Digital Marketing for a Home Service Business
A website is your main presence on the Internet. It is a place where you can explain your home service business and provide information about your products or services. Below is a series of articles about how to create a website.
Home Services Business Websites
Your small business needs a website because the Internet is where your potential and current customers are. You also need an Internet presence on social media like Facebook and review websites like Yelp, but your website is the completely under your control and won’t change unless you change it. When something needs something, they may ask a friend or coworker but they will probably just “Google it”. Google is an Internet search engine that primarily returns results in the form of websites or ads. If you don’t have a website but your competitors do, who do you think your potential customers are going to contact?
There are a number of steps to setting up a website. They are:
- Register an available domain name
- Find a company to host your website
- Install WordPress and a theme
- Add content
A domain name is the first step to setting up a website for your small business. A domain name is your address on the Internet. A domain name is part of the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) that you enter into a web browser like https://www.companyname.com. In this example, the word “companyname” is the domain name. The https:// is the protocol the web browser using to access a website. The “www” is the name of a specific part of your website but is not necessary depending on now a website is configured. The “.com” is the Top-Level domain. Top-Level domains are a way to group similar domain names into a category or theme. “.com” is short for commercial. The combination of a domain name and a Top-Level domain need to be unique. There are a number of Top-Level domain names. There are some that might be specific to your industry so they should be researched. But, most people are familiar with .com, so try to find a domain name there first.
Picking a domain name should be easy but it might not be because so many names have already been registered. Since the Internet is global, someone else might have already registered a business name that is the same as your. Again, see if the .com is available first. If not, try another Top-Level domain combination. If someone is using the .com and in a similar business to you, this might cause confusion to your customers. Keep thinking of alternatives until you find one that is easy to remember and easy to say out loud. It is good idea to avoid numbers and hyphens. Once you have a few options, it is time to register your domain name.
You register your domain name at a domain registrar. There are number of available ones. GoDaddy is probably one that you have heard of before. Other companies are NameCheap, Google Domains and you can register from the company where you host your website. They are fine and will register a domain name for you. We don’t recommend them though.
We recommend going with a company called Hover. Hover just registers domain name and doesn’t upsell you are other services. They don’t host websites either so that makes it easier if you want to change website hosting companies in the future.
A website hosting company actually hosts your website. There are a number of different types of hosting plans that you can choose from. They are shared, virtual private server, dedicated and managed. There are additional variations that might include support and management assistance. The biggest difference between the different types are the amount of resources that are available to host your website. The more it costs, the more resources you get typically. Additionally, some of the types require more technical knowledge to setup and maintain. This might be a good thing if you want more control but might not be desirable if you want something easier. If you are just starting out, we recommend going with a shared web hosting plan since it is using cheaper and easier to maintain. It might not give you the best performance, but you are starting out and can always upgrade.
Though shared hosting is your recommendation, there is another option you might want to consider. It is managed. Managed hosting means that the website hosting company sets up the server and installing a software package like WordPress for you. They also handle regular backups and updates and might provide better support for just the software package. These plans do cost more but you get more to.
There is an entirely different way to host a website. This is with a company that basically is a website builder company like Squarespace or Wix. This is a perfectly viable option to host a website. The biggest benefit if you don’t have to work about the server or software. You just build a website using an interface that allows you to add elements, images and text. These are very user friendly and even help make your website look good. But, they have a downside. Your website on unique and dependent on their platform. You can’t move or at least not easily to a different website hosting company. If you want a feature they don’t provide, your options are limited. But again, a website building company is an option.
There is one additional option you might want to explorer to host your website. If you want an ecommerce website to handle the selling of products, Shopify is a great solution. You can build your entire product catalog easily and integrate with payment options. The whole process is very user friendly. But, there are the same negatives to move your content to a different website hosting company.
There are a number of website hosting company to choose from. Here is a short list:
- Media Temple
Each of these companies offer many hosting plans and options. The amount of choices is overwhelming. Here is our recommendation and our reasons.
- Hosting company – SiteGround Startup plan
- This is shared hosting but a good place to start with your first website
- Good performance
- Good price
- Free SSL certificates
- Good documentation
- Good support
We also recommend both Media Temple and WPEngine if you want to go the Managed WordPress option but first we should explain WordPress.
In order to display your website, you need to format your content in a specific way. Originally, this process was to add text and specific tags in a language called HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language). You would put this information in a file and host that file on a web server. You would then use a web browser to view that file and see the information. This is still the foundation of a website but a lot of changed over the years. In order to make websites easier to update and maintain, a software solution called a CMS (Content Management System) was created that gave you an interface to add your text and images and formatting and then create a web page. One of the most popular is WordPress.
