘simple’ website done for $300 or less.
But as more and more companies like Wix, Website Builder, and Weebly, the opportunity is out there (and growing) for startups to make a great-looking website all for free. This guide isn’t going to be about how to use those services: give a two year old a tablet and a Wix account and they can create a website, these days. This guide is about how to create a free website that gives your startup rocket fuel for success.
Identify Your Niche and Build for It
What is your startup offering, and why are you better at offering it than anyone else? Your home page should answer this question in a big, bold way. This starts at selecting a template which suits your business model. Ecommerce sites should frontload products on the home page, corporate sites should have a prominent call to action, news and blogging sites should have a beefy and graphically interesting post list home page… and so on.
A good idea is to mimic your highest-producing competition. The company most like your startup that’s making millions of dollars. If they’ve gone with a specific ‘style’ for their website, it’s probably for one reason: it’s the most effective at getting clients and potential clients to commit. You’d be stunned to learn how many startups miss out on this vital step.
Branding is ground zero for your startup. It’s very likely at this stage that nobody knows your startup, and nobody cares. But a website is the business card of the modern world: how it looks at first glance and the sort of ‘identity’ it projects will determine what people first feel about your business.
If you use a certain font for the text in your logo, that font should reappear elsewhere in your website- likely as the header text! If you use specific colors in your logo, make one of those your primary color- for links, buttons, calls to action. Pop your logo in more places than just the header, too: at the bottom of your sidebar, in the footer, hell, use it as a paragraph break in your ‘About’ page! Do whatever you can to ensure it’s memorable, and that your website design looks cohesive. The average layman using your website will feel the difference, even if they won’t be able to articulate it.
Leverage Your Website To Grow Your Book of Business
We all hate pop ups, but we all go to websites that have them. But whether it’s popups or an in-page call to action, leverage your website to grow your book of business by asking for email addresses or other forms of contact information which you can add to your database. Most websites do this in the form of offering a specific something (ebook, information, newsletter, what have you) in return for an email address. Think of what you can offer visitors that would be of value for them.
Be creative! Is your startup a tech company? Offer to email a list of what YOU think the 50 best up-and-coming tech gadgets are. Opening a marketing startup? Offer a newsletter which sends readers a countdown of your picks for the best ads of all time.
Optimize Your Website for Searches
You’re wanting to make a startup: not become a full-time SEO professional for your startup. But there are some clever tips and tricks to help your website rank well. What are they?
- Title all of your pages as queries a google user might search. So, instead of, just ‘About’ try something like ‘About Hotreel Video Editing’. Instead of ‘Our Services’, think more along the lines of, ‘Pro Wedding Photography’. You can make your own links to these pages shorter and smaller for ease of navigation, but the titles matter. A lot.
- Content, content, content. Try to have a bare minimum of 500 words on every. Single. Page. Every one. Mention your location, your company name, and what you do on all of them.
- Interlink your own pages. If you mention your company name, link that to your ‘About’ page. If you talk about your services in a blog post, link to those service pages.
- Always, always, always be adding content. Make sure to give your homepage small changes once a week. Add a new page or blog post every week. You’ll drop in search results like a rock if you only make a website… and then never touch it again.