WordPress was starting to create a blog which is basically a diary-like collection of posts about a topic or whatever the “blogger” wanted to say. But, WordPress has changed over the weeks to be much more including plug-ins to add more features, pages to be single pages of content and themes to control the look and feel of your website. There are CMS systems available but we recommend WordPress.
WordPress is very easy to install and some website hosting providers will install it for you after you answer a few questions. WordPress is a series of files that are built in a language called PHP. The data you enter into WordPress is stored in a database running on MySQL. But, you won’t have to worry about any of this once your have your website installed.
However, the default WordPress installation is designed for blogging and exactly the website you may have in mind. You can easily change the appear of your WordPress installation by installing a theme. A theme is another collection of files that give your WordPress website a certain appearance with a layout of elements and colors. The amazing thing is you can change your theme and your content (text and images) will update to fit that new theme. However, there an unbelievable number of themes to choose from that are both free and paid. The choice is overwhelming.
To help with your choice, we recommend a paid theme called Avada. Avada is one of the most popular themes and it continually beginning updated by its developers. Avada does have some propriety elements that make it easier to build good looking web pages but this lack of future flexibility is offset but the ability to great almost any graphical layout you want.
The final benefit of WordPress are plug-ins. WordPress allows developers to add new features to WordPress by creating a series of files and then added them to WordPress. These features will then be available in the WordPress interface and you can use them on your websites. Again, there an unbelievable amount of plugins available. Some are paid but most are free. Some of good and updated often and others are built-in and forgotten. This does make finding plugins confusing but in the end, the options are what makes WordPress a great choice for our website.
Content is the text and images that you put on your website. This is the final component needed to finish your website. The most basic parts of a website are:
- Home page
- Services or Products
- Portfolio (example of past work)
Content is what your potential or current customer is coming to your website for. The domain name, web hosting and WordPress are all necessary but really your customer wants to find out some information about you. It could be as simple as a phone number to call you. Or, they heard your name and want to find out more. Finally, your marketing could have brought them to your website and you need to sale them on your services or products. A website can serve all of these purposes and more.
Content is composed of two things which are text and images. Text is the words you use to describe your business and its offering. The text needs to be written well but also needs to communicate your unique voice. It can’t have misspelling and spell checkers will help with this. Images are also important. Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Professional images are great but people also want to learn more about your business so real photos of your services and products are best. Potential customer want to learn more about you and images help with this greatly. Once you have added all your text and images, your website is done. Congratulations!
There are many steps to setting up a website for your small business. To recap, they are:
- Registering a domain name
- Setting up website hosting
- Installing WordPress and a theme
- Create text and image content
Once you have the basics, you can continually add to your website to improve the communication with your potential and future customers. You will have a presence on the Internet that is available 24/7/365.
To help you with setting up a website, we have a list of recommendations to cut through the many options available. These options have worked for us and we think they will work for you to. We may receive a commission for any of these services and we thank you for your support.
- Domain Name – Hover
- Website Hosting – SiteGround
- WordPress theme – Avada
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HOME SERVICES BUSINESS WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT VIDEO
Digital Marketing Extreme is your source for digital marketing tips and techniques for your home service business.
Why do you need a website for your home services business? This video will go over domain names, website hosting companies, WordPress and website content.
If you would like the video slides as a PDF, click to download “Home Service Business Website“.
This video will go over small business websites. Our agenda for this video is to first discuss why you need a website for your small business. Next is to go over the domain name, which is the actual thing you type in a web browser that then lets you look at your website. Next we’ll go over the website hosting companies. These are where you actually store the files that make up your website. Then we’ll talk about WordPress, which is one of the most popular ways to build a website. And finally, we’ll talk about content the actual items you need to put on your website.
Why you need a website?
So the first section is why do you need a website. A website is basically the place that you can have an internet presence where you can show to your potential and your current customers information about your business, your products or services. First thing about a website that it actually provides is a professional parents. It helps you to actually show your business and look professional compared to someone who may just have a Facebook page or your profile or no website. And next aspect is actually the website is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. And when people are looking for products or services you may provide your website is actually available to them. They don’t have to call they don’t have to send you an email. Third, a website actually is what’s shown in search engines. Most search engines record websites not necessarily social media profiles, such as Facebook or Instagram. They’re showing there. The final thing about a website is it actually allows you to have analytics. This could be information about people coming to visit your website. So it could be where they’re coming from, how many times they visit, which pages a look to which website are they coming from. Again, it provides a lot of information that shows you different things about your current and potential customers.
Business website can have his most basic contact information, how to either send you an email or call your business. Additionally, you could have information about your business. Many people want to know more before they enter into an relationship with a business. The next thing it’s a business website can accomplish is to actually explain your services and products. As they say, you know, pictures are worth 1000 words. So you can show your services you can write information about them. Additional thing a website can do a show pricing. Part of our investigation we’re looking to determine who we’d like to buy a service or product from is to find out how much it costs.
Additional things can be on our website is to show past work. When people are judging our website. They like to know what you’ve done in the past so you can show past projects or examples of past services. You perform additional thing that people are looking for to make a decision about a product or service are to hear from other people client review or testimonial website can be a place where you can show this information.
Websites can take on more interactive roles, they can actually help you get leads, you can provide your contact information, but you can also put on a forum where people can submit information directly. The benefit of form is that you can ask questions about your services or products that helps narrow down for example, if you are doing some sort of auto repair, you could ask information about the car. If you’re providing a home service, you can ask where they’re located at what are the conditions that they’re looking to have fix. Additionally, websites can actually go one step further and actually turn it into an entire ecommerce solution where someone can actually purchase the information, your service or product directly on your website. And you can even process payment and you’ll get a notification that a sales has been made.
Some very important things about websites. Most of customers nowadays actually come to your website via a mobile device or a smartphone or a tablet. People still do research on a computer. So a desktop interface. But again, it needs to have the ability to show good our show. Yeah, good on both of those interfaces. Second is a performance issues, your website needs to load quickly, both on desktop and mobile. People aren’t very patient nowadays, and expect websites to immediately load without a whole bunch of waiting around which if you’re there waiting for something, they may choose to just go to someone else.
What is a domain name?
Next part of a small business website we’ll talk about is what’s called a domain name. What is a domain name? Well, it’s an address on the internet. So as you see on the example, they’re there in a web browser, you may type in something like https://www.google.com that’s the address of your website. What I read to you is actually what’s called a URL. It’s a Uniform Resource Locator. And it has multiple parts the WW part is actually what’s technically called a hostname. The word Google or in the my example, their company name, that’s the actual domain name, and calm that’s what’s called a top level domain.
Top level domains
Top level domains are technically this highest level of domain name, you don’t really think about it from time to time some examples are.com net org.edu. They can also be a country code.us.uk for United Kingdom, Britain, CA for Canada, and many new ones are popping up all the time dot biz dot online dot pro co or just some examples of different top level domains.
When you’re trying to figure out your domain name, might be useful to use a brainstorming tool. These are actually could come from the places where you might buy your domain which is a domain name registrar, but there’s also dedicated websites that might give you suggestions you can type in a few keywords and get some examples back. There are a few listed here name station domain bots domain are and named boy that could be helpful for that domain name to do cost money.
Domain Name Costs
When you sign up to pick your given domain name and a domain name registrar, you have to pay for an initial signup fee. Sometimes those are discounted, so be aware of that. And then you need to set up an annual renewal of that you can also buy multiple years in advance. Some common are familiar domain name registrars that exists out there GoDaddy name cheap Google domains and hover.
Domain Name Privacy
It’s part of your domain name, you actually may want to look at the history privacy. How does privacy come up? Well, the way the no naming system was set up as you would actually have to put your name, your address, your phone number and contact information. It’s not technically bad if your business because you probably have that information on your website. But there are times from time especially on personal websites, you might actually want to hide that. All this information is put into what’s called the who is database, you can find multiple places on the internet where you can look this up, type in the domain name, and it’ll come back with the information that’s shown there on the right on this case, I did a test for Google. You can actually buy domain privacy which will hide that information and use more generic ones. In this case, you don’t find out much information about Google you actually find just that their registrar with a company called Mark monitor Inc.
Website Hosting Company
The next topic we’ll go over is the website hosting company. So what is a website hosting company? Well in order for your website, To be on the internet, it has to be placed on a computer or a server that’s available so that people can actually load your website because you probably want it available 24 by seven, this computer needs to be available online. Always so you know, putting a website on your home computer where you may just turn off your computer doesn’t make a lot of sense. So there’s an entire industry for hosting companies will provide different plans with many options and features where you can actually host your website.
Once you’ve decided on a web hosting company, the next thing is to figure out how you may want to build your website. So there are many options here. One is what I call website builders. These are actually software provided by web hosting companies that give you a framework where you can drag and drop different pieces and actually build your website that way. Some examples are GoDaddy, Squarespace and Wix and others.
Content Management System
Another option for building your website is what’s called a content management system or CMS. What, originally the web websites were developed, or initially, were just a bunch of files that could be displayed on the websites. Unfortunately, this made it very limited to how you can make changes to your website. And as websites got larger and larger, a simple small change would take way too long to have to go into individual files. So a system was kind of developed called a content management system, which is actually a way to have a dynamic website, which is made up of both the software program and all the content which is stored in a database. And so what happens is when you load that website, the software loads the data puts it together into a format that then the web browsers can render. The benefit here is it allowed for small changes to the program or the content allows the website to kind of automatically be recombined each time it’s loaded.
Website Hosting Types
There are many web type website hosting types available. The most common and the cheapest is what’s called shareholder hosting. This is basically where a company provides a system that many people have websites together now, because of this, still private, but they there could be performance problems. If one site gets more popular than another and you’re sharing the resources of any moment in time, you know, you’re or another site can affect the performance. If you want to go another level up, there’s actually what’s called a virtual private server, that actually gives you a dedicated set of resources, but you’re still kind of sharing their physical things. sort of related to that is cloud servers. These are kind of the same concept as a virtual private server, but using kind of different technologies. At the top is dedicated server, you’re actually buying dedicated space on a server so you get the resources dedicated to you and things like that. There is sort of another one that comes in there that could happen at different places. And it’s basically this manage server concept, basically where the web hosting companies take care of some of the management that you don’t have to worry about, usually at a lower level, and you worry just about the top level of the system. So again, there’s many choices here. Most people start out with shared hosting because of cost. But again, if you need performance and things like that, there are systems that go up. The prices do increase as you move from shared hosting up to dedicated servers.
The next thing we’ll talk about is WordPress. What is WordPress? WordPress is one of the most popular CMS is content managers, management systems that has been used to develop many websites. It originally started out as a blogging platform. A quick definition blog is basically a type of website that is a chronological posting of different things. bots could be anything really. But over time people took this platform because it was very flexible and actually used it to build for websites. WordPress, basically by itself has this blogging platform, but it does allow for special content to be added so you can easily add menus. sidebars, which are content to the sides of our excuse me are more content to the sides of your main content. Then there’s these widgets you can add in little teeny things. And ultimately WordPress can be modified by themes and plugins. All of this flexibility it gives that WordPress can actually accomplish a lot and is very flexible and helping you to build your website.
The installation of web WordPress is actually pretty simple. Most web hosting companies provide what’s called a one click installation routine. But even if you don’t use that thing, WordPress prides itself on having what they call a five minute install. And so basically to do Is you download the WordPress files WordPress is an open source software with a free pricing model so anyone can use it. It does require a database, but most are almost all web hosting companies provide this database. You then copy the WordPress files to the web hosting account that you created and you type in the URL of your website and prop comes up and you follow the instructions in a few minutes to actually have a functional basic WordPress website.
As I mentioned earlier, WordPress can be customized so the first one is actually themes. themes are the ability to change the appearance of WordPress. The nice thing about it is because the content is independent of the theme, you can actually change your mind on a theme and the content or just reformat for those new changes. And you can go back and forth between installing and activating them. There are free themes available WordPress comes with a few of them. They’re also paid themes. And even ultimately, if you want to hire a web developer, you can actually build a completely custom theme. So again, WordPress has this flexibility where themes allow for the parents of your website to change.
Additionally, WordPress has a concept called plugins plugins actually allow for additional features to be added to your WordPress website. They again are free and paid, plugins can run the entire gamut of functionality. There are thousands and thousands of them again, this is one of the reasons why WordPress is so popular. content.
Part of content is just text, written word. text can be used to communicate almost everything, anything you can write, are there. Some examples of texts you may include, that people like to see on a website is some history about your company. Obviously your services and your production product descriptions and then A way that you can communicate on a more regular basis is again using the concept of a blog.
A format of content that is beneficial on our website, our images, again, people like to see things. So you can use many different ways of communicating things using images. Some of them again, could be your service for your product, photos, information about your location, either, you know, what does the building look like from the outside or things like that. And also behind the scenes information about your company is a great way through images because it really humanizes your business by letting people actually see things about your company or who works for your company.
As the Internet has increased over the years, videos become much more of a major thing to put on your website. The benefit of video is it’s moving pictures so you can communicate things in a picture text is really can’t do. A great example is a product review where you can actually show different things Move the object around that you’re displaying. If you provide services as part of your business website, actually showing how the services performed in a demonstration really helps. And customer testimonials, people like to read testimonials. But again, imagine the effectiveness of actually hearing a customer talk in their own voice about your business.
So to wrap up this video with some conclusions, let’s go over some of the benefits of a website. First, a website is your foundational internet presence. It’s a place where you can put information about your business, through different pages through different content and form of text or images or pictures. And it’s a place where people go to look for information, the internet one Secondly, you can actually have complete control over your website, unlike say, using a social media network or something like that, which they can change it anytime you control all the data that content, images, everything about your website, it’s in your control. Third, your website’s about what 24 by seven 365 days a year to be your online salesperson. When you’re sleeping, your websites still working. If somebody wants to look up your service, they can find you send you an email potential using e commerce, how can actually purchase if you have a contact form, they could send you information and then the next day you’ll have a lead that you can follow up and, and finally, ultimately a website can raise the awareness of your business and this is through multiple sources either through being found in search engines. You put your domain name on your business truck or your business card and people find out more information about you.